Midland Notebook: Weeks Heading To DL

A recent four game losing streak has dropped the Double-A Midland Rockhounds to second place in the Texas League's Southern Division. The Rockhounds will have to claw their way back to first without lead-off hitter Jemile Weeks, who is heading to the DL. We take a closer look at the Rockhounds inside...

Weeks On The Shelf

Oakland A's 2008 first-round pick Jemile Weeks was off to a terrific start to his 2010 season. Unfortunately for him and the A's, Weeks' hot start will have to be put on pause for the time-being. Weeks injured his left hip on Thursday night when he was trying to beat out a groundball. He fell to the ground and stayed down for a few minutes before leaving the field. Weeks has been diagnosed with a strained left hip flexor, according to A's Director of Player Development Keith Lieppman. Weeks will be placed on the Midland Rockhounds' disabled list and will return to Arizona where he will treat and rehab his injury.

The injury is eerily similar to the one that cost Weeks the final six weeks of the 2008 season and the first six weeks of the 2009 campaign. Weeks tore his left hip flexor in July 2008 when he was with the Low-A Kane County Cougars while trying to beat out a groundball. This injury isn't believed to be as serious as the 2008 incident, but it is still a concern that it is becoming a recurring injury.

When Weeks does return, he will come back to a .304 average and an 859 OPS. He was batting .316 with two homers over his last 10 games before the injury.

Horton, Baisley Fortify 'Hounds Infield

The Rockhounds will have some help trying to replace Weeks. Shortstop Josh Horton and corner infielder Jeff Baisley joined the Rockhounds this week. Horton joined Midland from High-A Stockton, where he had 14 hits in 30 at-bats, including two homers. He was two-for-his-first-seven with a walk for Midland. Horton, who was the starting shortstop for the Rockhounds' last season when Midland won the Texas League championship, started the season at extended spring training. He had off-season surgery on his throwing elbow and needed a few extra weeks of rehab before joining a full-season roster.

Baisley joined the Midland roster directly from extended spring training. The corner infielder is still looking for his first hit this season, as he is 0-for-7 with a walk. Baisley had spent the past two seasons with Triple-A Sacramento or in the majors with the A's. He was last with Midland in 2007, when he hit .257 with 11 homeruns. Baisley was the Midwest League MVP in 2006.

Valdez Leading Offense

Switch-hitting infielder Alexander Valdez is putting together a break-through campaign. The native of the Dominican Republic won the Dominican Winter League's Rookie of the Year award during this past winter, and he has carried that strong play into the 2010 regular season. Through 29 games, Valdez is batting a team-best .316 with an 886 OPS and 20 RBIs.

Valdez was especially red-hot in April, when he hit .368 with a 1005 OPS. That is in stark contrast to his April in 2009 with Stockton, when he hit .058. He would rebound to bat .403 in May for the Ports and was promoted to Midland on May 20th. He hit .280 with a 781 OPS for the Rockhounds last season.

Starting Pitching Leading The Way

The Midland starting rotation has given the Rockhounds a lot of opportunities to win in the early going this season. Four of the Rockhounds' five starters have ERAs under 3.10 (Ben Hornbeck is the only starter with an ERA above 3.10, with a 6.53 mark).

Left-hander Pedro Figueroa, who was added to the A's 40-man roster this past off-season, leads the team with 30 strike-outs in 35.2 innings. He has a 2.78 ERA and has allowed only one homerun.

Fellow southpaw Carlos Hernandez leads the rotation with a sparkling 2.51 ERA. He sports an ugly 20:18 K:BB ratio, but the South Bay native has allowed opponents to hit only .221 against him and he has allowed only one homerun. Hernandez left his last start after only three innings, however, although an injury was never disclosed.

Opening Day starter Travis Banwart is the only right-hander in the Midland rotation. Banwart, who spent all of last season with Midland, leads the team with a 4-0 record. He has a 3.09 ERA and he allowed only one run on three hits in eight innings in his last outing. He also struck-out nine in that start, a season high.

Anthony Capra led all A's minor leaguers in strike-outs last season and he has 26 in 31.2 innings to start this year. Capra has a 2.84 ERA and is holding Texas League batters to a .175 average. Capra, who is in his first season at the Double-A level, has walked 18, the only blemish on his otherwise solid season.

Hornbeck has struggled for most of the season, however. The lefty has struck-out 21 in 30.1 innings, but opposing batters are hitting .295 off of him and he has allowed three homeruns. He has also walked 15. Hornbeck allowed eight runs in five innings in his last start and he saw his ERA balloon to 6.53.

Storey Promoted To Sacramento

One of the early season stars in the Midland bullpen, right-hander Mickey Storey, has been promoted to Triple-A Sacramento. Storey, who started last season at Low-A Kane County and wound-up pitching for all four of the A's full-season affiliates, had a 2.79 ERA and two saves for Midland. In 19.1 innings, he struck-out 21 and walked only four. Storey made his 2010 Triple-A Sacramento debut on Sunday and he struck-out the side and walked a batter in his one inning of work.

Vaughan Racking Up Saves

Right-hander Beau Vaughan, who was signed by the A's to a minor league free agent contract this off-season, is proving to be a reliable arm at the back-end of the Midland bullpen. Vaughan leads the team with six saves and he has a 3.00 ERA in 12 innings. Vaughan has struck-out 14 and has walked only one.

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