Oakland A's MLN: International Notebook

The Oakland A's made a commitment to increase their international presence this season and that progress has continued over the past few weeks with three more international signings. We detail those signings, as well as the progress of Arnold Leon in Mexico, Brett Anderson and Trevor Cahill with Team USA, and more...

A's Ink Three More International Prospects

At the outset of the July 2nd international signing period, we reported that the Oakland A's had signed highly touted Dominican right-hander Michael Inoa and two Venezuelan prospects, outfielder Jose Sayegh and right-handed pitcher Elihoref Suniaga. Since then, the A's have signed three more Venezuelan prospects, according to A's Director of Player Personnel Billy Owens.

The three new signees are Diego Ledezma, Junior Gonzalez and Christian Perez. All three were scouted by A's long-time scout in Venezuela Julio Franco.

Ledezma is a catcher who, according to Owens, has good catch-and-throw defensive skills and a strong work ethic. A right-handed hitter, Ledezma reminds Owens of Chicago Cubs catcher Henry Blanco.

Gonzalez is a 6'2'' left-handed pitcher. Owens described Gonzalez as a having a lanky build with a projectible arm with nice arm action. Gonzalez reportedly already has a good feel for his change-up and has a useable breaking ball.

"He comes inside well to right-handed hitters," Owens wrote in an e-mail to OaklandClubhouse.com.

Perez is a big bodied right-handed pitcher whose build reminds Owens of long-time major league starter Freddy Garcia. Perez currently throws his fastball up to 86 MPH with a good breaking ball and change-up. Owens described Perez as a "strike thrower [with] a good idea on the mound."

"He has a chance for legit command," Owens wrote.

"He is a young kid that can pitch and shows hints of velocity. As he matures, he should throw harder in the near future. We like the pitchability."

Leon Going Strong In Mexico

Right-hander Arnold Leon was the A's highest profile international signing this past off-season. The Mexican 19-year-old made his US debut this year, appearing in 20 games as a reliever for the High-A Stockton Ports. Leon was outstanding during his first taste of US competition, compiling a 2.86 ERA and striking out 28 in 28.1 innings for the Ports. He held California League hitters to a .238 BA and walked only nine, while saving two games.

When the A's signed Leon, they made an arrangement with his Mexican League team, the Saraperos de Saltillo, that Leon would spend half of the year with the A's and half of the year with Saltillo before becoming the full property of the A's starting in 2009. Leon left Stockton for Mexico in mid-June.

Since rejoining Saltillo, Leon has continued to pitch as a reliever. He has appeared in 13 games for the Saraperos. Before allowing four runs in one inning in his last appearance, Leon had allowed only three runs in 13.2 innings (2.05 ERA). Despite that rough last outing, Leon has still compiled some impressive numbers for Saltillo. In 14.2 innings, he has allowed only 12 hits and two walks, and he has struck-out 21 batters. Saltillo is currently competing in the Mexican Summer League playoffs.

The Mexican Summer League is generally considered to be roughly equivalent to the Triple-A level of baseball. Considering that the California League is a very difficult league for pitchers and the level of competition that Leon has faced in Mexico, the teenage right-hander is putting together a standout season. In 43 innings between Stockton and Saltillo, Leon has a 3.35 ERA. He has allowed only 37 hits and he has struck-out 49 while walking 11.

Anderson, Cahill Strong For Team USA

Brett Anderson and Trevor Cahill, two of the Oakland A's most promising young pitching prospects, have started their stints as members of the US Olympic baseball team. Both pitchers made starts for the US team this weekend in exhibition tune-up games against Team Canada.

Anderson got the start for the stars-and-stripes on Friday in the exhibition opener. The left-hander, who was 11-5 with a 3.55 ERA for High-A Stockton and Double-A Midland this year, worked four scoreless innings against Canada. He struck-out four, walked one and allowed three hits. The US was winning until late in the game, but they wound-up losing the game, 4-3, when the bullpen faltered in the final three innings.

