Wake up call: Athletics ink six to minor league deals


Are you sleeping?

Seven weeks into the offseason, and the Athletics haven’t provided much in the form of off-season player activity. Unless the additions of Nick Punto and Phil Humber tickle your fancy, there just hasn’t been much material to carry fans through the winter.

But wait? What’s that you say? Minor league free agents on the horizon? Praise the heavens. We have an organizational heartbeat.

Matt Buschmann, a 29-year old right-hander starter, has kicked around for the last eight seasons in the San Diego and Tampa Bay organizations. As a former Vanderbilt Commodore, Buschmann’s time preceded Sonny Gray‘s tenure at the college as he suited up alongside future major leaguers David Price, Ryan Flaherty, and Pedro Alvarez before being drafted in the 25th round of the 2006 amateur draft by the Padres.

Splitting time between Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham, Buschmann posted an 2.68 ERA in 168 2/3 innings with 9.4 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9. Filling the organizational demographic of finding pitchers with low home run rates, the Missouri native allowed just ten total home runs last season good for an average of 0.6 HR/9.

Jose Flores, a hulking (6’3”, 250 lbs) right-handed reliever, arrives in Oakland after seven seasons in the Cleveland Indians organization. The 24-year old Venezuelan, enjoyed his second stint in Double-A last season serving as the closer for the Akron Aeros. Appearing in 66 1/3 innings of relief, Flores posted 16 saves while striking out 87 against 19 walks and allowing just one home run. Highlighted by a deceptive delivery and low release point, he utilizes a heavy low-90’s fastball to keep the ball in the ballpark and frustrate hitters.

San Diego native Deryk Hooker, spent last season in the St.Louis organization where he worked out of relief for the second straight year after being converted from starter in 2012. In his seventh season in the minors, Hooker spent time between Double-A and Triple-A pitching to a 4.12 ERA in 67 2/3 innings. Posting high strikeout, low walk rates of 10.0 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9, the 24-year old stumbled in his first taste of Triple-A ball being battered around to 5.23 ERA in 20 2/3 innings.

Jeremy McBryde, a 26-year old reliever out of the Padres organization, received his free agent independence after finishing his seventh season last year in the San Diego organization as a closer at Double-A San Antonio. The former 26th round draft pick has faced long odds to make the majors since signing on the dotted line in 2006, working hard to carve a place for himself in the lowest reaches of the minor leagues. In 61 1/3 innings, McBryde notched 15 saves with 73 strikeouts and 15 walks, while posting a respectable 2.35 ERA.

Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Jose Martinez, the lone position player of the group spent last season in the Houston organization as an infielder primarily at the Triple-A level. In 369 at bats, the 27-year old slashed his way to .299/.334/.417 batting line with 6 home runs and 50 RBIs. With Scott Sizemore making his exit from the organization yesterday, and Alberto Callaspo serving as possible trade bait, the need to add organizational depth on the infield speaks to the addition of a player like Martinez.

Fernando Nieve, marks the only player on the list returning to the Oakland organization, after appearing in seven games out of the bullpen for the River Cats last season. The 31-year old also happens to be the only player with big league experience netted by the Athletics this week, after appearing as a starter and reliever for the Houston Astros and New York Mets from 2006-2010. Acquired in a trade for cash with Cleveland late last season, Nieve posted a 1.89 ERA in 57 innings pitched with 10.1 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9.

Time to wake up. Pitchers and catchers report in 83 days. (But who’s counting?)