Oakland A's Prospect Q&A: Jeff Urlaub

TROY, NY - Baseball has handed Vermont Lake Monsters' LHP Jeff Urlaub its share of disappointments. A heralded prospect out of high school, Urlaub was first deterred by a bout with mono and then lost a year to Tommy John surgery. This season, he had to deal with a surprising demotion, but has kept a positive attitude and is breezing through the New York-Penn League. Donald Moore spoke with Urlaub.

Baseball has taken Jeff Urlaub on an interesting journey. He was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 26th round in 2005 out of high school, but chose to go to college. The Scottsdale, Arizona, native began his collegiate career in 2006 with Arizona State University, where he won his first five decisions as a freshman before missing a month with mono. One of those decisions was a win over Brad Lincoln and the University of Houston. Lincoln would go on to be drafted in the first round that same season.

Unfortunately for Urlaub, he was unable to build on the momentum of his solid freshman season, as he injured his elbow his sophomore year and had to undergo Tommy John surgery. Urlaub would transfer to UNLV, where he pitched in 2008 and 2009. He was drafted in 2008 in the 47th round by the Florida Marlins, but elected not to sign. He wasn't drafted after the 2009 season, however.

Urlaub had one more year of eligibility in 2010 thanks to the medical redshirt he received after his Tommy John surgery. He spent the 2010 season with Grand Canyon University. Urlaub was named to the All-West team for Division II and was taken by the A's in the 30th round.

Urlaub got to stay close to home during his first professional season, pitching for the Arizona Rookie League A's in 2010. He posted an impressive 26:3 K:BB ratio and a 2.39 ERA in 26.1 relief innings. This season, he began the year with the Low-A Burlington Bees. In 18.1 innings, Urlaub put up a 3.93 ERA and a 23:6 K:BB ratio. He also induced more than two groundouts for every flyout.

Despite those solid numbers, Urlaub was sent down to short-season Vermont at the start of the New York-Penn League campaign. He allowed three runs over his first four innings of work, but since then, he has not allowed a run over 13 innings. In total, Urlaub has 26 strike-outs and only one walk in 17 innings and batters are hitting only .183 against him. He also has two saves.

Donald Moore caught-up with Urlaub for a Q&A when the Lake Monsters were visiting Tri-City.

Donald Moore: Hi Jeff, thank you for taking the time to talk with me. Is there anything you are looking to improve on this season?

Jeff Urlaub: I'm really just looking to have fun and get better on a daily basis. And really help the team anyway I can. Whether it's long relief or short relief, it doesn't matter to me. I just love playing the game and I'm fortunate to do it. I might as well keep going.

DM: What are your goals for this season?

JU: This season is just to help the team win. Being in Low-A ball [with Burlington] to start the year was really a great experience and now coming down here, I can help these younger guys figure out hitters easier and stuff like that. The goal is to win.

DM: Is there is any person, player or coach who taught you the most?

JU: Oh man, there's a bunch. My dad is a huge part of it, since I was growing up. He taught me the game and taught me how to play it the correct way. Growing up, my uncle who played in the big leagues, really stepped my game up to the next level.

DM: Favorite team growing up?

JU: The Oakland A's.

DM: Favorite player?

JU: Well, there is two of them, Eric Fox and Scott Brosius.

DM: craziest thing you've ever seen on a baseball field?

JU: Oh, that is a tough question. I don't even know. I have no idea to be honest. You see something new everyday, so there's not much you can do.

DM: In five years from now, where do you see yourself?

JU: Hopefully playing in the big leagues.

DM: Thanks a million and the best of luck to you, Jeff.

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