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Oakland Athletics Minor League Notebook: Rehabs and reunions

Several Oakland A’s players made rehab appearances and the A’s reportedly signed a former top prospect to a minor league deal. In addition, the Nashville Sounds mounted an epic comeback and Jesus Luzardo made his A’s debut.

Chris Carter / Photo by Chris Lockard
Chris Carter played five seasons in the A's system from 2008-12. / Photo by Chris Lockard

It was a big day for rehab assignments and reunions in the Oakland A’s system. Kendall GravemanJharel CottonChris BassittChad PinderRyan Dull and Raul Alcantara all had rehab appearances. The A’s also reportedly re-signed former first baseman Chris Carter to a minor league deal.

Graveman, Cotton, Bassitt and Pinder all appeared in the Nashville Sounds’ epic 11-8, come-from-behind win in Iowa (more on that later), while Dull and Alcantara appeared in the AZL A’s game on Wednesday night.

After re-shaping their bullpen on Sunday, the A’s will continue to tinker with their pitching staff later this week. Oakland announced after their 7-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays that relievers Zach Neal and Michael Brady had been optioned to Triple-A Nashville. The A’s have an off-day on Thursday and will be announcing corresponding moves before their game against the New York Mets on Friday.

Graveman, Pinder and Dull are likely to need a few more rehab appearances before they return to the A’s roster. However, Bassitt and Cotton could be close to a return. If Cotton is ready in five days, the A’s may shift Chris Smith into a bullpen role and add another hitter until Cotton’s spot in the rotation comes up.

Jon Heyman was the first to report that Chris Carter is returning to the A’s. Carter was with the A’s organization from 2008-2012 before being traded to the Houston Astros in February 2013 in the deal that originally brought Jed Lowrie to Oakland. Carter was one of the A’s top prospects from 2008-2012. After struggling in brief major league stints in 2010 and 2011, Carter emerged as one of the vital pieces to the A’s race to the post-season in 2012. He hit 16 homers in 67 games and posted an 864 OPS.

Carter played three seasons with Houston, and he hit 90 homers in 422 games. He then signed with the Milwaukee Brewers for the 2016 season and led the National League in homers with 41. Carter signed a free agent deal with the New York Yankees for the 2017 season. At the time, he was expected to platoon with Greg Bird at first base with the Yankees, but Bird has missed most of the year with injury. That pushed Carter into an everyday role with New York, and he struggled, hitting .201/.284/.370 in 62 games. He also played poorly at first base. The Yankees released Carter on July 10.

Carter is reportedly signing a minor league deal and will join the Nashville Sounds. The team has not confirmed the signing as of this posting. The A’s did clear a position player spot on the Nashville roster on Wednesday afternoon, sending utilityman Melvin Mercedes to Midland.

Sounds complete epic comeback

After losing 16-7 on Tuesday night, the Nashville Sounds didn’t appear to be in a good place down 8-2 in the top of the eighth inning. A six-run rally keyed by a Matt Olson grandslam tied the game at 8. Then in the 11th, Ryan Lavarnway hit a three-run homer to give the Sounds a stunning 11-8 win.

Olson’s grandslam was his 19th Triple-A homer of the year. He also walked four times in the game and scored three runs. Olson has a 933 OPS in Triple-A.

Kendall Graveman made a rehab start and he was touched for two runs in the first and two runs in the third. His final line was four runs allowed in 2.1 innings. He gave up five hits and a walk and he struck-out one. He also hit two batters. Patrick Schuster finished off the third inning and Jharel Cotton took over in the fourth. He also had his struggles, allowing four runs in 3.1 innings. He struck-out six and walked two and he allowed a homer. Chris Bassitt came on in the seventh and threw 1.2 scoreless innings in relief. He allowed a hit and didn’t walk a batter while striking out three. Bassitt threw 24 pitches, 15 for strikes.

The pitching hero of the day was Lou Trivino, who threw three scoreless innings and earned the win. He allowed only one hit and he struck-out three. Graveman, Schuster, Cotton, Bassitt and Trivino combined for 15 strike-outs.

