Oakland A's MLN: First Half Stars

With the first half of the 2010 minor league schedule in the books, we take a moment to acknowledge the Oakland A's minor league prospects who put up impressive numbers during the first half of the season.

All stats good through Tuesday, June 22

Sacramento River Cats

Steven Tolleson: Tolleson has been consistently solid for Sacramento offensively, posting an OPS of 835 or higher in every month. A leg injury shut him down for three weeks, but he picked up where he left off upon his return and is batting .400 for the month of June. Tolleson has been especially dangerous versus left-handed pitching with a .500 average and a 1436 OPS. His overall slash line is .321/.418/.485.

Eric Sogard: After a horrific April (.234 BA/ 550 OPS), Sogard has been arguably the River Cats' best hitter. He hit .343 in May and is batting .329 in June. Sogard has walked more times than he has struck-out (36:28 BB:K) and he leads the team in hits with 79. He has also added versatility, playing all over the infield. Sogard's overall slash line is .306/.391/.376.

Clayton Mortensen: Mortensen has put together a 9-2 record and a 3.66 ERA in 91 innings for the River Cats this season. The right-hander has not allowed more than three runs or pitched fewer than 6.2 innings over his last six starts. Mortensen has been a groundball machine and he currently ranks fourth in the PCL in groundout-to-flyout ratio (GO/AO) with a 2.22 mark. He has been particularly tough at home with a 2.79 ERA in eight starts.

Matt Carson: Like Tolleson, Carson has been a steady performer for Sacramento, and his presence in the River Cats' line-up has been missed when he has been hurt (he missed time with an oblique injury) or with Oakland. Carson is third on the team in homers with seven and second in stolen bases with nine. He has also played an outstanding defensive centerfield. His overall slash line is .279/.345/.506.

Henry Rodriguez: Rodriguez is currently sidelined with a hamstring injury, but the right-hander has been lights-out when healthy. In 18.1 innings, he has allowed only 10 hits. He has struck-out 27, walked nine and has a 1.96 ERA. Rodriguez leads the team with nine saves.

Josh Donaldson: Donaldson is still working on his defense (he leads all PCL catchers in errors with seven), but he has carried a big stick for Sacramento all season. He is second on the team in homeruns (9) and RBIs (49) despite spending more than two weeks in the big leagues. His overall slash line is .269/.351/.497.

Chris Carter: The average is down (.238), but the power numbers have been there all season for Carter, who is tied for second in the PCL in homers (15) and is in second by himself in the league in RBIs (53). At times this season, thanks to injuries and promotions, Carter has been the lone power source in the middle of the Sacramento line-up. Like Tolleson, Carter has killed left-handed pitching (1072 OPS). Carter's overall slash line is .238/.343/.488.

Kyle Middleton: Middleton has really turned it on in June, as the right-hander has not allowed a run in 17 innings. Overall, he carries a 2.69 ERA in 63.2 innings (eight relief appearances and seven starts). At night he has been nearly unhittable with a 1.74 ERA in 51.2 innings.

Sam Demel: Demel was so good during the first half of the season that the A's were able to trade him straight up for an established major league hitter (Conor Jackson). In 28.2 innings with the River Cats, Demel posted a 1.26 ERA and he struck-out 28 batters while holding PCL hitters to a .212 average. Demel was promoted to the big leagues immediately after the trade and he has continued to shine for Arizona, tossing two scoreless innings in his first two big league appearances.

Midland Rockhounds

Travis Banwart: Banwart was promoted to Triple-A earlier this week after posting a 2.92 ERA in 14 starts for the Rockhounds. He allowed only 71 hits and struck-out 59 in 83.1 innings. Banwart has failed to get through five innings only once this season.

Ryan Edell: Edell has been with the team only for a month, but he has made a huge impact out of the Rockhounds' starting rotation. In seven starts, he has a 1.42 ERA and a 24:5 K:BB ratio in 38 innings for the Rockhounds. Contrast those numbers to his time with Double-A Akron in the Cleveland organization earlier this year when he had a 6.85 ERA, although his K:BB ratio was still outstanding at 18:4.

