Athletics

Bob Melvin confident in A's young depth heading into Winter Meetings

Bob Melvin confident in A's young depth heading into Winter Meetings

The A's are at the MLB Winter Meetings with eyes on providing manager Bob Melvin with even more options to fill out his lineup, but it's not as if he doesn't have plenty to choose from already.

Whether it's the starting rotation, the infield or the outfield, Oakland possesses great depth at many positions, and a lot of that depth is young.

Both Jesus Luzardo and A.J. Puk made their long-awaited debuts for the A's last season, and Melvin told NBC Sports California that both are expected to be in the starting rotation when the season commences. Just how many players are a member of that rotation remains to be seen, however.

"I think anything is possible for us," Melvin said of the rotation. "We like to get a little bit creative. I think ideally guys like to be in a five-man rotation, it allows them to prepare. But whether it's the piggybacking-type thing, whether it's a six-man rotation for a period of time ... anything creative I think we would potentially look at, but I think as we go into the season right now, we'd probably look at a five-man rotation to start."

One would imagine that both Sean Manaea and Mike Fiers have been earmarked for two more spots in the starting rotation, as might Frankie Montas. Melvin also mentioned players like Chris Bassitt, Daulton Jeffries and James Kaprielian as additional pitching options.

That depth extends to the infield, as well. The A's were so confident in their second-base options that they felt comfortable trading the versatile Jurickson Profar to the Padres. Between Franklin Barreto, Jorge Mateo, Sheldon Neuse and even Chad Pinder, Oakland has several bodies to consider pairing with shortstop Marcus Semien in the middle of the infield. The trouble is, each of them bats right-handed, as does the vast majority of the A's current lineup. That doesn't seem to concern Melvin too much, though.

"I think we're always looking potentially for another left-handed bat in a little bit of a right-handed dominant lineup," Melvin explained, "but we're comfortable with the guys we have right now and we feel like we have multiple options."

The A's manager went on to admit that, in a perfect world, Oakland would be able to add a few left-handers, particularly considering the abundance of dominant right-handed starters in the AL West. The Angels reportedly are pursuing Gerrit Cole, and he could be the best of the bunch. The A's are aware of what their competitors are doing at the Winter Meetings, but they have reason to be confident.

[RELATED: Why Yankees offering Cole $245M is good for Giants, A's]

"We keep an eye on the teams in our division," Melvin said. "We keep our eyes on every team in the league, but at the end of the day, it's about what we can do to enhance our club and make our club better. You're talking about a club that's won 97 games two years in a row, so we feel pretty good about where we're at."

The A's already possess a deep roster, but perhaps with an addition or two, a deep playoff run could be in store.

A's Stephen Piscotty to honor father Mike for 'Coaching Corps' Awards

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A's Stephen Piscotty to honor father Mike for 'Coaching Corps' Awards

Stephen Piscotty spends his days roaming the outfield for the A's. But long before he sported the green and gold, he was a little leaguer being coached by his dad, Mike. 

"He had a little bit of that military-style -- very serious, regimented coaching style which was great for us kids growing up, Stephen said about Mike to NBC Sports California. "There was a time to have fun, but there was a time to be serious. He had a good way of teaching young kids how to play."

Stephen will honor his dad Thursday night during the sixth annual "Coaching Corps Game Changer Awards" presented by Levi's, where top Bay Area athletes honor influential coaches and mentors.

Stephen would play up a level throughout his playing career, beginning with little league. And the way he was coached by his dad is something he still uses to this day.

Mike, at times, would be the manager of three different teams for each of his sons -- that meant more than just switching hats and jerseys. 

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His kids (all 15 of them if you counted his sons and the kids on the team) would come over, eat pizza and watch "The Sandlot" -- all the essentials you need for a successful little league season.

"Baseball gave me a platform to teach character -- just like you're teaching character to your children," Mike told NBC Sports California. "Things are going to go great and there's going to be controversy at times."

"Baseball gave me the opportunity to parent, just like you would coaching," Mike said.

Having his dad as a coach was all Stephen knew. So much so, when Mike wasn't around, it was "weird."

The weirdness, if you will, became apparent when Stephen went to college.

"That's where things really changed because he's not there every day and I'm around college coaches that know a fair amount," Stephen said. "I want to be very open to coaching and trying those things, but he's not there to go through it with me."

But dad was watching from afar. 

"That parenting approach I would take with my boys was pretty much the same with coaching," Mike said. "It was easy for me to do that because it was just an extension of my home to the field."

"Part of it is a success as an individual. Developing your skills, being able to have a great game, making a great play, having a fantastic hit or something and being able to enjoy that."

Mike believed that isn't something you can learn on your own, he believes it's something he helped Stephen with.

"[Stephen] reveled in it."

Turning his coaching hat into being simply being a dad and a supporter doesn't change the way Mike views the game. He still notices things. That's what happens when you've coached for as long as he has. 

Mike then detailed the moment he got the call that Stephen would officially be a Major League baseball player. 

"The emotions are just incredible," Mike said. "Very fulfilling and really a lot of fun. You can really enjoy it, I've learned."

As Mike watches Stephen on the big league diamond, he is overcome with memories of the days where they would use a wiffle ball bat in the backyard. 

"All those days we would spend at the field -- it's very satisfying," Mike said. "But life keeps going on. It's a great moment, but now that set up more great moments."

"Life's a journey. You don't ever stop coaching. You're always mentoring, you're always coaching. Baseball gave me the opportunity to parent, just like you would coaching."

[RELATED: Three A's prospects make Baseball America's top 100 list]

And no matter where he goes, Stephen knows his dad was there from the very beginning.

"He was my first coach, and he got me off to a tremendous start and developed the passion and love I have for the game," Stephen explained. "That's why I'm choosing to honor him."

You can donate to the "Coaching Corps Game Changer Awards," here

“Coaching Corps Game Changer Awards” presented by Levi’s airs Tuesday, January 28 at 7:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area

Three A's prospects named to Baseball America's top 100 for 2020 season

Three A's prospects named to Baseball America's top 100 for 2020 season

The A's have one of MLB's best young cores in third baseman Matt Chapman, shortstop Marcus Semien and first baseman Matt Olson. Add in pitchers Sean Manaea and Frankie Montas and it's clear why this team keeps knocking on the door as a contender. 

The future for Oakland already is here, too. That sentiment was reinforced Wednesday when Baseball America released its latest list of their top 100 prospects before the 2020 season. 

Pitchers Jesus Luzardo (nine) and A.J. Puk (21), and catcher Sean Murphy (41) all made the list. They also all made their major league debuts last season. 

Luzardo is Baseball America's No. 2 left-handed pitching prospect behind only MacKenzie Gore (six) of the San Diego Padres. Puk is the website's fourth-best lefty, three spots higher than MLB Pipeline ranked him. 

Murphy comes in as the third-highest ranked catcher, behind Giants prospect Joey Bart. As someone whose defense stands out, he will be a key factor in Luzardo and Puk's development on a big league mound. 

Luzardo, 22, might wind up being the A's ace as soon as this upcoming season. Puk, who will turn 25 in April, isn't too far behind. Both pitchers are hard-throwing southpaws who have dirty offspeed pitches. 

[RELATED: Former Cal pitcher rises up A's top 10 prospect rankings]

Murphy, who hit four homers in just 20 games for the A's last year, likely will be Oakland's Opening Day catcher this year. He has Gold Glove potential behind the plate and is continuing to improve as a hitter. 

The A's already have their Big Three on offense in Chapman, Olson and Semien. The next trio already has arrived, and they're here to stay.