Sacramento River Cats Roster Analysis

The Sacramento River Cats got their 2007 season off to a good start with a win on Thursday. We take a look at the guys on the Opening Day roster for the River Cats.

As is the case with most Triple-A teams, the Sacramento River Cats roster is made up of a mix of top prospects and veterans with major league experience. Sacramento has a particularly strong base of experience in their pitching staff. All but three pitchers on the Opening Day roster have major league experience.

Jason Windsor was the River Cats Opening Day starter and he was one of the top pitchers on the Sacramento staff last year. After starting his season with Midland, Windsor came to Sacramento in May and won 13 games (he won 17 games in total). He also made his major league debut in Oakland in July and returned to the A's in September.

Shane Komine also made his major league debut last season, but he spent most of the season in Sacramento, winning 11 games. He is joined in the rotation by left-hander Brad Halsey, who was in Oakland for the majority of the 2006 season, splitting his time between the bullpen and the starting rotation.

Right-hander Colby Lewis was signed just before the end of spring training. The former Texas Rangers starter spent the 2006 season in the Detroit Tigers chain. He threw three innings for the Tigers last season and spent the rest of the season in Triple-A Toledo. He began spring training this year in the Washington Nationals camp and was one of the candidates for their fifth starter spot before being released. Kevin Olsen, another long-time veteran with major league experience (Florida), should round out the Sacramento rotation.

The River Cats' bullpen is stacked with hard throwers. Marcus McBeth, Mike Mitchell and Santiago Casilla all throw in the mid-90s. Connor Robertson doesn't throw quite as hard, but he has one of the highest K/9 ratios of any Oakland A's minor leaguer. Left-handers Ron Flores and Erasmo Ramirez both have major league service time and both can be used against righties and lefties.

The River Cats have a lot of firepower on the offensive-side of the ball, as well. The team is led by Daric Barton, who is one of the minor league's best young hitters. He is looking to rebound from an injury-marred 2006 season and is off to a good start, having homered in the first game of the year. Barton is joined in the infield by another top prospect, Kevin Melillo, who has above-average power for a second baseman and the ability to hit at the top of the order.

The left-side of the River Cats infield will be flanked by players with major league experience. At third will be long-time veteran Lou Merloni, who has played in parts of nine major league seasons. Donnie Murphy will see a lot of time at shortstop. Murphy was in the major leagues in 2004 and 2005 with the Kansas City Royals. Infielder J.J. Furmaniak, who was with the Pirates in 2005, should see time at third, short and second base.

Antonio Perez, who spent all last season on the A's 25-man roster, was a late addition to the Sacramento club after he cleared waivers on Thursday. Perez could see time at third, second, short and in the outfield. The A's also added first baseman Jason Stokes to the River Cats roster late in spring training. Stokes was one of the minor league's top power prospects only a few years ago, but wrist and groin injuries have hampered his ability to hit for power the last two seasons. He could see a lot of time as the team's designated hitter.

Behind the plate, Sacramento will have two strong offensive catchers. Kurt Suzuki is the A's top catching prospect and he is coming off of a solid year at Double-A Midland. He is joined by Jeremy Brown, who reached double-digits in homeruns for the River Cats in 2006. Brown also made his major league debut last season. He should see time at the designated hitter spot, as well.

In the outfield, the River Cats will feature three players who spent time with the team last season. In left will be Brian Stavisky, who was with the ‘Cats at the start of the 2006 season before finishing up at Double-A Midland. Stavisky struggled in Triple-A, but he hit .316 for the Rockhounds. In center will be Charles Thomas, who has been a fixture for Sacramento for the past two and a half seasons. Hiram Bocachica will be the team's regular right-fielder. He was the River Cats' best offensive player in 2006, although he missed time with injury and spent September in Oakland.

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