Jeff Baisley: After spending the past two seasons in Triple-A or the big leagues, Baisley is too good for Double-A and he is showing it with a .357/.421/.516 overall slash line. While Baisley waits for the A's to promote him a level or trade him to another organization, the infielder is racking up the two-base hits. Despite missing the first month of the season while recovering from injury, Baisley is currently tied for third in the Texas League in doubles with 17.

Alexander Valdez: Valdez's production has cooled some since his red-hot April performance, but the infielder is still among the team leaders in most offensive categories. He carries an overall slash line of .284/.347/.463. The switch-hitting Valdez has been particularly good as a left-handed hitter, posting a .302 average and an 866 OPS.

Beau Vaughan: Like Banwart, Vaughan has been promoted to Triple-A, but he was a stalwart in the Rockhounds' bullpen before the promotion. He saved a team-high six games and posted a 1.95 ERA. His K:BB ratio was a stellar 29:6.

Archie Gilbert: Not much has been written about Gilbert during his three seasons in the A's system, but he has been an important part of all three of his squads. Gilbert has a .270/.351/.433 slash line and a team-best 13 stolen bases. He also is second on the team with 27 walks.

Josh Horton: Horton began the year at extended spring training due to off-season elbow surgery, but he has been an important cog for Midland since early May. He hit .287 in May and is batting .290 in June for an overall average of .288. Despite being a left-handed hitter, Horton has hit well against lefties this season, batting .308 with an 804 OPS. He also played eight games with High-A Stockton and his overall slash line for the season is .317/.363/.452.

Jared Lansford: Until Vaughan's promotion, Lansford was sharing closing duties with him. Now Lansford has the role to himself. He leads the team with nine saves and his ERA is a solid 2.73 in 26.1 innings. His groundout-to-flyout ratio is an outstanding 2.93 and it is helping him overcome his 16 walks. Lansford has induced seven double-plays in 22 appearances.

Corey Brown: As poorly as Brown played for Sacramento, he has been equally good for Midland. In 109 at-bats with Sacramento, Brown hit .156/.207/.275. In 108 at-bats with the Rockhounds, Brown is batting .352/.423/.565. He has five stolen bases and five homeruns and he has driven-in 20 in 28 games for Midland.

Mickey Storey: Like Brown, Storey didn't fare well after a promotion to Triple-A, but he has been a steady force for the Rockhounds. In 28.1 innings, Storey has allowed only 19 hits and seven walks and he has struck-out 25. He also has three saves. With Sacramento, Storey's ERA was 5.54 in 13 innings, although he did strike-out 14 against five walks.

Jemile Weeks: A tear in Weeks' left hip flexor robbed the Rockhounds of their best player in early May. At the time of the injury (which was very similar to the injury he sustained with Kane County in 2008), Weeks had a .304/.368/.490 slash line, making him a dangerous top-of-the-order threat. His rehab from the injury has been a long one. According to A's Director of Player Development Keith Lieppman, Weeks has just started baseball activities and will continue them as much as the hip will tolerate.

Stockton Ports

Stephen Parker: The Ports' lone All-Star, Parker is ninth in the California League in OPS (918), third in doubles (22) and tied for second in walks (45). Parker punctuated his stellar first half with a game-winning RBI in the Cal League-Carolina League All-Star game. The left-handed hitter has scalded right-handed pitching, hitting .313 with a 963 OPS.

Paul Smyth: Smyth has been nearly unhittable since turning pro last season. The right-hander leads all A's minor leaguers with 10 saves and he has a 1.54 ERA in 41 innings. He has struck-out 42, walked only nine and has allowed only 25 hits.

Grant Green: It was a quiet start for Green this season, who posted a 724 OPS in April. However, he has improved every month, posting a 786 OPS in May and a 1099 OPS in June. He finished the first half with a .320/.371/.466 slash line and was named to the MLB Futures Game. The A's top pick in 2009 tortured left-handed pithers to the tune of a .434 average and a 1108 OPS.

Michael Spina: Spina's average isn't where he'd like it to be (.254 BA), but his power numbers are second only to Chris Carter's in the A's system. Spina leads the Ports with 12 homers and 55 RBIs. Those stats put him tied for sixth and in fourth place in the Cal League, respectively.

