Oakland A's MLN: Two C's Shine

The Vancouver Canadians are limping along at a 14-21 pace this season, but they find themselves only three games out of first in the Northwest League Western Division. Despite the poor record, the C's have a couple of standout performers this season. Lefty Carlos Hernandez and shortstop Jason Christian, in particular, have shined. We have notes on the C's and other Oakland A's affiliates inside…

Hernandez, Christian Continue To Pace Vancouver

After struggling during his first pro season last year, left-hander Carlos Hernandez has been one of the Northwest League's most dominant pitchers in 2008. The A's 2007 draft-and-follow signee sports a sparkling 1.82 ERA in seven starts this year for the Vancouver Canadians. In 39.2 innings, he has allowed only 32 hits and seven walks and he has struck-out 38. Hernandez has also yet to allow a homerun.

Through Tuesday, Hernandez was leading all Northwest League starters in ERA and was third in the league in WHIP (0.98). All of those great stats haven't bought Hernandez a lot of wins, however, as poor run support has left Hernandez stuck at a 1-0 record. In his last outing, Hernandez was hung with a no-decision despite not allowing a run in seven innings. He scattered three hits, walked none and struck-out five.

Hernandez was signed just before the draft last season after being selected by Oakland in the 35th round of the 2006 amateur draft. The Santa Clara native struggled with injuries after signing last year and made only eight appearances, going 2-1 with a 6.75 ERA in 12 innings for Vancouver and the A's Arizona Rookie League team. According to A's Minor League Pitching Coordinator Gil Patterson, Hernandez has an advanced feel for pitching despite being only 21 years old.

"I don't want to say that he is a soft-tossing lefty, because he throws like 87-88. He can change speeds, he keeps the ball down and he can spin a curveball for a strike. He kind of does everything that you would want a guy to do," Patterson said.

The C's haven't had much offense this season (a .233 team BA, second-worst in the league), but what offense they have had has mostly come off of the bat of shortstop Jason Christian. The A's fifth round pick this year has gotten off to a torrid start to his pro career. The Michigan alum is fourth in the pitcher-friendly Northwest League with a 922 OPS and his .328 BA is seventh-best in the league.

Christian has done a little bit of everything at the plate. He has three homeruns, eight doubles and a triple for a .491 SLG. He has also stolen four bases. Christian has hit righties (.315 BA/880 OPS) and lefties well (.370 BA/1056 OPS) and he has hit at home (.322 BA) and on the road (.333 BA). The 21-year-old has been at his best with runners in scoring position. The left-handed hitter is batting .421 with two homers and a 1200 OPS in 38 at-bats with runners in scoring position this season.

Other News And Notes:

-- In what might be his last outing before heading to Beijing for the Olympics, Trevor Cahill earned his fifth win for the Midland Rockhounds on Tuesday night. His command wasn't at its sharpest, as he walked four in five innings, but he was able to pitch around it for the most part. Cahill allowed three runs, but all were unearned, in five innings. He struck-out six. If this was his last outing before the Olympics, Cahill will finish his minor league season with a 10-5 record and a 2.64 ERA with 132 strike-outs and 46 walks in 119.1 innings split between High-A Stockton and Double-A Midland. In two full professional seasons, Cahill has an ERA of 2.69.

-- Midland right-hander Andrew Bailey threw two scoreless innings of relief in support of Cahill on Tuesday. Bailey has now worked 12 innings as a reliever and he has yet to allow an earned run. He has struck-out 14, walked five and allowed eight hits in relief.

-- Starter Gio Gonzalez saw his outing on Tuesday cut short by a torrential down-pour in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The game was halted two batters into the bottom of the second inning with the Sacramento River Cats leading the Isotopes by a score of 3-1. The game is scheduled to resume on Wednesday at 3:30pm PST, although Gonzalez is unlikely to take the mound again.

-- Starter Henry Rodriguez had a rough outing on Tuesday in the Stockton Ports' 7-2 loss to Rancho Cucamonga. He allowed six runs (five earned) on nine hits in 5.2 innings of work. Rodriguez struck-out seven and walked two and saw his High-A ERA climb to 3.08. The Ports were unable to score until the ninth inning, when they plated two runs. Chris Carter, back at first base for the first time in awhile, went 2-4 with a triple to raise his average to .266. The triple was his fourth of the season. Corey Brown had a double, as did Mike Massaro. Massaro is batting .404 for the Ports this year. Adrian Cardenas went 0-4 and is batting .211 in four games since coming over to the A's organization last week in the Joe Blanton trade. Matt Spencer, the other position player involved in the Blanton trade, also went 0-4 on Tuesday. It was his first game without a hit as a member of the Ports. He has six hits in 16 at-bats for Stockton.

-- Arizona Rookie League outfielder Jose Crisostomo went 2-5 on Tuesday to raise his average to .311. He also stole his eighth base of the season in 10 attempts. The 19-year-old has scored 10 runs in 15 games and he has a .386 OBP for the Arizona A's. Franklin Hernandez continues to pace the Rookie A's offense. In 24 games, the 21-year-old is batting .330 with 12 doubles, three triples and two homeruns. He has a 983 OPS and a team-leading 20 RBIs.

-- A's 2008 10th round pick Rashun Dixon leads the Rookie A's with four homeruns and he is tied with Hernandez for the team lead in RBIs. The 17-year-old Dixon has struck-out a lot (38 in 22 games), but he has a .468 SLG and has shown his speed with five triples. A's 2008 15th round pick Nino Leyja is also off to a good start. In his last 10 games, Leyja has a .357 average and a 6:4 BB:K ratio. On the season, the 17-year-old shortstop has a .324 BA and 12 walks against 10 strike-outs. He hasn't homered yet, but he has six doubles, three triples and a .493 SLG.

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