One of the only discernible truths surrounding the Oakland Athletics right now, as you may or may not have noticed things can change dramatically from minute to minute under this club’s current ownership and management, is that they have quite a bit of pitching depth. While it’s mostly starting pitching depth, starting pitchers can easily be made in to long relievers and vice-versa. So technically the A’s have all around depth, especially when it comes to pitching.
The starting rotation, in theory, will begin the season consisting of ace Sonny Gray, Kendall Graveman, Jesse Hahn, Chris Bassitt and veteran Rich Hill. Waiting in line after those initial five players are Henderson Alvarez, who is on his way back from shoulder surgery throwing bullpen sessions without issue, and Jarrod Parker, who is still attempting to overcome his second Tommy John procedure and less than a year later another procedure to fix the same,then fractured elbow. Yet even Parker is throwing off the mound these days and beyond that the A’s have more depth in their pitching even still.
Veteran Felix Dubrount and the A’s number two ranked prospect Sean Manaea also have legitimate chances to make the Athletics big league club at some point this season. Whether it is through the bullpen or as a starter, I’m not sure it makes a difference to either one. Obviously both would like to pitch at the big league level this season. However with so many other pitchers vying for a spot on the 25-man roster, it would likely take an injury to another pitcher for either one to get the call to the majors in 2016, according to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser.
Anytime in the majors would be great experience for the team’s number two prospect Manaea, who was acquired by Oakland in the trade that sent super-utility man Ben Zobrist to the Kansas City Royals last July. In 2015 the 6’5″ left-hander made six starts in the Royals farm system, four for High Class-A Wilmington and two for Double-A Northwest Arkansas. He went 1-1 in those six start but averaged 10.1 strikeouts per nine innings at Wilmington and a whopping 14.1 strikeouts per nine innings for Northwest Arkansas.
Upon joining the A’s organization he went straight to Double-A Midland, where he was lights out. He made seven starts, going 6-0 with a 1.90 ERA and struck out batters at a rate of 10.8 per nine innings.
He got an invite to big league spring training in 2016 and made his first start Friday and impressed manager Bob Melvin, along with the batters he faced and his teammates in the field.
For more on how well Manaea did on his first start for Oakland, along with quotes from manager Bob Melvin and Manaea’s teammates, you can read the rest of my column on Today’s Knuckleball by following the league below: