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Pipeline names A's Prospects of the Year

MLB.com

OAKLAND -- The A's Organizational Prospects of the Year feature a player that finished the season with the big league club and another that could start next season with the big league club.

Ramon Laureano, who dazzled upon his August promotion, has been named Hitting Prospect of the Year, while Jesus Luzardo was christened Pitching Prospect of the Year.

OAKLAND -- The A's Organizational Prospects of the Year feature a player that finished the season with the big league club and another that could start next season with the big league club.

Ramon Laureano, who dazzled upon his August promotion, has been named Hitting Prospect of the Year, while Jesus Luzardo was christened Pitching Prospect of the Year.

:: Complete prospect coverage ::

Each team's Hitting and Pitching Prospects of the Year were chosen by the MLB Pipeline staff. To receive consideration, players must have spent at least half the year in the Minors and appeared on the team's Top 30 Prospects list.

Laureano wowed with his defensive work, and kept pace at the plate, too, hitting .288 with five home runs and 19 RBIs in 48 games with the A's following his Aug. 3 callup. At the time, he was batting .297 with a .380 on-base percentage and 14 homers in 64 games for Triple-A Nashville -- even after missing several weeks as a result of a broken pinkie as Spring Training concluded.

The 24-year-old center fielder came to Oakland in an offseason trade from the Astros, an under-the-radar deal that had a significant impact on these A's, who also acquired Luzardo via trade.

Video: TEX@OAK: Laureano belts a pair of solo homers in win

Luzardo, who was part of the deal that sent relievers Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson to Washington last summer, is ranked by MLB Pipeline as the second-best pitching prospect in the game. He dominated opponents in 2018, no matter the level; Luzardo made the jump from Class A Advanced Stockton to Double-A Midland at the end of April, then zoomed to Nashville in August.

Now, the A's are eyeing him as a candidate for their own rotation when Spring Training opens.

Video: Top Prospects: Jesus Luzardo, LHP, Athletics

"I think Jesús is going to come into Spring Training and be a factor," A's general manager David Forst said. "I don't think we have to hide that. He had an incredible year. He's our top prospect. He's probably one of, if not the top left-handed pitching prospect in the game. So I expect he'll come into Spring Training and be a factor for us."

Luzardo combined for a 2.88 ERA as a 20-year-old this year, compiling 129 strikeouts in 109 1/3 innings.

Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010.

Oakland Athletics, Ramon Laureano, Jesus Luzardo

Lazarito, Eiermann, Hannah on display at A's instructs

MLB.com

The A's made a splash on the international front in July 2016 when they signed Cuban outfielder Lazaro Armenteros, MLB Pipeline's No. 4 international prospect at that time, for $3 million. And while the results have been rather modest for "Lazarito" in his first two seasons, there's also plenty of talent and ability left to unlock.

In his first taste of full-season ball this year in the Midwest League, Oakland's No. 6 prospect produced a .277/.374/.401 line with eight homers, 18 extra-base hits and a 10.6 percent walk rate in 79 games with Class A Beloit. He also, however, struck out in nearly 34 percent of his plate appearances and showed increased swing-and-miss tendencies late in the season.

The A's made a splash on the international front in July 2016 when they signed Cuban outfielder Lazaro Armenteros, MLB Pipeline's No. 4 international prospect at that time, for $3 million. And while the results have been rather modest for "Lazarito" in his first two seasons, there's also plenty of talent and ability left to unlock.

In his first taste of full-season ball this year in the Midwest League, Oakland's No. 6 prospect produced a .277/.374/.401 line with eight homers, 18 extra-base hits and a 10.6 percent walk rate in 79 games with Class A Beloit. He also, however, struck out in nearly 34 percent of his plate appearances and showed increased swing-and-miss tendencies late in the season.

Instructional league rosters

"He performed well, we were pleased overall," said A's coordinator of instruction Ed Sprague about the 19-year-old's campaign. "Obviously he struck out a higher rate than we would have liked, but he did start to show a little bit of his power and also some patience. Any time this guy makes contact it has a chance to leave the yard, and he overall hit the ball very hard this season when he put it in play."

Now participating in Oakland's fall instructional league for a second straight year, Lazarito is on a more individualized program compared to some of the other players in camp as he works to address issues that were exposed during his time in the Midwest League.

"I think breaking-ball recognition and hitting the breaking ball are the biggest things he's working on here," noted Sprague. "He's working on a few head positions in his setup at the plate that we think will help him with that and also get him to backspin the ball more consistently. But what it really comes down to is having him hone in on his strike zone, attack those pitches and lay off the other ones."

• A's instructional league roster and schedule

A's No. 11 prospect Jeremy Eierman, whom Oakland selected with the No. 70 overall pick in this year's Draft, is another player the club is hoping to get on track this fall as he participates in his first instructional league.

Eierman was one of just two NCAA Division I players to total 20 homers and 15 steals as a sophomore in 2017, but he produced only 10 homers as a junior while batting .287, causing his Draft stock to slip. After signing with the A's, the 22-year-old slashed .235/.283/.381 with eight home runs and a 26.2 strikeout rate in 62 games with Vermont in the Class A Short-Season New York-Penn League.

For Sprague, Eierman's 2018 struggles between the college and professional ranks stem more from an incomplete approach rather than anything physical or mechanical.

"I think he got into a pull mode during his junior year, and he'd admit to that, so getting him to open up the field again is probably the primary goal right now in camp," Sprague said.

"When you have the ability to drive the ball out of the ballpark to all parts of the field like he does, you don't really need to cheat on the inner-half. I think he got into that mode a little bit his junior year and then tried to do too much after we signed him."

Jameson Hannah is getting close to returning from the left ankle injury that prematurely ended his pro debut with Vermont on Aug. 1, after just 23 games. The club expects the second-rounder to join its instructional league program in roughly two weeks following the completion of his rehab program.

"He's on a running progression right now and looks good," said Sprague about Oakland's No. 8 prospect's progress.

