Cotton among pitchers likely to get promoted

Alvarez hoping to return to A's before end of season

Cotton among pitchers likely to get promoted

ST. LOUIS -- The A's, overcome by injuries to their pitching staff this season, are likely to prioritize arms when rosters expand next week.

Oakland may not seek immediate help when it opens a lengthy homestand on Friday, beginning with a three-game series against the Red Sox, but by early next week, a new wave of pitchers could be on their way -- notably right-hander Jharel Cotton.

One of three pitchers acquired in the deal that sent Rich Hill and Josh Reddick to the Dodgers last month, Cotton has quickly impressed with Triple-A Nashville, pitching to a 3.31 ERA in four starts.

A native of the Virgin Islands, Cotton was a 20th-round Draft pick of the Dodgers in 2012. The 24-year-old, who's ranked Oakland's No. 15 prospect, features a mid-90s fastball and a plus changeup. He would also bring a refreshing helping of optimism for fans as an otherwise disappointing season comes to a close.

Cotton will have some company, too. September could showcase the debut of right-hander Raul Alcantara, who, coincidentally, was also part of a Reddick trade. Alcantara and Reddick were two of three players that landed in Oakland in a 2011 deal that sent reliever Andrew Bailey and outfielder Ryan Sweeney to Boston.

Alcantara, 23, began the season in Double-A Midland before being promoted to Nashville, where he's dominated in seven outings, allowing just four earned runs in 40 2/3 innings.

Right-hander Daniel Mengden is also anticipated back in Oakland shortly after rosters expand on Thursday. The A's will balance their own needs in the final month of the season with Nashville's postseason push, but there are several other players who could join the club at some point next month -- among them catcher Matt McBride and infielder Joey Wendle.

Jaycob Brugman, though not on the 40-man roster like the aforementioned players, will have to at least warrant consideration for a promotion: the outfielder is batting .307/.361/.460 with seven home runs and 67 RBIs in 88 games since joining Nashville in May.

Alvarez to begin rehab assignment

Right-hander Henderson Alvarez, determined to pitch for the A's this season, is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment with Class A Advanced Stockton early next week. It will be Alvarez's third attempt at getting through a Minor League rehab stint this season, having suffered setbacks with his surgically-repaired shoulder in each of his previous two tries.

Alvarez totaled 13 pitches in one inning of rehab work in Arizona on Saturday, with his fastball clocked between 89-91 mph.

"I was watching video of it today and, obviously, velocity is not the end all be all," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "But to see him at 89, 91 was encouraging,"

With the season winding down, Alvarez's best shot at pitching on a big league mound this year could be as a reliever.

Worth noting

• Left-hander Sean Doolittle (shoulder) "felt good" following his fifth rehab outing with Nashville on Saturday, Melvin said, and could be in line to return during the A's next homestand.

• Right-hander Sonny Gray (forearm) is expected to begin playing catch next week.

• Catcher Josh Phegley, admitted to a San Francisco hospital on Friday with knee synovitis, has yet to be released.

• So long as designated hitter Billy Butler gets through a series of concussion tests, he'll be activated from the seven-day disabled list Monday in Houston. Infielder Arismendy Alcantara is expected to return to Nashville as the corresponding move.

Jane Lee has covered the A's for since 2010. Follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.