Four of the Oakland Athletics minor league affiliates began their 2011 seasons this past week on April 7. The Vermont Lake Monsters, AZL Athletics, and DSL Athletics do not begin their campaigns until early summer. Over the course of the season we'll take a look at how each team performs, including hot and cold players. Here's a look at how the top four teams in the system began their seasons.
Sacramento Rivercats (AAA): The Rivercats opened their season 2-2 as they split their opening series with Tacoma. Former first round pick Jemile Weeks was promoted to AAA to start the season and is off to a hot start with a line of .455/.538/.545 in 18 at bats. Additionally, Adrian Cardenas has made his 2011 debut after overcoming some injury issues, hitting .455 in 11 at bats. Yadel Marti is pacing the pitching staff after giving up one run in six innings in his debut.
Midland Rockhounds (AA): The Rockhounds are off to a red-hot start, going 4-0 against Arkansas and Springfield to start the season. The team has seven batters hitting over .300 with first baseman Michael Spina leading the way. Spina has a line of .444/.500/.722 with one home run and six RBIs through four games. 2009 former first round pick Grant Green is hitting .313/.400/.625 in his AA debut. The Rockhounds pitching has been a mixed bag but received a strong performance from Shawn Haviland yesterday. Haviland took a no-hitter into the seventh inning in a game Midland won 6-5 in ten innings.
Stockton Ports (A): The Ports opened the season 2-2 behind fairly mediocre results thus far. They got five strong innings out of starter Ryan Doolittle and four strong innings from Daniel Straily, but otherwise the pitching has not been consistent. On the offensive side of the ball, they've got a host of hitters batting between .222 and .286. Blah might be the best word to describe their situation for now.
Burlington Bees (A): The Burlington Bees are the latest addition to the A's farm system and are a lower level of competition than Stockton. The Bees are off to a 4-1 start thanks to some timely hitting and solid pitching. 3B Tony Thompson (2010 sixth round pick) is hitting .500 through 18 at bats. After starting in rookie ball last year, the A's likely will be looking for Thompson to force a promotion to the Ports in the higher level California League. 2010 draft picks A.J. Griffin (13th round) and Blake Hassebrock (8th round) made solid first starts. Griffin went six innings and gave up two runs, while Hassebrock went five innings and gave up no runs.