"He probably has one of the prettiest swings in our farm system. He brings a lot to the table and does a lot of things well. Given some help and provided he stays healthy, he's a guy who could move through the system fairly quickly given his ability."

Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.

Oakland Athletics

A's top Draft pick shows off his football skills

Kyler Murray throws two TD passes, dazzles on 15-yard rush for Oklahoma
MLB.com

Kyler Murray has yet to begin his pro baseball career, but the 21-year-old A's prospect took national audiences by storm on Saturday while quarterbacking No. 7-ranked Oklahoma in its 63-14 win against Florida Atlantic.

Murray, who was taken with the ninth overall pick in the MLB Draft and is Oakland's No. 4 prospect, per MLB Pipeline, completed nine of 11 passes for 209 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including a 65-yard strike to Marquise Brown, and had four rushes for 23 yards despite exiting before the end of the first half Saturday.

Kyler Murray has yet to begin his pro baseball career, but the 21-year-old A's prospect took national audiences by storm on Saturday while quarterbacking No. 7-ranked Oklahoma in its 63-14 win against Florida Atlantic.

Murray, who was taken with the ninth overall pick in the MLB Draft and is Oakland's No. 4 prospect, per MLB Pipeline, completed nine of 11 passes for 209 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including a 65-yard strike to Marquise Brown, and had four rushes for 23 yards despite exiting before the end of the first half Saturday.

Tweet from @CFBONFOX: Kyler Murray is COOKIN pic.twitter.com/pCvS3kKcUI

An outfield prospect who was touted as arguably the best athlete in this year's Draft, Murray is suiting up for the Sooners this season as part of an agreement with the A's, who are allowing the two-sport star to compete on the gridiron despite having signed a professional baseball contract worth nearly $5 million. Murray took the reins as the Sooners' starting quarterback this season.

Murray dances for exquisite 15-yard run

As part of the NCAA rulebook, Murray's football eligibility remains intact because he is being paid for a separate sport. Because he was paid as a baseball player, Murray is no longer eligible to play baseball at Oklahoma. Murray is represented by agent Scott Boras.

Tweet from @CFBONFOX: baker who? pic.twitter.com/sOQQTduhYd

Murray displayed remarkable athleticism and showed signs that Oklahoma's offense may not have much of a tough time transitioning from Baker Mayfield, who led them to the College Football Playoff last year and won the Heisman Trophy before being selected by the Cleveland Browns with the top pick in the NFL Draft. As Mayfield's backup, Murray completed 18 of 21 passes for 359 yards and three touchdowns last season.

Murray, a redshirt junior, was a five-star football recruit out of Allen (Texas) High School and initially committed to Texas A&M to play both football and baseball, but he transferred after the '15 season and backed up Mayfield last fall after sitting out in '16. His father, Kevin Murray, played in the Minors with the Brewers.

Daniel Kramer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @DKramer_.

Oakland Athletics

A's prospect Murray named OU starting QB

MLB.com

Kyler Murray, the ninth overall selection by the A's in this year's MLB Draft, was named Oklahoma's starting quarterback on Wednesday for the school's season opener against Florida Atlantic on Sept. 1.

The center fielder, who rates as the A's No. 4 prospect, per MLB Pipeline, will play for the Sooners this fall before beginning his professional baseball career with the A's.

Kyler Murray, the ninth overall selection by the A's in this year's MLB Draft, was named Oklahoma's starting quarterback on Wednesday for the school's season opener against Florida Atlantic on Sept. 1.

The center fielder, who rates as the A's No. 4 prospect, per MLB Pipeline, will play for the Sooners this fall before beginning his professional baseball career with the A's.

Murray, a redshirt junior, was the backup quarterback for Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield last season as the Sooners went 12-2 en route to a third consecutive Big 12 title and a College Football Playoff berth, eventually losing to Georgia in the Rose Bowl. Mayfield went first overall to the Cleveland Browns in April's NFL Draft, clearing the way for Murray, who beat out redshirt sophomore Austin Kendall for the starting quarterback job.

Tweet from @OU_Football: Kyler Murray named the starting quarterback for the season opener against Florida Atlantic.������ https://t.co/SBkATXrap8 pic.twitter.com/qQYF1QrExm

"Kyler did a really nice job in camp," Oklahoma head football coach Lincoln Riley said in a statement on the team's website. "It was really a great competition between Austin and him, one that we carried on longer than maybe even we expected because of how well both guys played. ... We're excited for Kyler and his opportunity, and the team looks forward to getting ready for FAU."

In limited action last season, Murray threw for 359 yards and three touchdowns without an interception on 18-for-21 passing. He also rushed 14 times for 142 yards. In the spring, he hit. 296 with 10 homers and 47 RBIs in 51 games for the Sooners' baseball team.

A five-star football recruit out of Allen (Texas) High School, Murray also drew first-round interest as a prep baseball prospect but opted to play both sports at Texas A&M, where his father, Kevin Murray, -- a former Brewers Minor Leaguer -- also played quarterback. Murray transferred to Oklahoma after his freshman season and sat out the 2016 campaign before backing up Mayfield last fall.

Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.

Oakland Athletics

Laureano's first 2 HRs help A's back into 1st

Fiers holds Rangers to 1 hit over 7 IP; Davis, Piscotty also homer
MLB.com

OAKLAND -- While the Astros and Mariners went to battle in Seattle on Monday night, the A's kept doing A's things in Oakland. Now they're back in first place.

Responsible for their own destiny, the upward A's took care of business against the Rangers, thoroughly outdoing them in a 9-0 victory behind a commanding Mike Fiers to open a three-game series at the Coliseum.

View Full Game Coverage

OAKLAND -- While the Astros and Mariners went to battle in Seattle on Monday night, the A's kept doing A's things in Oakland. Now they're back in first place.

Responsible for their own destiny, the upward A's took care of business against the Rangers, thoroughly outdoing them in a 9-0 victory behind a commanding Mike Fiers to open a three-game series at the Coliseum.

View Full Game Coverage

With the Astros losing at Safeco Field, the A's jumped back into a first-place tie with Houston for the American League West lead. Oakland also holds a 3 1/2-game lead over the Mariners in the AL Wild Card race.

