From a win-loss perspective, it was a tough season for the Oakland A's short-season A affiliate. The Lake Monsters played well during the middle of the season, but they struggled out of the gate and down-the-stretch. The result was a 33-43 record and a last-place finish in the New York-Penn League's Stedler Division.
The New York-Penn League heavily leans towards favoring pitchers, and the Lake Monsters followed that league-wide trend this season. The league average slashline for 2013 was .242/.313/.338 and the Lake Monsters hit .225/.299/.319 as a team. New York-Penn League pitchers posted, on average, a 3.20 ERA. The Vermont staff posted a 3.06 ERA in 2013.
Vermont averaged 3.2 runs per game this season and their team OPS of 618 was the third-lowest in the league (out of 14 teams). The Lake Monsters were in the middle of the league in homeruns (30) and strike-outs (583) and finished fifth in the league in walks (233).
On the mound, the Lake Monsters didn't strike-out many batters (520, third-fewest in the league) and they walked a lot (250, third-most in the league). They allowed 33 homeruns and had a 1.26 WHIP. Their 565 hits allowed was the fourth-lowest total in the league.
Lake Monsters' Batters
Only players with at-least 100 at-bats were considered for this article
At the plate, the Lake Monsters' offense often started and stopped with the performances of outfielders B.J. Boyd and Boog Powell. Both slumped during the final two weeks of the season, but both spent most of the year batting better than .300.
Boyd, the A's fourth-round pick last season, finished among the league leaders in several offensive categories. The Palo Alto native hit .285/.375/.442 with eight homers. A star running back in high school, Boyd has elite speed, although he is still learning to use it on the bases (eight stolen bases in 14 chances). Because of his speed and his ability to get on-base, he profiles as a lead-off hitter, but he showed impressive power for a 19-year-old in the New York-Penn League. His eight homeruns were tops on the team and eighth-most in the league. Those power totals were a big improvement for Boyd, who hit only one homerun in the Arizona Rookie League last year. He will jump to full-season ball in 2014.
Powell also stood out for the Lake Monsters at the plate. The Southern California native struggled during the final two weeks of the season, but for most of the year, he hit better than .300 and reached base at an impressive clip. Powell's final slashline was .283/.364/.344 and he stole 14 bases in 20 chances. Powell's pure speed rivals Boyd's and the two gave the Lake Monsters a dynamic top of the order. Powell has a patient approach, walking 26 times in 59 games, and he is a good contact hitter, striking-out only 34 times. Powell finished the season on the shelf after separating his shoulder. He will rehab the injury at the A's minor league complex during fall Instructs. If healthy next spring, he should join Boyd in full-season ball.
A pair of 2013 draft picks – Ryan Huck and Ryon Healy – joined the Lake Monsters mid-season and both initially provided offensive boosts for the team, although both struggled (along with the rest of the team) down-the-stretch. Huck, a senior pick out of Western Kentucky, began his pro career in the Rookie League, but he was promoted after hitting .475 over 10 games. The first baseman hit .279/.380/.465 over his first 25 games with the Lake Monsters, but a foot injury knocked him out of action for two weeks. That seemed to erode his momentum at the plate. Over his final 21 games, Huck hit .189/.294/.257 to finish with an overall line of .238/.341/.369. Huck has impressive power and a good eye at the plate. It will be interesting to see how he performs in a full-season league next year.
Healy was the A's third-round pick (100th overall) this season. The Oregon alum split his time defensively between third base and first base. At 6'5'', Healy may wind-up being too big for third base long-term, but the A's will give him time at the position to see if he can stick there. Healy got a bit of a late start to his pro career after a minor back injury delayed his debut a few weeks. Once he started, he got his feet wet in Arizona before jumping to the New York-Penn League. With Vermont, Healy showed power (four homers and 10 doubles in 146 at-bats), but he struggled with plate patience, walking only twice. Improving his approach at the plate will be a focus during Instructs.
Outfielder Tyler Marincov, the A's 2013 eighth-round pick, finished second on the Lake Monsters in at-bats behind Boyd. The Orlando native hit .215/.302/.313 with a 25:58 BB:K and 13 extra-base hits. He will head to Instructs this fall and will compete for a spot on a full-season affiliate next spring.