Shawn Haviland: Haviland's ERA has leaked above 4.00 recently, but his ERA isn't a reflection of how well he has pitched this season. Haviland has struck-out 81 and walked only 16 in 77.1 innings for Stockton. He has pitched so well for Stockton that when Sacramento needed a starter, the A's sent Haviland up to make a start.

Ryan Ortiz: Sharing the catching duties with Petey Paramore throughout much of the first half, Ortiz has appeared only 36 games, but his bat has made its presence known when he has been in the game. In 118 at-bats, Ortiz hit .305 with five homers, 25 RBIs and a 931 OPS. He has walked 19 times and has scored 21 runs.

Trey Barham: Barham has teamed with Smyth to give the Ports a steady presence in the back-end of their bullpen. The left-hander has a 2.02 ERA in 35.2 innings. Barham has held opposing batters to a .225 average and has induced nearly two groundouts for every flyout.

Jeremy Barfield: Barfield has yet to reach his potential as a hitter, although his seven homeruns and 44 RBIs are solid, but he has done some damage with his throwing arm from right. He has tossed out 13 runners from the outfield this season, the most of any outfielder in the A's system.

Justin Murray: Murray has moved on to Midland, but he made his mark with Stockton. In 13 appearances (12 starts), he went 6-3 with a 3.69 ERA. He walked too many batters (32), but he was able to overcome that with 54 strike-outs and a strong groundball rate.

Jermaine Mitchell: Mitchell has been in Stockton seemingly forever, although he did spend more than a month of this season in Midland. He might be frustrated to be stuck in High-A, but his numbers with Stockton are finally starting to reflect his talent. In 123 at-bats with the Ports, Mitchell is batting .309/.410/.496.

Kane County Cougars

Ian Krol: The A's couldn't have hoped for a better first half for their 2009 seventh round pick. The 19-year-old Krol dominated the Midwest League, posting a 1.68 ERA and a 52:13 K:BB ratio in 67.2 innings. He will be limited to roughly 100 innings this season, so he is likely to be shut down in August, but he still has time to continue to build on his strong first half.

Rashun Dixon: After a horrific season with Vancouver in 2009, Dixon has rebounded nicely with the Cougars. His 784 OPS is the highest on the Cougars' roster and he was in the midst of a torrid month of June before the All-Star break hit (972 OPS in 16 games). His five homers are third on the team. His overall slash line is .261/.362/.420.

Kent Walton: Walton lost nearly a month when he was hit in the hand with a pitch, but he has been productive when healthy. The outfielder has a .281/.342/.416 slash line and he is fourth on the team in RBIs despite missing all of that time.

Connor Hoehn: Hoehn has been a strike-out machine this season, whiffing 62 batters in 46 innings. He has also allowed only 28 hits. The only area in which Hoehn has struggled is with walks. He has issued 22 free passes.

Max Stassi: The season has had numerous ups-and-downs for the 19-year-old Stassi, but he has shown impressive power with a team-leading nine homeruns, a total that has him tied for fifth in the Midwest League. Stassi has also shown improvement defensively after a rough start to the season behind the plate. His 755 OPS is third on the Cougars behind Dixon and Walton and his overall slash line is .247/.319/.436.

Jose Guzman: The Cougars' closer has eight saves and a 34:9 K:BB ratio in 28.1 innings. Guzman has also allowed only one homerun this season. After spending much of the last three seasons with short-season Vancouver, Guzman could be in-line for a promotion to High-A Stockton during the second half of the season.

Bo Schultz: The undrafted free agent from Northwestern has been a dominating reliever for the Cougars. He has induced three times as many groundouts than flyouts and he is holding Midwest League batters to a .209 average. His ERA is 2.66 in 40.1 innings and he has yet to allow a homerun.

Conner Crumbliss: Crumbliss has yet to show the power that he displayed last season, when he compiled a .404 SLG, but he is still getting on-base at an impressive clip. Thanks to 61 walks, Crumbliss has a .400 OBP. That walk total is best in the Midwest League and is second in all of minor league baseball. He also leads the Cougars with 44 runs scored. Crumbliss' overall slash line is .245/.400/.318.

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