Ramon Laureano starred in the show, the rookie outfielder amassing five RBIs with the first and second home runs of his Major League career -- sandwiching Khris Davis' 37th homer of the season, a tape-measure solo offering that gave him 99 RBIs, second most in the Majors.

Video: TEX@OAK: Davis grants wish, clubs 438-ft home run

"This is a night we made the park look small, and it started with Ramon," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "We got some power, and I was joking the dugout about these warm summer nights in Oakland. They weren't buying it."

Old friend Bartolo Colon yielded seven runs, while Fiers held the Rangers to one hit over seven solid innings, retiring 18 in a row to cap his night. The right-hander labored through his first two innings, needed 46 pitches in that span, before navigating his final five innings with only 54.

Fiers, who got an assist from catcher Jonathan Lucroy to orchestrate the turnaround, has a 1.47 ERA in three starts since joining the A's.

"I needed some innings tonight," Melvin said. "How he turned it around, throwing as many pitches as he did early on. It didn't look like he had command of really anything, then he and Luc were discussing things on the bench and I think Luc pointed out he was a little offline, and all of a sudden it was a quick fix. It's what batterymates will do for each other. After that, he was fantastic."

Video: TEX@OAK: Fiers allows 1 hit over 7 scoreless innings

"I got back to what I do and got back into a rhythm," Fiers said. "When the fastballs are kind of being sprayed around and stuff just isn't breaking the way it's supposed to be, you gotta make an adjustment and you gotta do it quick. They were starting to put some pressure on me early in the game, and I just had to get back to what I've been doing and throw more strikes."

Laureano's two-run homer highlighted a three-run second inning, and his three-run blast in the sixth ended the night for Colon -- who made his big league debut in 1997 when fellow Dominican Laureano was just 2 years old.

Stephen Piscotty also homered for the A's, who have claimed victory in 41 of their last 55 games to turn the AL playoff picture on its head. They trailed Houston by as many as 12 games in the middle of June.

Video: TEX@OAK: Piscotty belts a solo jack to pad the lead

"This is fun," Laureano said. "Everybody is doing their jobs, so I have zero pressure. I'm just trying to play my game, help the team win, take good at-bats, and that's what I focus on."

SOUND SMART
Laureano is one of 10 players in franchise history to hit their first two big league homers in the same game, joining Matt Chapman, Matt Olson, Bill Bathe, Mike Heath, Mitchell Page, Larry Stahl, Bert Campaneris, Manny Jimenez and George Kell.

Video: TEX@OAK: Laureano hits 3-run jacks for 2nd HR of game

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Davis was sporting an autographed uniform during the game, after letting Make-A-Wish kid Anthony Slocumb sign the back of his jersey in a pregame meeting.

"I thought about him around the bases," Davis said. "There's not a better feeling than hitting a home run, so hopefully he got some excitement and joy from watching that." More >>

Video: TEX@OAK: Davis gets jersey signed by kid, hits HR

HE SAID IT
"You hope he gets off to a good start, because there can be some pressure coming into a situation like this. You want to impress your teammates right away, and he has." -- Melvin, on Fiers

UP NEXT
The A's will send left-hander Brett Anderson (2-3, 3.90 ERA) to the mound for Tuesday's 7:05 p.m. PT matchup with the Rangers at the Coliseum. Texas will counter with rookie right-hander Ariel Jurado (2-2, 6.41). Anderson faced the Rangers in Texas on July 23, tossing six innings of two-run ball.

Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB.

Oakland Athletics, Khris Davis, Mike Fiers, Ramon Laureano, Stephen Piscotty

Laureano's 1st hit, huge assist lift A's in 13th

MLB.com

OAKLAND -- Ramon Laureano's Major League debut began with an 0-for-4. He was chasing pitches, swinging at changeups and sliders out of the zone.

"I don't usually chase like that," he said. "I wasn't myself. I make adjustments."

View Full Game Coverage

OAKLAND -- Ramon Laureano's Major League debut began with an 0-for-4. He was chasing pitches, swinging at changeups and sliders out of the zone.

"I don't usually chase like that," he said. "I wasn't myself. I make adjustments."

View Full Game Coverage

He did just that in the 13th inning on Friday night, delivering a walk-off single with two outs for his first Major League hit to lift the A's over the Tigers, 1-0, at the Coliseum in a marathon pitching duel. After swinging and missing at a slider away earlier in the at-bat against Tigers reliever Buck Farmer, Laureano got a slider in the strike zone, and put a good swing on it.

Watch Laureano learn of big league callup

"I'm shocked," Laureano said. "I'm speechless. It's awesome. I couldn't have imagined it this way."

There was more to his debut. The rookie also took away a runner in scoring position in the top of the 13th, throwing out Jose Iglesias at third when Iglesias stole second and tried to advance further after Jonathan Lucroy's throw went into center field. The play stood upon replay review, sending the A's to bat in the bottom of the frame.

Video: DET@OAK: Laureano nabs Iglesias despite challenge

Laureano also made several stellar catches early on, showcasing the athleticism and speed that earned him a callup from Triple-A Nashville before Friday's game.

For manager Bob Melvin, Laureano's defense and clutch hit were equally impressive.

"Guy's in his first big league game, you're 0-for-4 for the first time," Melvin said. "You made a couple nice plays in center field, now you're put in position where you literally win the game on a throw and a big hit. … This is a day he definitely will not forget."

Video: DET@OAK: Laureano doused while talking walk-off hit

Oakland is now a Major League best 20-9 in one-run games and leads the Majors with 10 extra-inning wins. The A's fourth straight win increased their lead over Seattle to 1 1/2 games in the race for the second American League Wild Card spot, after the Mariners' 7-2 loss to the Blue Jays earlier on Friday. The A's are also 31-10 since June 16, the best record in baseball.

On Friday, they banked on a formula that has been rare of late: a starting pitcher lasting into the seventh inning. An A's starter hadn't pitched seven innings or more in a game since Sean Manaea's start on July 4 against the Padres, but Brett Anderson broke the streak with seven shutout frames.

