Big League Deals Bring a Wealth of New Talent to the Ports’ Roster

If there’s one thing A’s fans can come to expect each summer, it’s that winning or losing, Billy Beane is going to be active at the trade deadline.  Last year, while the team was leading the division in July, Beane went ahead and doubled down on his team, acquiring pitchers Jon Lester and Jeff Smardzija and hitters like Jonny Gomes and Adam Dunn.  This year, with the team struggling, Beane has traded away players currently in the final year of their contracts for future prospects.  While the deadline may be a little disappointing for Athletics’ fans this year instead of last, the opposite holds true for the Ports.

Last year on July 4th, former Ports Addison Russell and Billy McKinney were traded away, diminishing what ended up being a second-half first place team in the California League.  Later on, Ports pitcher Nolan Sanborn would be dealt as the A’s added Adam Dunn to their Big League roster.  This year, the tune is a little different.  The A’s have traded Scott Kazmir, Tyler Clippard, and Ben “The Zob-Train” Zobrist.  The return has been almost all prospects that won’t be spending much time in Oakland this season.  While it may not help the A’s chances of making a late playoff run, it could certainly help the Ports.

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Nottingham, the Athletics’ #7 prospect, is batting .309 with 4 home runs since his promotion to the California League.

So far these trades have added three players to the Ports roster.  In the Kazmir trade, the Ports received both a promising young catcher and an interesting starting pitcher.  Jacob Nottingham is thought to be the prize of the trade.  The right-handed catcher was rated the Astros’ #22 prospect in a loaded farm system by MLB.com, but his on-field production this season would seem to improve his stock.  Since being promoted to the California League in July, Nottingham has batted .309/.353/.521 and also has four home runs.  He is currently being touted as a power-hitting catcher, which can be a truly valuable commodity.  The Ports also received starting pitcher Daniel Mengden.  He was rated as the Astros’ #18 prospect by MLB.com.  He hasn’t however, been able to replicate the success that Nottingham had in the California League yet.  Mengden has a 4.94 ERA through 54.2 innings pitched, although the notoriously hitter-friendly California League certainly inflates those numbers.

The Ports have also been assigned Casey Meisner who came over from the Mets in the Tyler Clippard trade.  The 6’ 7” Meisner is a starting pitcher who many scouts believe could turn into a very promising Major Leaguer.  In 18 professional starts this season Meisner has pitched to a 2.53 while having a strikeout to walk ratio close to 3:1.  He is also only 20 years old after being drafted out of high school in the 3rd round of the 2013 draft.  If he can develop a consistent delivery, which may take some time being a 20-year old with a 6-7 frame, there is a definite chance this was a steal of a trade by Beane.

Last year, Ports fans saw some key players traded in what could have been a memorable season.  With the misfortune of the 2015 A’s, the Ports will be on the receiving end of top prospects this year, and hopefully it will lead to a better finish to the 2015 season.

Get to Know the Ports Front Office: Maria Boyle

Maria Boyle: Graphics ManagerMariaWeb

1. What is your first baseball memory?

Getting to play T-ball with my younger brothers and my dad, who coached.

2. If you were stuck on a deserted island, who would you want on the island with you?

My dad because he’s easy going and weird – we’d probably get eaten by sharks, but we’d be laughing while it was happening.

3. If you could pick a super-power, what would it be? What would your name be?

I’d definitely want Omnilingualism. My name would be Atlas.

4. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Thailand

5. Do you have any hidden talents?

I can wiggle my ears. I’m also abnormally talented at getting lost, regardless of Siri’s help.

6. If you had one million dollars, what are the first three things you would do with it?

  1. Get an abnoxiously large amount of sushi
  2. Visit my grandparents and give them the time of their lives
  3. Donate to St. Jude Children’s Hospital

7. If you could trade places with one fictional character, who would it be?

Elizabeth Swan from Pirates of the Caribbean. Crazy adventure, plus Orlando Bloom and Johnny Depp.

8. If you didn’t work in sports, what would you want to do?

Professional photographer for National Geographic.

9. What is the best concert you’ve ever been to?

Luke’s karaoke nights, hands down.

