The composition of the short-season Vermont Lake Monsters' roster is likely to change as the summer advances and the Oakland A's assign more of their 2013 draft class to their New York-Penn League squad. The team's initial roster is a mix of veterans of the A's organization and newcomers who were drafted and signed by the team earlier this month.
Of those who joined the organization via this year's June draft, third baseman Chad Pinder is the highest pick on the current Vermont roster. Pinder, the A's third overall pick and the 71st player taken in the draft, is an infielder from Virginia Tech. The right-handed hitter was primarily a third baseman in college, although he did spend some time at shortstop late this season. Pinder should see time at both positions with Vermont. The A's like Pinder's power potential and his arm strength. He hit his first professional homerun in his second game with Vermont.
There are several other top-10 round picks from this year's draft on the Vermont roster: right-hander Dylan Covey (fourth round), right-hander Kyle Finnegan (sixth round), outfielder Tyler Marincov (eighth round), left-hander Matt Stalcup (ninth round) and left-hander Jerad Grundy (10th round).
All starters in college, Covey, Finnegan, Stalcup and Grundy will be used carefully to avoid adding an excess of innings after they pitched complete collegiate seasons. Covey, Finnegan and Grundy have all made starts so far, but none of the four top-10 round pitchers have thrown more than three innings in an outing yet. Stalcup has been a reliever thus far, talling 3.1 innings over two appearances.
A's 2013 11th-round pick Lou Trivino has started his season in the Lake Monsters' bullpen, but he could be a candidate to make a few starts as the season progresses. Finnegan, Trivino and Covey all have excellent fastballs that have been clocked in the mid-90s. Stalcup also has a lively fastball, while Grundy is a command pitcher.
The longer starts, at least early in the short-season, will come from pitchers who were in the organization at the start of this season. Two pitchers from this group to watch are youngsters Jose Torres (19) and Gregory Paulino (20). Torres and Paulino are making the jump from the Arizona Rookie League, where they put together solid 2012 campaigns. Torres, a left-hander from Venezuela, struck-out 41 in 52 innings in the AZL last season, while Paulino, a right-hander from the Dominican Republic, had a 56:16 K:BB ratio in 60 AZL innings in 2012.
Another promising arm on the Vermont roster is right-hander Lee Sosa, who caught the eye of the A's coaching staff during extended spring training. The A's 26th-round pick last season out of Binghamton University has seen a spike in his velocity and improvement with his secondary offerings this year. He has yet to make his debut with the Lake Monsters but he appeared in 18 games as a reliever for the AZL A's last year.
Veteran left-hander Brent Powers had an impressive first start for Vermont on June 21, striking out six in four scoreless innings. The A's 2011 18th-round pick is returning to the Lake Monsters for a third season. He appeared in eight games for Low-A Beloit earlier this season, and he allowed 12 earned runs in 18 innings. Powers has intriguing stuff from the left-side, but he has struggled with his command throughout his professional career.
Another lefty with promising stuff and control issues is Omar Duran, who returns to the Lake Monsters for a third season. Duran spent most of the first-half of the season with High-A Stockton, where he struck-out 36 in 24.2 innings. He also walked 25 and posted a 4.38 ERA out of the Ports' bullpen.
Joining Duran in the bullpen are right-handers Trevor Bayless, Fernando Cruzado, Derek Hansen, Tyler Johnson and Cristhian Perez, as well as left-hander Taylor Massey. Bayless, a teammate of Covey's at San Diego, was the A's 22nd-round pick this season. He moved into the bullpen for his senior season with the Toreros and was one of San Diego's top relievers in 2013.
Cruzado, Hansen, Johnson and Massey are all making the jump from the Arizona Rookie League, where they each pitched in 2012, while Perez is making his US debut after pitching the past few years in the Dominican Summer League.
The A's 2012 draft class is well represented on the position player side of the Lake Monsters' roster. Outfielders B.J. Boyd and Boog Powell, infielders Melvin Mercedes and Chris Wolfe and catcher Ryan Gorton are all from the 2012 class.
Boyd is arguably the top pure athlete on the Vermont roster. The 19-year-old starred for Palo Alto High School as both a running back and an outfielder. He hit .301 with a .401 OBP and 16 stolen bases in 39 games for the AZL A's last season. Boyd had an impressive extended spring training camp and is off to a quick start with Vermont, collecting 10 hits and four walks in his first 27 at-bats.
Mercedes is another excellent athlete. Like Sosa, Mercedes is a native of the Bronx who came to the A's via last year's draft class. A junior college draft pick, Mercedes hit .381 with a .440 OBP in 31 games for the AZL A's last season. Only 5'8'', Mercedes still managed 11 extra-base hits in 105 at-bats last year. He and Wolfe are the only two switch-hitters on the squad. Both Mercedes and Wolfe are middle infielders who should see time at both second and short.
Powell, another junior college pick from last year's draft, will see time at all three outfield spots for the Lake Monsters this season. Powell spent his pro debut season with the AZL A's and hit .306 with a .383 OBP last year.
Gorton, a catcher, is making his professional debut with Vermont this year. The Oregon State alum was selected by the A's in the 31st round last season, but he failed his physical and wasn't signed by the A's until this spring. Gorton had been coaching at his alma mater before inking with the A's.
Marincov, a 2013 pick, is another former two-sport star who will be seeing time in the Vermont outfield. The North Florida product was a star quarterback in high school, but chose to pursue baseball instead of the gridiron. Marincov is a solidly built right-hander who projects to hit for power as he develops.
Marincov will share time in the outfield with Boyd, Kelvin Rojas, Jaycob Brugman, Austin Booker and Xavier Macklin. Luis Baez will serve a utility role, seeing time at third base, as well as in the corner outfield spots.
Rojas, Booker and Macklin are all returning to Vermont after previous stints with the team. Rojas spent all of last season with the Lake Monsters, hitting .221 in 35 games. Rojas batted .379 in 48 games for the AZL A's in 2011. Booker also spent all of last season with Vermont. The Cal alum hit .253 in 50 games with the Lake Monsters.
Macklin is returning to the field after missing all of last season while recovering form Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow. He was a 12th-round pick of the A's in 2011.
Baez is appearing in a non-complex league for the first time in his pro career. He spent the 2008-2010 seasons in the Dominican Summer League and the past two seasons in the AZL. He had an 815 OPS in 28 games for the AZL A's last year.
Brugman, a 2013 17th-round pick, will also get plenty of playing time in the outfield and at DH. He made a strong first impression with the Lake Monsters, hitting a grand slam in his second game. Brugman is a BYU alum.
One of the Lake Monsters' top power hitters this season should be first baseman Michael Soto, who is making the jump from the AZL, where he played the last two seasons. Soto hit .282 with a .524 SLG last season. The native of the Dominican is 21 years old.
Joining Gorton behind the plate is the veteran Reynaldo Mateo and 2013 draft pick Josh Miller. Mateo has been in the A's organization since 2007. He split last season between the AZL and short-season Vermont. A solid defensive catcher, Mateo hit .400 in 19 AZL games and .247 in 21 games for the Lake Monsters.
Miller, the A's 23rd-round pick, was the first collegiate catcher selected by the A's this season. Miller is unusual for a catcher in that he runs well and can also play the outfield. He has excellent plate discipline and was a very tough out while playing at South Carolina – Aiken.