The first five innings featured dueling no-hitters, with Anderson taking a perfect game into the sixth and Tigers starter Blaine Hardy tossing six innings of no-hit baseball before Jed Lowrie recorded an infield hit to lead off the seventh inning.

"Their guy was pitching very well on the other side too," Anderson said. "I was just trying to go out there and put up a zero, based on the way he was pitching. Gave us a chance. One of the better starts I've had in a while."

Video: DET@OAK: Anderson dominates, takes perfecto into 6th

Prior to the 13th inning, only one runner had reached third in the game -- the Tigers' Nicholas Castellanos in the seventh.

Anderson retired the first 17 batters before surrendering a double to Iglesias with one out. But he finished the inning unscathed, and then pitched out of a jam in the seventh after allowing the first two hitters to reach to end his night.

Anderson's line of seven shutout innings, giving up two hits and one walk, marked the veteran's best outing of the season; he had only pitched longer than six innings once this year. He had just two strikeouts, but pitched well to contact, as more than half his outs came on ground balls. It was also the fifth time this season Anderson has allowed one walk or fewer.

"You know what the score is," Anderson said. "You look up at the linescore and realize there hasn't been a lot of hits on both sides. You just go out there and put up a zero. With our bullpen and offense you know we're going to come through. It just took a little longer than most."

Video: DET@OAK: Melvin talks Anderson, walk-off after win

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Laureano will grab the headlines, but the A's bullpen was the unsung hero, shutting out the Tigers after Anderson departed. Blake Treinen and Yusmeiro Petit both pitched two innings, and Jeurys Familia and Emilio Pagan went one frame each. Only three men reached scoring position for the Tigers after the seventh.

"You almost get to the point where you expect it," Melvin said. "You have to be perfect. There's no room for error."

Video: DET@OAK: Treinen whiffs Hicks with runner on second

SOUND SMART
The A's have won 10 straight games against the Tigers, the longest streak in Oakland franchise history. The Philadelphia A's won 10 straight over Detroit in 1931.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Laureano's assist was not the only important defensive play of the game for the A's. Stephen Piscotty made a spectacular grab in the 10th inning to keep the Tigers from scoring a go-ahead run, robbing Iglesias of a hit with a man on second and two outs. Piscotty laid out to make a catch on a ball that had a 34-percent catch probability.

Video: DET@OAK: Piscotty covers 51 ft in 3.5 sec for grab

HE SAID IT
"I guarantee you in that situation there in the end he's not thinking, 'Oh I need my first big league hit.' He's just trying to get a hit to help the team win. He's in position to win the game. He got a good swing and drove it. It's impressive. We were impressed with him in Spring Training. Nice first showing for him." -- Melvin, on Laureano's game-winning at-bat

Video: Must C Clutch: Laureano's arm, bat spark super debut

UP NEXT
Edwin Jackson gets the start in the second game of the series against the Tigers on Saturday night. Fresh off earning his 100th career win, the veteran will aim for another solid outing since joining the A's midseason. The Tigers will send Jordan Zimmermann (4-3, 4.44 ERA) to the mound. First pitch is set for 6:05 p.m. PT at the Coliseum.

Eric He is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area.

Oakland Athletics, Ramon Laureano

Laureano joins A's, debuts in CF vs. Tigers

MLB.com

OAKLAND -- Dustin Fowler is the A's center fielder of the future. But with Nick Martini impressing in the outfield, Fowler struggling, and the team in the thick of a playoff race, now is not the time for development.

On Wednesday, the A's sent Fowler down to Triple-A Nashville and on Friday, they called up outfielder Ramon Laureano to replace him. Laureano made his Major League debut Friday night, batting ninth and playing center field against the Tigers. He went 0-for-4 before delivering a walk-off hit in the 13th inning to lift the A's over the Tigers, 1-0.

View Full Game Coverage

OAKLAND -- Dustin Fowler is the A's center fielder of the future. But with Nick Martini impressing in the outfield, Fowler struggling, and the team in the thick of a playoff race, now is not the time for development.

On Wednesday, the A's sent Fowler down to Triple-A Nashville and on Friday, they called up outfielder Ramon Laureano to replace him. Laureano made his Major League debut Friday night, batting ninth and playing center field against the Tigers. He went 0-for-4 before delivering a walk-off hit in the 13th inning to lift the A's over the Tigers, 1-0.

View Full Game Coverage

Video: DET@OAK: Laureano rips walk-off single for 1st hit

Laureano also came through with his defense as he threw out Jose Iglesias trying to advance to third base in the top of the 13th.

Video: DET@OAK: Laureano cuts down Iglesias in the 13th

Laureano was drafted by the Astros in 2014 and acquired by the A's in a trade last November for pitcher Brandon Bailey. He started the Triple-A season on the disabled list after being hit by a pitch and breaking his left pinky finger during a Spring Training game, but he has been on a tear over the last month. In his last 29 games, Laureano is batting .372 with nine home runs and 19 RBIs.

Watch Laureano learn of callup

"We were excited to get him," Melvin said before the game. "I know when we did acquire him, [executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane and general manager David Forst] were talking about how he was basically untouchable the year before with the Astros and a tough guy to get."

Fowler has seen his playing time decrease in recent weeks, with Martini -- also a left-handed bat -- hitting .321 in 21 games since being called up in June. Fowler, meanwhile, hit .192 (9-for-51) in July.

"I think he got to a point where he needs to be a little bit more aggressive in everything he does, whether it's stealing bases or in the outfield," Melvin said of Fowler. "We weren't doing him any favors by not playing him. He was basically inactive last year, [and] needs consistent at-bats. He hasn't been getting that at this point especially with the way Martini was playing. It's time for him to go down and play every day. We will see him back here at some point, I'm sure."

Laureano has speed and athleticism and can play all three outfield positions.

The 24-year-old noted that starting the season on the shelf was challenging, but thinks it will all pay off with his journey in the big leagues.

