The Washington Times Daily - - Sports -

How dra­mat­i­cally did that change the A’s farm sys­tem? All four of those play­ers in­stantly went into the A’s top 10 prospects, ac­cord­ing to Base­ball Amer­ica. Pea­cock was sec­ond, fol­lowed by Cole (fourth), Nor­ris (sev­enth) and Milone (10th).

Milone, Pea­cock and Nor­ris were in big-league camp with the A’s, and Milone has es­tab­lished him­self as one of the lead­ing can­di­dates to win one of three open ro­ta­tion spots be­hind Bran­don Mccarthy and Bar­tolo Colon.

“He’s big-league-ready, I don’t have any doubts about that,” man­ager Bob Melvin said of Milone. “He’s a crafty left-han­der who knows how to pitch. He reads swings. He has a great idea what works for him.”

Milone, who had a 3.81 ERA in five starts with the Na­tion­als last year, pitches a lit­tle like Tom Glavine, Melvin said. This spring, Milone, 25, has al­lowed seven earned runs in 122/ in­nings in his first big-league camp. He said that’s ac­tu­ally helped him be sharper than he had been dur­ing pre­vi­ous springs in mi­nor-league camp with the Na­tion­als.

“With fans ac­tu­ally watch­ing, you get more mo­ti­vated and get the adrenaline go­ing,” Milone said. “It means more than go­ing out in a mi­nor league game where there are no fans.”

Pea­cock, 24, was op­tioned to the mi­nors Tues­day. He didn’t put up the num­bers he’d hoped — 10 earned runs in seven in­nings — but he still has left an im­pres­sion.

“The stuff has been great,” Forst said of a Pea­cock, who was 15-3 with a 2.39 ERA in the mi­nors last year.

Nor­ris, 23, also has helped him­self in the eyes of the or­ga­ni­za­tion, though he was op­tioned to Triple-a Sacra­mento on Mon­day. His pres­ence is part of the rea­son the A’s re­cently re­leased Lan­don Pow­ell, who had been the big-league backup catcher for the past three years. Nor­ris is ex­pected to be the every­day catcher at Triple-a, with An­thony Recker likely to move from that spot to big-league backup.

Nor­ris came to the A’s with a rep­u­ta­tion as an of­fen­sive catcher — he hit at least 20 homers two of the past three sea­sons — but his de­fense has been bet­ter than ad­ver­tised, Melvin said.

“I like what I’ve seen out of Derek Nor­ris,” the man­ager said. “He catches bet­ter than I thought. He shows he’s not afraid. He’s got a take-charge at­ti­tude. He’s con­fi­dent in what he does. He’s not in awe of the sit­u­a­tion here.”

Nor­ris said it helps to have come over with Pea­cock, who was his team­mate at ev­ery stop in the Na­tion­als sys­tem, and Milone.

“I don’t know what I would have done if I didn’t have any­one I knew,” Nor­ris said. “It made the tran­si­tion a lit­tle eas­ier.”

While Milone, Pea­cock and Nor­ris have been spend­ing time to­gether in big-league camp, Cole has been in mi­nor league camp be­cause he’s not as ex­pe­ri­enced. Cole, 20, is ex­pected to start the sea­son with Oak­land’s highA team in Stock­ton, Calif.

“He’s a high-up­side starter,” Forst said. “He’s long and lean, and he looks like ev­ery­thing a top pitch­ing prospect should be. The ball just comes out of his hand dif­fer­ently.”

While the play­ers have been ac­cli­mat­ing to their new green-and-gold sur­round­ings, Milone said he will watch what hap­pens with the Na­tion­als.

“They are def­i­nitely try­ing to do some­thing good, and they want to do it now,” Milone said. “It’s good for them. I’ll keep an eye on them and see how they are do­ing. Hope­fully, they will do well. They de­serve it. They’ve been push­ing hard the last cou­ple years get­ting these top prospects. I have a feel­ing this year will be good for them.”

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