First baseman Michael Soto earned the bad luck award for 2013 when he was forced to miss two weeks after being struck in the face by a line-drive during batting practice. He did return for the final week of the season and finished his first year above the Rookie League-level with a slashline of .208/.258/.335. Soto struggled badly against right-handers, but he hit .320/.348/.460 versus southpaws.
After two seasons in the Arizona Rookie League, outfielder Luis Baez made the jump to the New York-Penn League in 2013. Baez struggled in his first foray into a non-complex league, however. In 174 at-bats, the 22-year-old hit .184/.223/.230 with one homerun and a 39:8 K:BB.
Infielder Chad Pinder was the highest A's 2013 draft pick to receive a significant amount of at-bats for the Lake Monsters this season (top pick Billy McKinney had a nine-game cameo with Vermont at the end of the season). Pinder never really got on-track with the Lake Monsters, thanks in part to two injuries (an injured oblique and a sore throwing shoulder). In 140 at-bats, Pinder hit only .200/.286/.293 with three homers. The A's believe that this was just a blip for Pinder, however, and look for better things from him in 2014.
Outfielder Jaycob Brugman left the team two weeks before the end of the season to be with his wife for the birth of their first child. Before that, he was an everyday player for the Lake Monsters, compiling 165 at-bats in 49 games. The BYU alum hit .261, but he had an ugly 48:7 K:BB ratio. He showed good instincts on the bases, swiping seven bags in seven opportunities.
Melvin Mercedes, the A's 16th-round pick last season out of College of Central Florida, hit .381 in 105 at-bats in the Arizona Rookie League in 2012. This year, Mercedes hit .228/.331/.248 in 145 at-bats for Vermont. Mercedes has good speed and an excellent approach at the plate (he had a 21:30 BB:K this season). The 5'8'' middle infielder was sent to Beloit during the post-season and will compete for a spot on the Snappers' roster next spring.
2013 draft pick Josh Miller and 2012 draft selection Ryan Gorton split the majority of the time behind the plate for Vermont this season. Miller appeared in 40 games and hit .176/.239/.214, while Gorton hit .212/.339/.260 in 35 games.
Shortstop Wilfredo Solano was the A's highest-profile international signing on July 2, 2009. The native of Venezuela showed promise during the A's fall and spring camps, but he was never able to translate that into regular season production. Solano began the 2013 season with Beloit, but he got hurt two games into the season and spent the rest of the first half in Arizona at extended spring training. He then appeared in 31 games for the Lake Monsters, but he was released after batting only .161/.234/.214. Solano never had an OPS higher than 600 in any of his four professional seasons.
Lake Monsters' Pitchers
Only pitchers with at least 19 innings pitched were considered for this article.
The Vermont pitching staff was filled with strong performances, but the steady leader of the rotation all season was left-hander Brent Powers. Returning to Vermont for a third season, Powers put together an All-Star campaign. In 14 starts (77.2 innings), he posted a 2.43 ERA and had a 69:18 K:BB. Powers allowed just three homeruns and held opposing batters to a .234 average. Powers saved his best for last, tossing seven shutout innings (with nine strikeouts and no walks) in his final start of the season. Powers had a 5.51 ERA and a 57:28 K:BB in 63.2 innings for Vermont last season.
Besides Powers, 2013 draft picks Lou Trivino and Kyle Finnegan were the only other Lake Monsters' starters to make at least 10 starts. Trivino started 10 games and made four relief appearances in his pro debut season. The right-hander posted a 3.12 ERA and a 47:20 K:BB in 60.2 innings. He was consistently solid in a starter's role, allowing more than three runs in only two of his 10 starts. Trivino will be heading to Instructs later this month.
Finnegan will be joining Trivino in the desert this September after a strong pro debut season. The right-hander had a 2.70 ERA in 11 starts for the Lake Monsters before a late-season promotion to Low-A Beloit. The A's 2013 sixth-round pick demonstrated the ability to throw strikes consistently this season, walking only 12 in 50 innings with Vermont. He also didn't allow a homerun during his time with the Lake Monsters. Finnegan struck-out 35 and did a good job of keeping the ball on the ground.
The rest of the Lake Monsters' rotation was fairly fluid after Powers, Trivino and Finnegan. Jose Torres, Gregory Paulino and Lee Sosa each made five starts, while a whole host of pitchers started four games for the Lake Monsters.