"During that process, you're like, 'Oh man, come on.' But I knew everything was going to be okay, I was going to learn from it," Laureano said. "That's what I did. One day, I can say that was the best part of my life."

Worth Noting
Chad Pinder, who is on the 10-day disabled list with a left elbow laceration after a car accident on Saturday in Denver, is feeling better and took batting practice on Friday. Melvin hopes Pinder will be active for the series against the Dodgers that starts on Tuesday.

• Right-handed reliever Carlos Ramirez, who was designated for assignment on Wednesday, cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Nashville.

Eric He is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area.

Oakland Athletics, Ramon Laureano

A's land Familia from Mets for two prospects

MLB.com

OAKLAND -- One of the best bullpens in the game just got better.

The surging A's, suddenly meddling in the American League Wild Card race, fortified an already formidable bullpen with the addition of Mets closer Jeurys Familia on Saturday.

OAKLAND -- One of the best bullpens in the game just got better.

The surging A's, suddenly meddling in the American League Wild Card race, fortified an already formidable bullpen with the addition of Mets closer Jeurys Familia on Saturday.

Oakland traded Triple-A reliever Bobby Wahl and infield prospect Will Toffey to reel in the best rental reliever on the market, tossing in $1 million in international bonus pool money.

"We thought he was the best guy out there," A's general manager David Forst said. "We've talked for a few weeks now about what we can do to add to this team. Obviously the guys have played great, and we've been very open about how we feel like they deserve an opportunity.

"Adding a reliever right now was the best option, and we thought Jeurys was the best guy, so we've been talking to the Mets for a while, and we're happy that it came together."

Modest expectations aside, the 55-43 A's are playing like a contender, entering Saturday just four games back of the Mariners for the second AL Wild Card spot, with much thanks to a solid offense and a sturdy bullpen.

They're 38-0 when leading after seven innings this season, and 46-0 when leading after eight. Now setup man Lou Trivino and All-Star closer Blake Treinen have elite company: Familia, who is expected in Oakland ahead of Sunday's matinee against the Giants, has extensive closing experience, racking up 51 saves as an All-Star in 2016.

The A's are now equipped with a three-headed relief monster, much akin to the vaunted bullpen trio once dispatched by the Royals -- Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland.

An underrated version utilized by the A's in 2012, when they relied on Ryan Cook, Sean Doolittle and Grant Balfour, was essential to their surprising playoff push.

"For already having a good bullpen, to be able to bring in an arm like this, man, it's pretty significant," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "We'll figure out how we're going to go with it. I'll certainly talk to him before I say how this is going to be deployed as far as what innings for who. But this is a real significant pickup for us. You can't ask for much more."

Despite a glaring need for starting help, the A's believe they've augmented their club in a similar way by supplementing their relief corps.

The Mets are the only organization that Familia has known, signing with the club as a 17-year-old out of the Dominican Republic in July 2007. Now 28, his tenure in New York included 123 saves, third-most in franchise history, and a 2.66 ERA with more than a strikeout per inning -- including 43 in 40 2/3 innings this season following a mostly forgettable 2017 campaign.

Video: ARI@NYM: Familia locks down a save with a 1-2-3 9th

He served a 15-game suspension at the start of 2017 for violating Major League Baseball's joint domestic violence policy, then missed time later that year recovering from arterial surgery on his right shoulder.

Familia has been at his best this month, throwing seven scoreless innings in July, and his presence allows Melvin to alleviate the wear and tear on Trivino and Treinen. The A's will take on the roughly $3 million remaining on his $7.925 million contract this year before he becomes a free agent.

"I talked to him today, and I said, 'You, Trivino and Treinen are going to be as good as we've had here in a long time, as good as I can remember,' and he was excited about it," Forst said.

Not since 2014 have the A's -- winners of 21 of their last 27 games -- been in position to add, rather than subtract. The losses in that span have been substantial, too; among them, Josh Donaldson and Sonny Gray.

"Three weeks ago, maybe this isn't a conversation," Melvin said, "but the way the team's played in the last month put us in a position to be able to do something like this."

"This is fun," Forst said. "Billy [Beane] said it last week, we want to be on this side, and the conversations we've had the last week, that's why you do this job, to get to this point, to try to add, to try to get better. You always want to be on the buying side, and we're trying to enjoy it. The thing about this part of the season is you're sort of past the marathon phase. This is a sprint now through August and September, and all you have to do now is play well for another 60 games. We got a chance to do that."

Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010.

Oakland Athletics, Jeurys Familia, Bobby Wahl

7 contenders with prospects to make a big deal

MLB.com

At this time of year, when buyers are competing to bolster their rosters for the stretch run and sellers are looking to next season and beyond, arguably nothing is more important than the prospects contenders have -- and are willing -- to trade.

While much attention is paid to the top name or two in each team's farm system, depth matters too.

At this time of year, when buyers are competing to bolster their rosters for the stretch run and sellers are looking to next season and beyond, arguably nothing is more important than the prospects contenders have -- and are willing -- to trade.

While much attention is paid to the top name or two in each team's farm system, depth matters too.

Catch up on the Latest Trade Talk

Just look at the Dodgers, who were able to acquire Manny Machado from the Orioles without giving up their top two prospects, outfielder Alex Verdugo (No. 29 overall, per MLB Pipeline) and catcher Keibert Ruiz (No. 38 overall). They also held onto right-hander Dustin May (No. 83 overall), whom Baltimore reportedly coveted.

And yet, Los Angeles' five-player package, which was headlined by outfielder Yusniel Diaz, was enough to get a deal done. Diaz was the Dodgers' No. 4 prospect at the time of the trade, and he now tops the O's system while ranking 57th overall.

:: Complete prospect coverage ::

So which clubs are in the best position to make a trade like that between now and Tuesday's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline? Here are seven teams with the prospects to swing a summer blockbuster, ordered based on the number of prospects they have on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 list.

Note: Prospect Points are determined by assigning a numerical value to each spot in the Top 100, giving 100 points to No. 1, 99 points to No. 2, and so on. A team's total is calculated by adding the values assigned to each of its Top 100 prospects.

