Last Year's Ports Making an Impact On Major League Spring Training
A handful of players from the 2022 Stockton Ports team are having great performances in Oakland A’s major league spring training games. While the Ports are a Class A team, major league teams will look deep into their minor league systems for non-roster invitees to play in the later innings
A handful of players from the 2022 Stockton Ports team are having great performances in Oakland A’s major league spring training games.
While the Ports are a Class A team, major league teams will look deep into their minor league systems for non-roster invitees to play in the later innings of games in major league spring training. Several of last year’s Ports are playing in Hohokam Stadium.
As much as we love watching these players in Stockton, the goal is of course for them to move up through the minor league ranks and eventually have an impact at the major league level. While the sample sizes of spring training may be small, they could indicate that these players are on their way to doing just that.
Last year, center fielder Denzel Clarke played 42 games for the Ports, hitting .295 with a .420 OBP and 14 stolen bases. Clarke was a 4th round draft pick out of Cal State Northridge by the A’s in 2021 and has quickly moved through the minors in his short career. He’s the A’s 13th ranked prospect according to MLB.com and represented the A’s in last year’s Futures Game.
The Toronto native spent the later half of the 2021 season in the Arizona Complex League, and started 2022 in Stockton before moving up to High-A Lansing. His batting numbers declined at this higher level, but it looks like he’s improved over the off-season in a big way based on his Spring Training numbers.
Clarke has been showing out in Spring Training, going 5/8 with one double, one triple, four walks, and one stolen base. Standing at 6’5”, he may not be a typical center fielder, but his speed and athleticism is what one would expect from someone who plays a premier defensive position. He stole 30 bases in total in 2022 and committed just two errors.
With the way he’s performed, don’t be surprised if he starts the year in Double-A and continues to quickly climb through the minor league system.
Daniel Susac playing in major league spring training is something that Ports fans can get excited about, not just because he played for the Ports last season, but because there’s a good chance he’ll be back this year.
Susac, the A’s 4th ranked prospect, was Oakland’s first round pick last year (19th overall) from the University of Arizona. He batted .285 in 25 games for the Ports with him playing catcher in 11 of those games.
In limited action at major league spring training, he’s batted 1/6 with his lone hit being a double which would allow him to score. Still just a few months into his professional career, it’s likely that he starts the year in Stockton, something of a hometown team as it’s about an hour drive from his hometown of Carmichael.
One of the more interesting stories at A’s Spring Training is Nolan Long. A 16th round pick by the Dodgers in 2015, the 29-year-old Long has only played in the minor leagues, but that could change in the near future.
He was first assigned to a major league team for the first time in 2019 while still with the Dodgers, but the highest level in which he’s appeared in a game is Double-A. In January 2022, the A’s signed him to a minor league deal and assigned him to Triple-A Las Vegas.
At the start of the season, Long was placed on the 60-day IL and would later be given rehab assignments in the Arizona Complex League and with the Stockton Ports where he appeared in eight games.
Now, getting a non-roster invite at major league spring training for the second time (first with the A’s), he’s making the most of his opportunity. He’s appeared in three games, pitched two plus scoreless innings in relief, and struck out two. Again, Spring Training is a small sample size, but it doesn’t get better than a 0.00 ERA.
Last Wednesday, the A’s played against the Colombian national team in a tuneup game to prepare for the World Baseball Classic. Because of the non-competitive nature of the game, the A’s loaned Long to Colombia to help them save some of their arms.
Long appeared in the game for Colombia, playing against the A’s. He walked two, struck out two, and completed another scoreless inning which doesn’t appear in his spring training stats.
Expect him to start the year at Triple-A - where the A’s had wanted him this time last year - and maybe he’ll play in the majors this year as teams’ depths are tested and relief pitchers are inevitably sent up and down. Even from the nosebleeds at Oakland Coliseum, it’ll be hard to miss the 6’10” Long jogging out of the bullpen.