OaklandClubhouse Pitcher of the Month: May
Daniel Gossett, RHP, Nashville Sounds
35 IP, 1.54 ERA, 32 K, 11 BB, .203 BAA, 1.09 WHIP
After a breakout 2016 season, Gossett got off to a bit of a slow start in 2017 as he struggled with his fastball command. He started locating better in late April and the results really showed in May, when he led the A’s system in innings pitched and earned a PCL Pitcher of the Week award. Gossett was very tough to hit in May and he continued to get a lot of groundball outs. He finished the month with an eight-inning, scoreless outing against Sacramento on May 22 and a six-inning, scoreless outing against Colorado Springs that began on Saturday (one inning) and continued on Tuesday (five innings).
Gossett has only 67.1 regular season innings at the Triple-A level under his belt, but with the way the A’s have been churning through big league starters, it isn’t unreasonable to think that he could make his major-league debut during the second half of the regular season. Gossett has one of the deepest arsenals of pitches in the A’s system. He profiles as a mid-rotation starter in the big leagues and could be an important part of a rebuilt A’s rotation next year.
Casey Meisner, RHP, Stockton Ports: 30 IP, 2.70 ERA, 37 K, 9 BB: It has been a trying last 14 months for Meisner, who never got on track in 2016. When he posted an 8.84 ERA in April, it looked like 2017 might be more of the same. Instead, Meisner has turned a corner in May, throwing more quality strikes and getting positive results. He hasn’t had trouble throwing strikes in his career, but Meisner is learning to locate within the strike-zone better and he is repeating his delivery more consistently. If he has another strong month, Meisner should finally get that ticket punched to Double-A.
Corey Walter, RHP, Midland RockHounds/Nashville Sounds: 32.1 IP, 2.48 ERA, 8 BB, 21 K: The Texas League breathed a sigh of relief when Walter finally got what looks to be a permanent promotion to Triple-A. After dominating the Texas League for the past 14 months, Walter jumped up to Nashville and promptly threw a complete game (seven innings) shutout for the Sounds. The sinkerball specialist doesn’t wow anyone with his strike-out totals, but he has consistently put up outstanding results since turning pro.
A.J. Puk, LHP, Stockton Ports: 27.1 IP, 2.63 ERA, 38 K, 14 BB: The A’s top pick from a year ago has lived up to his immense expectations during his first full professional season. Pitching in an offensive-friendly environment hasn’t hampered Puk, who is striking out Cal League batters at a 37.1% rate this year. Batters hit just .204 against him in May and he allowed only one homerun. Over his last two starts in May, Puk allowed just one hit and he struck-out 15 in 10.1 innings. His walks were up a bit, although there were a few games where he faced some questionable strike-zone judgment behind the plate. The A’s won’t rush Puk, but he is another candidate for a mid-season promotion.
Brendan Butler, RHP, Beloit Snappers: 24.1 IP, 2.96 ERA, 6 BB, 24 K: Butler put up outstanding numbers in May, and they were actually down from his numbers in April. Butler has dominated the Midwest League this season, and that continued in his first start in June, when he struck-out nine in six innings. In May, Midwest League batters hit .235 against Butler and he allowed just one homerun. He also had a 1.26 GO/AO for the month. Bill Seals spoke with Butler about his progress last weekend: http://oaklandclubhouse.com/oakland-as-prospect-brendan-butler-making-a-push-to-the-next-level/
Brett Graves, RHP, Stockton Ports/Midland RockHounds: 26.1 IP, 2.73 ERA, 5 BB, 21 K: After a strong second half with Stockton in 2016, Graves picked up where he left off with the Ports and parlayed an outstanding April into an early May promotion to Midland. Graves has continued to find success in his first few starts with the RockHounds. The right-hander is mixing his pitches well and has regained the velocity that disappeared on him during his first full pro season in 2015.
Dalton Sawyer, LHP, Beloit Snappers: 29.1 IP, 3.07 ERA, 36 K, 14 BB: Like Butler, Sawyer’s numbers were actually down slightly in May, but the southpaw was still outstanding. Sawyer allowed as many as three runs in exactly one start in May (he made six in total) and he struck-out 30.25% of the batters he faced. Sawyer was a senior sign out of last year’s draft and should get a shot in High-A at some point this season. Bill Seals also caught-up with Sawyer last weekend: http://oaklandclubhouse.com/oakland-as-prospect-dalton-sawyer-right-at-home-in-midwest-league/
Brandon Bailey, RHP, Beloit Snappers: 18 IP, 0.50 ERA, 22 K, 2 BB, 0.67 WHIP; Kyle Finnegan, RHP, Midland RockHounds: 13.1 IP, 2.70 ERA, 12 K, 2 BB, 3 SV; Sam Bragg, RHP, Midland RockHounds: 13 IP, 2.77 ERA, 13 K, 4 BB; Evan Manarino, LHP, Stockton Ports/Midland RockHounds: 30.2 IP, 4.40 ERA, 21 K, 2 BB (note: 8 of 15 ER allowed in the month came in one start in Lancaster)
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