10. If you could take a road trip with any three people, who would it be?

My mom, Marshawn Lynch, and Jennifer Lawrence.

11. If you could try out any job for a day, what would it be?

Shark wrestler.

12. Who was your favorite singer/band of the 90’s?

The Backstreet Boys for sure. I’m still all about them.

13. What is your karaoke song?

There is nothing worse than karaoke, although I’ve heard Taylor McCarthy’s softball skills are somewhat comparable. I do sing “All I Do Is Win” by DJ Khaled to myself quite often.

14. What was the last song to play on your iPod/phone?

Hear Me Now by Hollywood Undead

15.If you were a professional athlete, what sport would you play?

Surfing

Ports Look to Continue Streak into Second Half of Season

Heading into All-Star Break, the Ports are currently residing in second place in the Northern Division.  They’ve been in a heated battle for second place with the Modesto Nuts when they were surged by a nine-game winning streak leading them into the break. While they haven’t been able to contend so far this year with the North Division Leader Visalia Rawhide, there is still plenty of reason for optimism regarding the 2015 Ports.

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Michael Soto’s walk-off hit on Saturday, June 18th.

The first reason for this team to be optimistic is that they were in a very similar position last year.  In the first half of the season, they finished in second place only a game above the Rawhide and three games above the Giants.  They also finished eight games back of the Blaze for the division lead.  There are certainly similarities.  After the All-Star break last year, the Ports took off.  They went 48-22 to finish out the year, leading the division in the second half by nine games as they clinched a playoff berth.  A similar fate could very well be in store for this Ports squad.

The roster makeup of both last year’s team and this year’s also presents its similarities.  Heading into 2014, only four players were on the roster that had played more than 30 games for the 2013 Ports.  In 2015 only one player remains from the 2014 squad, and that is Beau Taylor.  With complete roster turnover such as that, it can be difficult for the new players to get adjusted as most of them are often experiencing High-A baseball for the first time in their careers.  That was apparent last year as once the players became more comfortable, they took off in the second half.  As the 2015 Ports continue to adjust to California League pitching, their season could certainly begin to take off.

A different set of circumstances may also bode well for the 2015.  Last year as the Ports were battling for a playoff berth, the Oakland A’s were in their own battle.  Unfortunately for Ports fans, the Major League team was priority number one for general manager Billy Beane.  While the A’s made their run they traded for pieces that could put them over the hump in the playoffs.  Deals for Cubs pitchers Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija and for White Sox slugger Adam Dunn ultimately cost some important pieces for the Ports.  Top prospect Billy McKinney was shipped off to the Cubs, and their south side counterparts received Ports pitcher Nolan Sanborn in exchange for Dunn.  While it helped the A’s reach the playoffs, it cost several pieces that might have led to a championship for the Ports.

This year, the circumstances are almost completely flipped.  The A’s have underperformed mostly due to injuries to players they were counting on.  Now in the third month of the season, the A’s are currently in the basement of the AL West.  And while the players aren’t performing the way they were predicted to at the beginning of the season, they still have talented players, most of which are very attractive to other teams with higher chances of making the playoffs.  While last year saw Ports’ players being shipped off, this year could see new Ports’ players arriving as the return for some of these Major League players being traded.

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Coco Crisp on rehab assignment on Sunday, May 3rd.

Another reason to be optimistic is that with the Sacramento River Cats changing affiliations this season, the Ports are now the only A’s affiliate in California.  This can and has led to more rehab stints in Stockton.  So far this season, the Ports have already hosted players such as Sean Doolittle, Eric O’Flaherty, Drew Pomeranz, Josh Reddick, and Coco Crisp.  Even though injuries are hard to predict and never worth hoping for, these big leaguers almost certainly contribute to the Ports while they are here.  From the mentoring of these young players, to the actual on-field performance, their presence can never be understated.

For all of these reasons, Ports fans should feel good about their team heading into the second half of the season.  Baseball is a long a season and as these players continue to grow and get accustomed to the next step in their career, they’ll only continue to be more productive here at Banner Island Ballpark.