1. Braves
Top 100 prospects (8): Right-hander Mike Soroka (No. 15 overall, per MLB Pipeline), right-hander Kyle Wright (No. 25), right-hander Ian Anderson (No. 40), third baseman Austin Riley (No. 44), catcher Cristian Pache (No. 58), left-hander Luiz Gohara (No. 63), right-hander Touki Toussaint (No. 78), left-hander Kolby Allard (No. 93)
Prospect Points ranking: 3rd
The Braves' system is stacked, as the club has four more prospects in the Top 100 than any other team on this list. With Atlanta in rebuilding mode over the past several years, the club hasn't made a major Trade Deadline acquisition since Michael Bourn in 2011, and that was under a different regime. Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos was at the helm in Toronto when the Blue Jays picked up David Price from the Tigers for Matthew Boyd, Daniel Norris and Jairo Labourt in July '15, but Anthopoulos has expressed his reluctance to trade young assets for a rental player this time around. If the Braves do deal from their wealth of Top 100 prospects, it will likely be for controllable talent. They are believed to be in the market for relief help and have also been linked to Toronto starter Marcus Stroman, who is under team control through '20.

2. Yankees
Top 100 prospects (4): Left-hander Justus Sheffield (No. 28 overall), outfielder Estevan Florial (No. 47), right-hander Jonathan Loaisiga (No. 77), right-hander Albert Abreu (No. 79)
Prospect Points ranking: 12th
The Yankees' farm system remains among the best in the game without even taking into account Gleyber Torres and Clint Frazier, who have both lost their prospect status. The club's system has also been heralded for its depth, even beyond the players in the Top 100. Though the Yankees made a bid for Machado and have discussed Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard with the Mets, general manager Brian Cashman seemingly has been hesitant to raid the farm for a big-name player. New York has already acquired Zach Britton and J.A. Happ without moving any Top 100 prospects, and there's a chance it won't make any other major moves, even with Aaron Judge sustaining a chip fracture in his right wrist on Thursday and the Yankees sitting 4 1/2 games behind the Red Sox in the American League East entering Friday.

Video: Yankees acquire J.A. Happ

3. Dodgers
Top 100 prospects (4): Verdugo, Ruiz, catcher/third baseman Will Smith (No. 74 overall), May
Prospect Points ranking: 11th
Yep, even after acquiring Yu Darvish last July and Machado on July 18, the Dodgers still possess an impressive collection of youngsters in the Minors. But it remains to be seen if president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and general manager Farhan Zaidi are looking to make another big transaction. On one hand, the Dodgers' World Series window is open now, and adding a big-name pitcher such as deGrom or Chris Archer could be the move that brings home a title. Furthermore, it would give the club an insurance policy if Clayton Kershaw decides to opt out of his contract in the offseason. On the other hand, the Dodgers have an incredibly deep roster, six healthy starters and a bullpen that could get Josh Fields and Tony Cingrani back from the disabled list soon.

4. Phillies
Top 100 prospects (3): Right-hander Sixto Sanchez (No. 17 overall), third baseman Alec Bohm (No. 46), right-hander Adonis Medina (No. 73)
Prospect Points ranking: 14th
Another surprise contender in the National League East, the Phillies have been consistently featured in Trade Talk throughout July, and their reported willingness to part with right-hander Medina made them a finalist for Machado. But after falling short in their pursuit of Machado, Philadelphia has turned its attention to lower-cost players. Meanwhile, the club has remained steadfast in its refusal to deal the crown jewel of its farm system, Sanchez, who has recorded a 2.51 ERA in Class A Advanced this season. Still, even if Sanchez remains off the table, the Phils have the pieces to make a Trade Deadline splash should the club's front office decide it is one big acquisition away from emerging as the favorite in a wide-open NL.

5. Brewers
Top 100 prospects (3): Second baseman Keston Hiura (No. 27 overall), right-hander Corbin Burnes (No. 53), right-hander Freddy Peralta (No. 82)
Prospect Points ranking: 17th
Milwaukee was a Trade Deadline seller in general manager David Stearns' first season in charge, sending Jonathan Lucroy and Jeremy Jeffress to the Rangers and Will Smith to the Giants in 2016, and Stearns held off on making a notable deal last July despite being in contention for the postseason. It's been a different story this year, with the Brewers landing reliever Joakim Soria and third baseman Mike Moustakas, though the highest-ranked prospect they moved in those transactions was outfielder Brett Phillips, who was 10th on Milwaukee's list before being sent to Kansas City for Moose. That leaves Stearns with a strong system to trade from as he looks to address the rotation, which remains the club's biggest area of need. Peralta has already made a significant impact in the Majors, posting a 3.74 ERA with an 11.8 K/9 rate in eight starts, so it's unlikely the Brewers would move him for another starter. Meanwhile, the belief around baseball, according to The Athletic (subscription required), is that Milwaukee won't trade Hiura, who has recorded an .868 OPS in the Minors this season. But Burnes could be in play as the headliner in a blockbuster deal.

Video: Joel Sherman on possible Trade Deadline stories

6. Astros
Top 100 prospects (3): Right-hander Forrest Whitley (No. 7 overall), outfielder Kyle Tucker (No. 8), outfielder Yordan Alvarez (No. 42)
Prospect Points ranking: 6th
After winning the 2017 World Series championship with former highly rated prospects such as Carlos Correa, George Springer, Alex Bregman and Lance McCullers Jr. playing key roles and trading for Gerrit Cole in the offseason, the Astros still have a good deal of promising youngsters on the farm. But Houston's MLB roster is so talented that the club likely won't need to move any of its top prospects for a substantial upgrade. Of course, if Astros president of baseball operations and general manager Jeff Luhnow does want to bring in, say, the Reds' Raisel Iglesias or the Marlins' J.T. Realmuto, he likely could make it happen by dangling Whitley, Tucker and/or Alvarez.

