Oakland A's MLN: Power Surge

Last season, the Oakland A's had only three minor leaguers reach the 20-homer plateau, Tom Everidge, Jason Perry and Jose Pineda. With Perry and Pineda no longer in the organization, it appeared that the A's might have a power shortage in their system in 2008. That has turned out not to be the case. Less than 40 games into the year, there are a number of A's minor leaguers on pace to hit 20 homers

The Oakland A's may be struggling to hit homers at the major-league level, but there is no such shortage in their minor-league system. The Sacramento River Cats rank third in the Pacific Coast League with 51 homers, the Midland Rockhounds rank second in the Texas League with 34 homers and the Stockton Ports rank first in the California League with 42 homers. Only the Kane County Cougars are not among the league leaders with 18 homers in the Midwest League, a total that ties the team for the eighth-best ranking in the league.

Sean Doolittle has shown power to all fields this season.
Not surprisingly, the most power in the organization is coming from the Ports out of the hitter-friendly California League. The Ports are led by a power-hitting first-base tandem in Sean Doolittle and Chris Carter. Both sluggers have 10 homeruns each through Sunday to pace the organization. That Carter is pacing the organization is not a surprise. Carter was acquired by the A's in the Dan Haren trade this off-season because of his prodigious power, which allowed him to hit 25 homers in 467 at-bats last season for the Chicago White Sox's Kaanapolis affiliate. Doolittle's power has been a bit more of a surprise. Selected in the supplemental first round by Oakland last season, Doolittle came to pro ball with a reputation as a good hitter with questionable power. That question has appeared to have been answered emphatically, as Doolittle has not only crushed 10 homers, but he has also added 10 doubles and two triples for a .676 SLG.

Close on the tail of Doolittle and Carter is Stockton catcher Jed Morris, who has made an impressive comeback after missing most of last season as he recovered from leukemia and from a broken hamate bone. Morris has seven homers, eight doubles and two triples in 103 at-bats this season. He is second on the Ports with a .621 SLG. Utilityman Darryl Lawhorn hasn't had as much playing time as Morris, Doolittle or Carter, but he has hit for power when he has been in the line-up. In 77 at-bats, Lawhorn has three homers, three triples and two doubles for a .532 SLG. Archie Gilbert, who is sitting on a 23-game hitting streak, has four homers and a .504 SLG, while Matt Sulentic (three homers, nine doubles and two triples) is hovering around the .500 SLG-mark with a .495 SLG.

Joe Gaetti has gone deep five times in 14 games for A's affiliate this season.
The Sacramento River Cats have seen a more even distribution of homeruns throughout their roster to account for their 51 team homers. Thirteen different players have gone deep for Sacramento this season. Catcher Landon Powell is leading the way with seven homeruns in only 65 at-bats this season. Powell's HR:H ratio (if there were such a stat) is an astounding 7:13. Danny Putnam and Brooks Conrad are close behind Powell with six homers apiece. Conrad's power is not surprising, as he has surpassed the 20-homer plateau frequently throughout his career, including the past two seasons. Putnam, on the other hand, has been a pleasant surprise this season after struggling to hit only six homers between the majors and the minors all last season.

Sacramento has gotten a recent power burst from newcomer Joe Gaetti, who was signed by the A's as a minor league free agent in mid-April. Gaetti has hit four homers in only nine games for the River Cats and five in 14 games for Midland and Sacramento combined. His combined SLG in those 14 games is .736. Casey Rogowski, who was signed as a minor league free agent by the A's in the off-season, has five homers this year, while Jeff Baisley and Wes Bankston both have four homers. Carlos Gonzalez, Justin Knoedler, Todd Linden and Kevin Melillo each have three homers in 90 at-bats or less.

Jesus Guzman leads the Rockhounds in slugging percentage.
The Midland Rockhounds might feature the Texas League's stolen base leader (Cliff Pennington, 16), but the Rockhounds have been flexing their muscle as well as their speed. Outfielder Jon Zeringue, who hit 13 homers in only 204 at-bats for Stockton last season, is leading the Rockhounds with eight homers in 127 at-bats. He also has eight doubles and a triple and a .559 SLG. Infielder Jesus Guzman has seven homeruns, eight doubles, a triple and a team-leading .563 SLG. Tom Everidge, who led the A's minor league organization with 26 homers last season, is on a similar pace this year with seven homers. Myron Leslie has four homers for Midland while playing both at the corner infield and corner outfield positions.

Kane County hasn't seen a lot of power this season, which is not unusual for a Midwest League team in the cool early months of the season. Centerfielder Corey Brown, who hit 11 homers in only half a season last year with short-season Vancouver, has led the way for Kane County with five homers. He also has 10 doubles and two triples for a .555 SLG. First baseman Greg Dowling has three homers and 12 doubles and a .472 SLG, while catcher Matt Smith has posted an impressive .522 SLG in 15 games (two homers) since joining the Cougars in mid-April. Toddric Johnson also has three homers, while Jake Smith had a .513 SLG before going on the disabled list in mid-April.


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