With all of our Oakland Athletics not named Ryan Cook taking a much needed and deserved 4 day vacation from the game of baseball, it seemed like a prime opportunity to take a quick look at how the Athletics farm system was performing thus far. Today we’ll check out the A level Stockton Ports, who as we all know play right in Dallas Braden’s back yard. The Ports have had a tough season thus far, in the first half of the season they finished with a 28-42 record good for the cellar of the North division of the California League. The second half hasn’t started off that well either, the Ports are 7-12 and tied for last place with the San Jose Giants. While many of the players on the roster right now may never even see Double A ball, let alone make it to the Show, there are some players well known in the “A’s-o-sphere” who are well worth keeping an eye on.
Anybody remember Max Stassi? He’s still toiling away in Stockton. The man once thought to be the eventual successor to Kurt Suzuki in Oakland has fought through injuries and overall mediocrity in the low minors. This season has been no different, Stassi is hitting .259/.313/.407 in 57 games. Stassi is now 21 years old and in his 3rd full season in the A’s organization. The clock is ticking on Stassi’s future. At this point he may be projected as the next Landon Powell instead of the next Kurt Suzuki, if he’s fortunate.
Beau Taylor was selected just last year from the University of Central Florida and has taken a liking to professional ball so far. After a solid season in the lower A levels in 2011, Taylor began 2012 in Stockton and has rewarded the organization for the promotion with an impressive .328/.412/.446 season thus far in 52 games with the Ports. Taylor was just a 5th round pick, so his hot start will not have him destined for All Stardom in the Major Leagues necessarily. But the A’s have to be pleased that he has shown some promise, and with Derek Norris already in Oakland and poised to take the starting catcher job Taylor could be used as a trade chip if his production continues.
Miles Head tore apart California League pitching in his 67 games for the Ports before being promoted to Midland. His blistering 2012 consisted of a .385/.433/.715 line with 18 long balls and 56 RBI. After being acquired in the Andrew Bailey trade that is already paying dividends with the big season from Josh Reddick in Oakland, Miles Head is putting this deal over the top as a win for the A’s. Head plays a premium power position, and has shown undoubted capability to hit for power. At this point, Miles Head will force his way into the A’s lineup one way or another some time.
Other notables: OF Josh Whitaker - .284/.343/.502 in 79 games
1B AJ Kirby-Jones – .265/.382/.473 in 73 games
The pitching has struggled terribly so far this season, probably the primary factor for the poor win-loss record so far this year. Josh Bowman has made the most starts for the Ports this season, and has struggled somewhat with a 2-7 record, but his ERA of 3.99 is decent enough to suggest a bit of bad luck has come his way. Ian Krol, he of the suspension last year due to some unpopular and inappropriate tweets, has made 13 starts in Stockton and is 1-5 with a 4.90 ERA.
The real eye catchers in Stockton are the position players for sure, recognizable names like Yordy Cabrera, Rashun Dixon, and Petey Paramore also continue to toil away and all need to show improvement to be considered part of the A’s future. The Ports may not win many games this year, but in the minors the primary motive isn’t always wins and losses, but the development of key players who are on track for the Major League club. As the season continues that is exactly what the Ports will be on the lookout for.