Kings will move G League Team from Reno to Stockton for 2018-19 season

G League (3)

by Charlie O. Mallonee

The Sacramento Kings announced on Monday their intention to move their G League franchise  – the Reno Bighorns – to Stockton for the 2018-19 season. This move would have their development team just 45 minutes away from Kings offices, coaches, training and medical staff. This also follows the pattern of the majority of teams in the NBA which have relocated their developmental league teams to within an hour driving distance of their organization’s main facilities.

“Our NBA G League team has been an incredible asset to help prepare players for NBA action and bringing the team closer to Sacramento will allow us to continue to build on that success and increase efficiency to this valuable development tool,” said Sacramento Kings General Manager Vlade Divac. “Kings fans in Stockton will now have an opportunity to see the next-generation of NBA players each week.”

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Skal Labissiere

The Kings have taken full advantage using players from the Reno team over the past two seasons. In 2017-18, the team sent several of its rookies to play with the Bighorns to gain some experience which they put to good use at the NBA level. Skal Labissiere and Malachi Richardson (now with the Toronto Raptors) both benefited greatly from their time with the Bighorns.

This season has seen the addition of the “two-way” players who can be on the NBA roster of their parent team and then must spend the remainder of their time playing in the G League. JaKarr Sampson and Jack Cooley have both made substantial contributions to the Kings during the regular season. Sacramento also signed Nigel Hayes from the Westchester Knicks to a two-year contract.

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Kings “two-way” player JaKarr Sampson

The Bighorns sent three players to three other NBA teams this season. David Stockton – who has also played for the Kings – was signed Utah Jazz. Reggie Hearn went to Detroit and Aaron Harrison was signed by the Mavericks.

Stockton is a very interesting choice because of its tremendous growth potential. With Bay Area housing prices soaring, people are willing to endure longer commutes in order to be able to buy a home. Stockton is projected to a desirable locale because of its freeway access and rail service to the Silicon Valley. That means potential fans for the G League team that could be cultivated into Sacramento Kings fans.

Stockton already has a very strong track record of supporting minor league sports teams. The Stockton Ports have played baseball in California League since its beginning in 1941 and are currently an affiliate of the Oakland Athletics. Stockton is also the home of the Heat of the American Hockey League who are affiliated with the Calgary Flames. The Heat and the G League team will share the same arena.

“It is my honor to welcome the Kings organization to Stockton and I look forward to watching NBA G League action at the Stockton Arena,” said Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs. “The Kings have been known for their tremendous impact in the community and we’re excited to have their support as we continue to reinvent Stockton.”

A four-time All-America City winner, with honors as recently as 2017, Stockton is California’s thirteenth largest city. Stockton Arena is located in the heart of the city’s downtown waterfront and entertainment center. The venue opened in 2005 and includes 24 luxury suites, seating for up to 12,000.

The Kings G League basketball operations will be headquartered at Kings former practice facility in Natomas next to the old arena. The business operations for the new team will be housed at the arena in Stockton.

A’s trade lefty reliever Rzepczynski to Nationals for 2B prospect Max Schrock

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Photo: MiLB.com

by Charlie O. Mallonee

The Oakland Athletics made a trade today with the Washington Nationals that makes it abundantly clear they are in a youth movement as the end of the season approaches.

The A’s sent left-handed relief pitcher Marc Rzepczynski and cash to the Nationals for minor league infielder Max Schrock.

Rzepczynski was acquired over the winter from the San Diego Padres as part of the Drew Pomeranz trade. He was 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in 56 relief appearances for Oakland this season. Rzepczynski will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.

Rzepczynski broke into the major leagues in 2009 with Toronto. He has also pitched for St. Louis, Cleveland and San Diego.

The A’s received second baseman Max Schrock from the Nationals. Schrock was selected by Washington in the 13th round of the 2015 draft out of the University of South Carolina.

The 21-year old Schrock is 5-foot-8, 180 pounds. He bats left and throws right. Schrock is known as being a pure hitter. He is not a power hitter but he makes the most of every opportunity he has with the bat. Schrock is a good fielder and average runner.

Schrock was promoted from Class-A to High Class-A Potomac of the Carolina League at mid-season. In 54 games with Potomac, he hit .341 with a .373 on base percentage. Schrock collected 79 hits in 232 at bats including 11 doubles, five home runs and 29 RBI. Schrock also was trying to make a name for himself as a base-stealer at Potomac by going 7-for-9 in the stolen base category.

Schrock can be considered to be on the fast track of player development as he has gone from short-season A ball to High Class-A in less than a season. Scouts are projecting that Schrock could be ready for major league service as early as the 2018 season.

The A’s have their number 14 prospect – 2B Joey Wendle – at Nashville and Franklin Barreto – Oakland’s number one ranked minor leaguer – is playing second base for Double-A Midland. So, where does Schrock wind up playing? For now, he will probably wind up in a Stockton Ports uniform for the rest of the season unless there are some major late season roster moves in the farm system.

With Pinder, Wendle, and Barreto all at second base, how does Schrock fit into the A’s players development plans? Simply put – he can hit. In baseball if you can hit, a team will find a position for you to play. In the case of Schrock, do not be surprised to see him being worked out at a corner outfield spot – especially in left field where arm strength is not as crucial.

