Vollmuth Finding His Form In Burlington

BURLINGTON, IA - Many heralded prospects have taken their lumps early on in the Midwest League, and Oakland's third-round selection in last June's draft B.A. Vollmuth is no different.

The former Southern Miss standout makes no bones about his April problems in the Burlington lineup, but says he'll be defined by how he overcomes the adversity.

The talented third baseman has posted just a .208 batting average through his first 53 plate appearances in Low-A ball, but his bat is starting to show signs of life as he has three multi-hit performances in his last seven games.

"I haven't had the best start in the world," said B.A. Vollmuth. "I think [last Thursday] was the first time I had a hit in six games. It is making different adjustments with the pitching, umpiring, atmosphere and temperature.

"We've had a couple games where it's been in the 30s and 40s and windy. It's a little different to hit in that temperature than we're used to. We came from 80 degrees in Arizona to here where it's 40 and windy."

Just how difficult can it be to get into an early-season rhythm? Just as Vollmuth was starting to find himself, Monday's game in Appleton, Wisconsin, was snowed out.

Once Vollmuth gets comfortable in his new surroundings, the A's organization expects him to perform up to his potential and challenge for a potential High-A Stockton promotion by year's end.

After signing shortly before the deadline last August, Vollmuth earned a brief four-game cameo at Vermont in the New York-Penn League, and he went 7-for-14 with five extra-base hits and six RBIs.

"I took my time, found some pitches I liked and was able to barrel them up," he said.

"It was the first time I got to play with a team since college. I actually had fans cheering us on and the day-to-day routine and grind – I got to see what that's about. I'm glad I got to experience it. We won the last four and went to the playoffs, so I got some taste of that."

Vollmuth kept up the production in minor-league spring training and earned the praise of A's farm director Keith Lieppman, who said he had as good a preseason as any player.

"Spring is kind of just the time to get you right," Vollmuth said.

"I was locked in for spring training, everything felt good, but I kind of let my routine slack a little bit. It's showing now. I need to get back into that rhythm again. I struggled a little bit here and had to go back to the basics. Now I'm starting to put some things together and feel good at the plate."

A slight tweak in his mechanics has Vollmuth poised to become an even better hitter for Burlington.

"I had a big leg kick last year and completely took it out of my game," he said.

"I focused on laying in soft and my rhythm and timing. I was ready to go for spring. But then I got away from my routine, stopped doing that, and then everything kind of came back. Now I know I've got to stick with it and focus on my routine."

A two-time Conference USA first-team all-conference performer at Southern Miss, Vollmuth signed with the A's after sliding down the board to the 105th overall pick. He came to the organization after a standout career for the Golden Eagles. Vollmuth hit 32 homers and posted an OPS higher than 1000 in his final two years.

Although he admits the draft process was difficult to watch unfold, Vollmuth was happy to finally sign with Oakland and get his pro career underway.

"My family had a lot more fun than I did, because it's kind of nerve-wracking and aggravating sitting there seeing name after name go wondering when I'm going to get picked up," he said.

"I wanted to sign and was ready to forego my last year and become an Athletic. It was more just money talk between my agent and the Athletics. We really didn't talk much. Everybody understood what was going on. We figured we'd go down in August, more towards the deadline and ended up signing late. I got in some games and am happy I signed. It was the right move for me."

In an organization that has shown the desire to move players through the system, Vollmuth likes his chances with the A's.

"I think the Athletics as a whole push people through," he said.

"I'm very fortunate to be in the position I am. It's good that we don't have as many people in certain positions and stuff like that, but if I don't pan out there's always somebody else who will. I just need to focus on myself and what I can control."

And, at least for now, that's becoming the strong presence in the heart of the Burlington batting order.

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