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Oakland Athletics Minor League Notebook: Three wins on Opening Day

Three of the four Oakland A’s affiliates came away victorious on minor league Opening Day 2018.

Franklin Barreto returns to 1B after a single. / Photo by Chris Lockard
Franklin Barreto hit a home run and a double on Opening Day. / Photo by Chris Lockard

Complete team effort as Sounds cruise to Opening Day win

The Nashville Sounds did a little bit of everything in an 11-0 rout of the New Orleans Baby Cakes on Opening Day. Four Nashville pitchers combined on a five-hitter and the offense had 16 hits and four walks in the win.

James Naile got the start and picked up where he left off in the Texas League title clincher with five shutout innings. The right-hander scattered three hits and struck out five. Jeremy Bleich worked two scoreless innings and Jake Sanchez and Kyle Finnegan followed with scoreless frames to close out the shutout. Sounds pitchers issued zero walks, although Naile did hit two batters.

Franklin Barreto led the offensive-attack with a double and a home run and three RBI. Dustin Fowler had three hits, a stolen base and two RBI in his first regular season game since his season-ending knee injury with the Yankees last year. Mark Cahna also homered and doubled and Sheldon Neuse walked twice and had a single.

Jorge Mateo had a nightmare start to the game on defense, committing three errors early on, but he made up for it with the bat. He had two hits, a walk and three RBI. Every Sounds batter had at least one hit.

Renato Núñez got the start at first base, as the A’s began his rehab assignment (strained hamstring) on the first game of the minor league regular season. Núñez can be on a rehab assignment for 30 days before the A’s either have to activate him or place him on waivers.

The Sounds take on New Orleans again on Friday. Frankie Montas gets the start for the Sounds.

Midland rallies late for Opening Day win

The Midland RockHounds got their four-time title defense off to a good start with a 6-5, come-from-behind win over the Springfield Cardinals.

Mikey White hit a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning to tie the game at 5 and Skye Bolt delivered a two-out RBI hit later in the inning to give the RockHounds the lead. J.B. Wendelken got Andrew Knizer to strikeout swinging with the tying run at third to secure his first save of the season.

Joel Seddon got the start for Midland. The veteran right-hander worked four innings, allowing two solo home runs, which came back-to-back off the bats of Knizer and former A’s prospect John Nogowski in the fourth inning. Seddon allowed six hits and he struck out five while walking one.

Cody Stull took over for Seddon in the fifth with Midland leading, 4-2. He allowed a run in the fifth and two more in the sixth. For awhile, it looked like the Cardinals would hold that lead, but the RockHounds’ bats came alive in the bottom of the eighth.

With one-out, Sean Murphy singled. Brett Siddall followed with a single that moved Murphy to third. White then connected on his game-tying sacrifice fly. A J.P. Sportman single moved pinch-runner Brett Vertigan to second and set-up Bolt’s game-winning double.

Murphy, fresh off his impressive stint in big league spring training, had three hits in four at-bats, including a double. Eli White also had a three-hit game and Siddall had two hits. Every RockHounds’ batter reached safely except Seth Brown, who had a sacrifice fly. Tyler Ramirez walked twice and scored a run.

Sam Bragg earned the win with 2.1 impressive innings in relief of Stull. He allowed only a hit and he struck out one. Wendelken — in his first official game since 2016 — allowed a lead-off single but after a sacrifice bunt, he retired the next two batters on a groundout and a strike out to earn the save. Wendelken missed all of last season recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Veteran Corey Walter gets the start for Midland tomorrow against Springfield.

Offense quiet in Luzardo’s Stockton debut

Jesus Luzardo came as advertised in his first start for a full-season affiliate, but the Stockton Ports’ offense was quiet in a 4-0 loss to the Lake Elsinore Storm.

Luzardo worked 4.2 innings, allowing a run in his final frame. He struck out six, walked one and allowed four hits. Reports from the game had his fastball clocked as high as 98 MPH.

Brendan Butler took over for Luzardo in the fifth inning. He allowed three runs (two earned) on five hits in 1.1 innings in relief. Angel Duno threw a scoreless — and hitless — final three innings, but it wasn’t enough to get the Ports back into the game. Duno struck out five.

The Ports have several top position prospects in their lineup, but the bats were quiet on a drizzle-filled, 63 degree evening. Eric Mariñez and Will Toffey collected the Ports’ only two hits of the night — both singles. Toffey also walked and was the only Ports’ hitter to reach base twice in the game.

Stockton did threaten in the ninth. Nate Mondou and Jonah Heim both walked to start the inning, and after a Greg Deichmann fly out and a Darion Blanco strikeout, Toffey walked to load the bases. Luke Persico represented the tying run, but he flew out to right to end the game.

Brian Howard is scheduled to get the start for Stockton on Friday night against Lake Elsinore. The game is likely to be rained out, however, as a Pineapple Express weather pattern is moving through Northern California and promises to bring more than an inch of rain on Friday.

Beloit wins in extras on frigid Opening Day

At 33 degrees for first pitch, it wasn’t exactly baseball weather in Beloit, Wisconsin, on Thursday, but the Snappers and the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers still put on a good show, with Beloit coming out on top in a 4-3, 11-inning win. The Snappers were the first A’s affiliate to play an extra-inning game under the new “start a runner on second in extra innings” rule for minor league baseball.

After Jesus Zambrano pitched a scoreless top of the 11th inning, the Snappers worked quickly in the bottom half of the frame. Jack Meggs began the inning on second base and Skyler Weber laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Meggs to third. Timber Rattlers’ third baseman Gabriel Garcia threw wildly to first and Meggs came around to score to give Beloit the Opening Day win.

Not surprisingly given the frigid conditions, there wasn’t a lot of offense between the two teams. The Timber Rattlers scored a run in the second inning and the Snappers answered in the third. The two teams then traded runs in the fifth. The score would remain 2-2 until the top of the 10th, when both teams scored their “inning-starting” runners to make the game 3-3.

Nick Allen had a strong game in his full-season affiliate debut. The 19-year-old had two hits, two RBI and a walk in five plate appearances. He also stole a base. Mickey McDonald had two hits and a walk. The Snappers had only eight hits total in the game. 2017 pick Austin Beck went 0-for-5.

Jean Ruiz got the start and he worked five solid innings in a no-decision. He struck out seven, walked only one and allowed two runs on four hits. Seth Martinez (2 innings), Heath Bowers (1.2 innings), Logan Salow (1.1 innings) and Zambrano (1 inning) combined to toss 6 innings in which they allowed only one hit, although they did walk five. Salow struck out three.

Wyatt Marks gets the call on Friday for Beloit against Wisconsin.

A’s claim Trayce Thompson

Before the A’s 6-3 loss to the Rangers on Thursday afternoon, the team announced that they had claimed outfielder Trayce Thompson off waivers from the New York Yankees. Thompson will join the A’s in Anaheim for the start of their roadtrip.

To make room for Thompson on the 40-man roster, the A’s moved RHP Paul Blackburn to the 60-day disabled list. He is recovering from a right forearm strain. The A’s will need to make another move on Friday to get Thompson on the active 25-man roster. To read about the implications of Thompson’s addition, please visit my article on The Athletic (sub. required).

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