As the leadoff hitter and center fielder at Low-A Beloit, Brett Vertigan is bringing all of the intangibles that manager Ryan Christensen asks in a player. The only thing left for Oakland's 10th-round selection in the 2012 draft to do is start getting luckier at the plate.
Although Vertigan has started slowly with a slash line of .250/.358/.345, he continues to put balls in play and get on base, leading him to believe the hits will eventually start falling.
"Numbers-wise, I'm not where I want to be but I'm working hard and grinding it out," said Vertigan, a product of UC-Santa Barbara. "I've been leading off every game and feel good out there. I'm walking more than I'm striking out and getting on base for the guys behind me to him me in.
"I've been more patient, only swinging at my pitch and not getting out of the 'zone. I've been consistent with that approach all season, but the balls haven't been falling as often. That's how baseball is. Hopefully I'll get rewarded."
Even though Vertigan hasn't found the results to match his solid approach, he's done everything asked of him by Christensen.
"He leads our team in walks, so that means he's getting on base," said Beloit's first-year manager. "He's handled left handers fairly well, so it's easy to put him in versus a lefty or righty.
"The best asset to our team would probably be how he's played center field. He's been incredible, with something like 10 diving catches so far. Anything he gives us offensively is a bonus for what he does in center field."
As the Snappers approach the Midwest League All-Star Break, Vertigan's bat has heated up during a seven-game hitting streak in which he's recorded nine hits in 26 at-bats and walked six more times.
Vertigan is being called upon as a hitter to execute in a number of different situations for the Snappers.
"I can do a lot of different things with a runner on first base," Christensen said. "He can hit the hole on the right side. You can a run a hit-and-run, or run a fake steal when the shortstop overcommits and he hits the hole over there.
"As he continues to figure out his stroke and starts to pepper some line drives with consistency, he's going to be a good player."
Prior to being chosen in the 10th round last June, Vertigan played three seasons of college ball – two at Saddleback Junior College and his junior year at UCSB.
He made his pro debut with the Vermont Lake Monsters and produced a 713 OPS over 256 at-bats. Of his 68 hits, 15 went for doubles. The 5'9'' outfielder drew 24 walks and struck out just 31 times, while swiping 12 bags in 17 chances.
After a professional baseball crash course in his first New York/Penn League at-bat, Vertigan said he settled down and played 67 games with the Lake Monsters.
"I went straight to Vermont and the first guy I faced was a righty from Connecticut that threw 98 with dirty stuff, so I was thinking it was going to be tough," Vertigan said.
"I had to adjust. Not everybody throws that hard. Overall, it was a long season after playing college and summer ball. I had a year and a half of no break. I felt I did pretty well and established myself. I want to keep improving every year."
Vertigan went home briefly following short-season ball, but about halfway through the A's Instructional Camp the organization summoned him to Phoenix.
The experience gave him the opportunity to continue building chemistry with draft classmates like John Wooten.
"Most of it was defense and working on my outfield game," he said. "I feel like it did improve. I love these big fields like this, where I can just run around. I trust the two outfielders around me. I've been with Wooten for two years now and we play well together."