August's Best Performances: A's MiLB Pitchers

The minor league regular season is finally in the books. A number of A's minor leaguers had strong finishes to their seasons. We take a look at the top pitching performances in the A's system during the month of August.

Dallas Braden:
1-2, 24.1 IP, 2.59 ERA, 2 CG, 1 SHO, 29 K, 4 BB

Braden spent only half of the month of August with the River Cats, but he made a big impact. The lefty threw two complete games, including a record-breaking outing on August 27th when Braden struck out 17 batters in a complete game shut-out. He earned PCL "Pitcher of the Week" honors for the final week of the season. Braden is still trying to find his way at the major league level, but he has proven all he can at the minor league level. For the season, the lefty had a 2.84 ERA in 13 minor league starts between Midland and Sacramento. He struck out 87 and walked 21 in 76 innings. Opposing batters hit only .201 against him.

Jeff Gray:
0-1, 12.2 IP, 1.42 ERA, 6 SV, 8 K, 2 BB

Gray was asked to step-up as the River Cats' closer after the promotions of Santiago Casilla and Ruddy Lugo to the big leagues. Gray did an excellent job for the River Cats down the stretch, converting all six save chances in August as Sacramento made its push for the playoffs. Gray led the River Cats with 12 saves on the season. Between Midland and Sacramento, the righty went 4-4 with 15 saves and a 3.34 ERA in 67.1 innings this season.

Colby Lewis:
2-2, 35 IP, 1.29 ERA, 40 K, 6 BB, .213 BAA

When Lewis was designated for assignment in July, it seemed that his time with the Oakland A's at the major league level was probably over. However, Lewis returned to Sacramento determined to pitch well and he shined for the River Cats as a starting pitcher. In seven starts after returning to Triple-A, Lewis allowed only seven runs in 45 innings. He struck out 50 and walked only nine over that stretch. Lewis was rewarded for his work with a promotion to Oakland when Esteban Loaiza was claimed by the Dodgers.

Dan Meyer:
2-0, 17.2 IP, 2.55 ERA, 19 K, 1 BB, .197 BAA

Meyer didn't allow a disappointing start at the major league level interrupt the progress he had been making at the minor league level all season. The left-hander made two starts for the River Cats after being sent back from Oakland following a one-start appearance in the major leagues. During those two Triple-A starts following the demotion, Meyer allowed only three runs in 12 innings. He struck out 12 and walked none in those starts. Meyer was promoted back to the big leagues at the start of September. Meyer had a strong overall season for Sacramento, but his August was most notable for his improved control. He walked only one during the month after walking at least 13 in all of the previous months this season. Meyer finished his comeback season with an 8-2 record and a 3.39 ERA in 119.1 minor league innings. He struck out 107 and walked 55 on the year.

Brad Ziegler:
4-0, 14.2 IP, 1.23 ERA, 10 K, 5 BB, .120 BAA

After acting as a starting pitcher throughout his career, Ziegler made the smooth transition to submarine reliever this season. The right-hander spent most of the year in Triple-A Sacramento, where he appeared in 35 games and threw 54.2 innings. August was by far his best month of the season, as he allowed only 11 base-runners in 14.2 innings. Ziegler has been extremely tough on righties this season, holding them to a .176 BAA. Despite making the transition from starter to reliever, Ziegler established a career-high in wins this season with 12 between Midland and Sacramento.

Jerry Blevins:
1-2, 16 IP, 2.81 ERA, 21 K, 4 BB

Blevins got off to a rough start with his new organization, allowing a game-winning homerun in his first outing with Midland after being acquired from the Chicago Cubs organization. However, he improved as he got comfortable with his new surroundings and had a strong final month for the Midland Rockhounds. Blevins was a strikeout machine all season, whiffing 102 batters in only 77.1 innings. He also showed good control, walking only 18 over that stretch. Blevins was promoted to Triple-A Sacramento in September, winning a game with a 2.2 inning scoreless appearance on September 1.