Cahill took his turn on the hill on Saturday. Like Anderson, Cahill worked four scoreless innings. The right-hander, who has been a teammate of Anderson's throughout the majority of the season and has an 11-5 record with a 2.61 ERA for Stockton and Midland, allowed only one hit. He struck-out three and walked one. The US cruised to a 7-2 victory in the game. Team USA won again on Sunday, 9-1, to take a 2-1 series lead over Canada in the friendly series.

Other News and Notes:

* Midland outfielder Aaron Cunningham extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a 2-3 performance in the Rockhounds' 6-2 win over Corpus Christi on Sunday. The streak has raised Cunningham's average to .320. The win was Midland's 10th straight, a record for an Oakland A's affiliate.

* Midland infielder Tom Everidge inched closer to breaking the century mark in RBIs with two more runs batted in on Sunday. Everidge, who had two doubles, now has 95 RBIs on the season. The slugger is batting .275 with 28 doubles and 20 homers.

* Rockhounds' outfielder Javier Herrera is also red-hot. The Venezuelan right-hander has a 10-game hitting streak and he is now hitting .281 on the season. Herrera went 2-3 with a walk and his fourth stolen base on Sunday.

* Vancouver outfielder Jeremy Barfield is heating up after getting off to a slow start to his professional career. The A's 2008 eighth round pick is 13 for his last 33 (.393 BA). He is now batting .274 with 23 RBIs in 39 games for the season.

* Canadians' left-hander Ben Hornbeck earned a win in relief on Sunday after working four perfect innings. Hornbeck struck-out six in the effort. He has whiffed 26 in 20 innings this season.

* The Sacramento River Cats staged one of their best comebacks of the season on Sunday, scoring three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to beat the Memphis Redbirds by a score of 3-2. Kirk Saarloos worked eight innings, allowing one run and striking out nine, but he suffered a tough-luck no-decision. He was spared the loss when the River Cats' offense rallied late. Casey Rogowski began the ninth with a single and he scored Sacramento's first run on a double by Matt Murton. After Landon Powell walked, Brooks Conrad bunted Murton and pinch-runner Justin Knoedler to second and third. Murton scored the game-tying run on a Wes Bankston ground-out. Richie Robnett then played the hero when he singled with two-outs to end the game.

* Kane County outfielder Shane Keough had a big game in the Cougars' 7-1 win over West Michigan on Sunday. Keough entered mid-game for Toddric Johnson and went 2-3 with a triple, two runs scored and an RBI. He is batting .286 in his last 10 games and .264 for the season.

* Cougars' right-hander Jamie Richmond earned his seventh win with a solid outing on Sunday. He allowed only one unearned run in 7.2 innings. Richmond gave-up four hits and one walk and he struck-out six.

* Kane County shortstop Michael Richard extended his hitting streak to eight games with a 2-4 performance on Sunday. He is batting .336 and has scored 46 runs in 59 games this season.

* Stockton outfielder Corey Brown hit his 21st homer of the season on Sunday in the Ports' 5-4 win over Visalia. It was Brown's third homer in his last two games and fifth homer in his last eight games. He has seven homers in 21 games for the Ports since being promoted from Low-A Kane County.

* Ports' outfielder Matt Spencer had two hits on Sunday to raise his average with Stockton to .452 in 15 games. He hit his third homer in the past five games. Since being traded to Oakland in mid-July, Spencer has 28 hits in 62 at-bats with seven doubles, three homers, nine RBIs, four walks and four stolen bases.

* Infielder Alexander Valdez joined the Ports this weekend. Valdez, who had a strong season with Low-A Kane County last year, had been stuck in the Dominican Republic with visa problems for the first four months of the season. He has four hits in his first nine at-bats.

* Left-hander Dan Meyer worked a scoreless inning of relief in his 2008 Oakland A's debut. Meyer was recalled to Oakland on Sunday in place of left-hander Dana Eveland, who was sent to Triple-A Sacramento. Meyer is a candidate to start in Eveland's place on Thursday.

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