2011: 88-56, won Pacific South Division
Manager: Darren Bush (second season)
Arrivals: C Derek Norris, IF Brandon Hicks, IF Stephen Parker, OF Jeff Fiorentino, OF Grant Green, OF Brandon Moss, LHP Fabio Castro, LHP Pedro Figueroa, RHP Jim Miller, RHP Jarrod Parker, RHP Brad Peacock, LHP Erick Threets
Departures: C Anthony Recker, C-IF Josh Donaldson, IF Eric Sogard, DH-OF Adrian Cardenas, OF Jai Miller, RHP Fernando Cabrera, RHP Vinnie Chulk, LHP Lenny DiNardo, RHP Graham Godfrey, LHP Jordan Norberto, LHP Josh Outman
CF: Jermaine Mitchell (.302, 48 runs, 13 SB in 56 games with River Cats)
1B: Wes Timmons (.321, 3 HR, 34 RBIs in 56 games with River Cats)
LF: Grant Green (.291, 9 HR, 62 RBIs in 127 games with Double-A Midland)
DH: Chris Carter (.274, 18 HR, 72 RBIs in 75 games with River Cats)
RF: Michael Taylor (.272, 16 HR, 64 RBIs in 93 games with River Cats)
C: Derek Norris (.210, 20 HR, 46 RBIs in 104 games with Double-A Harrisburg)
2B: Adam Rosales (.265, 3 HR, 22 RBIs in 40 games with River Cats)
SS: Brandon Hicks (.252, 18 HR, 50 RBIs in 104 games with Triple-A Gwinnett)
3B: Stephen Parker (.286, 10 HR, 74 RBIs in 132 games with Double-A Midland)
RHP: Travis Banwart (9-9, 4.63 ERA in 27 games with River Cats)
RHP: Jarrod Parker (11-8, 3.79 ERA in 26 starts with Double-A Mobile)
RHP: Brad Peacock (10-2, 2.01 ERA in 16 games with Double-A Harrisburg)
LHP: Carlos Hernandez (8-7, 5.27 ERA in 19 starts with River Cats)
LHP: Fabio Castro (5-4, 3.63 ERA, in 24 games with Triple-A Tacoma)
RHP: Jim Miller (8-5, 5.25 ERA, 24 saves in 65 games with Triple-A Colorado Springs)
RHP: Evan Scribner (2-3, 4.71 ERA, 10 saves in 28 games with Triple-A Tucson)
RHP: Justin Souza (3-1, 4.85 ERA in 26 games with River Cats)
LHP: Erick Threets (injured in 2011)
RHP: Neil Wagner (2-1, 3.10 ERA in 22 games with River Cats)
With Recker and Donaldson in Oakland, newcomer Norris assumes catching duties. As the 23-year-old Norris gets to know the River Cats' pitchers, he at least has the comfort of working with one familiar arm. He and Peacock rose through the Washington Nationals minor league system together before both were dealt to the A's during the offseason.
Banwart is a steady presence atop a rotation that features top prospects in Parker and Peacock. Bush, who navigated plenty of roster changes last season in guiding the River Cats to their best record since 2003, says he likes that this season's team is made up of "guys who know how to play the game hard. That should be our strength, and hopefully everything will fall in from there."
PLAYER TO WATCH
OF JERMAINE MITCHELL
Weight: 215 pounds
MLB experience: None
Last season: (w/River Cats): 56 G, .302 batting average/.401 on-base percentage/.453 slugging percentage, 48 R, 5 HR, 28 RBIs; (w/AA Midland): 74 G, .355/.453/.589, 67 R, 10 HR, 50 RBIs.
Comment: Mitchell had a breakout season at the plate in 2011, recording a combined on-base percentage of .430 at two minor league levels, and provides speed in the outfield and at the top of the lineup. He had microfracture knee surgery during the offseason but said he recovered quickly with no setbacks and feels "great" as he begins a season in Triple-A for the first time.
PITCHER TO WATCH
RHP JARROD PARKER
MLB experience: One game in 2011
Last season: (w/Ariz.): 1 G, 1 GS, 5.2 IP, 4 H, 1 BB, 1 K, (0-0, 0.00); (w/AA Mobile): 26 G, 26 GS, 130.2 IP, 112 H, 55 BB, 112 K, (11-8, 3.79)
Comment: Parker missed the 2010 season recovering from Tommy John surgery but returned last season to help the Arizona Diamondbacks' Double-A affiliate in Mobile win a Southern League championship. Reports out of spring training said the hard-throwing right-hander has some of the best raw stuff of the A's young pitchers, and might see time with the big-league club at some point this season.
HITTER TO WATCH
1B CHRIS CARTER
MLB experience: 39 games over two seasons
Last season: (w/Oak): 15 games, 6 for 44, 2 R, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 2 BB, 20 K; (w/Sac): 75 G, .274/.366/.530, 55 R, 18 HR, 72 RBI, 42 BB, 85 K
Comment: The slugging right-hander has mashed minor league pitching, hitting 144 home runs in the past five seasons. Still, he's yet to stick in the big leagues. Carter has slugged at a .529 clip for his career in Triple-A and figures to be the River Cats' main power at first base and designated hitter as he waits for another call-up.