Oakland A's MLN: Blevins Helps Team USA

The fall and winter leagues were in full-swing this past week, with full schedules in the AFL, the Hawaiian Winter League and the Carribbean Winter Leagues. In addition, Team USA has gotten underway at the IBAF World Cup. We have updates on all of the A's prospects playing this winter inside...

Blevins Helps Team USA Move To 4-1
Team USA moved to 4-1 in the 2007 IBAF World Cup with a convincing 12-1 win over Spain on Sunday. Oakland A's relief prospect Jerry Blevins worked two scoreless innings to help guide Team USA to victory.

Blevins entered the game in the fifth inning with the US winning by a score of 5-1. He retired all six batters he faced, striking out three and inducing two ground-outs and a fly-out. It was Blevins' second appearance in the tournament for Team USA. He worked one-third of an inning in his first outing. Blevins appeared in three games for Team USA during the Arizona Fall League exhibition portion of the schedule. He allowed one run in 3.2 innings with five strike outs and two walks.

Arizona Fall League
The A's position players at the AFL continue to struggle at the plate, with the exception of catcher Raul Padron. Padron is batting .293 with an 835 OPS in 41 at-bats for the Phoenix Desert Dogs. He doubled in three at-bats on Saturday, his third double of the AFL season. Shortstop Cliff Pennington is batting only .170, but he has been hitting better as of late. The A's 2005 top pick has five hits in his last 15 at-bats, including a homer (his first of the AFL season) and two doubles. He also has walked five times over that span. Despite the anemic batting average, Pennington's OBP is a decent .333 thanks to a 12:8 BB:K ratio. Third baseman Jeff Baisley has continued to struggle after he had a fast start to the AFL season. Baisley is only six for his last 39. He has 15 RBI in 21 games, but he has a poor 6:20 BB:K ratio. On the plus-side, he hasn't made an error all season despite playing a portion of his games out-of-position at first base.

On the mound, the A's AFL prospects are having better success. Left-hander Brad Kilby hasn't allowed a run over his last eight innings of work. Kilby has a 1.74 ERA and he is holding opposing batters to a .244 BAA. The only blemish on his season thus far is his K:BB ratio, which is 5:6. A's 2007 top pick James Simmons is holding his own at the AFL despite being one of the younger pitchers in the league. The right-hander has a 3.68 ERA in 7.1 innings of work. Simmons has struck out six and walked one over that span. Right-hander Jeff Gray has been struggling with his command, but has had decent results in the AFL. Gray has a 4.63 ERA in 11.2 innings. The reliever has nine strike outs and six walks. He worked two scoreless innings on Friday. Left-hander Justin Dowdy hasn't appeared in a game in two weeks. He has thrown three scoreless innings after joining the league two weeks into the season.

Winter Leagues
The Hawaiian Winter League is winding down. Outfielder Jermaine Mitchell has struggled at the plate after a fast start. He is sitting on a three-game hitting streak, but he is only seven-for-his-last-30. Mitchell has done a good job getting on-base, posting a .352 OBP despite a .243 BA. He is two-for-eight in stolen base attempts. Shortstop Justin Sellers is four-for-his-last-10, but he is batting only .237 on the HWL season. He hit his first HWL homer on Halloween and he drove-in two runs on Sunday. Sellers has stolen five bases in six attempts this season, but has struggled to get on-base, posting only a .318 OBP. Starter Jared Lansford has had two good outings at the HWL after struggling in three straight starts. Lansford has thrown two consecutive three-inning scoreless outings, including one in which he earned a save. Lansford hasn't walked a batter in his last 10 innings. He has a 16:5 K:BB ratio in 26 innings at the HWL. His ERA is at 5.54 for the season.

In Venezuela, shortstop Gregorio Petit has picked up the pace a bit for the Leones del Caracas, just as A's veteran Marco Scutaro has arrived to start playing for the team. Petit has brought his average up to .244 after being as low as .107. He has seven RBIs in 16 games, although he has only one extra-base hit. Petit may lose playing time to the veteran Scutaro, who made his debut with Caracas over the weekend. He went one-for-seven with two walks in two games over the weekend.

On the mound, starters Brad Knox and Ben Fritz have thrown well for Caracas. Knox has a 3.68 ERA in six starts. The right-hander worked six innings on Sunday, allowing three runs on four hits. He struck-out three and walked one. Fritz has a 4.29 ERA in five starts. He last threw on Friday, and he had his best outing of the VWL season, going five shut-out innings. He struck out six and walked two, while allowing only two hits. Flame-throwing A's prospect Henry Rodriguez is pitching well in relief for Aguilas del Zuila. Rodriguez has a 2.19 ERA in 12.1 innings for Zuila. He has struck out 10 while walking six and has allowed only seven hits.

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