The 2017 season was a difficult one for many of Oakland's minor league affiliates as only the Stockton Ports and Vermont Lake Monsters finished with overall records at the conclusion of the season. Despite playing at or below .500 for the entire season, Midland found themselves in the Texas League playoffs where they went on to win a fourth consecutive Texas League Championship. Meanwhile the Lake Monsters made it all the way to the New York-Penn League Finals where they eventually bowed out to Hudson Valley.
For teams such as these to be successful, it takes a number of solid contributions across the board from both position players and pitchers. In 2017 several former Snappers like Matt Olson and Eddie Rosario made their mark on the major leagues, while there was also some outstanding performances at all levels of the farm system. In the final Snap-back of the year, we reflect on a couple of those players who went above and beyond expectations in 2017.
MLB: Eddie Rosario
There are a number of former Snappers that we can attribute the Twins success to this season. Brian Dozier hit 31 long balls and had 85 RBI, Miguel Sano nearing his first season of at least 30 homers and 80 RBI, or even a reliever like Taylor Rogers who went 4-1 with a 2.14 ERA across 33 2/3 innings during the first half. All that being considered, it's tough to look past outfielder Eddie Rosario, who has set career highs in almost all offensive categories.
Overall, the 25-year-old has hit .292 thus far in 2017, piling up 72 runs batted in, 30 doubles and 26 homers in the process. Perhaps the most promising part of Rosario's season has been how he's never stopped hitting at any point in the year. He began 2017 with a .268 batting average in the month of April, tallying only four extra-base hits to that point. May brought a slight improvement, a .269 average doing little to his overall mark, but that's without factoring in the five doubles, three home runs and two triples Rosario had. The first two months were merely a blip on the radar in comparison to what was to come, but the important part of it all was that despite the slow start, Rosario still contributed.
In the 94 games that he's played since the calendar flipped over to June, the left-handed swinger owns a .303 batting average that is the 15th-highest mark in the league. His 44 extra-base hits also put him amongst the top 15 in the American League since the start of June, while his 57 runs driven in during that span are good enough to rank him in the top-25 in the American League.
For someone who is only playing in his third major league season and who is yet to really make a name for himself outside of the state of Minnesota, Rosario has enjoyed a pretty impressive season to date.
AAA/MLB: Renato Nunez
If someone were to ask you who led the Nashville Sounds in home runs this season, it would be reasonable to expect that your guess would be Matt Olson. The former Snapper has received plenty of attention in the last month after setting a number of Major League records including the most home runs hit by any Oakland A's player through their first 66 games (23) and also hitting more home runs (19) than any other American League player since August 11.
Despite all of those record-breaking numbers, Olson didn't actually pace the Sounds in long balls. It was none other than his former Snappers teammate Renato Nunez. The right-handed hitting outfielder went deep on 32 occasions for Nashville this year, including doing so twice against the Colorado Spring Sky Sox on July 6th. Those 32 dingers were tied for the second-most of any minor leaguer. Nunez is also the first player to hit at least 30 home runs for the Sounds since 2000 when Craig Wilson went deep on 33 occasions.
Nunez's 61 extra-base hits are also currently tied with Jed Lowrie for the second-most of any player in the A's organization, while they're also the most by a Nashville Sounds player since Chris Truby knocked 25 home runs, 41 doubles and two triples back in 2004.
Nunez was rewarded for another strong triple-A season with a call-up to the show in early September, however he's been limited to just five at-bats in four games during which he failed to get a base hit despite receiving a free pass on one occasion.
AAA/MLB: Matt Olson
2017 was in many regards a breakout year for this 23-year-old slugger. With about a week of the Major League season remaining, Matt Olson has a .231 batting average with a combined 18 doubles and 47 home runs between triple-A Nashville and Oakland. He's also driven in 105 runs, currently tied with Khris Davis for the most by any player in the Athletics organization. The other big achievement Olson enjoyed this season was when he joined Giancarlo Stanton as the only players in the last 30 years to hit 20 home runs at both the major and minor league level in the same season.
Olson began the year with Nashville where he spent almost the entire first two months of the season. He got off to a rather sluggish start too, hitting only three long balls in his first 18 games of the campaign. After a solid month of May, Olson endured a difficult month of June in which he travelled between Nashville and Oakland on five occasions including a span of three trips in 10 days. Those trips would continue for the remainder of the season, however they didn't take much of a toll on Olson who continued to hit wherever he played. In his last 68 games, the left-handed swinger has hit 27 bombs while driving in 54, all while having a .278 batting average.
