MESA, Ariz. – The A’s pitching didn’t shine in Tuesday’s 10-3 loss to the Texas Rangers, but an exception was minor league lefty Dillon Overton.
Overton doesn’t generate the hype of fellow lefty Sean Manaea or Oakland’s other top prospects in camp. But he’s high on the radar of front office officials and manager Bob Melvin.
He struck out five over two scoreless innings Tuesday in a defeat that evened the A’s Cactus League record at 3-3. A second-round pick in 2013 out of the University of Oklahoma, Overton underwent Tommy John surgery upon starting his professional career. Last season was his first full year healthy, and Overton went 7-6 with a 3.43 ERA in 27 games (25 starts) combined between Single-A Stockton and Double-A Midland.
Baseball America ranks Overton as the A’s No. 8 prospect.
“We like what we see,” Melvin said. “He throws strikes, he can throw his changeup in any count. He even dropped down on a lefty with a curve ball today. This is a guy that’s come back from injury, and if his velocity can climb more, even to the low 90’s, his off-speed is gonna be that much better . As an organization, we’ve always liked him.”
Overton was hitting 97 miles per hour with his fastball before his surgery. Last year, he got back up to the 91-93 range by the end of the season.
“My arm bounced back great,” Overton said. “I threw a few more innings than I originally thought, and my arm held up perfectly fine. So that’s a plus, knowing I can go beyond what I thought I can go. That’s really my main goal, trying to get my velocity back to where it was before I got hurt.”
HEALTH UPDATES: Right-hander Henderson Alvarez threw his first legitimate bullpen session in his rehab from shoulder surgery. Until Tuesday, Alvarez had only thrown off the mound with a catcher in front of home plate. He came out of his 25-pitch session well, Melvin said. He’ll throw again in a couple days. The A’s view Alvarez as an important piece to their pitching puzzle when he eventually returns. A tentative timetable has him coming back sometime in May.
First baseman Mark Canha, dealing with a sore back, got through a full day of activity and is nearing his first appearance in a game.
ODDS AND ENDS : Sonny Gray is scheduled to make his Cactus League debut Wednesday against the Chicago White Sox. Until now, he’s only thrown live batting practice and simulated games. The A’s are easing their ace into action, which is what they did with Gray last season. He responded with a 1.98 ERA in April. … Non-roster lefty Eric Surkamp made his second exhibition start and gave up two runs and two walks in two innings against Texas ….First baseman Yonder Alonso is off to a 5-for-9 (.556) start through four games. Second baseman Jed Lowrie singled and drove in a run and is 4-for-9 (.444). … Reliever Liam Hendriks had a rough inning of work in his second appearance, giving up three hits and three earned runs with a walk.