OC Mailbag: Did Tacker Sign?

In our latest edition of the OaklandClubhouse mailbag, we answer questions about Ryne Tacker, Justin Frash and Aaron Cunningham.

What is the status of 34th Round draft pick Ryne (Nathan) Tacker, a pitcher out of Rice University?

The last time I checked, he had yet to sign a Contract with the A's, which is curious because, according to Baseball America, he has expired his college eligibility.

Is he injured? Did he retire? Or did he just choose to pursue another career besides baseball?

Please advise if you get a chance.

- Jason L.

According to Eric Kubota, the A's scouting director, Ryne Tacker did eventually sign with the A's. He will be reporting to extended spring training.

By way of background, Tacker is a right-hander out of Rice University. He was a big part of the Rice staff that led the Owls to an appearance in the NCAA College World Series this past season. Tacker went 9-1 for Rice in 2007, his senior season. He missed all of the 2006 season with a stress fracture in his right elbow and he struggled with tendinitis in that elbow in May 2007.

Tacker is a good athlete who has spent time at first base and at DH in addition to pitching. He has good stuff -- a low-90s fastball, curveball and change-up -- and he has pitched both as a starter and as a reliever in college. His medical history is the main reason that he lasted until the 34th round of the draft. He is a polished pitcher and, if healthy, could move quickly once he begins his professional career.

Hey I was just curious on how Justin Frash is doing this spring? I hear he is hitting the ball well and getting on base a lot. Any idea on where he may be playing this season? I try to watch players from my home town.
- Jason P. from Camarillo, CA

As of last Monday, Frash was on the High-A Stockton spring roster, however, there is a chance he could wind-up playing for Low-A Kane County once all of the rosters are set.

The A's will be setting their minor league Opening Day rosters on Sunday and Monday, so look for the announcement then.

I was disappointed to see Aaron Cunningham get hurt after starting out the spring so well. Any chance he sees the big leagues this season now that he has to miss the first month or so of the season?

- Peter S.

Cunningham made a very strong impression in his first camp with the A's. Before the start of spring training, he was tentatively slated to start the year with Double-A Midland. However, before he got hurt, there were beginning to be whispers that Cunningham would be sent to Triple-A Sacramento instead. Now that he will have to miss at least the first few weeks of the season, there is a good chance that he will begin the year at Double-A. Whether he makes the leap from Double-A to Triple-A or the big leagues will have a lot to do with how quickly he can rebound from the injury.

Hand injuries can be tricky. As we saw with Danny Putnam last season, it can take awhile for a player to regain his timing even after the broken bone in the hand has healed. Some players can regain that timing quicker than others. If Cunningham makes a quick comeback, he could progress fast enough to receive a September call-up with the A's.

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