Athletics

A's see Michael Brantley potential in outfield prospect Jameson Hannah

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USATSI

A's see Michael Brantley potential in outfield prospect Jameson Hannah

STOCKTON, Calif. -- At just 5-foot-9, Jameson Hannah doesn't exactly stand out in everyday life. But on a baseball field, he's absolutely electric.

The A's drafted Hannah 50th overall in 2018 out of Dallas Baptist University, where he slashed .363/.451/.554 as a junior. After beginning his professional career with Vermont of the Short Season New York-Penn League last year, the 21-year-old was bumped up to High-A Stockton this season.

"Going straight to High-A is an aggressive assignment for anyone, even a college hitter as accomplished as Jameson," A's general manager David Forst told NBC Sports California. "So I don't think it was unexpected to take a little while for him to get his feet under him, but he's starting to swing the bat great. He has such a good all-field approach and knows hitting so well that it's only a matter of time before he starts to excel, even in a High-A league like that."

To Forst's point, Hannah has raised his slash line to .276/.340/.381 after getting off to a slow start. The left-handed hitting outfielder has two home runs, 17 doubles, 16 RBI and 36 runs scored this season. His 71 hits rank fifth in the California League, helping him earn an All-Star selection.

"(My) swing feels good but there's still room for improvement," Hannah said of his performance this season. "I'd like to see an increase in power numbers but just also stick true to my game. I'm kind of a speed guy, so being able to put the ball in play and also kind of turn and burn a little bit will definitely help."

MLB Pipeline ranks Hannah as the A's seventh-best prospect. They list him as a plus runner and defender with an advanced approach at the plate.

"He's a sweet swinger, along the lines of a (Astros outfielder) Michael Brantley," A's assistant general manager/director of player personnel Billy Owens said. "That would be the ultimate profile. He's got a smooth swing and hits to all fields. He has a chance to hit for a high average.

"He's got a nice blend. He can definitely run. He's an above-average runner. Really one of the pretty swings that you will see and the ability to use the whole field. I think that the power potential will probably hit in that 15 home run range."

Hannah was thrilled when he found out he was joining the A's organization last year, especially given their track record of developing young players. So far, the experience has lived up to his expectations.

"I love the organization," Hannah said. "Our higher-ups are awesome and our coaches at every level are awesome. They definitely love you as a player but also want to see you progress and get out of the league you're in and hopefully be up in the big leagues one day. I definitely like this organization and I'm happy to be a part of it."

[RELATED: Possible A's options to replace suspended Montas]

Hannah's greatest thrill came this spring when he got to play a few games with the A's big-league club. He cherished every moment and interaction, holding on to one key piece of advice he heard from the players.

"It's the same game, even up there (in the majors)," Hannah said. "Don't try to do too much and stick with the player that you are. I've really taken that to heart."

MLB rumors: A's free-agent target Matt Wieters returning to Cardinals

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AP

MLB rumors: A's free-agent target Matt Wieters returning to Cardinals

The A's could use a veteran catcher on their major league roster, but Matt Wieters will not be that guy.

The veteran catcher will be returning to the St. Louis Cardinals, MLB Network's Jon Heyman reported Sunday.

A little over a week ago, The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported, citing sources, that Wieters was drawing interest from the A's and Cardinals.

Wieters to the A's would have made sense because both catchers on Oakland's big league depth chart, Sean Murphy and Austin Allen, are rookies.

Instead, Wieters decided to stick with the team he played for in 2019. In 67 games last season, the 33-year-old slashed .214/.268/.435 with 11 homers and 27 RBI.

[RELATED: Buddy Reed hopes to reunite with Puk]

With Wieters reportedly off the board, there still are several attractive veteran catchers on the free-agent market for the A's to consider: Russell Martin, Caleb Joseph, Nick Hundley, Jonathan Lucroy, Bryan Holaday and Welington Castillo, just to name a few.

The A's have been relatively quiet this offseason, so we'll see if they make any more additions before pitchers and catchers report to Mesa, Ariz. on Feb. 12.

Boston's JD Martinez understands why Mike Fiers spoke up about Astros

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USATSI

Boston's JD Martinez understands why Mike Fiers spoke up about Astros

The latest "MLB cheating scandal" cast a murky cloud over America's Pastime when it was brought forth allegations that the Houston Astros used technology to illegally steal signs during the team's 2017 championship season.

The team allegedly would use centerfield video cameras to steal signs from opponents and relay an audio signal (banging on the cans) to batters to give them a heads up which pitch would be coming.

Current A's pitcher Mike Fiers, who spent three seasons as a member of the Astros, was the first to go on record and talk about the cheating ways. Since then, he's received quite a bit of backlash from fans ... and even sports analysts.

But he has a lot of support when you sift through the awful Twitter mentions (and fake niece accounts -- seriously, what?!) in his friend and former college teammate J.D. Martinez.

“Sucks for him. I’ve talked to him about it,” Martinez said in an interview with MassLive.com. “I understand his side of it. I understand his side of it, being in that division and going against those guys. It’s one of those things where it’s an uncomfortable position for him. I understand why he did what he did.”

The Boston Red Sox designated hitter was also asked if it were possible Fiers would fall victim to any type of retaliation on the field during this upcoming season -- or any season after that.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Martinez said. “I wish him the best with everything. I talked about it with him. He obviously felt like he needed to and I understand it.”

We don't know what will materialize once actual baseball games are played, but it appears there is more heat on Major League Baseball than Fiers.

ESPN baseball analyst and Mets advisor Jessica Mendoza recently gave her thoughts publicly on what Fiers had done saying it "didn't sit well" with her on the fact that he decided to "go public."

What she said didn't sit well with many. Myself included.

This isn't an article to discuss what she said or the fact she holds both of these titles is a conflict of interest. This article will, however, expound she was false in her statements.

It's important to showcase that Fiers has the support from not only his friends/fellow baseball players but those who spend money and time dedicated to the sport.

Since Fiers bravely went public in that interview with The Athletic, baseball saw a few historic penalties.

Astros manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Lunhow were both fired. The team forfeited its first- and second-round picks in the 2020 and '21 MLB drafts and were fined $5 million. This is the highest allowable fine under the Major League Constitution. 

The Red Sox and manager Alex Cora "mutually parted ways" after the scandal. Cora served as the Astros' bench coach the year the team won the World Series.

As Martinez says, we don't know what will happen in the upcoming months as more light is shed on these situations, but many are saying Fiers should be commended for what he did.

[RELATED: A's projected to win under 90 games in 2020]

He could have been anonymous. He could have subtweeted it in a cryptic way. He could have waited years from now to write a novel about it.

He didn't.

Fiers stamped his name on it, and that brought more individuals forward to do the same. That took courage.