Oakland A's MLN: Independent Ex-A's

In this edition of Oakland A's Minor League Notebook, we take a tour of the spring training rosters of many independent league baseball teams in search of former A's farmhands. We also have other news and notes from around the A's system inside…

Ex-A's Now Independent
A number of former Oakland A's prospects are on the spring training rosters of independent league baseball teams throughout the country. One team, in particular, has a "green-and-gold" feel to it. The Lancaster Barnstormers of the Atlantic League are managed by former A's minor league skipper Von Hayes. Hayes has surrounded himself with a number of his former players from his time managing in the Oakland system.

As of Tuesday, the following former A's farmhands were on the Barnstomers' roster: Brian Stavisky, Vasili Spanos, Mike Nannini, Jason Perry, Lloyd Turner, Ryan Cullen and Tim McClaskey. In addition, Matthew LeCroy, who spent spring training with the A's, is on the Barnstomers' roster. Stavisky, Perry, Turner, Nannini and Spanos all played for Hayes while they were in the A's system. Stavisky, Perry and Turner were all parts of both of Hayes' championship teams: the 2004 Modesto A's and the 2005 Midland Rockhounds.

In addition to those players, a number of other former A's prospects are set to play independent-league baseball this season. Here are the ones we found on rosters through Tuesday:

John Brummett – Traverse City Beach Bums of the Frontier League Brummett, a catcher, hit .160 in 34 career games in the A's system. He appeared at three levels with the A's: Rookie, High-A and Triple-A.

Joe Valentine – Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League Valentine was acquired by the A's along with Keith Foulke and catcher Mark Johnson from the Chicago White Sox for Billy Koch, Daylon Holt and Neal Cotts before the start of the 2003 season. Valentine was anointed the "A's closer of the future" at the time of the trade, but he struggled during his one season in the A's system, posting a 4.82 ERA in 40 games and saving only four for Triple-A Sacramento. Valentine was dealt at the 2003 trade deadline to the Cincinnati Reds along with Aaron Harang and Jeff Bruksch for Jose Guillen. Valentine would eventually appear in 42 games over three seasons for the Reds, posting a 6.70 major league ERA. This is his second season with the Ducks.

Ramon Castro – Newark Bears of the Atlantic League Castro was in the A's system for only one season, but he did see time in the major leagues with Oakland. The utility infielder signed with the A's as a minor league free agent before the 2004 season. He appeared in 28 games for Double-A Midland and 40 games for Triple-A Sacramento that season. Castro also played in nine games for the A's that year, collecting two hits in 15 at-bats. It is Castro's only major-league service time in eight minor league seasons. This will be his second year with Newark.

Eddie Kim – Atlantic City Surf of the Can-Am League Kim has played in the independent leagues for the past three seasons after being released by the A's during spring training in 2006. Kim was a fourth-round pick of the A's in 2003, but injuries curtailed his production with Oakland. The left-handed hitting first baseman hit 22 homers in two seasons with the Kane County Cougars from 2004-2005. He has since played for River City and Florence of the Frontier League and Bradenton of the South Atlantic League. This will be his first season in the Can-Am League.

Rob Semerano – New Jersey Jackals of the Northern League Semerano spent four years in the A's chain, reaching as high as High-A. He appeared in 15 games for the Stockton Ports last year before an injury shut him down for the season. In four minor league campaigns with Oakland, the right-handed reliever posted a 4.17 ERA and saved 17 games. He had 10 saves and a 3.28 ERA for Low-A Kane County in 2005, his best season.

Keith Dunn – Quebec Capitales of the Can-Am League Dunn has been a fixture for Quebec since 2002. The only time he hasn't pitched for Quebec over the past six seasons was in 2005, when he was with the Stockton Ports. Dunn was an 11-game winner for the Ports in 2005 and he posted a 4.56 ERA in 100.2 innings.

Drew Dickinson – Gary Railcats of the Northern League Dickinson was a 2002 draft pick of the A's and he spent four seasons in the Oakland chain. The left-hander spent the 2004 and 2005 seasons almost exclusively with Double-A Midland, where he compiled a 14-21 record. His best season was in 2003 for Kane County in his home state of Illinois, when Dickinson posted a 3.61 ERA in 159.2 innings. He was with Schaumberg of the Northern League last season.

Jeff Muessig – Joilet Jackhammers of the Northern League Muessig spent seven seasons in the A's chain. A 2001 draft pick, he began his career with the A's Rookie League squad that season and was steadily moving up the organization until an injury curtailed his progress when he was with Midland in 2006. He played for Stockton in 2007, but he wasn't as effective as he was before the surgery, posting a 4.86 ERA in 45 games last season. He had a 3.65 ERA and 350 strike-outs in 296.2 career innings in the A's chain.

Jose Pineda – Evansville Otters of the Frontier League Pineda was Muessig's teammate with Stockton last season. The outfielder batted .271 with 20 homers and 64 RBIs in 112 games for the Ports in 2007. He had 15 homers and 21 stolen bases for Kane County in 2006.

Randy Rapp – Edmonton Cracker-Cats of the Golden League Rapp was signed out of the independent leagues by the A's back in 2006 and he spent that season in the A's chain. He made 18 appearances for Kane County and 11 for Stockton, all in relief. The right-hander spent last season with Winnipeg of the Northern League.

News and Notes
* Ben Barrone has become the second A's farmhand to join the Midland Rockhounds' coaching staff this season, according to the website Notes from the Nat.com. The catcher was released as a player by the A's, but he has remained with Midland in a coaching capacity. Casey Myers, the Rockhounds' hitting coach, was the other A's farmhand to join the Midland staff this season. Myers is acting as a player-coach this season.

* Right-hander Craig Italiano followed-up his no-hit performance with another gem on Tuesday. He struck-out 10 in 4.1 innings in a game the Cougars would win on a walk-off walk in the ninth inning. Over his last two starts, Italiano has not allowed an earned run and he has struck-out 19 and walked only two in 10 innings. For the season, he has 24 strike-outs and four walks in 14 innings. Kane County is now 11-1 on the season.

* Right-hander Brad Knox also had a strong performance on Tuesday. Knox moved to 2-0 on the season by working seven shut-out innings versus Tucson. Sacramento only scored once for Knox, but it was enough. He allowed only four hits and one walk and he struck-out five. In 13 innings this season, Knox has allowed 11 hits, one run and three walks while striking-out 10.

* Left-hander Danny Borrell has been added to the River Cats' roster from Double-A Midland. Sacramento has lost starters Greg Smith and Kirk Saarloos and reliever Joey Devine to promotions to Oakland over the past week. Borrell is the second Midland pitcher to join the River Cats this week. Jesus Silva was promoted when Devine was sent to Oakland.

* Brett Anderson had his first poor start of the season on Tuesday, allowing six earned runs in 2.1 innings versus the San Jose Giants. He hadn't allowed a run in 12 innings coming into the game. Anderson's ERA jumped from 0.00 to 3.77 after the start.

* Midland dropped only its second game of the season on Tuesday, losing a 9-1 decision to Springfield. Vince Mazzaro had his first subpar outing for the Rockhounds, allowing five runs (three earned) in five innings. He walked four. Jesus Guzman snapped an eight-game streak of multi-hit games with an 0-4 performance. Guzman was named the Texas League's Player of the Week for his performance last week.

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