The Sounds only had nine hits, but they walked eight times and were hit by three pitches. Jaff Decker and Joey Wendle had two-hit games. Yairo Munoz walked twice and Kenny Wilson hit a homerun. Pinder played eight innings at shortstop. He went 0-2 but also walked and was hit by a pitch.

Former A’s prospects Seth Frankoff and Jemile Weeks played big roles in the game. Frankoff got the start and allowed two runs on four hits and four walks in five innings. He struck-out six. Weeks doubled twice, once off of Graveman and once off of Cotton.

Luzardo debuts as AZL A’s notch another win

Newly acquired left-hander Jesus Luzardo made his Oakland A’s organizational debut on Wednesday, pitching 2.2 innings in the A’s 3-1 win over the AZL Indians.

Luzardo came on in relief of Ryan Dull, who threw a perfect first inning in his first rehab appearance since injuring his knee on May 20. Dull struck-out a batter and induced a groundout and a pop-up.

The 19-year-old Luzardo allowed a run on three hits, one walk and one hit batsman in his 2.2 innings. He struck-out four. Luzardo walked the first batter he faced but then retired three in a row to get through his first inning of work. In his second frame, Luzardo worked around a one-out single. In his third inning of work, Luzardo ran into some trouble. He allowed a lead-off double. After recording a strike-out, Luzardo gave up a single to put runners at the corners. He struck-out the next batter but then hit Wilbis Santiago to load the bases. Luzardo was lifted in favor of a rehabbing Raul Alcantara, who walked in a run but recorded a flyout to limit the damage.

Osvaldo Berrios, the A’s 20th-round pick, took over in the fifth and threw the best outing of his pro career. He allowed only a hit and a walk in two scoreless innings, striking out two. Jose Mora was awarded the win with three scoreless innings in relief to close out the game. The 19-year-old allowed only one hit and he struck-out three.

The A’s scored twice in the first and once in the sixth but managed only three hits. Two of those hits came in the two-run first inning off of the bats of Lazaro Armenteros and Austin Beck. Lazarito scored a run on Beck’s base-hit and later drove-in a run on a sac fly. Beck stole his second base of the season. Nick Allen had the AZL A’s other hit.

Holmes pitches well in loss

Grant Holmes had another strong start, but the Midland RockHounds struggled offensively in a 3-1 loss to the San Antonio Missions.

Holmes allowed three hits and two runs in five innings. He struck-out six and walked four. Holmes lowered his ERA to 4.85. He has 102 strike-outs in 102 innings this season.

Joel Seddon allowed a run in two innings and Sam Bragg worked a scoreless eighth.

Max SchrockTyler Ramirez and Branden Cogswell each had two hits. Schrock is batting .302 on the year. Ramirez had two hits to raise his Double-A average to .322. He’s batting .305 with an 840 OPS for Stockton and Midland.

Vermont nearly no-hit in loss

The Vermont Lake Monsters were no-hit into the seventh inning and managed just two hits in a 7-1 loss to the Hudson Valley Renegades.

Greg Deichmann had an infield single to lead-off the seventh that broke up the no-no. Anthony Churlin singled one out later and Deichmann would come around to score on an RBI groundout later in the inning.

Argenis Blanco allowed five runs on eight hits in 5.2 innings. He walked two, struck-out two and he allowed two homeruns. Bryce Conley allowed a two-run homer in two innings of work. Marc Berube finished off the game with two scoreless frames.

DSL A’s sweep a pair

The DSL A’s shutout the DSL Braves on both ends of the doubleheader on Wednesday. The A’s won game one, 3-0, and game two, 6-0.

Alexander Calderon (5 innings) and Marcelo Hernandez (2 innings) combined for the game one shutout. Manuel Manzanillo (4 innings), Andy Cruz (1.2 innings) and Enmanuel Sullivan (1.1) innings worked game two.

Iraj Serrano extended his hitting streak to 13 games in game one but had his hitting streak snapped in game two. He walked twice in game two and has a .557 OBP in 16 games. Luis Almanzar had three hits in game two.

Weather suspends Snappers’ game

The Beloit Snappers’ tilt against the West Michigan Whitecaps was suspended after the third inning by rain. They will resume the game on Thursday. Kyle Twomey threw three scoreless innings before the rain hit. He struck-out three and didn’t allow a walk.

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