A's Release Eight From Minor League Camp
The tough part of camp has begun at Papago Park, as the Oakland A's have started to trim their minor league rosters. Eight players have been released from the organization over the past few days: infielder Wilber Perez, outfielder Andre Piper-Jordan and pitchers Steve Obenchain, Justin Crowder, Ryan Ford, Tim Rall, Sam Walton and Anthony Rea, according to A's Director of Player Development Keith Lieppman.
Perez was signed as undrafted free agent in 2001. The Dominican Republic native was an Arizona Rookie League All-Star in 2004, when he hit .289 with an 825 OPS for the AZ A's. The middle infielder spent the 2005 season in Vancouver, appearing in 39 games and batting .273 with a 701 OPS. His 2006 season was scattered, as he spent time in Arizona, Vancouver, Kane County and Sacramento. Perez spent the majority of his season in Vancouver, where he hit only .209 in 40 games.
Piper-Jordan also spent most of the 2006 season with Vancouver. The former collegiate wide receiver played in 45 games for the Canadians, batting .255 with three homers and four stolen bases. Piper-Jordan was selected in the 28th round of the 2004 draft by the A's out of Everett Community College.
Obenchain, one of the 2002 "Moneyball" first round draft picks, was also released. The right-hander was selected 37th overall in 2002 out of Evansville. He got off to a good start to his professional career, posting ERAs of 3.00 or under for short-season Vancouver, High-A Visalia and Low-A Kane County in 2002 and 2003. However, Obenchain struggled in High-A Modesto in 2003 and those struggles continued in Modesto and Double-A Midland in 2004. Arm injuries limited him in 2005 and 2006. He had a career 20-22 record with a 4.15 ERA in 332 innings (half in relief) in five seasons in the A's chain.
Crowder, another 2002 draft pick (11th round), was released after four seasons in the A's chain. After posting a 2.25 ERA in 40 innings for Vancouver in 2002, he missed all of the 2003 season with injury. Crowder then spent the 2004 season in Kane County, where he had a 4.73 ERA in 32.1 innings. His best season was in 2005 with Stockton, when the left-hander went 3-2 with a 2.47 ERA and one save in 54.2 relief innings for the Ports. Last season, Crowder was in Double-A Midland, where the Texas native had a 1-2 record with a 4.79 ERA and two saves in 47 innings.
Ford, a collegiate teammate of A's Rule 5 pick Ryan Goleski, was dropped after a season at High-A Stockton where he went 7-12 with a 5.87 ERA in 127.1 innings. Ford's best season was in 2005, when the left-hander led the Kane County pitching staff with a 14-7 record and a 3.66 ERA. He was a 15th round selection of the A's in 2004.
Rall was a minor league Rule 5 pick by the A's last season, coming over from the Seattle organization. He got off to a fast start in Double-A Midland, posting a 1.26 ERA in 10 appearances. That work earned him a promotion to Triple-A Sacramento, but after only three appearances, Rall was felled by injury and would not return. The reliever has a career 3.47 ERA in 244.1 minor league innings.
Walton was picked up from the St. Louis Cardinals organization during the 2006 season. The left-hander made 17 relief appearances for Double-A Midland, going 1-4 with a 3.12 ERA in 26 innings. He was originally a seventh round selection of the Seattle Mariners in 1997 out of a Dallas-area high school.
Rea is a Bay Area native who played his college ball at Santa Clara University. He spent two seasons in the Oakland chain, posting a 7.36 ERA in 11 games for the A's Rookie League team in 2005 and a 1.82 ERA in 34.2 innings for Vancouver in 2006.
Shull Still Recovering From Tommy John
It will be awhile longer before A's fans see promising right-hander James Shull back on the mound, according to Lieppman. The hard throwing right-hander sustained an arm injury while striking out 11 batters in a game for Stockton last season and eventually underwent Tommy John surgery. His recovery has been slow and he isn't expected to arrive in extended spring training before May at the earliest.
Before his injury, Shull was one of the A's top young arms. A fourth round pick in 2005 out of Cal Poly, Shull struck out 81 in 73 innings for Vancouver in 2005. He made two starts for Stockton in 2006 before getting hurt and had struck out 16 while walking only two in 11.1 innings.
Cal League Batting Champ Injured
Outfielder Luis Perez, last season's California League batting champion, has a wrist injury that has required surgery and he will miss several months of the season, according to Lieppman. The right-handed batter had a career-year in 2006, hitting .334 for the Stockton Ports.
Pineda Delayed; To Start In Extended
Outfielder Jose Pineda has been one of the A's most steady double-digit homerun and stolen base threats the last two years. However, the outfielder will start the season in extended spring training. According to Lieppman, he had visa problems that delayed his arrival to camp and then developed a sore throwing arm.