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Prospect watch: Claim Lawrie
Manager Bob Geren was terminated in the midst of Oakland’s dismal nine-game losing streak.
It was one thing to get battered around and tormented by the Yankees and Boston. Getting swept by Baltimore was just too much for management to bear.
Oakland has scored just 26 runs during this streak while the vaunted pitching staff surrendered 53. Overall, the pitching staff has lived up to expectations, save the whole Brian Fuentes debacle earlier this season and the first six losses of this streak against the AL East leaders. The A’s rank fourth in team ERA at 3.23. That hasn’t been enough to overcome pathetic run generation. The A’s rank 28th in runs scored (223 overall, 3.5 per game).
I shan’t wallow in negativity on this Thursday. No, I’m seeking a positive vibe by pondering future fantasy heroes.
Let’s take a quick tour around the minor leagues, starting with the most acclaimed hitting prospect of recent memory.
Bryce Harper, OF, Class-A Hagerstown (Washington)
Harper hit the shot heard around the internet world. He blasted a home run earlier this week and then blew the pitcher a kiss. It was a bold, brash move by the 18-year-old superhero and the “heel” tag was applied immediately. Harper owns a ridiculous .342 batting average with 28 extra-base hits (14 home runs), 43 RBI and 12 stolen bases.
Calm yourselves in fantasyland. We shan’t see him in Washington soon. Enjoy his antics in the blogosphere.
Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Triple-A Tucson (San Diego)
The Padres expected to see a drop-off in offense following Adrian Gonzalez’s departure for Boston. On Thursday, the team turns the page and unveils a new powerhouse at first base. The 6-foot-3 left-handed slugger tormented Triple-A pitching with an unreal stat line. At the time of his call-up, Rizzo was batting .365 with 37 extra-base hits (16 home runs) and 63 RBI. The waiver wire frenzy begins.
Brett Lawrie, 3B, Triple-A Las Vegas (Toronto)
Earlier this week, I noted in the “Recent Review” that Lawrie, the super prospect on the fast track to Toronto, was placed on the minor-league disabled list after getting hit in the hand with a pitch. Word came down Wednesday night that Lawrie has a non-displaced fracture in his left hand and will miss 2-3 weeks of action. Stash him and wait for the big second half alongside Jose Bautista.
Jesus Montero, C, Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (New York Yankees)
Russell Martin has battled several injuries of late. He’s been impacted by a toe injury and was held out of Wednesday’s game because of a back issue. Martin is listed as day-to-day right now, but his recent injury history makes this something to watch.
Montero has produced a strong .294 batting average with 15 extra-base hits and 22 RBI in 48 games. His walk rate is atrocious (11 in 208 plate appearances), and his strikeout rate is high (49), but Montero possesses a robust .392 BABIP.
Dayan Viciedo, 3B/OF, Triple-A Charlotte (Chicago White Sox)
Disgruntled White Sox fans are tired of watching Adam Dunn and Alex Rios flail about at the plate. They’re looking for an injection of life into the batting order and perhaps help at the hot corner. Viciedo is batting .307 for Charlotte with 27 extra-base hits (10 home runs) and 44 RBI.
Graham Godfrey, P, Triple-A Sacramento (Oakland)
If he could swing a bat, Godfrey would be in the lineup for the scuffling A’s and perhaps Bob Geren wouldn’t have been shown the door. Instead, Godfrey remains in Sacramento awaiting an opportunity to break into the A’s staff. He’s won seven of his nine starts while posting a fantastic 2.50 ERA. Godfrey struck out 45 batters in 50 1/3 innings and 3.2 batters per walk issued. The 6-foot-3 righty from College of Charleston (check that place out for a basketball game if you can) continues Oakland’s streak of producing top-notch starters.
Neil Ramirez, P, Triple-A Round Rock (Texas)
The Rangers had piled up big-time hitters through the years. Starting pitching was long a problem, but things have improved immensely of late. Now, there’s another 22-year-old righty in waiting. Ramirez has pitched to a record of 4-1 with a solid 3.44 ERA. He’s a big-time strikeout artist, having fanned 58 batters in his 52 1/3 innings pitched.
Brandon Guyer, OF, Triple-A Durham (Tampa Bay)
Guyer earned a cup of coffee with the Rays earlier this season. He appeared in one game before returning to Durham. The 25-year-old outfielder didn’t miss a beat. Guyer has hit safely in eight consecutive games to raise his season batting average to .318 with 16 doubles, nine home runs and 31 RBI. Additionally, Guyer has been aggressive on the basepaths with nine stolen bases.
Desmond Jennings, OF, Triple-A Durham (Tampa Bay)
Fantasy owners want to see the fleet-footed Jennings sprinting around the bases in Florida. Alas, he continues to showcase his wares in Triple-A. Jennings owns a solid .282 batting average with 12 doubles, nine home runs, 26 RBI and 10 stolen bases. Most importantly, Jennings has exhibited better plate discipline and an advanced batting eye with 30 walks against his 46 strikeouts.
Yonder Alonso, OF, Triple-A Louisville (Cincinnati)
The 24-year-old slugger anxiously awaits his chance to take on the glorious hitting backdrop of Great American Ball Park. Alonso has been locked in of late. In his past 10 appearances, Alonso has batted .389 (14-for-36) with two home runs and nine RBI. He’s batting .323 overall with 25 extra-base hits (seven home runs), 35 RBI and five stolen bases.
Devin Mesoraco, C, Triple-A Louisville (Cincinnati)
Veteran Ramon Hernandez is batting .312 with 13 extra-base hits and 18 RBI, so the call isn’t likely to come for Mesoraco soon. Still, I would be remiss if I failed to acknowledge his obliteration of International League pitching. Mesoraco entered Thursday’s action with a robust .330 batting average (62-for-188) with 28 extra-base hits (seven home runs) and 36 RBI. He’s also walked 25 times against 39 strikeouts.
Tyler Moore, 1B, Double-A Harrisburg (Washington)
Harper is receiving all of the hype in the Washington organization, but Moore is quietly posting fantastic numbers at Harrisburg. Moore entered Thursday’s action with a .291 batting average with 31 extra-base hits (12 home runs) and 31 RBI. The knock on Moore is that he’s a free swinger and rarely takes a pitch. He’s walked only seven times against 53 strikeouts. That dubious ratio will be enough to slow his promotion.
Brad Peacock, P, Double-A Harrisburg (Washington)
The Nationals also have a strikeout artist working in Harrisburg. Peacock’s numbers make your eyes pop. He’s earned a fantastic 2.28 ERA with seven wins and 91 strikeouts in 67 innings pitched for his 11 appearances (nine starts). Peacock has struck out six batters per walk issued and has been unhittable for long stretches (he’s allowed 5.5 hits per nine IP).
Eric Surkamp, P, Double-A Richmond (San Francisco)
I really just wanted to talk about the Richmond Flying Squirrels. OK, so this entry also helps to showcase the depth of pitching moving through the San Francisco organization. Surkamp’s numbers positively leap off of the page. The 23-year-old lefty has posted a dominant 1.92 ERA with 74 strikeouts in 65 2/3 innings (3.4 strikeouts per walk) and induces 1.3 groundballs per flyball allowed.
Wily Mo Pena, OF, Triple-A Reno (Arizona)
I always like to end this prospecting article by checking on former major-league slugger Wily Mo Pena. The 29-year-old outfielder continues to mash at Triple-A Reno while awaiting the call to rejoin “the show.” Pena is batting .333 (65-for-195) with 17 home runs, 12 doubles and 51 RBI.
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