Oakland A’s Minor League Player of the Month – August
Addison Russell, Stockton Ports/Sacramento River Cats
Stats: .280/.442/.500 with six homeruns, nine stolen bases and 23:24 BB:K
The A’s consensus top prospect coming into 2013, Russell certainly did not disappoint in his first full minor league season. The shortstop played with the High-A Stockton Ports for all but the final three games of the season, and he put together a spectacular campaign as a 19-year-old. Russell was named to the California League’s post-season All-Star team and earned the league’s Rookie of the Year honors after hitting .275/.377/.508 with 17 homeruns, 29 doubles, 10 triples, 21 stolen bases and an 885 OPS.
Russell’s August wasn’t his best month from an OPS or SLG perspective, but his 23 walks and .442 OBP were the best of any month this season. If one were to make a small criticism about Russell’s first season it would be that he didn’t walk as much as one would hope. That he was able to show increased plate discipline during the final month of the season bodes well for him going into next year.
Russell finished the year with a cameo in Triple-A. He will participate in the Arizona Fall League this October and, as was the case in the Cal League this year, he will be one of the youngest players in the AFL. Russell is likely to start next season with Double-A Midland, but, if he continues to shine against advanced competition, it isn’t unreasonable to think that he will be making his major-league debut before his 21st birthday.
Jefry Marte, Midland (.374/.406/.538 with two homers and only 11 K’s in 24 games)
Marte struggled with leg injuries for much of this season, but he was healthy in August and he put together a promising final month. The former Mets prospect is only 22 and he showed impressive bat control with the RockHounds. Marte has yet to tap into his raw power during games, but if he can stay healthy in 2014, he could be poised for a big season.
Ryan Mathews, Beloit (.339/.379/.578 with 12 doubles and four homers)
Mathews had a quiet July, but he was otherwise one of the most consistent bats in the Beloit line-up, finishing with OPSs better than 780 in every month except July. August was Mathews’ best month and it helped him finish the year with impressive power totals (32 doubles, two triples and 14 homeruns in the pitcher-friendly Midwest League). Mathews will have even more favorable conditions in which to hit next season with Stockton and he will be a strong candidate to reach the 20-homer plateau in the California League.
Daniel Robertson, Beloit (.314/.381/.495 with five homers)
Robertson, the A’s second overall pick last year, put together a solid first full professional season. The shortstop hit .277/.353/.401 with nine homers in 101 games for the Snappers while also contributing outstanding defense. Robertson made adjustments throughout the season and he improved his OPS every month starting in May. August was Robertson’s best month at the plate and he will look to carry that momentum into the A’s fall Instructional League camp.
Shane Peterson, Sacramento (.307/.398/.500 with four homers and 23 RBI)
Peterson struggled for much of the season to find the form that landed him a spot on the A’s 40-man roster last off-season. He regained that stroke in August, when he posted by far his best month of the 2013 season. The big August allowed Peterson to establish a career-high in homeruns (12) and RBI (79). He also finished the year with a career-high in stolen bases (17 in 19 attempts) and walks (77). Peterson didn’t receive a September call-up to Oakland, but his strong finish with Sacramento could put him in a position to compete for a roster spot next spring if the A’s let some of their veteran outfielders walk.
Conner Crumbliss, Midland (.289/.387/.422 with three homers)
After struggling as a part-time player for the first few weeks of the season while in Triple-A, Crumbliss returned to Double-A and quietly put together his best offensive season. The Midland utiliyman hit .280/.405/.432 in 92 Double-A games. He connected on 10 homeruns in Midland and 13 overall for the season, establishing a career-high in that category. Crumbliss also continued his streak of seasons in which he walked more than he struck-out.
D’Arby Myers, Midland (.306/.333/.388)
Myers had a remarkable month of August, collecting a hit in every game he played in except the last game of the month. That run was part of a 33-game hitting streak, which was the longest hitting streak for any player in the minor leagues this season. Myers had a solid first year in the A’s organization, hitting .285 with 20 stolen bases.
Max Muncy, Midland (.296/.386/.490 with a 15:18 BB:K and 15 RBI)
After ripping through the California League during the first half of the season, Muncy struggled during his first month in the Texas League. He made the necessary adjustments in August, however, and put together an outstanding final month in the Texas League. Overall, he finished with a respectable 753 OPS in his first stint at the Double-A level, and he hit .273/.381/.476 with 25 homers, 100 RBI and 88 walks between High-A and Double-A. Muncy will join fellow 2012 draft picks Russell and Ryan Dull in the Arizona Fall League.
Justin Higley, AZL A’s (.316/.385/.544 with three homers and 19 RBI)
The A’s selected Higley, a Sacramento native, in the 13th-round of this year’s draft. The CSU-Sacramento outfielder came to professional baseball with some impressive raw tools, but with plenty of work to do on polishing his game. He spent his first pro season in rookie ball and put together a solid season (.275/.363/.490). Higley still has to improve his contact rate, but he has the power to hit the ball out in any ballpark and plus speed, so his progress will be well worth watching.
Matt Olson, Beloit (.214/.299/.563 with 10 homers and 30 RBI)
August wasn’t Olson’s best month in terms of contact rate or getting on-base, but he had his best power month by far. In addition to the 10 homeruns, Olson had six doubles. He drove-in 30 runs in 28 games and helped get the Snappers ready for the post-season. Olson finished his first professional season with 23 homers, 93 RBI, 32 doubles and 72 walks, totals that were good for second-, second-, 10th- and fifth-most in the Midwest League.
Ben McQuown, AZL A’s (.256/.473/.308 with six stolen bases and 13:14 BB:K)
One of the fastest players taken out of the college class in this year’s draft, McQuown was a sparkplug for the AZL A’s all season. The Hawaii native reached base in nearly half of his plate appearances during the month of August and he took advantage, swiping six bags in only 14 games played. He finished the year with 10 stolen bases in 33 games. If he is an everyday player next season, he could challenge for the organizational lead in the stolen base category.