The Oakland Athletics are very likely out of the postseason race this season. For the first time in the last three years their season will end in September and not the – well – beginning of October. Due to this fact A’s general manager Billy Beane decided to re-evaluate what he was trying to do with his team. Instead of “re-tooling” he decided that maybe “re-building” wasn’t such a bad word after all and he began re-building the teams’ farm system.
He traded pending free agents Scott Kazmir, Tyler Clippard and Ben Zobrist to the Houston Astros, New York Mets and Kansas City Royals, respectively, in exchange for five prospects all under the age of 25. He acquired catcher Jacob Nottingham along with pitchers Casey Meisner, Sean Manaea, Daniel Mengden and Aaron Brooks.
Nottingham, Meisner and Mengden joined the A’s shortstop of the future, Franklin Barreto at the A’s High Class-A affiliate in Stockton, CA. Sean Manaea landed in Double-A Midland and Brooks, who had a bit of experience in the Majors with the Royals ended up on the big league club. Already these trades to re-build the farm system and ultimately the A’s big league club are showing promise and are paying off for Beane and the organization.
As of Saturday night Manaea had already made his first start for Midland, Mengden had started for Stockton and Aaron Brooks made the second start of his MLB career taking on the Cleveland Indians for the Oakland A’s at O.Co Coliseum in Oakland. The results of all three of these starts were, in the eyes of the A’s organization and also of the fans who had been skeptical of Beane’s moves, absolutely wonderful.
They were promising signs for the future of the Athletics. These pitchers will, within the next year or two, be joining the A’s 25-year-old ace Sonny Gray and 24-year-old Kendall Graveman as staples in the A’s starting rotation.
Let’s begin in High Class-A with RHP Daniel Mengden who started for the Stockton Ports on Friday against the Lancaster JetHawks. Mengden retired the first 14 batters he faced and 15 of a total 17 batters. He was perfect through four and two-thirds innings, allowing just one hit and one run on a solo homer by Lancaster’s J.D. Davis with two outs in the fifth inning. He picked up the win as the Ports defeated the JetHawks by the score of 5-3.
That same night Sean Manaea went seven scoreless innings for the RockHounds against Houston’s Double-A affiliate the Corpus Christi Hooks. He allowed just three hits over seven innings, while striking out nine batters. Manaea had done his homework on the opposing team, something he says he intends to do “for the rest of his career.” He had studied Corpus Christi’s hitters the previous night when the Rockhounds lost 4-0 and continued to study right up until his start, saying,
“Last night, I watched the game and saw kind of their weaknesses and strengths. I took home the chart and studied what their tendencies were. That helped out a lot. A.J. Reed has really quick hands. If you try to get a fastball inside by him, he can get the barrel on the ball.”
Reed leads the Texas League in home runs and Manaea was able to keep him hitting the ball out of the yard on Friday. He did allow a single to Reed in the fifth inning along with a pair of singles to the Astros’ number 21 prospect Danry Vasquez, but that was all the offense Corpus Christi could manager off of Manaea. For his first start with his new team Manaea wished he could stayed in the game longer but overall he knew he had a good day on the mound.
“I kind of wish I would have been able to go deeper, but that’s all up to the manager. I’m really happy with how it turned out, “ he said after the game.
Aaron Brooks made the second big league start of his career in front of the crowd at O.Co Coliseum on Saturday night against the Cleveland Indians. Brooks did so well that in his post-game interview A’s manager Bob Melvin said that Brooks would be remaining in the A’s rotation.
Brooks went seven and one-third innings against the Indians Saturday, allowing one run on five hits, helping the Athletics snap a three-game losing streak. He accumulated five strikeouts and most impressively did not walk a single batter.
He walked off the field to a standing ovation from the crowd and watched from the dugout as the rest of the A’s secured his first Major League win. The Athletics defeated the Indians 5-1. Brooks was named player of the game by Comcast Sports Net Bay Area and during his on-air post-game interview he received a Gatorade bath, courtesy of his All-Star battery mate Stephen Vogt.
“He executed pitches over and over and over again. And I was very impressed with his stuff — and his demeanor on the mound especially,” Vogt said of Brooks.
So as it appears now, just two days after the trade deadline, the A’s new acquisitions are doing exactly what Beane thought they would do when he acquired them and that is dominating their opponents. If they continue to perform at this level, the A’s process of re-building will not take very long.