Latest A's Cuts Earn High Marks

The Oakland A's trimmed their spring roster a little more on Monday, sending six players down to minor league camp. Before they were demoted, a number of Monday's cuts had impressive stints in major league camp.

On Monday, the Oakland A's trimmed their spring roster by six more players. Oakland re-assigned outfielder Charles Thomas, second baseman Kevin Melillo, infielder J.J. Furmaniak, catcher Landon Powell and relievers Mike Mitchell and Erasmo Ramirez to minor league camp. None of the moves were unexpected, although there had been some speculation that Thomas would get a longer look with Mark Kotsay on the shelf. Nonetheless, a number of these players left major league camp having created a positive impression with the A's coaching staff.

Thomas endured a frustrating February, during which he was dropped from the 40-man roster and re-assigned to the minor leagues. However, he didn't let that frustration carry-over into his play on the field. The centerfielder made some spectacular catches and hit .333 in 30 at-bats for the A's. He had two doubles and five RBIs. He also stole a base.

Thomas is expected to return to Sacramento, where he was played in each of the last two seasons. He earned the River Cats' Defensive Player of the Year award last season. Thomas picked a good spring to show that he can still swing the bat, as he could be called upon during the season if the A's sustain any more injuries to their centerfielders.

Melillo also had a solid offensive showing this spring, his first at major league camp. The second base prospect is expected to start the season in Triple-A Sacramento. Melillo had eight hits in 14 at-bats (.444 BA) this spring, including one double. He also drove-in a run, stole two bases (the most on the team) and walked five times against two strikeouts. Melillo did not committ an error this spring and showed some additional versatility by playing some third base, in addition to second base.

Furmaniak struggled a bit at the plate, hitting only .208 with a double, a triple and two RBI in 24 at-bats. However, he played well in the field, mostly seeing time at shortstop. Furmaniak was signed as a minor league free agent by the A's this past off-season. He had spent the previous season at Triple-A Indianapolis in the Pirates chain. The versatile middle infielder has some major league experience and should provide some solid depth for the A's in that area while at Triple-A Sacramento.

Powell didn't get much playing time this spring, but he put some good at-bats together while he was out there. He had two hits and a walk in six official at-bats and he drove-in two runs. Powell should start the season at Double-A Midland, where he will be the starting catcher. He reported to camp in best shape of his professional career and he was running noticeably better in camp than he had during the Arizona Fall League last October-November.

Mitchell may have helped himself more than any other player in major league camp. The right-hander wowed A's coaches with his mid-90s sinker and aggressive approach on the mound. Mitchell did not allow a run in eight innings and he worked out of a number of jams created by other pitchers. Mitchell allowed only two hits and three walks in those eight innings and he struck out five. Depending on how the A's pitching staff shakes out, Mitchell will either be a set-up man in Sacramento or the closer in Double-A Midland.

Ramirez, an off-season minor league free agent signing, didn't fare as well in major league camp. The left-hander posted a 12.71 ERA in 5.2 innings. He allowed 10 hits, eight runs and two homeruns. The former Texas Rangers reliever will have to show a big improvement at Triple-A Sacramento to earn any in-season consideration for a major league spot in the A's crowded and talented bullpen.

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