Get to Know the Ports Front Office: Luke Johnson

Luke Johnson: Group Sales Manager

LukeJohnsonWeb

1. What is your first baseball memory?

T-Ball playing on the Twins

2. If you were stuck on a deserted island, who would you want on the island with you?

Margot Robbie

3. If you could pick a super-power, what would it be? What would your name be?

The ability to be an angel and help the Angels win the pennant (again).  Just call me AL.

4. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

On the beach in San Diego, with a rooftop patio.

5. Do you have any hidden talents?

Karaoke

6. If you had one million dollars, what are the first three things you would do with it?

Buy a Chevy Tahoe, take a month long vacation to a tropical island, and put the rest on red in Vegas.

7. If you could trade places with one fictional character, who would it be?

Ari Gold

8. If you didn’t work in sports, what would you want to do?

Duck Boat tour guide in either Pittsburgh or San Francisco

9. What is the best concert you’ve ever been to?

Kanye West.

10. If you could take a road trip with any three people, who would it be?

Mike Trout, The Rock, and Bruce Springsteen.

11. If you could try out any job for a day, what would it be?

Baseball groundskeeper, they seem to have all the fun.

12. Who was your favorite singer/band of the 90’s?

There are too many good ones to choose just one so: Third Eye Blind, Hootie and the Blowfish, and any 90’s rap.

13. What is your karaoke song?

Depending on the crowd either Wagon Wheel or Kanye West-Heartless

14. What was the last song to play on your iPod/phone?

Kid Rock-Bawitdaba

15. If you were a professional athlete, what sport would you play?

Golf.  Get to be outside and the paychecks are nice.

Alumni Update: Catching up with Tom Munoz ’55 & ’56

1. What is your favorite memory from your time with the Ports?

The great two years we had together.

2. What was the best thing about playing for the Ports?

The fans and teammates.

3. What accomplishments from your days with the Ports are you most proud of?

The ‘55 and ’56 season. Great two years.

4. What favorite memory do you have about the team?

Everyone is my friend, and they still are.

5. Favorite Cal League ballpark?

Reno

6. Toughest opponent the Ports faced?

Fresno

7. Have you ever made it back to Stockton?

Yes

8. Have you been to Banner Island Ballpark? If so, what do you think?

Yes, it’s a great field.

9. Do you keep in touch with your former teammates?

Yes, my ’56 and ’56 teammates.

10. What was your favorite restaurant in Stockton?

Eddie’s Coffee Shop

11. What are you up to now?

Travel in our mobile home and live day-to-day.

12. Where did you go to high school?

San Leandro High School

13. Where do you currently reside?

Tracy, CA

Alumni Update: Catching up with Don Ferrarese ’48

1. What is your favorite memory from your time with the Ports?

My first game, won 4-2, walked 12 men, pitched 9 innings. Casey Stengle came to see me pitch.

2. What was the best thing about playing for the Ports?

My first pro year.

3. What accomplishments from your days with the Ports are you most proud of?

Being a major leaguer.

4. What favorite memory do you have about the team, your front office staff?

Playing for Vince DiMaggio.

5. Do you keep in touch with your former teammates?

Tom Munoz, Ernie Broglio, Charlie Beamon.

6. What was your favorite restaurant in Stockton?

I was too young, and too many years ago.

7. What are you up to now?

Own a real estate company.

8. Where did you go to high school?

Lafayette High School

9. Where did you attend college?

St. Mary’s.

10. Where do you currently reside?

Apple Valley, Calif.

Forecast Friday: Matt Chapman

hi-res-a03f5b3a00b4c280e66612daf2aac127_crop_exactIn our second round of Forecast Friday, the Ports look at another potential arrival to Banner Island Ballpark in third baseman Matt Chapman. At 6’2’’ and 205 pounds, Chapman boasts a major league body with strong physical tools.

Originally from Dove Canyon, California, Chapman played college baseball at national powerhouse Cal State Fullerton before being drafted in the first round by the Oakland Athletics as the 25th overall selection in the 2014 MLB Draft.

It was at Cal State Fullerton where scouts began to take notice of Chapman’s ability. In his first year, Chapman posted a .286 batting average as a true freshman. After a strong sophomore season, Chapman was selected to play for the USA Collegiate Team during the summer where he again put up solid numbers with a slash line of .278/.396/.361. Chapman also finished the summer season with USA ranked second on the team in doubles (6) and walks (14).

