A's Prospects Preparing for 2015

A big part of every minor leaguer's off-season is devoted to preparation for the upcoming season. Learn how several Oakland A's prospects are getting ready for 2015 in part three of Kimberly Contreras' look at the off-seasons for several A's minor league prospects.

Click here for part one of this series.
Click here for part two of this series.

Did Anything “Big” Happen (wedding, baby, new house, etc.) this Off-Season?

Drew Granier: “I made my first big purchase right before Christmas I bought myself a Jeep Patriot. I'm enjoying it so far just not looking forward to the note.”

Jon Massad: “Not too many "big" things have happened. I have just been trying to get my work in every day and so far the offseason has been pretty repetitive. I like it though. I think it is easier to stay focused.”

Boog Powell:Pre 1/10/15 (day of trade) answer: No big plans really before Spring Training, just excited to have the opportunity to go to big league camp for spring training.

How Boog, who was in Arizona at the time, learned he had been traded to the Tampa Bay Rays:

“David Forst of the A's called me and told me.” KC: What time did Forst call you? “He woke me up with the call at 10:30am.”

Joey Bennie: “Nothing big has really happened this offseason besides starting my own business in the Baseball Academy. It’s been the usual offseason, with a lot of working out and visiting family.”

A.J. Burke: “Nothing really cool happening before I leave for spring training… Kind of hoping that Aubrey will take her first steps before I head out on March 7th. She will be nine months old by the time I leave and I hope I get to see her take her first steps.”

Heath Fillmyer: “Nothing out of the ordinary has happened since the offseason! Wish I had something exciting for you!”

Chad Pinder: “Nothing too big other than the move to Charleston.”

Rob Huber: “My 23rd birthday is on January 8th, only a few days away.”

Derek Beasley: “While all my friends are getting engaged, I am trying to work on my golf game. It is not much of a skill giving my playing ability, but I do like to play when I can.”

Daniel Robertson: Saturday morning, January 10th: Despite great efforts made by Oakland’s Assistant GM, David Forst, to contact Daniel by phone to personally inform him that he was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays, Daniel learned about it via social media. But there’s a valid reason why…. Daniel lost his phone while on vacation with his family in Mexico over New Year’s. He ordered a replacement, and It is on back order. Still.

On the morning of the trade, Julie Robertson received a call by her son’s agent who was trying to reach Daniel – and only Daniel. They would not disclose any information, but Julie knew it must be important so she resorted to a method used long ago, after smoke signals and before cell phones: she called around looking for her son. The first call made was to Daniel’s training home, PFA (Performance For Athletes) and that’s where she learned her son was no longer a member of the Oakland A’s.

J.P. Sportman: “HAHA nothing big happened for me this offseason, same old J.P; just relaxing and hanging out in the cold of NY.”

Cody Stull: “Nothing to exciting will be happening before I report.”

Max Kuhn: “My family recently added a new member as Mom adopted a new puppy – sort of a mutt- named Amelia. We’re a big dog family so we treat our dogs as if they’re people.”

John Nogowski: “Nothing too big has happened. This one is kinda scary! No kids or marriage or a house yet.”

Seth Frankoff: “The only thing I want to happen the rest of my offseason is to spend time with loved ones and enjoying all of the great cuisine my home state has to offer, I've had plenty of excitement and travel for the offseason already.”

Ryan Dull: “Nothing really big has happened except for being a part of my friend's wedding.”

Daniel Gossett: “I picked up reading as a diligent habit!”

Bobby Wahl: “My fiancée and I have been working on planning our wedding, which has been fun. We will be getting married on New Year’s Eve this year [2015].”

Tyler Painton: “I must say the biggest thing was the baby being born into the family! I don't know if any news can be bigger than a new family member.”

Josh Miller: “I quit tobacco!!”

Dillon Overton: “The biggest thing that happened for me this offseason was that I got married to the woman of my dreams. We met in our freshman year of college and it just went from there. We got married in October, so it's been really nice being able to spend time with my wife before I leave for spring training.”

Dom Vattuone: “I became an Uncle! My older sister had her first baby. Aside from that I also signed a one-year contract with 44 Pro Gloves for the upcoming season.”

Chris Lamb: “No new babies, wives or houses this off-season. I’m just enjoying the fabulous ride that is professional baseball.”

Ryan Mathews' finacee Morgan

Ryan Mathews: “Something big certainly did happen! On October 3rd I got engaged to my now fiancée, Morgan. I proposed on a baseball field and Trinity Bat Co came through big for me on making her a custom bat that asked if she would marry me. We're getting married on January 31st and she will be coming with me to spring training and to wherever I'm assigned. I really couldn't be more excited!”

