In 66 games before the All-Star break, Sulentic batted .299 with an 836 OPS for the Ports. He hit six homers, 16 doubles and two triples and sported a .373 OBP. Sulentic also displayed improved range and a stronger throwing arm in the outfield. His homer total is already higher in 2008 than his entire 2007 campaign. The Ports coaching staff has been careful with Sulentic this season, batting him mostly at the bottom of the order to keep the pressure off. That approach has worked, and, more often than not, Sulentic has served as a sparkplug for the top of the Ports' batting order. At 20, Sulentic is still young, so he is likely to spend the rest of this season with the Ports. If he continues to hit like he did in the first half, Sulentic will finish this season as one of the best prospect turnaround stories in minor league baseball.
During the first half of the season, Brown hit .258 with 10 homers, 31 RBIs and an 820 OPS. Given that the Midwest League average OPS sits under 700, Brown's offensive production has been impressive. He earned a starting spot in the Midwest League All-Star game and picked-up two RBIs in the contest. Brown has carried that performance into the second half of the season. He is batting .341 with three homers and an 1107 OPS in 10 games since the break.
Brown is a five-tool talent who is establishing himself as one of the A's best outfield prospects. He figures to see some time with High-A Stockton this season, likely when the A's move up someone like Sean Doolittle. Brown's homer totals in the hitter-friendly California League could dwarf what he has done with Kane County thus far this season.
In 72 games prior to the All-Star break, Zeringue batted .283 with 12 homers, 47 RBIs and an 864 OPS. He earned a spot on the Texas League All-Star team and went 4-5 with three runs scored in the game. The A's have a lot of depth in the outfield at Triple-A, so Zeringue may finish the year at Double-A. However, if he continues to hit Texas League pitching at this rate, he should have plenty of suitors for his services this off-season.
Putnam began the 2008 season at Double-A, but he was quickly promoted to Triple-A Sacramento when injuries struck the River Cats outfield. He has looked like a different hitter than the one who struggled last season, batting .271 with an 838 OPS and nine homeruns in 49 at-bats for Sacramento. Putnam has been slowed recently by a bout with pneumonia, but he has otherwise been a consistent performer for the River Cats. Perhaps most impressive is Putnam's .298 average and 848 OPS against left-handed pitchers. Another few months with this level of production could earn Putnam a September look with the A's or it could make him an attractive trade candidate for other teams at the deadline.
Doolittle was sent to High-A Stockton at the start of the season and he has been outstanding since the start of the year. In 73 games for the Ports before the All-Star break, Doolittle hit .322 with a 985 OPS. The biggest question surrounding Doolittle before the season was whether he would hit for power in the pros. Thus far, he has answered that question to the tune of 22 doubles, two triples and 16 homers in only 283 pre-All-Star break at-bats. His strike-out totals have been high, but Doolittle walked 41 times before the break and has kept his OBP at or above .400 for most of the season.
Already skilled with the glove at first base coming into the season, Doolittle has also seen time in the outfield and has handled that position, as well. He was a starter for the California League All-Star team in the Cal League-Carolina League All-Star match-up. Doolittle ranked second in the Cal League in OPS and third in homers before the break. He figures to see some time in Double-A before the year is done.
Guzman earned a starting spot on in the Texas League All-Star game, but he was promoted to Triple-A before the game to fill-in at third in Sacramento for an injured Jeff Baisley. The versatile Guzman can play all over the infield, so he figures to remain in Sacramento even when Baisley returns to play third base. Guzman is an offensive-minded infielder, so he'll need to continue to post big numbers at the plate to draw consideration for a spot in the big leagues. However, despite being a seven-year minor league free agent this past off-season, he just turned 24, so Guzman has time still to establish himself as a big league player.
Carter is still a work-in-progress at first base, where he has struggled at times on routine plays. He has seen more time in the outfield of late, where he has looked smoother. The outfield may be Carter's eventual home, as the A's have some organizational depth at first base. Either way, the bat has been as advertised thus far this season. If Carter stays in the Cal League all year, he could challenge the 40-homer plateau. Either way, he looks to have a good shot to reach 30 homers on the season.
Despite his drop-off in production after the injury last year, Baisley was promoted to Triple-A at the start of the 2008 season. After missing the first week of the year with a leg injury, Baisley took over as the River Cats' everyday third baseman and he did a solid job in his first taste of Triple-A baseball. In 62 games, Baisley hit .289 with eight homers, 40 RBIs and an 866 OPS. He also flashed good leather at the hot corner. Unfortunately for Baisley, his 2008 second half is beginning in much the same fashion as his 2007 second half: on the DL. Baisley is currently sidelined with a stress fracture in his left foot that will cost him at least a month and likely six weeks. If he is able to get back on the field quickly, he could be in-line for a September audition with Oakland.
He began the year where he ended the 2007 season – in Double-A Midland. Pennington didn't hit for much power for the Rockhounds during the first half of this season, but he did a solid job getting on-base (.379 OBP in 50 games). Once he was on-base, Pennington maximized his opportunities, stealing 20 bases in 21 chances and scoring 42 runs. In early June, Pennington was promoted to Triple-A Sacramento for the first time. In 26 games for the River Cats, he has shown a little more power than he did in Double-A (.383 SLG) and he has continued to get on-base and score runs (.271 BA/.388 OBP and 21 runs scored in 28 games). Pennington has played both short and second base this season. He was recently named to the US roster of the All-Star Futures game and he is in the running for a spot on Team USA's squad for this year's Olympics in Beijing. If Pennington continues to play well with Sacramento this year, he will likely be added to the A's 40-man roster this off-season and given a chance to compete with Gregorio Petit for a spot on the A's bench (or in the starting line-up, should Bobby Crosby be moved).
Many scouts questioned whether Horton would be able to stay at shortstop in the pros, but thus far he has handled the position well. He hasn't hit for much power (zero homers and 11 total extra-base hits in the first half) or run much, but he has done everything else well. With Justin Sellers, Pennington and Petit ahead of him, Horton will likely spend the rest of the season in High-A, but he should be in-line for a promotion to Double-A next season and a possible spot in the Arizona Fall League this October.
Recker was especially effective against left-handed pitching during the first half. The right-handed batter hit .404 with two homers and a 1139 OPS versus southpaws. He also did well in night games, batting .300 in 58 evening contests. Recker has improved his defense behind home-plate and he offers above-average power for a catcher. The withering Texas heat can wear down many a Texas League backstop, but if Recker continues to post decent offensive numbers, he will be in-line for a promotion to Triple-A as soon as there is an opening in Sacramento.
Cobb's production at the plate is even more valuable when one considers his versatility in the field. An outfielder in college and during his first year as a pro, Cobb has played a significant amount of second base, as well as third base, leftfield, centerfield, rightfield and DH this season. He has also hit everywhere in the line-up from the top to the bottom. He should get another crack at Stockton sometime this year.