ANAHEIM — Dillon Overton will become the latest of highly regarded A’s starting pitching prospects to debut with the big club in 2016.
Manager Bob Melvin announced following Thursday’s 5-4 victory over the Angels that Overton would be called up to start Saturday night against Los Angeles. He’ll follow in the footsteps of Sean Manaea and Daniel Mengden, who were each called upon earlier than expected as injuries have ravaged Oakland’s rotation in the first half.
Before those two pitched their first games, the A’s hadn’t had a pitcher make his major league debut in a starting effort since Dan Straily did so in August 2012 against Toronto.
Melvin held off on making the announcement before Thursday’s game because the coaches at Triple-A Nashville hadn’t yet delivered the news to Overton. He’ll ride a wave of momentum into his first major league appearance, having won his past seven starts in a row.
“Our guys are telling us he’s really pitching well and he’s come a long way,” Melvin said. “He’s got a complement of pitches that gets him through righties and lefties both. We were impressed with what he did this spring, and he’s just continued to develop.
A second-round pick out of the University of Oklahoma in 2013, Overton underwent Tommy John surgery early in his pro career. Last year was his first season back at full health, and Overton went 7-6 with a 3.43 ERA split between Single-A Stockton and Double-A Midland. Regaining his full fastball velocity has been Overton’s biggest challenge since his surgery. He was hitting 97 miles per hour before that, and though he’s not in that neighborhood now, Overton’s well-rounded repertoire has helped him compensate for that.
Melvin noted during the spring how Overton could throw his changeup in any count and could throw his curve from different arm angles too.
Arismendy Alcantara went 1-for-4 in his first start for the A's on Thursday, playing second base. The speedy switch hitter beat out an infield single on a dribbler to the right side in the sixth for his first hit with Oakland. He was then thrown out trying to steal second, the first time he's been caught stealing at any level this season. Alcantara was 27-for-27 entering the night (he had 26 stolen bases at Triple-A and swiped a bag Wednesday with the A's while pinch-running). Melvin talked before Thursday's game about Alcantara's aggressiveness when he got on the base paths Wednesday.
"He couldn’t wait to run," Melvin said. "We actually had a hold on him for a little bit. As soon as we put the green light on, he was gone. We're excited to see what he has to offer all the way around."
A scary moment took place in the bottom of the ninth Thursday. With Sean Doolittle needing just one final out to clinch the victory, Jefry Marte took a swing and lost the grip on his bat, which flew backwards and struck home plate umpire Paul Emmel in the head. Emmel suffered a nasty gash on his head and went to the ground.
“I heard it,” A’s catcher Stephen Vogt said. “It sounded like someone hit a ball off the end of the bat. I just turned around. He was down and I saw the blood. It was gushing pretty good. Obviously you pray that he’s all right and that it’s just a cut.”
The Angels announced afterward that Emmel went to a local hospital to get stitches, but he didn’t appear to be seriously injured.
“You hope he’s OK,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “Paul’s a good umpire and a great guy.”