Nick Rickles: “I will be able to start hitting next week so that's definitely something "big" I've been looking forward to for a very long time.”

Favorite Part of 2014?

Drew Granier: “One of my favorite things from 2014 was wining the Texas League championship! That was exciting and my first ever championship of any kind at any level.”

Jon Massad: “My favorite thing from 2014 was having a good season in Vermont. I feel I developed and had some great times with the team for those few months we had together. We had a great group of guys that made it a memorable summer.”

Boog Powell: “My favorite thing of 2014 was probably just being a part of the Arizona Fall League. It was an amazing opportunity and awesome meeting all the guys from the different organizations.”

Joey Bennie: “My favorite thing from 2014 was being selected to and attending the NYPL All-Star Game. Even though injury prevented me from participating in the game, It was a huge honor to be selected to play with the NYPL’s best players and being a part of all of the festivities in Brooklyn was amazing.”

A.J. Burke: “My favorite part of 2014 was being able to go to Vermont and play with a great group of guys. It was definitely one of my most enjoyable baseball seasons ever.”

Heath Fillmyer: “Favorite thing from 2014! Extremely difficult! I would have to say the experience of The Junior College World Series!”

Chad Pinder: “My favorite thing of 2014 was the relationships I made while in Stockton.”

Rob Huber: “Graduating from Duke University in 4 years and getting drafted to get the chance to play professional baseball. 2014 was an incredible year for me.”

Derek Beasley: “My favorite thing in 2014 was definitely getting drafted. I have always wanted a chance to play professionally, and I am very blessed to have the opportunity in the Athletics organization.”

Daniel Robertson: “Playing with a tremendous group of guys and coaches in Stockton and experiencing the Arizona Fall League.”

J.P. Sportman: “Favorite thing from 2014 has to be getting drafted by Oakland. Baseball is my life and I’m so fortunate that they have given me a chance to show what I can do.”

Cody Stull: “Let’s start with getting drafted, every little ball player’s dream. Then meeting players from various levels of the Athletics organization.”

Max Kuhn: “My favorite time of 2014 is when the A’s selected me in the 2014 draft. I haven’t even been with the organization for a year but it is just full of great players, coaches, and even better people. I am absolutely pumped to be an A!”

John Nogowski: “Hard to narrow it down to one thing. 2014 as a whole was just an incredible journey. Getting drafted, signing, playing professional baseball. Truly an unbelievable year.”

Seth Frankoff: “My favorite part of 2014 was having the opportunity to play the game I love and pursue my dream with my wife (and dog) by my side.”

Ryan Dull: “My favorite thing from 2014 was winning the Texas League Championship.”

Daniel Gossett: “My favorite thing from 2014 was being drafted to the A’s no doubt.”

Bobby Wahl: “Getting engaged!”

Tyler Painton: “Being signed by the A's in 2014 was a huge accomplishment! I learned a lot about myself as a person in 2014 both good and bad. I think learning those things were some great moments to better prepare me for not only my baseball career, but for life as well.”

Josh Miller: “2014 was kind of a bummer in terms of baseball. I got hurt in spring training and never saw the field so no big highlights there.”

Dillon Overton: “My favorite thing from 2014 was finally getting out of my arm rehab and pitching in games again. The rehab process is long and it's a grind, but having to go through something like that really makes you appreciate the game of baseball a lot more.”

Dom Vattuone: “My favorite thing from 2014 was coming back to extended from Beloit. Even though I did get moved down, it was for a reason. The organization had heard from my scout that he’d seen me pitch from this slot before. They met and came to the conclusion that this would be my journey. With that being said, after hearing my new vision and goals, I was nothing but excited and ready to get to work. I believe everything happens for a reason. After getting my mechanics down and understanding being a sidewinder, I was able to be very successful in Vermont. It was a good transition and cannot wait for Spring Training to get here.”

Chris Lamb: “My favorite moment in 2014 was clinching a berth in the California League Playoffs. Minor league baseball can be such an individual game at times that it is really nice when you can come together with your teammates and celebrate a group accomplishment.”

Ryan Mathews: “My favorite thing from 2014 is definitely getting engaged. I could write pages about why but then again I guess that's why I'm marrying her ;)”

Nick Rickles: “2014 was probably one of the worst years I've had. Unfortunately, I got hurt in February and had surgery May 5th. I haven't played in a baseball game in over a year. However, I have to say the best part of my 2014 were the three main lessons I learned. Including: 1) You can't worry about the things you can't control but what you can worry about is how hard you work; and 2) I'm not alone in this; there are so many people that are with me day to day, and 3) Most of all, how important a positive mindset in negative situations can be. Looking forward to 2015!”

