Stockton Carrying Dangerous Roster

Stockton fans are feeling the fullest effects of the Athletics’ recent drafts, off-season deals and international signings. On Opening Day, the Ports had a dozen players who appeared on a Top 30 when our Prospect Handbook came out this winter. They were:

Brett Anderson 20 LHP No. 3 (Diamondbacks)
Trevor Cahill 20 RHP No. 2 (Athletics)
Andrew Carignan 21 RHP No. 22 (Athletics)
Fautino de los Santos 22 RHP No. 2 (White Sox)
Sam Demel 22 RHP No. 19 (Athletics)
Graham Godfrey 23 RHP No. 28 (Athletics)
Henry Rodriguez 21 RHP No. 4 (Athletics)
Chris Carter 21 1B No. 8 (Diamondbacks)
Sean Doolittle 21 1B No. 10 (Athletics)
Josh Horton 22 SS No. 26 (Athletics)
Jermaine Mitchell 23 OF No. 8 (Athletics)
Matt Sulentic 20 OF No. 16 (Athletics)

The Ports are atop the Northern Division of the California League with San Jose (Giants) at 29-16, and second-year manager Darren Bush said he enjoys sitting back and watching.

"It’s nice having guys that go out and compete," Bush said. "These guys are competitors more than anything. They try to out-work each other and push each other to get better. That’s fun to watch."

Having a surplus of prospects also means Bush has to keep an eye on development and even work some organization experiments. Sean Doolittle and Chris Carter are both first basemen. They have alternated as the team’s DH, but Doolittle has also seen some time in right field. Despite being in the Cal League, Doolittle has answered some of the questions about his power potential—he has 12 home runs in 163 at-bats and is slugging .693. He’s a very good defensive first baseman, but expanding his versatility could help his value.

"He has good actions in right," Bush said. "His arm definitely plays out there. Anything he can do to get him into a position to have success is great."

Doolittle was a fixture in Virginia’s rotation during his time there, so there is no question about his arm.

Doolittle is the superior fielder, but Carter has good raw power and showed it with a walk-off home run on May 4. Bush said it was pushing 500 feet and was "very well touched."

The Ports also have a very pitching staff despite losing righthander Henry Rodriguez to Double-A Midland and righthander Fautino de los Santos to the disabled list. Rodriguez was promoted to Double-A Midland after only three starts in which he went 1-1, 1.59 in 17 innings. He struck out 23 and walked five.

De los Santos was shut down with elbow soreness and hasn’t pitched since April 24. Bush could not comment on the injury but was happy with what he had seen so far.

"His mechanics look good," he said. "He’s nice and loose and the ball jumps out of his hand. His velocity has been consistent and he’s touched 97."

Righthander Trevor Cahill has had the most success of the staff though. In six starts he is 5-1, 2.96 with 68 strikeouts in 55 innings. The Cal League is known for punishing pitchers, but Cahill has done everything he needs to to be successful.

"I like how he attacks the zone," Bush said. "He’s a competitor and he has a plan. He works down in the zone so well. He has a heavy ball, sink to his fastball and a good downer curveball."

That sinker explains his current 3.14 groundout-to-air out ratio, and the 1.83-to-1 mark he held last season with low Class A Kane County.

Lefthander Brett Anderson was impressive in his first six starts, going 6-1, 2.43, but has struggled recently and has lost three straight starts. In his last three starts he’s given up 19 runs, all earned. In his latest, a May 18 contest against San Jose, he lasted just a third of an inning, allowing eight runs on seven hits.

Righthander Andrew Carignan was the team’s closer, but was called up to Midland after going 1-1, 0.90 with four saves in 10 innings. Shortstop Josh Horton is hitting .308/.425/.390 in 146 at-bats while committing just four errors at shortstop. And Matt Sulentic has been manning the corner outfield spots while hitting .299/.379/.507 in 134 at-bats with 12 doubles.

The way some of these prospects are performing, 23-21 Midland should be getting a boost in the Texas League standings before long.