Oakland A's MLN: Three Surprising Cuts

As we have noted throughout the spring, the Oakland A's are experiencing one of their most competitive minor league spring training camps in quite some time. Thanks to the addition of so many players via trades or signings this off-season, the A's are having to make some very difficult roster cuts. OaklandClubhouse has learned that the A's have let go of three more minor leaguers.

According to Oakland Director of Player Development Keith Lieppman, the Oakland A's have recently released infielder Vasili Spanos, left-handed pitcher Aaron Jenkins and catcher David Castillo.

Spanos was an 11th round selection of the A's out of Indiana University in 2003. The former All-Big Ten performer was one of the top hitters in the A's system for a number of years. In 2004, he hit .311 with a .419 OBP and a 924 OPS for Low-A Kane County. He also spent part of that summer playing for the Greek Olympic baseball team in the Athens Summer Olympics.

In 2005, Spanos started the year with High-A Stockton and, after a hot start, was promoted to Double-A Midland. He struggled in his first taste of Double-A, batting only .235 with a 718 OPS. Spanos finished the year back at Stockton, where he hit .310 with a 938 OPS in 77 games. The next season, Spanos returned to Midland, where he had a lot more success than he did in 2005. In 120 games for the Rockhounds, Spanos hit .308 with a .405 OBP.

Despite those strong numbers, Spanos was blocked at Triple-A in 2007. He also struggled with injuries and appeared in only 100 games for Double-A Midland. Spanos hit .276 with 10 homers and a 757 OPS. The corner infielder finishes his time in the A's organization with a career .294 average and an 846 OPS. He has played both first base and third base during his time in the A's chain.

Jenkins was a 22nd round selection of the A's in this past June's draft. The left-hander put together some amazing strike-out totals during his first professional campaign, which he spent with short-season Vancouver. In 22.1 innings, Jenkins struck-out 41 batters. He also allowed only 13 hits. Unfortunately, he walked 20, which ballooned his ERA to 4.43. Jenkins' curveball was rated one of the best in the A's organization. He was selected out of the University of Northern Iowa.

Castillo was a seventh-round pick by the A's in 2003 out of Oral Roberts University. The catcher is probably most well-known for being suspended for performance-enhancing drugs three times in a one-year period, which culminated in a 60-game suspension in 2005. Castillo claimed that all three positive tests were the result of a one-time usage that lingered in his system. The A's gave him a chance to remain in the organization after the suspension.

Although he didn't garner much playing time after 2004, Castillo was a valuable member of the organization, filling in at a variety of levels up-and-down the chain when the A's had injuries behind-the-plate. In 2007 alone, Castillo appeared in games for all four of the A's full-season affiliates. This spring, the A's often borrowed Castillo from minor league camp to catch bullpens and serve as the emergency or ninth-inning catcher in big league spring training games. In five seasons in the A's chain, Castillo hit .227.

Castillo's release could be an indication that the A's are confident in the health of some of their minor league catchers who are coming off of injuries, including Landon Powell, Jed Morris and Jake Smith.

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