Bobby Cramer:
2-1, 31.1 IP, 2.87 ERA, 30 K, 8 BB

Cramer spent most of July in the Midland Rockhounds' bullpen, but he made the successful transition to the starting rotation at the end of that month and that success continued into August. The left-hander threw at least six innings in all of his starts for the Rockhounds and never allowed more than three runs. In 21 minor league appearances (15 starts) this season, Cramer went 9-2 with a 2.77 ERA and 91 K in 97.1 innings. Not too bad for a guy who was out of baseball at the start of the season. Cramer was added to the Sacramento River Cats' post-season roster and is scheduled to start Game 5 of the Divisional Series should the series go to a fifth game.

Brad Kilby:
2-1, 19 IP, 2.37 ERA, 24 K, 6 BB, .234 BAA

Kilby very quietly put together an outstanding second half of the season for the Midland Rockhounds. The left-handed reliever struck out 40 and walked 14 in 35 innings for the Rockhounds during the second half. He held opposing batters to a .207 BAA over that stretch. On the season, Kilby had a 2.92 ERA in 74 innings, striking out 85 and walking 28 for Stockton and Midland.

David Shafer:
3 SV, 10.1 IP, 2.61 ERA, 10 K, 4 BB

After a disappointing showing with Triple-A Sacramento to start the season, Shafer pitched much better for Double-A Midland. The right-hander had a 7.79 ERA in 26 games for the River Cats and a 2.28 ERA in 24 games for the Rockhounds. Shafer's control was much improved in Double-A. He walked 24 in 34.2 innings for Sacramento, but walked only eight in 23.2 innings for Midland.

Andrew Bailey:
2-2, 39.2 IP, 2.95 ERA, 39 K, 17 BB

We named Bailey one of our "Breakout Candidates" at the start of the season and he certainly fulfilled expectations. Despite missing the first three weeks of the year while recovering from a strained oblique muscle, Bailey still managed to lead the organization in strikeouts with 150 in 125 innings. The big right-hander made the smooth transition from Low-A to High-A at the mid-season point and didn't miss a beat. He struck out 74 in 51 innings for Kane County and struck out 72 in 66 innings for Stockton. Bailey can be a little wild at times (54 walks and 14 homers in 125 innings), but he has all of the makings of a top-of-the-rotation starter in the big leagues if he can stay healthy. Bailey finished his season on a high note, pitching eight strong innings for the Sacramento River Cats in their season finale. He had a no-hitter broken-up with two-outs in the seventh inning and finished by allowing one run in eight innings.

Travis Banwart:
2-1, 24 IP, 1.88 ERA, 19 K, 4 BB, .191 BAA

Banwart was one of only four A's 2007 draft picks to be sent directly to a full-season affiliate after signing a pro contract. The Wichita State alum came to the pros with an advanced feel for pitching and it showed during his time with the Kane County Cougars. Banwart made 12 appearances (six starts) for the Cougars this season, and he posted a 2.60 ERA and a 41:10 K:BB ratio in 45 innings. He allowed only two homeruns and held opposing batters to a .206 BAA.

Trevor Cahill:
5-0, 36.2 IP, 0.74 ERA, 44 K, 13 BB, .160 BAA

After a pedestrian first half of the season, Cahill turned on the jets in the second half and simply dominated the Midwest League. He finished his first full pro season with an 11-4 record and a 2.73 ERA in 20 appearances (19 starts). He struck out 117 in 105.1 innings and allowed only three homeruns. With a plus-curveball, a low-90s fastball, a sinker and a much improved change-up, Cahill already has an advanced starter's repertoire at 19 years old. He demonstrated the ability to get stronger as the season progressed, as August was far-and-away his best month of the season. Cahill allowed only 33 base-runners in 36.2 innings in August and didn't allow a homerun. His post-All-Star break ERA was 2.26. He will enter the 2008 season as one of the A's top pitching prospects.

