The 23-year old Drew Granier was drafted in the 32nd Round of last June's amateur draft, and has exceeded all expectations of many players selected that late. Granier has posted a 6-2 record and 2.04 ERA through 10 starts, and was named the Midwest League's Pitcher of the Week last month.
The Louisiana-Monroe graduate credits the addition of a fourth pitch as the difference in his early success.
"I went to Instructs after the season was over last year and worked a lot on a change-up," said Granier. "They really preach change-up here in this organization. So far it's been a great pitch for me.
"I get behind in a count and throw a change-up in there and they roll over or pop it up. I've tried to get my curve ball and slider a little better. Fastball command is also a big thing, because if you can go in and out while mixing speeds you'll be alright."
A three-pitch hurler coming out of college, the slender 6-footer always featured fastball that sat between 88 and 90, to go along with a curveball and slider. But the change-up has become Granier's out pitch at the Low-A level.
"That pitch just off-sets their timing," he said. "You come in with an 88 or 90 mile-per-hour fastball and they've got their timing down, but then you throw a change-up with the same arm speed and action and they get big, try to lift it and pop it up.
"I never really had one and had never tried to learn one. But once I got here, that was the first thing they worked on with me. I always had a curve ball and good slider, but I didn't have a change-up. Last year I would throw two or three a game and didn't really trust it yet, but now it's one of my favorite pitches."
Whether it's with four pitches or three, Granier has been dominant since signing with the A's last summer. In seven starts at short-season Vermont, he posted a 1.91 ERA and struck out 34 batters over 28.1 innings.
He has flashed much better control in his first full season of pro ball. After posting a K:BB ratio of 34:22 while in the Lake Monsters rotation, he has improved to 55:17 through two months in Burlington.
The side work has proven to be just as critical as the innings he's compiled thus far.
"Every day you can get better," Granier said.
"Bullpens during the week – I still work on a lot of things. I'll pick something different every week. One week may be fastballs away, next week might be change-up, another week might be against lefties. There's always something to work on."
Granier's work ethic late in his college career put him on the A's radar screen prior to last June's draft. After not getting drafted as a junior, Granier opened his senior season with five consecutive wins and an ERA of around 2.00. Oakland's scouting department took notice.
"I started off the season real well," he said. "I guess they must have seen me in one of my good games and gave me a chance to play. The A's always have good pitching and are one of the best organizations to move up in. They've been putting more people in the big leagues than any other organization out there. It's a good place to be."
If Granier continues to get Midwest League hitters out, he'll be given a shot to move through the system like other senior signings of the past.