Currently ranked as the 3rd overall prospect in the Athletics organization, the righty is classified as a line drive hitter with raw power that scouts believe could develop into a home run swing.

During his first season as a professional baseball player, Chapman hit .237 with 5 home runs and 20 RBI for the Beloit Snappers in a total of 50 games. It was during the 2014 season, that Chapman was called up for Double-A Midland RockHounds of the Texas League during the playoffs. Even though Chapman only appeared in one game, the experience will indeed help his maturation in seasons to come.

As Spring Training comes to a close, fans will find out shortly if Chapman will be suiting up for Stockton at third base in 2015.

Forecast Friday: Franklin Barreto

Canadians August 31-106In our first edition of Forecast Friday, we look at potential 2015 Ports infielder Franklin Barreto. At just 19 years old, the Venezuelan native was arguably the key piece to a trade that sent former Oakland Athletics All-Star third baseman Josh Donaldson to the Toronto Blue Jays.

At only 5’9”, Barreto was on international scouts’ radars before signing in July of 2012 with the Blue Jays organization at only 17 years old. In Barreto’s first full season of Minor League Baseball, the shortstop put up a slash line of .311/.384/.481 playing in the Northwest League for the Vancouver Canadians. In 328 plate appearances, Barreto also put up solid power numbers with a total of six home runs and 61 runs batted in.

Known as a natural hitter by scouts all around Major League Baseball, Barreto has a knack for getting on base and even complimented his high on base percentage with a total of 29 stolen bases.

Barreto has also proven to have a solid glove in the infield, with many executives believing he could serve his role as either a shortstop or a second baseman for the A’s in future seasons. While many see the young star as a player with raw talent, Barreto is still very young with a possible MLB arrival by 2017.

Although Ports fans won’t find out if Barreto will be playing in Stockton until later this month, recent trends from A’s prospects suggest he may indeed be calling Banner Island Ballpark his home in 2015.

In 2014, former A’s top ten prospect and current Cubs organizational outfielder Billy McKinney made the jump from Short-Season A ball to the Ports. The previous year in 2013, former Oakland A’s top prospect Addison Russell also made the jump from Short-Season to Advanced A. Barreto currently sits as the number two overall Athletics prospect.

Catching up with Banner Island Ballpark’s All-Time Manager, Webster Garrison

Banner Island Ballpark’s fan-voted All-Time Manger, Webster “Webby” Garrison, took some time this week to catch up with the Ports’ front office. Garrison spent 2011-2013 with the Ports and immediately became a fan-favorite. Currently, Garrison is preparing for the 2015 season with the Triple-A Nashville Sounds.

Describe your experience managing the Ports.

Overall my experience was great. Banner Island Ballpark is a great facility, and we put together some very good teams over the years, especially the 2011 squad. 2012 wasn’t as good of a year as we thought we could have had but that’s okay. 2013 we just missed playoffs, but we had a very talented roster. Overall, my three years managing the Ports was a really good experience, great fans, players, and front office that definitely made my time managing the Ports very memorable.

Were there any players that stuck out?Garrison, Webster ACTION

We had a lot of great players, guys like Michael Choice, Addison Russell, and Dusty Coleman. The 2011 team in general was just such a great team. Ryan Lipkin was an iron man. He caught I think 37 games in a row for us that season. The pitching staff was great as well; we had talented guys like AJ Griffin, and guys coming out of bullpen that were very talented. We had fun that season and stayed loose. I wish we could have won the Cal League Championship. That 2011 team was a great experience and one I still remember today.

What was your best memory with the Ports?

That’s really tough to say, but I would probably say the 2011 team was one of my best memories.  We had an 18-game winning streak that season. It seemed like whatever lineup we put out didn’t really matter; it all added up to a “W”. It was one of the best memories I’ve ever had in baseball as a player or a coach. The fan base was behind us all year and made it a pleasure going out there every night and trying to win.

Did you always think you were going to manage or stay in the game after your playing career was over?

