After spending two seasons playing a limited role in the South Carolina bullpen, Joel Seddon had a break out season this spring as a junior and could have been tempted to return as the team's closer for his senior year. But his mind was made up when the Oakland A's – an organization with a history of developing pitchers – chose him in the 11th round and offered him a reasonable signing bonus.
Seddon signed just two days after being drafted by the A's, and after a brief cameo in the Arizona Rookie League, was given an aggressive first assignment with the full-season Beloit Snappers.
"I just try to go out there and throw strikes" - Joel Seddon
"I had heard a lot from scouts right before the draft, just feeling me out to see if I would sign," Seddon said. "I was pretty confident that I would sign and get started with my career. The 11th-round rolled around and I saw my name pop up with the Oakland Athletics. I knew I kind of wanted to come to this organization, especially because they develop pitchers so well.
"We kind of agreed on what my number was going to be, so [the scout] asked if they took me here if I would take it and I said 'yes.' Right when I was selected, I knew I was going to sign. There wasn't much negotiation and I was ready to get started."
One of two members of the 2014 draft class promoted earlier this week, Seddon made his Snappers' debut at Burlington on Wednesday night and pitched one scoreless inning, allowing one base hit and striking out one. It was Seddon's second professional appearance, as he appeared in one game with the AZL A's and allowed one run on one hit with four strikeouts and two walks in a pair of innings. Seddon added another scoreless inning of work for the Snappers on Saturday night.
"I just try to go out there and throw strikes," he said. "They preach that [in Arizona] – living in the zone and throwing strikes while keeping the ball down. I tried not to do too much and overlook the situation. I didn't want to get too hyped up.
"I also got a lot of work off to the side with the pitching guys in Arizona. I got some sim(ulated) game work and then I finally got out there on the mound to pitch a few games. It was fun to make my professional debut and get it started."
The 6-foot right-hander posted impressive numbers during his third year in the Gamecocks' program, finishing with a 3-2 record and a 1.66 ERA in 48.2 innings. The second-team All-SEC hurler pitched in 27 games and tallied 14 saves, allowing just nine earned runs on 37 hits. He posted an impressive 59:12 K:BB ratio and opponents hit .213 against him.
"My first two years I didn't get too many innings and didn't have a defined role," Seddon said. "I just kind of went in randomly and got a few starts and relieved a little bit. Last year we were a little short in the bullpen, so I took over the closer's role to start the season and it worked out. I went from there and had a pretty good year."
After experiencing college baseball at its highest level in the SEC, Seddon is confident he'll be ready for the rigors of the Midwest League.
"I think it was great, especially the first two years there," he said. "I didn't pitch as much and got to soak it all in and learn from guys above me. Last year I got to go out and close some games with 8,000 fans in the stands cheering. That was a great experience, so coming in here kind of levels me out a little bit and I'm not too anxious or nervous."
Although he didn't pitch a lot of innings this spring and has the arsenal of pitches to be a starter, Seddon will apparently remain in the bullpen this summer for Beloit.
"That's where he'll be for us to begin with," Beloit manager Rick Magnante said. "He'll stay in that role and we'll kind of let the butterflies settle a little bit."
Seddon currently throws two- and four-seam fastballs that top out between 90 and 92 MPH, to go along with a curveball, change-up and slider.
"As a closer, I didn't really have the most overpowering velocity," he said. "I have good movement on my fastball, and then I have a good curveball and the put-away slider is probably my go-to pitch with two strikes. I also have a change-up that I like to throw a lot, because it gets good movement down and away from lefties."