Torres and Paulino began the season in the rotation, but both saw their seasons impacted by injury. Torres missed the entire month of August before returning to make a one-inning relief appearance on September 2nd. Paulino missed six weeks from mid-July until making a relief appearance on September 4th. Torres (19) and Paulino (20) pitched well when healthy. Paulino had a 2.79 ERA in 29 innings. He struck-out 22, walked eight and he flashed a plus change-up that he was able to use as an equalizer when he was behind in the count. Torres had a 2.64 ERA in 30.2 innings. He struck-out 21, walked 12 and held opposing batters to a .228 mark. The left-hander's best secondary offering was his curveball, which he was able to use as a put-away pitch.
Sosa, a 2012 draft pick, arrived in Vermont on the heels of an outstanding extended spring training camp, during which he opened a lot of eyes thanks to an increase in velocity over his 2012 campaign. Although Sosa's 2013 numbers were disappointing (4.09 ERA, 33:30 BB:K in 44 innings), the right-hander flashed a mid-90s fastball and a sharp breaking ball that was plus at times. He also has a decent change-up. Sosa's command needs work, but his pure stuff makes him a pitcher to watch going into next year.
Although Tyler Johnson made only one start, he finished fifth on the team in innings pitched. The Stony Brook alum posted a 1.71 ERA in 42 innings. He struck-out only 24 and walked 17, but he induced 2.38 groundouts for every flyout.
Fernando Cruzado posted the exact same K:BB as Johnson did (24:17), although Cruzado threw 11.1 fewer innings. The Dominican right-hander had a 4.99 ERA in 30.2 innings for Vermont. This was his first season in a non-complex league, having spent the past five seasons pitching in the DSL and AZL.
Left-handers Matt Stalcup and Jerad Grundy were the A's ninth- and 10th-round picks, respectively, this season. Grundy, a finesse lefty from Kentucky, was hit around in his pro debut season. He posted a 7.14 ERA and a 13:14 K:BB in 29 innings. Grundy also missed the first three weeks of August with an injury. Stalcup, a harder-thrower whose fastball can touch 94, struggled with his command at times but still managed a 2.83 ERA in 28.2 innings. He struck-out 19 and walked 15 and induced 1.78 groundouts for every flyout. Stalcup did not allow a homerun. He pitched better as his pro debut season went on, posting a 0.68 ERA in August, although he didn't appear in a game again this season after leaving an August 20th start after just one inning..
Although exclusively a starter while in college at Ole Miss, 2013 fifth-round pick Bobby Wahl pitched both in the rotation and out of the bullpen for the Lake Monsters in his pro debut season. The hard-throwing right-hander allowed only four earned runs over his first 19.1 innings with Vermont before allowing five runs in 1.1 innings in his last appearance of the season. Wahl got a lot of swings-and-misses with Vermont, striking out 27 in 20.2 innings. He walked just six. Wahl did give up three homeruns, but two were in that final outing. Wahl is expected to be moved back into the rotation full-time next year when he makes his full-season league debut.
Right-hander Sam Bragg, another hard-thrower taken in the 2013 draft, pitched well out of the Vermont bullpen before earning a promotion to Beloit just before the post-season. The A's were careful with Bragg's innings after he threw a lot during his junior college season, limiting him to 19.2 innings with the Lake Monsters and 29 overall between the AZL, Vermont and Beloit. With the Lake Monsters, Bragg posted a 1.83 ERA and he had a 20:9 K:BB. He allowed just one homerun and batters hit only .222 against him.
Right-handers Hunter Adkins, Junior Mendez and Kayvon Bahramzadeh joined the Vermont staff midseason after beginning the year in the Arizona Rookie League. All three pitched well for the Lake Monsters.
Adkins, an undrafted free agent signing by the A's this season, was mostly a starter for Vermont, making four starts and one relief appearance. Adkins posted a 2.81 ERA and a 16:6 K:BB in 25.2 innings pitched. Mendez and Bahramzadeh pitched exclusively out of the bullpen. Mendez, a 2013 draft pick out of Southern New Hampshire, had an 0.93 ERA in 19.1 innings for Vermont. He allowed just 13 hits and he struck-out 19, although he did walk nine. Bahramzadeh had a 1.80 ERA in 20 innings. He walked just four batters and held opposing hitters to a .179 average.