Although the Oakland A’s used their first overall pick in this year’s draft on a position player, the A’s went pitcher-heavy during the rest of the draft. The second pitcher they selected was Missouri right-hander Brett Graves, who went in the third round.
Graves came to the A’s after a solid career at Missou. As a junior, Graves made 14 starts for the Tigers and posted a 3.87 ERA in 93 innings. He only struck-out 64, but he induced a ton of groundballs and walked only 19.
After signing with the A’s, Graves made one appearance with the A’s AZL team before being sent out to Vermont. With the Lake Monsters, Graves made eight appearances (two starts) and threw 21 innings. He posted a 6.86 ERA with Vermont, striking out 18 and walking six. He pitched better than that ERA would indicate, however. Graves’ GO/AO was 2.21 and he had a 53.6% groundball rate. His BABIP was an unlucky .343 and his FIP with Vermont was 3.10.
The 5’11’’ Graves is built similarly to current A’s starter Sonny Gray. Like Gray, Graves relies on a heavy sinker. Graves doesn’t quite have Gray’s consistent velocity, but his fastball has been clocked as high 96 and generally sits 90-93. He also has a promising slider and a developing change-up.
Graves is currently in Arizona participating in the A’s fall Instructional League camp. Donald Moore caught-up with Graves during the Lake Monsters’ final roadtrip to discuss his pro debut season and more…
Brett Graves at Missouri
Donald Moore: How has is everything going for you this year?
Brett Graves: Pretty good. I feel like I am learning a lot. I enjoy being here. I’m just getting used to playing everyday and all that, so it's been good.
DM: What are your goals for this season?
BG: Just to finish strong. We really don't have a lot of time left here and finish strong and learn as much as I can.
DM: What do you feel is your greatest strength as a ballplayer?
BG: I feel like I'm pretty disciplined. I like to have a schedule of things and I kind of stick to that, so I really don't stray far from it. I feel that is a pretty good strength to have.
DM: What would you'd like to improve on?
BG: Just being more consistent and probably the mental side of the game. I think as you get higher up, it becomes a whole lot more important and I'm kind of seeing that right now, so I think that is probably one of the bigger things.
DM: How are you adjusting to pro ball?
BG: Pretty good. I'm just getting used to traveling everyday, like I said, it's the only real difference. Other than that, it is really the same game. I'm just trying to refine some things and be more consistent and keep working.
DM: What's the best thing about being a professional baseball player?
BG: Getting paid to do what I love to do. And that being my job. It's always been a dream of mine. Doing what I've been doing the last how many years, but it being my job now, that's pretty cool.
DM: Any pregame routine?
BG: Oh yeah, I do a lot of crazy stuff. Well not really crazy, but I do a lot of stuff. I wear the same socks and wear the same whatever, eat the same stuff, and all kinds of stuff like that.
DM: Favorite thing you like to do off the field?
BG: I like to deer hunt. That is what my off-season consists of most of the time. That, and watching football. I'm a big football fan.
DM: Favorite team growing up?
BG: 100 percent Cardinals.
DM: If there is one person who taught you the most about baseball, who would that be?
BG: My dad, for sure. My dad has been a huge role model in my life and baseball life, for sure. He was my coach growing up and then at college, anytime I needed him when I was struggling, or when I was doing good, he'd pat me on the back or kick me in the butt or whatever I needed. He knew when that was and he has been the one who has been most constant in my baseball career and my development. I always trust his opinion and go to him for small adjustments or what he thinks in general.
DM: Do you feel any pressure being a high draft pick for the Oakland A's?
BG: I think with something like that, it comes with respect, too. I look at it as more of a respect thing than a pressure thing. I feel honored to be in that situation and I know that comes with higher expectations, but I'm going to do everything I can to live up to that. I think it all depends on how you look at it.
DM: Craziest thing you have ever seen on a baseball diamond?
BG: The craziest thing that ever happened to me was getting hit in the head at Old Miss this year. I was going to warm up and got hit with by an errant throw. Everybody said they have not seen that before. That's the craziest thing that has ever happened to me.
DM: Where do see yourself within a few years concerning your baseball career?
BG: Hopefully pitching in the big leagues, that would be my ultimate goal, right?
DM: Brett, thank you for your time and all the best to you and your baseball career.
BG: Thank you, I really appreciate it.