Athletics

Down on the Farm: Former A's top power-hitting prospect claimed by Rangers

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USATSI

Down on the Farm: Former A's top power-hitting prospect claimed by Rangers

Renato Nuñez has the power to hit over 30 home runs in the majors. Those long balls won't be in an A's uniform. 

While on rehab assigment in Triple-A Nashville, Nuñez was claimed off waivers by the Texas Rangers. 

“Nuñez easily could hit 30-plus homers one day,” one American League scout said to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. “He might strike out 150 times doing it, and he’ll never be a good defender, but on a second-division club that can give him 500 at-bats, he will provide offense.”

The 24-year-old showed off his big-time power potential at Triple-A last season. His 32 home runs with the Nashville Sounds were second in all of Minor League Baseball. He then came up with the A's for eight games and hit one more home runs, against his new team, but only batted .200 with eight strikeouts. 

After the 2015 season, where he hit .278 with 18 home runs and an .812 OPS at Double-A, Nuñez ranked as the A's No. 4 prospect by Baseball America. It was his highest prospect ranking since the A's signed him out of Venezuela for $2.2 million in 2010. 

The A's moved Nuñez up to Triple-A in 2016 and it was a big disappointment. His power was still there with 23 deep flies, but he slashed a lowly .228/.278/.412. His prospect ranking fell from No. 4 to No. 18. 

Before being claimed by the Rangers, Nuñez was ranked the A's No. 20 prospect by Baseball America and MLB Pipeline. 

There simply was nowhere to get Nuñez consistent at-bats in the major leagues. The third baseman is not good defensively at the hot corner or as an experimental outfield. He was not going to take time away from Matt Chapman or Matt Olson and his defense hampered his options. 

And still, it's really surprising the A's lost him for absolutely nothing. Over his minor-league career, Nuñez has hit 130 home runs. If he gets his at-bats and stays healthy, this could be a steal for the Rangers. 

The move also placed Tim Lincecum on the Rangers' 60-day DL with a blister on his middle finger. 

POLL: A's Memorable Moments -- Hernandez walk-off bunt vs Chapman catch over Gatorade jug

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AP/NBC Sports Bay Area

POLL: A's Memorable Moments -- Hernandez walk-off bunt vs Chapman catch over Gatorade jug

PROGRAMMING NOTE: NBC Sports California is looking back at the A's 50 Memorable Moments since the franchise relocated to Oakland in 1968. Below are the next two moments you can vote on. Tune into A's Pregame Live tonight at 4:30pm to watch highlights of the two moments. After the A's and Rangers conclude, tune into A's Postgame Live to see which moment will move on to the next round!

1. Ramon Hernandez's walk-off bunt in 12th inning of Game 1 of 2003 ALDS (Two-time winner -- Defeated Josh Reddick's 'Spider-Man' catch against the Blue Jays in 2012)

Nobody in the entire stadium saw it coming. How could they? With two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the 12th inning of a 4-4 game, A's catcher Ramon Hernandez laid down a perfect bunt to beat the Red Sox in Game 1 of the 2003 American League Division Series.

“The element of surprise reigns supreme!” longtime A's announcer Bill King exclaimed. The walk-off bunt capped a thrilling comeback victory for Oakland, which tied the game in the bottom of the ninth on a two-out RBI single by Erubiel Durazo.

At 4 hours and 37 minutes, the game became the longest in Oakland's postseason history. The A's would also win Game 2, 5-1, but the Red Sox stormed back with three straight victories to take the series in five games.

VS.

2. Matt Chapman makes catch, jumps over Gatorade jug into A's dugout

It didn't take long to realize that Matt Chapman was special. As a rookie, Chapman made countless breathtaking plays at third base, none better than his incredible running catch and Gatorade jug leap.

With two outs and a runner on second in the 10th inning of a 5-5 game, Minnesota's Zack Granite sent a pop up into foul territory near the A's dugout. Chapman sprinted more than 100 feet from his position at third base to make the catch, and proceeded to jump right over two Gatorade jugs and into the dugout, sticking the landing.

Chapman also came up huge with the bat that afternoon, tying the game with a two-run double in the eighth inning. Yonder Alonso would eventually win it for Oakland with a solo home run in the 12th, and the A's walked off with a thrilling 6-5 victory.

VOTE HERE:

A's use six-run ninth to beat Rangers, move back over .500

A's use six-run ninth to beat Rangers, move back over .500

BOX SCORE

ARLINGTON -- Marcus Semien hit a tiebreaking homer on the first pitch of the ninth inning and the surging Oakland Athletics went on to their third straight victory, 9-4 over the Texas Rangers on Monday night.

The Athletics (12-11) have won seven of eight, and have a winning record for the first time since they won their season opener before a three-game losing streak.

Semien's third homer of the season, off Kevin Jepsen (0-3), snapped a 3-all tie and ignited a six-run outburst. Matt Chapman had an RBI triple with two outs, then after a pitching change scored on a single by Mark Canha before Jake Smolinski hit a two-run triple.

Ryan Buchter (1-0), the fourth of five Oakland pitchers, retired the only two batters he faced - the last out of the eighth and the first out in the ninth.

The Rangers, who are 3-11 at home this season, tied the game in the fourth when Jurickson Profar drew a two-out walk from Trevor Cahill and Robinson Chirinos followed with his third homer of the season.

Khris Davis had a two-run double in the third to put Oakland up 2-0, giving him 21 RBIs this season. Chad Pinder's RBI single an inning later made it 3-1.

Rookie second baseman Isiah Kiner-Falefa, the Rangers' No. 9 hitter, doubled in the third for their first hit and scored on a wild pitch.

NO DECISIONS:
Both starting pitchers allowed three runs over five innings. Rangers lefty Matt Moore, who was pulled after giving up a leadoff single in the sixth, struck out two and walked two. Cahill, who threw seven scoreless innings in his only other start this season for the A's, had six strikeouts, two walks and the wild pitch that allowed a run.

TRAINER'S ROOM:
Rangers: RHP Doug Fister (right hip strain) felt good a day after throwing a bullpen and is set to come off the disabled list to start the series finale Wednesday.

UP NEXT:
Rangers lefty Cole Hamels (1-3), trying to avoid four losses by the end of April for the first time in his career, has lost four consecutive home starts - including both this season. Right-hander Andrew Triggs, with a 1.02 ERA in four career appearances against Texas, starts for the A's in the middle game of the three-game series.