My debut in Major League Baseball came in 1996; after a lot of hard work it finally paid off. I spent a lot of time in the Minors. While I was playing, I thought I could have gotten there a little faster than I did but that was okay. I just kept working and working and kept up the grind, and eventually it paid off and I achieved my goal of playing Major League Baseball.

I experienced the grind and hard work that goes into becoming a professional baseball player, so at times during my playing career, I just thought that when the time came for me to retire that I was going to be done with baseball for good.  When that time finally came and I had to retire, I realized that I didn’t want to leave the game because I loved it so much, so I stuck around and the next year I served as a player-coach. Ever since, I’ve been coaching in the game. I just love every minute of it. I love the smell of dirt and pine tar, and I really enjoy being around the game and helping the younger players develop and using my knowledge of the game to help them out.

What are your goals for the future?Webster Garrison

I’d like to be a big league coach for sure. It doesn’t matter what role. I’ve done a bit of everything. If one of those opportunities comes in the future, I’d love to take advantage of it.

What are you doing now?

I’m leaving Monday for Spring Training and am looking forward to working with the guys and helping them get to the majors and help accomplish their goals. My goal for the upcoming season in Nashville is to help us win some ball games. I’m very excited to be joining their coaching staff this season. It will be my first year coaching in Triple-A so I’m really looking forward to it.

What’s it like seeing some of the players you coached reach the next level?

It’s definitely a pretty cool experience seeing these guys that I helped coach over the years on TV and playing for a big league team. It’s also fun for me when I see them on opposing teams that I’m coaching and we are going against them. It’s a real good feeling watching those guys develop into men and see them reach their potential and get to the next level. Whether it is Major League Baseball or just a higher level of Minor League Ball, it’s a good feeling seeing them do well and advance in their careers.

How does it feel that the fans voted you as the All-Time Manager of Banner Island Ballpark?

It’s great; I didn’t even know it was going on to tell you the truth. I got a text from a friend one day saying I was leading the vote for the All-Time Manger of Banner Island.  I didn’t really know what that meant so I tried to figure out what they were talking about. I checked out the Ports’ website and saw the fan vote that had been going on so then I realized what was going on.

It’s great because I know guys who managed before and after me and there have been some great managers in the ballpark’s history, so I feel honored that I was selected as the All-Time Manager. Managers like Darren Bush won a championship with the Ports in 2008, so I think it’s awesome that fans appreciated my company enough to vote for me. I always made sure to communicate with fans every game and go to ballpark early so I could take some time out of my day to talk to the staff, players, and fans and let them know I appreciated their time. It’s a great feeling that they showed me the kind of respect they did by voting me as the All-Time Manager. I’d just like to say thank you to everyone who supported me during my three years managing in Stockton. The fans were great, and I’ll never forget how good they were to me.

Alumni Update: Catching up with Vic Solari ’51

page 11. What is your favorite memory from your time with the Ports?

Being able to play in front of my family and friends.

2. What was the best thing about playing for the Ports?

Close to home, good manager (Harry Clements), & good ballpark.

3. What accomplishments from your days with the Ports are you most proud of?

Hit a triple off of Satchel Page in an exhibition game at Billy Hebert Field.

4. What favorite memory do you have about the team, your front office staff?

Catcher Eddie Fernandez, hit in the toe & broke it. Very first game back after return, he was hit in the same toe. He tore off his equipment, walked off the field and quit. He came down to Stockton from the major leagues.

5. What was your favorite ballpark in the Cal League?

Modesto

6. Who was the toughest opponent the Ports faced?

Modesto – left hand pitcher Eddie Fernandes

7. Do you ever make it back to Stockton?

Yes, mostly to see family.

8. Have you been to Banner Island Ballpark?

It is great, improvement from Oak Park.

9. Favorite restaurant in Stockton?

Murphy’s

10. What are you up to now?

Retired

11. Where did you go to high school?

Linden High School – had no baseball team, learned to play at Solari Inn on a Semi Pro team – at Solari Dimon in Bellota

12. Where did you go to college?

Bellota Grammar School in 1930

13. Where do you currently reside?

Modesto, Calif.

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