Crocker Warming With The Weather

BURLINGTON, IA - When the weather warms up, so do the bats. That's typically the case for many hitters in the Midwest League, and it's been no different for Burlington outfielder Bobby Crocker.

Oakland's fourth-round selection in last June's draft started the year slowly, but has been considerably better in May. Bobby Crocker had a .406 SLG in May after posting a .279 SLG in April, and has been even better over the past few weeks. He had a recent streak of hitting safely in nine of 10 games and notched 14 hits in 41 at-bats, good for a .341 batting average and OPS of nearly 900.

"At the beginning of the year I was hitting some balls hard, but had a rough start," said Crocker, who signed with the A's as a junior out of Cal-Poly San Luis Obispo. "I stuck to the same principles and what I know with my approach. Luckily it's finally starting to come around.

"The big thing for me is staying consistent with it. I need to worry about doing my job, repetition and contributing as much as I can on offense. From being a clutch hitter, hard-contact guy, to a threat on the base paths."

Crocker has had several opportunities to find his groove as a regular part of manager Aaron Nieckula's lineup. He's posted an overall slash line of .240/.309/.344 in 34 of Burlington's 43 games thus far, missing a small stretch of games a month ago with a deep bone bruise.

The 22-year-old has taken a simple approach to his first full season of professional ball.

"I think the biggest thing for me is seeing the ball," Crocker said. "We have a lot of scouting reports that we analyze, but what it comes down to is slowing things down, relaxing and seeing the ball. I'm looking forward to playing a full season and getting that experience with those 400 or 500 at-bats.

"I had a deep bone bruise about a month ago and that put things into perspective. I was starting to figure things out and it just put things into perspective. You want to play every day and improve. In a way it was good to take a step back and realize the things I could do even when I'm not playing."

Although he was drafted relatively early by the A's, Crocker signed quickly and erased any suspicions of whether he would turn pro or return for his senior season.

Thanks to the quick decision, he got 56 games under his belt with the Arizona Rookie League and Vermont squads. Crocker posted a .322 batting average and posted an 808 OPS over 32 short-season games with the Lake Monsters.

"I was pretty much set on playing professional baseball and starting my career," Crocker said. "I miss college baseball a lot, but I was at the point of my life where I needed to start my career and I'm happy I did it."

"Negotiations weren't really an issue. I wanted to get on the field and make an impact my first year. It panned out like I wanted it to and I was happy to get on the field as quickly as I did."

Crocker took a short break after Oakland's Instructional League camp and spent the off-season training in Santa Cruz.

"I've got a trainer back home in Santa Cruz at Rocky's Training Facility," Crocker said. "I worked out with Joey Wolfe, an ex-baseball player, as well as a couple other pro guys from my hometown."

Perhaps the biggest adjustment of Crocker's early career has been with his allegiances. The Santa Cruz native grew up a Giants fan and attended many games in San Francisco. He says that's about to change.

"I was always a Giants fan, but that might have to change," he said. "I grew up going to their games. Oakland is a little different than San Francisco, and there's been some (territorial) issues. But I guess I should probably start changing."

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