7. A's
Top 100 prospects (3): Left-hander Jesus Luzardo (No. 12 overall), left-hander A.J. Puk (No. 39), catcher Sean Murphy (No. 54)
Prospect Points ranking: 10th
Although the A's financial restrictions are well documented, executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane hasn't been averse to dipping into the farm system to make a trade when the club has been in contention in the past. In July 2014, Beane sent top prospect Addison Russell along with youngsters Billy McKinney and Dan Straily to the Cubs for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. The A's supplemented their system by trading Sonny Gray to the Yankees and Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson to the Nationals last summer, adding Luzardo, Jorge Mateo (Oakland's No. 7 prospect), James Kaprielian (No. 9), Sheldon Neuse (No. 10) and Dustin Fowler in those deals. Luzardo may be off the table, but Beane still has plenty to work with here.

Thomas Harrigan is an editor for MLB.com.

Milwaukee Brewers, Atlanta Braves, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, Oakland Athletics, Los Angeles Dodgers, Houston Astros

Chapman goes on DL; A's call up Barreto

Third baseman has battled hand injury since spring; Lowrie to cover hot corner
MLB.com

OAKLAND -- The A's will be without third baseman Matt Chapman indefinitely, forcing a shift in their infield alignment.

Veteran Jed Lowrie, the everyday man at second base, has been asked to pick up coverage at third, allowing infield prospect Franklin Barreto -- recalled from Triple-A Nashville on Saturday -- to clock time at second.

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OAKLAND -- The A's will be without third baseman Matt Chapman indefinitely, forcing a shift in their infield alignment.

Veteran Jed Lowrie, the everyday man at second base, has been asked to pick up coverage at third, allowing infield prospect Franklin Barreto -- recalled from Triple-A Nashville on Saturday -- to clock time at second.

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A's manager Bob Melvin said Lowrie was immediately on board with the idea.

"I'll tell you what, for a guy that has a chance to make an All-Star team this year, when I brought it up to him, he was, 'Let's do it,'" Melvin said. "He's doing the best he can for his team, and it's really admirable. No questions, just, 'Whatever you need me to do,' and we appreciate that.

"For a guy that has the versatility and has played the position before, it helps us out, but for him to be up for it from the second we talked about it, is really appreciated by the team and the staff."

Lowrie played three innings at third last fall following a Chapman ejection, but Saturday marked his first start at the position since 2015, when he played the corner regularly for the Astros.

"I haven't done the reps, so just try to acclimate as quickly as possible," Lowrie said. "When you take ground balls every day at one position, your body is used to it. You're using the same muscle group every day. It's just different."

Chapman was added to the disabled list Saturday with a right thumb contusion and is scheduled for an exam with hand surgeon Dr. Steven Shin in Los Angeles on Monday. That didn't stop Chapman from taking ground balls Saturday morning. The tireless infielder, who had played in each of the club's first 69 games before sitting out Friday, was hitting .368 in June.

Chapman saw Shin in November and again in Spring Training for the same issue. He received a cortisone shot in February and could potentially get another to alleviate the discomfort.

This is Barreto's third stint with the big league club this season, but the first that could provide an extended opportunity. He was hitless in six at-bats in five games over his previous two tours with the A's. He is the A's No. 3 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline.

"This has been one of our top prospects for years now, and he's still only 22 years old," Melvin said. "The times he's been here, he hasn't gotten the opportunity to play almost every day, so this will be a nice opportunity for him, and I'd like to see him get off to a good start, because he's a very talented player."

Right-hander Josh Lucas joined Barreto from Triple-A Nashville ahead of the A's matchup with the Angels, as righty Carlos Ramirez was optioned.

Worth noting

Right-hander Brett Anderson (shoulder) threw all of his pitches in a bullpen session Saturday morning and could be nearing a Minor League rehab assignment, Melvin said.

Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB.

Oakland Athletics, Franklin Barreto, Matt Chapman

Two-sport star Murray comes to terms with A's

First-round Draft pick plans to play one season at QB for Oklahoma
MLB.com

OAKLAND -- The reasonable hesitation that accompanied thoughts of selecting a two-sport athlete surely infiltrated the A's Draft room. Billy Beane sensed it.

"Everyone was sort of dancing around the obvious," Oakland's vice president of baseball operations said. "I knew who they really wanted, but they were fearful of sort of dealing with the whole football issue."

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OAKLAND -- The reasonable hesitation that accompanied thoughts of selecting a two-sport athlete surely infiltrated the A's Draft room. Billy Beane sensed it.

"Everyone was sort of dancing around the obvious," Oakland's vice president of baseball operations said. "I knew who they really wanted, but they were fearful of sort of dealing with the whole football issue."

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The talent at stake: Oklahoma Sooner standout Kyler Murray. The risk at stake: Murray wished to succeed Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield at quarterback in the fall before resuming baseball.

Video: LAA@OAK: Murray on signing with A's, playing football

The novelty of it all scared off other teams, agent Scott Boras said. The A's, though, were enamored with his athleticism.

"And probably about 36 hours before the Draft, I was talking to David [Forst]," Beane said, "and I said, 'We should take Kyler Murray; that's who everyone wants to take.'

"Everyone kind of looked at me as if [asking], 'Is that OK?' And I said, 'Yeah, we're going to do it. If it's the best player, we're going to take him.' I think it really energized everyone. No one really wanted to mention the whole football thing and I said, 'Hey, listen guys. In January, we're going to be really excited that this kid is playing for the Oakland A's. We're going to be hitting ourselves in January if we haven't taken this kid.' That's when we called Scott, and it happened pretty quickly."

Tweet from @Athletics: Kyler���s first (BP) home run swing at the Coliseum looks a little something like this. #RootedInOakland pic.twitter.com/iE2xw4AIHc

Beane and the A's officially agreed to terms with Murray's camp on Friday to a deal that includes a $4.66 million signing bonus, per MLB.com's Jim Callis -- slightly under slot value for the No. 9 selection, which is $4,761,500.

The A's hosted Murray and several members of his family at the Coliseum on Friday, including his father, Kevin Murray, a former Texas A&M quarterback and Brewers farmhand; and his uncle, Calvin Murray, a two-time first-rounder and five-year Major Leaguer.

