Athletics Finally Putting Minor Leaguers Through Their Paces in Instructional League

The Oakland Athletics have 46 players, including 25 pitchers and 21 position players, at their instructional league camp in Arizona after most of them missed baseball all summer thanks to the COVID-19 elimination of the minor league season.
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The game’s afoot in Arizona for the A’s, whose instructional league camp reaches its halfway mark of the schedule this weekend.

The A’s have 46 players, 25 pitchers and 21 position players in their Mesa camp, including all five players Oakland selected in the June draft. The instructional league is a big deal for a franchise’s best prospects almost always, but never more so than this October after the entire 2020 minor league season was wiped out by the COVID-19 coronavirus.

The season, which began on Oct. 6, runs through Oct. 30, has the A's, playing out of their facilities in Mesa, Ariz., against teams from the other 14 teams who call Arizona home each spring.

The club’s first-round draft pick, Tyler Soderstrom, was able to keep busy the last couple of months due to his participation in the A’s alternate camp in San Jose. For the other draftees, pitchers Jeff Criswell, Dane Acker and Stevie Emanuels, and outfielder Michael Guldberg, this is the first time they’ve worked out with the eyes of the A’s instructors and scouts on them.

For those four and for most of the 46, the news in September that there would an instructional league camp came mostly as a surprise. A majority of the players had already been told that the camp seemed unlikely to happen and they were transitioning into winter mode before revving back up.

Other big names in the A’s camp include shortstop Logan Davidson, their first-round draft pick in 2019, outfielder Austin Beck (sixth round, 2017), shortstop Robert Puason (signed 15 months ago out of the Dominican Republic and outfielder Brayan Buelvas (signed in 2018 out of Colombia).

Shortstop Nick Allen (the third-round pick in 2017) is also on hand with defensive tools that have the A’s making a comparison to those of Matt Chapman at third base. And outfielder Greg Deichmann, who probably would have played at Triple-A were it not for the shutdown, is trying to replicate his breakout performance in the 2019 Arizona Fall League.

The biggest surprise is the non-inclusion this time around of 21-year-old outfielder Lazaro Armenteros (signed in 2016 after defecting from Cuba).

The roster is here.

Follow Athletics insider John Hickey on Twitter: @JHickey3

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