---- — The chances of seeing Phil Pohl playing in a game in the New York-Penn League this summer are slipping.
The Vermont Lake Monsters opened their 2013 season on Monday without Pohl, a 2008 Cooperstown Central School and 2012 Clemson University graduate who the A’s drafted in the 28th round of the 2012 draft.
Pohl has instead been the starting catcher the past month for the Stockton Ports, a Class A Advanced California League team.
In minor league baseball hierarchy, Class A Advanced is considered a half step toward AA, and a half step above Class A. The Lake Monsters play in Class A-Short Season, which is considered to be a half step between rookie league and regular Class A.
In other words, Pohl may be closer to Midland, Texas than to Vermont.
Pohl played three games for the Lake Monsters after being drafted last spring. He was then transferred to the Arizona Fall League to play rookie ball. He started this season in Beloit, Wisc., playing for the Snappers.
Pohl played in three games, hitting .250 as a backup to Bruce Maxwell before being recalled to Arizona.
Maxwell was drafted in the second round of the 2012 A’s draft, and made the Midwest League All Star team in his first full year of minor-league baseball. Maxwell is listed on the A’s minor league website at No. 14 of their Top 20 prospects.
The A’s recalled Pohl to extended spring training from Beloit after a week, and replaced him with Nick Rickles, who was demoted from AA.
Since Pohl was not starting for the Snappers, there was some speculation that the A’s recalled him because they liked his work behind the plate, and wanted to give him more experience with major league pitchers who were extending their spring because of injuries or late contract signings.
Now the A’s have given Pohl a chance to start rather than back up Maxwell.
Pohl joined the Ports in May. As of Tuesday, he had played in 26 games. In 95 at bats, he was batting .242 with 19 runs, 23 hits including four doubles and four home runs, and seven RBIs.
Since minor league assignments are fluid, Pohl could still be moved at any time, up or down in the organization. There is still a chance his friends, family and fans can catch him playing for the Lake Monsters in away games at Troy or Auburn or in the Hudson Valley. But it is also possible that Pohl will stay in Stockton or will be promoted to Class AA to play for the Midland RockHounds in the Texas League.
For now, Pohl is in Stockton, the central California town that most baseball historians believe was the location of the fictional Mudville in the poem “Casey at the Bat.” The Ports play in the North Division, and were in third place as of Tuesday. The San Jose Giants have clinched the division title for the first half of the season, and had a five-game lead over Stockton.