Boras, whose clientele includes A's third baseman Matt Chapman, was also on hand to introduce Murray. The speedy outfielder, donned in green and gold, took batting practice with the big league squad, exchanging pleasantries with the likes of manager Bob Melvin and slugger Khris Davis.

"A little surreal, obviously, getting to play a professional sport, whichever one it was, but it's been a great day, and I'm just thankful and blessed," Murray said. "I can't put it into words, but I'm just thankful."

"I can say this with a tremendous amount of pride," Beane said. "This is one of the most dynamic athletes that we've selected since I've been here. People ask me, 'Who does he remind you of?' I'm not sure I can really come up with anyone, and I don't want to put any pressure on him, but he's a phenomenal athlete."

Murray, posed the same question, didn't hesitate.

"The big one is Rickey Henderson," he said. "I've watched a lot of his film. Great player, great legend, obviously, but I'm pretty confident in my own skills."

Tweet from @Athletics: We���re excited that you���re an Oakland Athletic too! 😎 pic.twitter.com/ZFJF4A9nx5

"If that's the comp people are talking about," Melvin said, smiling, "we're OK with that."

Murray, 20, will play one more year of football at Oklahoma, before reporting to Arizona next spring to begin his professional baseball career.

"This guy is fun to watch play football," Beane said. "I'm looking forward to it, I'm not fearing it, mainly because I think the athletic ability is going to be fun to watch and he's going to be fine.

"He's really fun to watch on a football field, and he's going to be fun to watch on a baseball field. It's neat that he gets to do both, and that the country gets to see both, but we're going to get the best years, and he's going to have a great baseball career."

Said Melvin: "We have a little vested interest in watching Oklahoma football this year -- with our eyes closed and our ears plugged."

Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB.

Oakland Athletics

Source: A's, Murray nearing $5 million bonus

MLB.com

The A's and their first-round selection in this year's Draft, Kyler Murray, are nearing a deal that would guarantee the 20-year-old center fielder nearly $5 million as a signing bonus and would allow him to play football for one more season at the University of Oklahoma, a source told MLB.com. The ninth overall pick comes with a slot value of $4,761,500.

Murray hit .296 with 10 home runs and 47 RBIs in 51 games for Oklahoma following a productive Cape Cod League stint last summer. He transferred to Oklahoma following his freshman season at Texas A&M, and after sitting out the 2016 season, backed up Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield -- the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft -- last fall. Murray completed 18 of 21 passes for 359 yards and three touchdowns.

The A's and their first-round selection in this year's Draft, Kyler Murray, are nearing a deal that would guarantee the 20-year-old center fielder nearly $5 million as a signing bonus and would allow him to play football for one more season at the University of Oklahoma, a source told MLB.com. The ninth overall pick comes with a slot value of $4,761,500.

Murray hit .296 with 10 home runs and 47 RBIs in 51 games for Oklahoma following a productive Cape Cod League stint last summer. He transferred to Oklahoma following his freshman season at Texas A&M, and after sitting out the 2016 season, backed up Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield -- the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft -- last fall. Murray completed 18 of 21 passes for 359 yards and three touchdowns.

Draft Tracker: Every A's pick

"I think, as a staff, we just felt like Kyler was a unique talent, and it's something that you come across rarely in what we do," A's scouting director Eric Kubota said following the selection on Monday. "The risk of the football was, in our opinion, outweighed by the upside on the baseball field.

"We were totally on board with his desire to play quarterback at Oklahoma. Frankly, we're kind of excited to be an Oklahoma fan for 12 games."

Murray is the son of former Texas A&M quarterback and Brewers farmhand Kevin Murray and the nephew of former MLB outfielder Calvin Murray.

The Murray selection is somewhat reminiscent of the Cubs' selection of two-sport athlete Jeff Samardzija in the fifth round of the 2006 Draft. Samardzija, now a right-handed pitcher for the Giants, played both baseball and football at Notre Dame, playing wide receiver for the Irish. Another similar selection recently came in 2011, when the Reds picked left-hander Amir Garrett in the 22nd round, signing him while also allowing him to play college basketball at St. John's.

Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB.

Oakland Athletics

Younger Piscotty drafted by Athletics

MLB.com

OAKLAND -- Another Piscotty is joining the A's organization.

The A's selected Austin Piscotty, the younger brother of right fielder Stephen Piscotty, out of Saint Mary's College in Moraga, Calif., in the 38th round of the MLB Draft on Wednesday.

OAKLAND -- Another Piscotty is joining the A's organization.

The A's selected Austin Piscotty, the younger brother of right fielder Stephen Piscotty, out of Saint Mary's College in Moraga, Calif., in the 38th round of the MLB Draft on Wednesday.

• A's Draft Tracker

Eric Kubota, the A's scouting director, said the younger Piscotty is a "good baseball player" and has a chance to play pro baseball.

"Blood lines mean a lot to us as well," Kubota said.

Austin, 22, appeared in 135 games over four seasons at Saint Mary's, primarily as a shortstop. He attended Amador Valley High School in Pleasanton, Calif., where he earned All-East Bay Athletic League honors.

Stephen Piscotty was traded to the A's from the Cardinals prior to this season. The Piscotty family is from the Bay Area, and they recently received an outpouring of support after Gretchen Piscotty, Stephen and Austin's mother, passed away in May following a year-long battle with ALS.

"I talked to him a little bit earlier today before he got drafted, and it sounded like there was a chance that he could go," Piscotty said. "I was just super pumped for him. I was following the Draft tracker while I was here, and sure enough, he went to the A's, and it was awesome. I congratulated him. He's honored and very excited. ... He's got a lot of talent. I'm just really proud of him and excited for him, to be in the same organization, that's really cool."

"It's such a sad story," Kubota said. "To bring a little ray of sunshine during this time is great."

Eric He is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area.

Oakland Athletics, Stephen Piscotty

A's take two-sport star Kyler Murray 9th overall

Loaded with tools, outfielder also plays football for Sooners
MLB.com