For now, the A’s minor league spotlight is on Max Schrock.

A’s number three ranked prospect Holmes has tough debut in San Jose

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by Charlie O. Mallonee

After the Josh Reddick – Rich Hill trade to the Dodgers for three minor league pitchers, there was a reordering of the top 30 prospects in the Oakland Athletics farm system. One of those pitchers is now the A’s number three ranked prospect.

20-year old Grant Holmes is 6-foot-1, 215 pound, right-handed pitcher that was selected in the first round (22nd overall) of the 2014 Free Agent Draft by the Dodgers. Holmes went right from playing high school baseball to playing professional ball for the Dodgers with their rookie teams in Arizona and Ogden, Utah.He spent the 2015 season in the Midwest League and was pitching for the Dodgers high Class A California League affiliate in Ranch Cucamonga when the trade occurred.

Holmes has an above average fastball that he throws in the 93-95 mph range on a consistent basis. He also has a plus-curveball that can be thrown with slider velocity when it is at its best. The curve still lacks the consistency that it will need at the next level.

Holmes has a workable change up that he is using more as the talent of the opposing hitters improves. His control is rated as a bit below average. Scouts feel his control “regressed” some in 2015. Not enough to no longer consider Holmes a top prospect, but he does need to learn “to trust his stuff”.

Even though Holmes is the youngest player who will require the most time and development to make it to the major leagues, he ultimately could be the crown jewel of this trade. In 2019 or 2020, we could be talking about how the Reddick-Hill trade of 2016 paid off for the A’s with the acquisition of starting pitcher Grant Holmes.

Holmes made his first appearance for the A’s Class A Stockton Ports on Friday night versus the San Jose Giants. It was not the type of start Holmes wanted to have for his new organization.

Holmes worked just 4.0 innings giving up six runs (four earned) on eight hits. He had one strike out and walked one batter. He did not give up a home run in the game.

Holmes threw 72 pitches (52 strikes) to the 23 batters he faced. He induced eight hitters to groundout and two to flyout.

The Giants hit back-to-back singles off Holmes in the first inning.Holmes then walked a batter to load the bases. The next San Jose batter was hit by the pitch to force in a run. A sacrifice fly made it a 2-0 game after the first inning.

San Jose scored single runs in the second and third innings off Holmes. A error by the Ports left fielder in the fourth inning allowed to unearned runs to score giving the Giants a 6-1 lead and the night for Holmes was over.

Holmes was charged with the loss. His overall record for the season is now 8-5 with 4.20 ERA.

Sports Radio Service will continue to monitor Holmes play and bring you updates as warranted.

Top pitching prospect from Reddick trade makes first start for Nashville

 

Nashville Logoby Charlie O. Mallonee

Right-hand pitcher Jharel Cotton was traded to the Oakland Athletics as a part of the trade deadline deal that sent outfielder Josh Reddick and pitcher Rich Hill to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Cotton – who is on the 40-man roster- was assigned to to the A’s Triple-A affiliate in Nashville.

Cotton made his first start for Nashville on Thursday night in Colorado Springs where the ball flies just like it does at Coors Field due to the altitude. It is certainly not a pitcher friendly park.

Cotton – who has an above average four-seam fastball and change up – took the mound and worked six strong innings. He gave up just one run (earned) on six hits. Cotton struck out five Sky Sox batters and walked just one. He did allow one home run.

Cotton faced 24 batters in his six innings of work. He induced the opposing hitters into four groundouts and seven flyouts. Cotton threw 95 pitches (60 strikes).

When Cotton exited the game at the end of six innings, the Sounds led the Sky Sox 4-1. The Sounds would hang on to win the game 5-4. Cotton was credited with the win and his record improves to 9-5 on the season with a 4.70 ERA.

In the reordering of the A’s top prospects after the trades, Cotton is considered to be the 16th best prospect out of Oakland’s top 30 farm hands. With the A’s struggling to find pitchers to fill the back end of the starting rotation, Cotton could be a candidate to join the big club for a tryout start. If he continues to have success, Cotton certainly would a September call up candidate when the rosters can be expanded.

Third baseman Renato Nunez – rated the A’s sixth best prospect – played a big part in the Sounds victory last night in Colorado Springs. Nunez hit a two-run double (17) in the top of the second inning to give Nashville a 2-0 lead.

Nunez struck again in the top of the fourth inning when he hit a two-run home run off starting pitcher Hiram Burgos. It was the 18th home run of the season for Nunez. The four RBI in the game increased his total to 61 for the season.

Nunez certainly has the power numbers (17 doubles, 2 triples, 18 home runs) but the A’s would certainly like to see him raise his batting average the current .229. He has minor league career batting average of .267.

There was one other player of interest to Northern California fans playing in the game last night. Former Giant/Sacramento River Cat and Roseville resident, catcher Andrew Susac – who was traded to the Milwaukee organization – played for the Sky Sox and went 1-for-5.

Right-handed pitcher Grant Holmes – who was acquired as a part of the Reddick/Hill trade –  will make his first start for the A’s high Class-A team – Stockton Ports – in San Jose tonight. Sports Radio Service will report on that game in our Saturday edition.