Athletics

Cuban signee Dairon Blanco will be one of fastest players in A's organization

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OAKLAND ATHLETICS

Cuban signee Dairon Blanco will be one of fastest players in A's organization

Despite limitations on their current international spending, the A’s added a speedy outfielder from Cuba to their system.

Oakland had been scouting Dairon Blanco extensively for the past year or so after he defected from Cuba and settled in the Dominican Republic. He officially signed with the club Monday.

Blanco, who turns 25 next month, spent four seasons playing in Cuba’s top professional league, Serie Nacional. It’s been nearly two years now since he’s played competitively, so Blanco figures to require considerable time in the minors.

But his speed grades out at 80 on the 20-80 scouting scale, the highest grade possible, and he’ll instantly become one of the fastest players in the A’s organization.

“We’re thrilled,” said A’s assistant general manager Dan Feinstein, who heads up the team’s international scouting. “He’s been in the Dominican a while now, and we’ve been watching him. The first thing the jumped out to all of us is just how athletic he is. How fast he is. He’s a true ’80’ runner.”

The A’s made headlines two summers ago, signing a five-player international class that was headlined by outfielder Lazaro “Lazarito” Armenteros. They incurred penalties for spending over their $3.8 million bonus pool limit then. Because of that, they’re not allowed to sign any single international player for more than $300,000 in the current period, so Blanco did not break the bank.

Feinstein wouldn’t speculate on how quickly Blanco might be an option at the major league level. For now, the A’s are working to secure his visa so he can join the team this spring in Arizona. From there, they’ll decide which minor league affiliate he’ll join.

Feinstein is pleased with the development of that five-player class of teenagers that signed in July 2016. Armenteros and shortstops Marcos Brito and Yerdel Vargas all finished last season playing in the Arizona rookie league after making the permanent move to the United States.

Armenteros, one of the more highly touted international prospects to come along in recent years when the A’s signed him to a roughly $3 million bonus, hit .288 with four homers, 22 RBI and 10 stolen bases in 41 games of rookie ball. His mature physical build stands out for someone his age.

“It’s hard to believe he’s just 18,” Feinstein said.

It will be a few years still before fans see ‘Lazarito’ in the bigs. He’s likely to log time with Class A short-season Vermont in 2018. Armenteros probably won’t be among the non-roster invitees to big league camp this spring, but it wouldn’t be a shock to see him brought over from the minors to fill in for an exhibition or two. Last spring, he was believed to have become the youngest player in franchise history to appear in a Cactus League game, at age 17.

A's streak snapped in Texas despite Graveman's best start of season

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AP

A's streak snapped in Texas despite Graveman's best start of season

BOX SCORE

ARLINGTON -- Isiah Kiner-Falefa hit a go-ahead single in the fifth inning and the Texas bullpen protected the lead Wednesday night, giving the Rangers a 4-2 victory over the Oakland Athletics.

Four Texas relievers worked 4 1/3 hitless innings to stop Oakland's four-game winning streak.

Jesse Chavez (1-0) retired all four batters he faced in relief of starter Doug Fister. Keone Kila pitched a perfect ninth for his fourth save of the season.

Kendall Graveman (0-5) got the first two outs in the fifth before four straight batters reached, beginning with Jurickson Profar's double. Texas scored twice in the inning for a 3-2 lead.

Graveman, who entered the game with a 10.07 ERA, recorded season highs with six innings and seven strikeouts.

Khris Davis' two-out, opposite-field home run in the third was his seventh of the season and 19th in 44 career games against Texas, his most against any opponent.

The Rangers' first run scored in the fourth on a grounder when Juan Centeno beat the relay throw to first on what would have been an inning-ending double play. Oakland challenged, and the call stood.

Texas added an insurance run in the eighth on an RBI triple by Ronald Guzman.

Fister was activated from the disabled list earlier in the day and allowed two runs and four hits in 4 2/3 innings while throwing 105 pitches. He was out since April 10 with a right hip strain.

As Fister was activated, Texas placed Adrian Beltre on the 10-day disabled list with a strained right hamstring.

SHORT HOPS:
Graveman's 112 pitches equaled his career high. . Oakland acquired RHP Wilmer Font from the Dodgers for LHP Logan Salow. . Texas recalled OF Ryan Rua from Triple-A Round Rock to replace Beltre on the roster and optioned RHP Matt Bush to Round Rock to make room for Fister.

TRAINER'S ROOM:
Athletics: LHP Ryan Buchter left with after facing one batter in the seventh inning with shoulder stiffness.

UP NEXT:
Athletics: LHP Sean Manaea (3-2 1.23), who no-hit the Red Sox on Saturday, will pitch Friday against Houston LHP Dallas Keuchel (1-3, 3.10).

Rangers: LHP Mike Minor (1-1, 3.86), who has lasted six innings in only one of his four starts this season, will face Toronto RHP Marcus Stroman (0-2, 8.55) on Friday.

Downloading a new Font: A's acquire reliever from Dodgers

Downloading a new Font: A's acquire reliever from Dodgers

The A's are taking a flier on a journeyman reliever.

Wilmer Font, a 27-year-old right-handed pitcher was acquired from the Dodgers on Wednesday.

Font has had a rough beginning to the 2018 season. In six appearances with Los Angeles, he allowed 18 hits, 13 earned run and five home runs in 10.1 innings for an ugly 11.32 ERA.

For the moment, Font is not on the A's active roster, but a move could be made soon to give him on the 25-man roster.

Oakland is sending minor league left-handed pitcher Logan Salow back to the Dodgers. A 2017 sixth-round pick, Salow made four appearances for the Low-A Beloit Snappers and posted a 1.59 ERA.