Jason Fernandez:
2-1, 38.2 IP, 2.79 ERA, 1 CG, 29 K, 9 BB

Kane County's starting rotation was outstanding during the second half of the season and helped fuel the Cougars' second-half playoff run after a disastrous first half of the season. Fernandez was a big part of that resurgent starting rotation. The right-hander finished the year with an 8-2 record and a 2.77 ERA. He began the year as a reliever, but was moved into the starting rotation in July and was extremely effective in that role. He posted a 2.26 ERA in 11 starts for the Cougars. His post-All-Star break ERA was 2.15 in 67 innings, during which time he struck out 50 and allowed only one homerun.

Henry Rodriguez:
1-2, 25.2 IP, 3.16 ERA, 29 K, 12 BB, 0 HR

Rodriguez has arguably the best arm in the entire A's organization and he got a chance to show-off those talents at a full-season affiliate for the first time this season. He was wild at times, but Rodriguez struck out 106 batters in 99.2 innings pitched, allowed only two homeruns all season and posted a 3.07 ERA. The lanky right-hander throws upwards of 95 MPH and has been known to hit 100 MPH on occasion. He finished his season on September 1 with a very strong outing, allowing one run in seven innings, striking out eight and walking two. The 20-year-old posted ERAs under 3.33 in all five months in which he pitched this season.

Lee Land:
2-0, 12.1 IP, 0.00 ERA, 2 SV, 6 BB, 6 K

Land, a 2007 draft pick, signed with the A's a week before the signing deadline after competing in a summer league. Land missed the entire collegiate season due to NCAA transfer rules, but the A's took a chance in drafting him anyway and he was impressive enough this summer for the A's to bring him on-board. Land got off to a good start as a professional by not allowing a run in seven outings for the Vancouver Canadians. Opposing batters in the Northwest League hit only .163 off of him.

Brent Lysander:
2-0, 22.1 IP, 1.21 ERA, 16 H, 6 BB, 12 K

Lysander made the switch from the Canadians' bullpen to the starting rotation in August. The 6'7'' Sonoma State alum allowed only three runs in 17 innings over his last three starts of the season and he finished the year with a 3.35 ERA in 51 innings pitched for Vancouver. He allowed 1.5 hits per inning in July, but gave up less than a hit per inning in August.

Jason Glushon:
2-2, 30.1 IP, 2.37 ERA, 15 K, 1 BB, 0.92 WHIP

Glushon, an undrafted free agent signing out of Emory, parlayed his strong month of August at the Arizona Rookie League into a promotion to Double-A Midland in September, where he made two appearances and allowed two earned runs in six innings of work. Glushon demonstrated remarkable control all season. He struck out 42 and walked only three in 57.2 innings for the Rookie League A's and struck out nine against one walk for Midland. He also allowed only two homers. Glushon is one of the most successful pitchers in Emory history. He threw a record 125.1 innings during his senior season at Emory and won 13 games.

Carlos Hernandez:
2-0, 7.1 IP, 0.00 ERA, 1 H, 2 BB, 10 K

Hernandez made only four appearances in August, but he was dominant for the A's Rookie League team. It was a strong comeback for Hernandez, who struggled during his first four professional baseball appearances, allowing nine earned runs in 4.2 innings. He spent two weeks away from the mound and returned in mid-August a different pitcher. Hernandez was signed this May as a draft-and-follow pick after being selected in the 35th round of the 2006 draft out of West Valley Junior College.

Juan Villegas:
3-0, 23.2 IP, 1.52 ERA, 23 K, 10 BB, 0 HR

After struggling for the first two months of his season with the A's Rookie League team, Villegas turned it around in August. He allowed only two earned runs over his final 20.1 innings pitched, striking out 20 in the process. The 20-year-old right-hander finished the season 3-3 with a 3.50 ERA and 43 strikeouts in 46.1 innings. In 2006, Villegas had a 2.01 ERA for the A's Dominican Summer League team.

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