Arizona Fall League Update
The Arizona Fall League season is underway and once again the Phoenix Desert Dogs find themselves in a familiar spot, in first place in their division. The Oakland A's send their AFL representatives to the Phoenix squad every fall and the Desert Dogs have take home the past three AFL titles.
This season the A's have sent a very talented contingent of players and coaches to the AFL. The bullpen is an area of strength in the A's system, and that is reflected by the inclusion of relief prospects Andrew Bailey, Andrew Carignan, Jeff Gray and Jared Lansford on the roster. Each of these prospects has made at least two appearances in the early going of the AFL season. Carignan is off to a fast start, having saved two of the Desert Dogs' three wins. He has worked three scoreless innings, allowing only a hit and a walk and striking out two. Carignan saved 28 games while posting a 2.01 ERA for High-A Stockton and Double-A Midland this season. Bailey has allowed one run in 1.2 innings of work. He has given up five hits, but he hasn't walked a batter and he has struck-out two while inducing a double-play. Bailey made the transition from starter to reliever mid-season and he starred for Midland out of the bullpen.
Gray, who made his major league debut with Oakland in September, is a returning AFL participant. The hard-throwing righty has worked two scoreless innings thus far, walking two and allowing one hit. Lansford, who like Bailey made the successful transition from starter to reliever this season, has thrown two scoreless frames, walking one and allowing one hit.
On the offensive-side, the A's have sent three of their best young position prospects: Sean Doolittle, Josh Donaldson and Adrian Cardenas. Doolittle leads the Desert Dogs in total bases with 15 in six games. He has hit two homers (both in the same game) and three doubles in only 24 at-bats. He hit 22 homers during the regular season. Doolittle has struck-out only three times at the AFL thus far, a good sign given that he K'd 153 times in 535 at-bats this season. Donaldson, who was acquired mid-season from the Chicago Cubs, is batting .273 with a triple and two RBIs in 22 at-bats. Normally a catcher, he is playing first base at the AFL this fall, as Phoenix is carrying three other catchers on the roster. Cardenas, who came over from Philadelphia in a mid-season deal, has appeared in only two games thus far, and he has one hit and one RBI in six at-bats.
In addition to the player contingent, the A's have sent two coaches to guide the Phoenix roster: manager Todd Steverson and pitching coach Garvin Alston. Steverson was the manager of the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats this season and he helped guide them to a PCL and Triple-A title. Steverson has moved up the managerial ranks quickly through the A's organization. He was with High-A Stockton in 2005-2006, Double-A Midland in 2007 and Sacramento this season. Alston has been the pitching coach for the Stockton Ports for the past two years and was with Low-A Kane County before that. He coached a number of the A's top pitching prospects this year, including Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson, Henry Rodriguez, Arnold Leon, Fautino De Los Santos, Lansford, Jason Fernandez, Sam Demel, Graham Godfrey, etc.
Fans can check-in with Andrew Bailey and hear about the exploits of his A's AFL teammates at Bailey's MLBlogs site: http://aflathletics.mlblogs.com/.
-- Right-hander Fautino De Los Santos, who began the year as one of the A's top pitching prospects, is making progress in his rehab from Tommy John surgery. According to A's Director of Player Development Keith Lieppman, De Los Santos will attend spring training, but he is expected to finish his rehab in extended spring before heading out to a full-season affiliate next year.
-- Outfielder Grant Desme, who battled wrist and shoulder problems this year, is expected to be ready to play at the start of spring training. The A's 2007 second round pick appeared in only two games this season thanks to injury.
-- Right-hander James Shull, who has been out with arm problems since April 2006, is expected to be ready to play at the start of spring training, barring any set-backs. He has battled elbow and shoulder problems for the past two-plus years. Shull was a top prospect at the time of his initial injury, having struck-out 81 in 73 innings in his pro debut season with Vancouver in 2005 and having 16 strike-outs in 11.1 innings with High-A Stockton in 2006 before injuring his elbow. He will be 25 for most of next season.
Hawaiian Winter Baseball Update
The A's sent three prospects – Chris Carter, Corey Brown and Sam Demel – to Hawaii this winter to compete for the North Shore Honu club. The Honu are off to a slow start to the season, beginning the year 4-9, two games out of first place.
Carter, who hit 39 regular season homeruns and five post-season blasts, is second on the Honu with two homers. He has also walked nine times in 12 games, but he is hitting only .195. Brown is batting .244 with a .333 OBP. The left-hander slugger hit 30 homers during the regular season, but he has yet to homer in Hawaii in 12 games. Brown does have three doubles and a triple, however.
Demel, who was the Ports' closer with 18 saves during the regular season, is off to a slow start in Hawaii. He has five strike-outs in 5.2 innings, but he has walked four and allowed 11 hits and seven earned runs. Demel allowed only 61 hits in 67 innings during the regular season.
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