Casey Myers has a lot of knowledge to share with his short-season Vermont Lake Monsters' pupils. The Vermont hitting coach had an eight-year minor league career in the Oakland A's organization, finishing his minor league career as a .291 hitter with a .374 OBP. The backstop was a first-team All-American at Arizona State and remains one of the most decorated players in Sun Devils' history.
Myers, a mathematics major at ASU, brings a cerebral approach to hitting. He discussed the A's organizational philosophy towards hitting with Donald Moore last weekend while the Lake Monsters were in Troy, New York.
Donald Moore: How does your team look hitting-wise this season, and do they look pretty solid?
Casey Myers: Actually, we do. We have a good mix of second year guys that were with us in extended [spring training], and we got a new crop of guys that are fresh out of college. So far so good. Fifteen games in they are very open to ideas, to trying things at this level, and this quickly.
We're not so much try to making mechanical adjustments. We are just trying to teach them the A's philosophy -- about being selective, aggressive hitters -- and they have done a good job so far.
DM: Now part of that philosophy, do they always take the first pitch and limit Oakland batters to two strikes?
CM: No, a lot of times it ends up being that way, but we try to inform the players about how the number of pitches a team sees directly correlates to winning games. I can't remember what the exact number was over the last few years, but I know that if an offensive team can see over 140 pitches, they are winning 75-80 percent of the games.
Again, it's not that we are going to go up and try to look for those pitches. It's just that if that first pitch is a good pitch to hit, go ahead and hit it, but that doesn't mean we are going to take a strike or definitely take balls, it just means that 0-0 should be [treated] like 2-0, 3-1, if you are going to swing at that first pitch, you're going to hit it hard. If you make that pitcher work, every pitch you take is information you are gathering.
DM: I remember when you played for the A's organization, and you were one of Oakland's top-rated prospects. I was hoping you'd make the A's 40-man roster.
CM: If I could have stayed healthy. After my best year in Double-A, I had shoulder surgery. It was all downhill, and my arm never came back. Then I had my spine fused the following off-season. I just could never get healthy again.
DM: How many years have you been coaching?
CM: It's my third year at this level. I really enjoy this level because we get guys who aren't familiar with playing professional baseball and the daily grind of playing day in and day out. With the managers we have, and the pitching coach and even the trainers and all of our personnel, it's a really good, cohesive staff about teaching, and we are very patient.
We try to teach the guys to play the right way, to go about it the right way, and try to teach them how to handle it on a day-in, day-out basis, which a lot of guys have never experienced.
DM: Thank you for your time and it was a pleasure talking to you.