Although he wasn't the Oakland A's top pick in 2013, Bobby Wahl was one of the most recognizable names on the A's 2013 draft pick list. The Ole Miss star came into the 2013 season as a potential first-round draft choice. Despite another record-breaking season for the Rebels, Wahl fell in the draft thanks to some concerns about his health.
When the fifth round rolled around, the A's happily scooped up Wahl and paid him an over-slot deal worth $500,000 to bring him to Oakland. Wahl passed all of the team's post-draft physicals and was able to pitch on a regular basis after signing, although he was kept on a short leash.
Wahl made his professional debut with the A's Rookie League club in Arizona, but he was promoted to short-season Vermont after just one outing in the desert. With the Lake Monsters, Wahl dominated over his first eight outings before allowing five runs in 1.1 innings in his last outing of the season. Even with that August 25th appearance, Wahl put together impressive numbers with Vermont. In 20.2 innings, he posted a 3.92 ERA and a 27:6 K:BB ratio. He allowed three homeruns, two of which came in that final outing.
If Wahl is able to stay healthy, he may prove to be one of the biggest steals in the 2013 draft. A consensus top-100 draft prospect coming into this season, Wahl has explosive stuff that includes a mid-90s fastball and a power breaking ball. His change-up can also be a plus pitch at times. He was primarily a starter in college and he went 10-0 with a 2.03 ERA during his final season at Ole Miss. He was the Rebels' go-to Friday night starter and he had a 1.14 ERA against nationally ranked teams this season.
Wahl also found success as a reliever with Team USA last summer. He was used as both a starter and as a reliever in his pro debut season, but that was mostly so the A's could limit Wahl's innings after his long collegiate season. The A's plan to have Wahl in the rotation next year in his first full professional season.
During the Lake Monsters' final roadtrip of the year, Donald Moore caught-up with Wahl to discuss his pro debut, his goals for the season and more…
Donald Moore: How's everything going for you this year in your first season in pro ball?
Bobby Wahl: It's been going great and thank you. You know it's been a lot of fun and the great thing is with the Oakland A's is that it's been such an easy transition. They have done such a good job making the transition from college ball to pro ball very easy. You know you've got great teammates, great coaches, great staff, so it's been nothing but great so far.
DM: What are your goals for this year?
BW: My goal is to come out here and do really well, just feel healthy and kind of get to know everybody in the organization and meet people and put names to faces and everything. I think I've done a pretty good job at that. I'm just trying to be a good teammate to everybody, and get to know all the guys. It's cool to think that the people I meet now, we may move up together and go through the trials and tribulations of pro ball and all that stuff, so I couldn't ask for a better team to be with. It's been great and a lot of fun.
DM: What would you like to improve on?
BW: Good question. I think it's necessary to improve on all aspects, no matter what it is, so whether it be from the physical aspect or mental aspect, or emotional. Just kind of getting better and growing up as a person and trying to get more mature, and kind of realizing what the task of pro ball really is. It really is a job and kind of getting used to that.
DM: What is your greatest strength as a ballplayer?
BW: I'd probably have to say my competitive edge. I feel like every time I take the mound, my goal is to win, no matter what. If I'm doing bad or dealing that day or not, my goal is just out there to win and give the team the best opportunity I can to win the game. I think that's probably my best asset and that I like to have a lot fun with the guys. As a team we have a lot of good personalities so I feel like we mesh really well and the camaraderie we have is big.
DM: Any pregame routines?
BW: Not that I really have established so far, I guess. We kind of go and get some food or something at the concession stand. Grab a hot dog and kind of hang out, talk a little bit, talk about who we are playing and some of the scouting reports of the opposing team. Nothing too crazy or rituals, I guess, just kind of hang out and talk.
DM: Favorite thing you like to do off the field?
BW: [laughs] Right now, it's sleep. If I get time, I'm trying to go to bed. I'd probably say go back to the hotel room and kind of hang out. Doing this we are coming to the ball field pretty early, getting all your work in, from throwing and stuff, being here three hours before the game. When you get your down time you just want to hang out and talk with the guys and watch TV and be kind of mellow.
DM: Favorite team growing up?
BW: I grew up inside the D.C. area, so I grew up an Orioles fan because the Nationals weren't there when I was growing up. Always a big fan of Cal Ripken, but it's obviously changed by now.
DM: Craziest thing you've ever seen on a diamond?
BW: In college we turned a triple play, which was pretty cool. In Little League, I gave up a game-winning home run in the fifth inning when I was 11 years old. I remember that pretty vividly. Probably one of those two, I guess.
DM: If there is one person who taught you the most about baseball, who would that be?
BW: My grandfather growing up. Growing up, my dad was a police officer in the D.C. area and he was working night-shifts and stuff, so during the day, he'd be tired and everything, but me and my grandfather we'd tag her up. I grew up in a house with them, my grandparents and my parents, so during the day, my grandfather introduced baseball to me all the time. I remember when I got my first bat and ball, he brought me out to the backyard and we were playing a little bit. So, I'd probably say him, for sure.
DM: Where do you see yourself five years from now?
BW: Hopefully be pitching for the Oakland Athletics. That's the goal and I think everyone has that goal here. Like I said earlier, this organization is great and I love it so far and I would love to be a part of it. Just got to put in the work and keep working hard and see what happens.
DM: Thank you for time, Bobby and the best of luck to you.
BW: Thank you, very much.