Oakland A's MLN: Stockton Roster Reshaped

The Stockton Ports returned from their roadtrip with a very different looking roster. We review the changes and delve into the early season struggles of the Sacramento River Cats, as well as the highlights from Tuesday's action around the Oakland A's system inside...

Stockton Roster Reshaped

The Stockton Ports have returned home after a Southern California roadtrip with a dramatically different looking roster. Right-handers Brett Hunter and Fautino De Los Santos, outfielder Toddric Johnson and infielder Matt Whitney have all joined the Ports from extended spring training. Outfielder Jose Crisotomo and reliever Dan McDaniel have returned to extended spring training, while right-hander Daniel Thomas has landed on the DL and infielder Kala Ka'aihue has been released.

De Los Santos and Hunter are two high-profile names joining the Ports' bullpen. De Los Santos was one of the A's top starting pitching prospects when he was last with Stockton in 2008. Unfortunately, he injured his elbow early in the 2008 season wound-up having Tommy John surgery. The rehab for his surgery has suffered a number of set-backs including one in spring training. De Los Santos only threw a handful of innings last season, all at the Rookie Ball level. He is now strictly a reliever.

Hunter was the A's seventh-round pick in 2008 and he was given a five-figure bonus that was the largest bonus ever given to a seventh-round pick at the time. Since singing, Hunter has struggled with his mechanics and he walked 63 in 57 innings last season with Low-A Kane County, short-season Vancouver and the Rookie League A's. He has an electric arm, however, as evidenced by his 64 strike-outs and his .233 BAA last season.

Johnson returns to Stockton after he spent all of last season with the Ports. He hit .264 with a 707 OPS in 110 games last season. Whitney was signed by the A's to a minor league free agent contract this off-season and he was a non-roster invitee to the A's big league camp. He was a first-round pick of the Cleveland Indians in 2002 and he hit .268 with eight homers with a 796 OPS last season for the Washington Nationals' Double-A and Triple-A teams.

Crisotomo appeared in nine games for the Ports and went five-for-26. He is likely to spend the majority of this season with short-season Vancouver. McDaniel was signed as a minor league free agent at the end of spring training. The East Bay native allowed five runs in 4.1 innings. Ka'aihue hit only .167 with a 734 OPS in 23 games for the Ports this season. Thomas had allowed 11 runs (10 earned) in 10.1 innings. He had struck-out 13 and walked 13.

In Kane County, outfielder Rashun Dixon has landed on the disabled list with a left wrist injury. Dixon was batting .264 with an 810 OPS at the time of the injury. The Cougars are down to 24 players, so another move will have to be made tomorrow to restore the Cougars' roster to 25.

Sacramento Struggling Under Weight Of Expectations

When the minor league Opening Day rosters were set, the Sacramento River Cats seemed destined for another championship season. It is still early in the season, but the River Cats look far from championship caliber right now. On Tuesday, Sacramento dropped a 9-6 decision to the Oklahoma City Redhawks to fall to 14-19 on the season.

Sacramento manager Tony DeFrancesco has led a number talented teams during his time with the River Cats, winning three Pacific Coast League titles, and going into the season, he felt that this club had as much talent as any team he had coached.

"I'm very disappointed right now. On paper, we are supposed to have some of the highest touted prospects all together on one team and it's just not happening right now," DeFrancesco said on Saturday.

"We've still got to work at it and we've got to put all of the articles away and just go out and be ballplayers and things will take care of themselves."

One of the reasons for the River Cats' early season struggles has been the lack of stability on the roster. Sacramento has lost hot hitters to major league promotions (at various points Landon Powell, Josh Donaldson, Steven Tolleson, Matt Carson) and the disabled list (Dallas McPherson (hamstring) and Carson (oblique)).

"It's kind of been a feel-out situation with the team here. We've had a lot of players coming and going with all of the injuries in Oakland and we have just been trying to find players to come and fill in at times," DeFrancesco said.

"We've had some A-ball players fill in. We have been missing some big bats. Josh Donaldson was leading our team in RBIs before he went up. It's good and bad. It's good for the A's but we'll have to battle through it until we get a little more consistent. But right now, we just have to catch the ball. That has been our biggest problem."

The River Cats pitching staff currently ranks third in the Pacific Coast League in ERA with a 3.80 mark, but Sacramento has allowed the fifth-most runs in the league thanks to an incredible 46 unearned runs (roughly a third of all runs allowed have been unearned).

"There is a lot of frustration. You make a good pitch and the play is not made. But that's baseball. Errors are going to be made. We are going to have to try to minimize the effect of those as best as we can. The biggest thing is that once an error is made, we've got to shut them down. We have been getting the big inning after an error has been made," DeFrancesco said.

"It's been hard to understand. Every play has been coming at them and it has been either a bobble or a bad throw or just a bad route. It's frustrating right now but I know that we are going to keep working to get better and we are going to have to keep doing that in order to get better."

Other News and Notes

* Michael Spina had four hits and fell just a homer short of the cycle to lead the Stockton Ports to a 3-2 win over the Modesto Nuts. The four-hit effort broke a zero-for-19 skid.

* Fautino De Los Santos made his 2010 regular season debut for Stockton on Tuesday and he tossed two scoreless innings, striking out two. Murphy Smith earned the win by allowing only one earned run (two total) in six innings. Paul Smyth struck-out two in a perfect ninth inning to earn his fourth save.

* Daniel Straily allowed only an unearned run in six innings to earn his fourth win for Kane County. He lowered his ERA to 4.67. Leonardo Gil had three hits and Nino Leya and Max Stassi each had two hits in the win. Leyja also stole a base and he raised his average to .293. Stassi hit his sixth homerun of the season and he has an 839 OPS in 29 games.

* Alexander Valdez (5), Archie Gilbert (5) and Shane Peterson (2) each homered in Midland's 12-3 rout of the Frisco Roughriders. Peterson had three hits, three RBIs and he scored three runs. Valdez's homer was his third in two games. Yung-Chi Chen and Gabriel Ortiz also had multi-hit games.

* Carlos Hernandez missed his start for Midland on Tuesday, so the Rockhounds used a collection of relievers to win the game. Justin Friend threw 3.2 scoreless innings and Jared Lansford earned the win with 1.1 scoreless innings.

* Kurt Suzuki had a homer and a double and three RBIs in a rehab start for Sacramento, but it wasn't enough, as the River Cats fell 9-6. Jack Cust was the only other River Cat to collect a hit in the game, although Sacramento did walk seven times. Former River Cat Gregorio Petit had a double and a homer to beat his old team. Mickey Storey was stuck with the loss when he allowed three runs on two homers in one inning.

* A's rookie Tyson Ross had an evening of firsts on Tuesday in Arlington, Texas. Ross blew his first save, had his first major league at-bat and then earned his first big league win all in the span of extra-innings in Oakland's 7-6 win. Ross threw 50 pitches in his three innings of work.

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