Oakland A's MLN: Suzuki Up; Cougars Sweep

On Saturday, the Oakland A's traded back-up catcher Adam Melhuse to the Texas Rangers. That freed up a spot in Oakland for top catching prospect Kurt Suzuki, who will be joining the big league team on Sunday. Meanwhile, the Kane County Cougars ran their winning streak to a season-high four games, as they swept both ends of a double-header.

Suzuki Headed To Oakland

Since he burst onto the scene with an impressive spring training in 2005, Kurt Suzuki has been tabbed as the "catcher of the future" for the Oakland A's. On Saturday, the A's decided the future was now, as they promoted the 23-year-old catcher to the major leagues. To make room for Suzuki, the A's traded back-up catcher Adam Melhuse to the Texas Rangers for cash considerations.

Suzuki had been at Triple-A Sacramento, where he was batting .280 with three homers and 27 RBI in 211 at-bats. He struggled at the plate in May for the River Cats, batting only .259 wtih a 688 OPS. However, he was hitting .357 in six games in June. He was six for his last 11 for Sacramento.

In 2006, Suzuki hit .285 with seven homers and 55 RBI in 376 at-bats for the Double-A Midland Rockhounds. Suzuki was originally drafted by the A's in the second round in 2004 out of Cal-State Fullerton. Suzuki was the Johnny Bench award winner in 2004, given to the nation's top collegiate catcher and he helped guide Fullerton to a College World Series title that season.

Suzuki is a line-drive hitter with good patience. He goes to right-field extremely well and sees a lot of pitches in each at-bat. Defensively, Suzuki has a strong throwing arm and is agile behind the plate. He struggled blocking balls for High-A Stockton in 2005, but put a lot of hard work into improving his blocking technique in 2006. As a result, he had the fewest passed balls in the Texas League last season.

Suzuki is a native of Hawaii. He will become the second Hawaiian native to make his major league debut with Oakland in as many years. Last season, pitcher and Hawaiian native Shane Komine made his ML debut for the A's.






Cougars Starting Staff Leads Kane County To Sweep

One day after receiving a career performance from starting pitcher Andrew Bailey, the Kane County Cougars used two outstanding starting pitching performances to sweep a double-header from the Wisconsin Timber-Rattlers. James Heuser pitched his first career complete game shut-out (seven innings due to minor league double-header rules) in the first game and Henry Rodriguez threw five strong innings in the second game for the sweep.

In the first game, the Cougars jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Mike Affronti blasted a three-run homer to account for the runs. He would go 3-3 and finish a triple shy of the cycle in the game. He scored three runs in the game.

Affronti's homer would be all of the offense that Heuser would need, although the Cougars did pile on more offense later. Heuser cruised through seven shut-out innings for the complete game win. He allowed only four hits and he struck out six while walking none. The left-hander is now 4-2 with a 3.00 ERA in 12 starts this season. He has 68 strike-outs in 69 innings and has walked only 21.

Heuser would get more support in the fourth inning when Matt Sulentic hit his first homer of the season. He went 3-4 in the game with three RBI. Sulentic has struggled all season, but he appears to be coming around. He is batting .314 over his last 10 games. The final score of game one was 7-0.

In the second game, the Cougars scored three times in the third, twice in the fourth and once in the fifth to cruise to a 6-2 victory. Rodriguez allowed only two runs in five innings (both coming in his final inning of work). He gave up two hits and two walks and struck out six. His ERA has moved down to 3.51. TJ Franco threw two scoreless innings to finish off the game.

Jermaine Mitchell and Greg Dowling led the Cougars' offense. Mitchell went 2-4 with a run scored, a double and an RBI. He is now batting .302 on the year. He also stole his seventh base. Dowling also went 2-4 with a run scored and a double. He drove-in two and has 31 RBI on the year.

The Cougars' winning streak is at a season-high four games. On Friday night, Kane County used a career-best performance from Bailey to earn a win. Bailey struck-out a career-high 12 in six innings. He allowed only one run on two hits and two walks. Over the past four games, Bailey has struck-out at least eight and has double-digit strikeouts in all but one of those games. On the season, he has 49 strikeouts in 30 innings and batters are hitting only .194 against him.






Other Notes:

* The Midland Rockhounds added left-handed reliever Ryan Meaux, who was previously in the St. Louis chain. He made his Midland debut on Saturday in the Rockhounds loss to Frisco. Meaux had been 0-3 with a 7.89 ERA in 21.2 innings for three minor league affiliates this season. He worked two shut-out innings and allowed only one hit and struck-out two.

* In that Midland game, catcher Landon Powell hit his seventh homerun and his third in four games. He is hitting .406 in June after batting only .238 in May and .186 in April.

* The Sacramento River Cats added Agustin Montero, who was in the Mexican Summer League before joining the A's organization. He had a 2-3 record with a 5.29 ERA in 32.1 innings in the Mexican League this year. He was originally signed by the A's in 1995 as an undrafted free agent and released in 1999. He appeared in 14 innings for the Chicago White Sox last season, which was his first in the majors.


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