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Vermont Lake Monsters

Vermont Lake Monsters Notebook: Off to a fast start

The Vermont Lake Monsters are off to their best start since 2010. We check-in with the Oakland A’s short-season affiliate.

Abdiel Mendoza / Photo by Greg Bessette
Abdiel Mendoza is one of several intriguing prospects on the Vermont roster. / Photo by Greg Bessette

Overview

Off to one of their best starts in franchise history, the Vermont Lake Monsters most recently split a four-game road series with the Staten Island Yankees to move to 15-8 on the season. It is the Lake Monsters’ best record through 23 games since 2010, when Vermont went 17-6 to start the year.

The Lake Monsters are off to a good start despite struggling a bit on offense. Vermont is currently 10th of 14 teams in runs scored and second-to-last with a 636 team OPS. The Lake Monsters have recently added several high-round position player draft picks from the A’s 2017 draft class, so their offensive fortunes may be turning soon. Vermont hitters have done a good job of being patient at the plate and currently sit eighth in the league in walks with 77. Vermont hitters have also struck-out the fifth-fewest times.

The Vermont staff has shined in the early going. Their team ERA of 3.18 is fifth-best in the league. They have struck-out the second-fewest (173 in 201 innings), but Vermont pitchers have also walked the fifth-fewest (76) and have the fourth-lowest team WHIP (1.19). The team is tied for the league lead with four shutouts and is tied for second in saves with eight.

Vermont returns home on Friday to start a six-game homestand against Auburn (9-14) and Hudson Valley (8-14).


Comings and Goings

The Lake Monsters have seen a typical amount of player movement the first month of the season, as the A’s add players from their draft class to the short-season squad. Most recently, the A’s added second-round pick Greg Deichmann, ninth-round pick Jared Pocheand 36th-round pick Logan Farrar.

Vermont’s roster currently features eight pitchers, five infielders and three outfielders from the A’s 2017 draft class. That group includes all of the A’s top-10 round picks except high school selections Austin Beck (1st-round), Nick Allen (3rd-round) and Santis Sanchez (5th-round). The youngest pitcher on the roster is 18-year-old Abdiel Mendoza and the youngest position player is 19-year-old Jeramiah McCray. According to Baseball-Reference, the Lake Monsters currently have the fourth-oldest group of position players (21.5 years old on average) and the third-youngest group of pitchers (20.9 on average).

The Lake Monsters haven’t had too many players graduate from their roster yet, although infielder Jesus Lopez jumped from Vermont to Low-A Beloit earlier this week. Right-hander Seth Martinez began the year in Beloit but joined Vermont for one start at the beginning of the New York-Penn League season. He allowed a run in five innings and promptly returned to the Snappers’ roster.

The A’s released one player from the Vermont roster, outfielder Robert Bennie, who didn’t collect a hit in 17 at-bats over four games early in the season. Bennie was a 24th-round pick last year.


Who’s Hot

The A’s 2017 compensation round A and second-round picks Kevin Merrell and Greg Deichmann are off to good starts to their pro careers. Merrell is batting .357/.369/.429 with four stolen bases in five attempts over his first 10 games. He was considered one of the fastest players available in the 2017 draft. Deichmann joined the Lake Monsters’ roster this week after his college season ended in the finals of the College World Series. Deichmann has been impressive in four games thus far, collecting six hits in 14 at-bats, including a homer, a triple and a double. He has also stolen a base.

A’s 2017 10th-round pick Jack Meggs is also off to a strong start. In 14 games, he is batting .321/.383/.472 with a team-high two homeruns. Ryan Gridley, the A’s 2017 11th-round pick, has walked more than he has struck-out thus far (8:6 BB:K) and he is batting .302 with a .412 OBP. Gridley is tied with catcher Jordan Devencenzi for the team-lead in OBP among players with more than eight games played. The Bay Area native Devencenzi is batting .298 in 16 games. A’s 2017 fourth-round pick Will Toffey is batting just .233 but he leads the team with 11 walks and sports a .382 OBP.

Most of the A’s 2017 draft picks are just getting their feet wet on the mound, but several graduates of past draft classes and the A’s Dominican complex have racked up significant innings.

Despite being the youngest player on the roster, Abdiel Mendoza leads the team in innings pitched with 24.2. He hasn’t allowed a run in either of his last two starts (14 innings) and has a 2.55 ERA overall and a 1.01 WHIP. Mendoza had a 2.32 ERA in 31 innings in the Dominican Summer League last year. He caught a lot of attention during the A’s US Instructional League last fall.

Left-hander Ivan Andueza is off to a good start, as well. In 21 innings, he has a 2.57 ERA and a 15:6 K:BB. Jean Ruiz, pitching mostly in a relief role, has a 15:3 K:BB in 15.1 innings. His ERA is 2.35. Oscar Tovar, 19, has struggled some with his command (13 walks in 19.1 innings), but he has a 2.79 ERA and opposing batters are hitting .169 against him. Hard-throwing right-hander Wandisson Charles has also struggled with command (seven walks in eight innings), but he has topped 100 MPH several times and has 11 strike-outs and a 1.13 ERA. Opposing batters are hitting .167 against the 6’6’’ hurler.

After struggling the past two seasons, right-hander Branden Kelliher is pitching well as a reliever. He walked three and allowed two runs in his season debut, but since then has allowed just four hits and three walks in 8.2 innings of scoreless relief. Right-hander Argenis Blanco, 21, threw six shutout innings in his last start and he has a 3.54 ERA in 20.1 innings. He has a 15:6 K:BB and has not allowed a homerun. Blanco had a 2.52 ERA in 60 innings in the Arizona Rookie League last year.

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