After rejoining the A's on August 8th, Olson leads the American League with 20 home runs, is second with a 1.090 OPS and his 36 RBIs also rank him seventh in the league. Having hit 32 doubles and 23 home runs in 134 games with Beloit back in 2013, this power stroke has always been evident. However after getting limited opportunities at the major league level in 2016 and having now been shuttled between the majors and minors on 11 different occasions in 2017, Olson may finally be able to call Oakland home after leaving spring training next year.
AAA: Oswaldo Arcia
A veteran of four big league campaigns, Oswaldo Arcia has bounced around between the Rays, Marlins, Padres and now Diamondbacks organizations after being signed by the Twins in 2007. The owner of a .235 career batting average across nearly 1000 major league at-bats, Arcia hit .326 in a little under 350 at-bats with the Reno Aces (triple-A affiliate of the D-Backs) in 2017.
The 26-year-old from Venezuela was easily one of the hottest hitters in the opening two months of the season, his .362 batting average good for the fourth highest in the Pacific Coast League. He also led the PCL with 31 extra-base hits during that same span, while Arcia's 17 doubles were also a league high and his 53 RBIs good for second-most.
Despite his hot start, the numbers really petered off after the opening two months. Arcia hit eight long balls and 19 RBIs in June, but an injury-interrupted July limited the outfielder to only 10 games. Following a brief rehab, Arcia returned to the Aces lineup but never looked the same in his final 18 games of the season. His batting average fell to just .212, while the production completely fell away as well as Arcia hit seven extra-base hits the rest of the way while striking out in almost 20 percent of his at-bats.
Irrespective of the disappointing conclusion, Arcia's opening two months still proved that there is value still to be had for a major league organization looking to add some pop to their lineup. While the Pacific Coast League's offense-friendly conditions are well known, a team such as the Arizona Diamondbacks could certainly benefit from the power stroke that this former Beloit Snapper possesses.
AA: Heath Fillmyer
The Texas League was a pretty tough place to pitch in 2017 as only one qualified pitcher had an ERA below 3.30. Hitters had an overall batting average of .260 this season as teams scored close to 4.5 runs per game. After playing for Beloit just two years ago, Fillmyer's first full season at double A was as good as could be expected. He finished with the fifth-lowest ERA in the Texas League after throwing a career high 149 2/3 innings. Fillmyer was also tied for the most wins of any RockHounds pitcher with 11.
Since June 13th, Fillmyer was tied for the Texas League lead with nine victories while his 3.08 ERA was the third lowest among pitchers who made at least 15 starts. Despite striking out only 32 batters in the 55 innings prior, Fillmyer also had the fourth-most strikeouts in the league during that span.
During Midland's run to a fourth consecutive Texas League Championship, the 23-year-old made two starts as he allowed three runs across 11 2/3 innings. Fillmyer was given the start in a win or go home game 3 of the Championship Series as Midland found themselves 2-0 down against Tulsa. Opposing Dodgers rehabbing starter Brandon McCarthy, Fillmyer hurled five shutout innings as the RockHounds took an early 1-0 lead. The bullpen backed up the right-handers great start with four scoreless innings as Midland won the game 2-0.
A (Adv.): Brett Siddall
One recent Snapper who is starting to pave out a good career is outfielder Brett Siddall, who once again was amongst the best players on his team as he led the Stockton Ports back to their first playoff appearance since 2015. The left-handed hitter enjoyed a great year with Beloit in 2016 when he led the team with 60 runs batted in, while ranking second in home runs (9), doubles (24), hits (116) and total bases (171). That form continued on into this season as the 22-year-old was one of the best hitters in the California League. He finished tied eighth among qualified hitters with a .300 batting average, and was also fourth in the league with a .495 slugging percentage after hitting 21 home runs and 23 doubles.
Following a slow start to his season during which Siddall had only 31 hits through his first 131 at-bats (.237 AVG), the outfielder really heated up once summer arrived. His .327 batting average since June 1st was the sixth highest in the league, while he was tied for the fourth most homers (16), sixth most RBIs (55) and eighth most extra-base hits (33) in that span.
That run was highlighted by a couple of four-hit games on June 22nd and August 1st during which Siddall had a combined nine runs batted in. In a mid-season matchup against the Modesto Nuts, Siddall went 4-for-4 as he blasted a pair of solo shots in the fifth and eighth innings as the Ports topped the Seattle Mariners affiliate 11-1. He backed that up six weeks later against Inland Empire (Angels affiliate) when he went 4-for-5 with two doubles and a three run dinger in the seventh inning as Siddall fell a triple shy of the cycle.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.