What Have You Done to Prepare for Spring Training and the Upcoming Season?

Drew Granier: “I've been reading a book called Mind Gym. It touches on everything to do with the mental part of the game. I’m about to start throwing again and working on my command. Just going to focus on not being so fine or always wanting a swing and miss. Try and force more contact while still being aggressive in the zone.”

Jon Massad: “Well I haven't started throwing yet so I have been really focusing on getting in the best physical shape possible before heading to Arizona. Eating right and getting to the gym everyday has been really important. Staying healthy is the biggest goal so that has been my main focus.”

Boog Powell: “The thing I'm working on most right now before spring training is probably my bat speed.”

Joey Bennie: “I have really focused on my flexibility and speed this offseason. I feel like I have the ability to steal some bases but needed to improve my explosion and first step. Hopefully this season my hard work will lead to a lot more stolen bases. “

A.J. Burke: “The biggest thing I have done to work on my game this offseason has been working on my mentality. I think I have done a lot of growing up since I first was drafted by the A’s and it has helped me a lot when things don’t go my way on the field. Mental toughness is a big key to being successful in this game.”

Heath Fillmyer: “I believe every day you can work on something to make yourself better, whether it's mental preparation or physical training! Working on ways to make myself better is a reacquiring cycle in my everyday life! The better I do that, the more help I can bring to my team and organization!”

Chad Pinder: “Continued focus on my footwork and fielding at second base, while maintaining skills on the left side of the diamond.”

Rob Huber: “Besides following the workouts and throwing programs, I have been doing a lot of shadow/ dry drills to start the muscle memory process of my new mechanics. I changed pretty much everything in Instructs so I don't want to have to relearn them all over again!”

Derek Beasley: “I was very blessed to get an invitation to Instructs. I worked with Emo [Scott Emerson] and the other coaches to polish my mechanics and work on improving my knowledge of pitching as a whole. In the offseason, I’ve worked on cleaning up my mechanics so I can be more efficient. Also I’ve been working out at USC Aiken with the guys I was drafted with in college. We are a family in Aiken, and are always pushing each other to get better.”

Daniel Robertson: “In the weight room, working out at PFA (Performance Athletes) with a plan of what I want to improve. I have the honor to be close to and to work / tune-up with [scout and Double A Midland RockHounds new hitting coach] Eric Martins. We also work on my fielding, and getting in my swings so that I can report to spring training healthy and in good shape.”

J.P. Sportman: “Basically my main focus this offseason was to round out my game as much as possible. Got myself in the weight room to become bigger and stronger. I’ve also worked with my speed and agility trainer, as I have for the past couple of years to continue to get quicker/faster.”

Cody Stull: “I have been reading books and articles to help improve on my mental approach to the game.”

Max Kuhn: “This off-season I have worked a lot on catching because I am new to it but I have been fortunate to have a lot of professional pitchers at UK to catch. I love to hit so I spend a lot of time in the cage. I have also spent a ton of time working out and conditioning so that my body is ready for the 2015 season.”

John Nogowski: “I have really changed my diet. I've been working to really lean up and become faster. I've tried to really increase my strength without losing flexibility and quickness. I take a lot of pride in my defensive skills so I make sure to do plenty of agility work. Playing first base, the evaluation of my hit-for-power tool will always be there. I hope to see the results my strength-work pay off in my power numbers during my first, full season as a professional.”

Seth Frankoff: “I have spent a great deal of my offseason working on conditioning and being in the weight room. But I think the most valuable part of my offseason was playing winter ball, especially Venezuela where every game is an unbelievable crowd and atmosphere, which hopefully will prepare me for pitching in the big leagues one day, if I am fortunate enough.”

Ryan Dull: “This offseason has been my first full one and it has been nice and relaxing. It has given me the chance to fully rest and recover from the season. I have been working on coming back in the best shape I've been in, so far. I am also working my line to the plate. [Don] Schulze and I changed my line to the plate back in May and I have been working on becoming more and more comfortable with the change.”

Daniel Gossett: “Weight room training and staying in shape are the biggest things I have done to prepare. I am going to work on my breaking ball when I am allowed to so that I can sharpen it and have another pitch to work with. “

Bobby Wahl: “I have been making sure I am healthy and in the best shape I can be coming into spring training. It's nice that this is my second go around, so I sort of know how to prepare for spring training.”

Tyler Painton: “I have put a big emphasis this off-season on the mental side of the game. I have been reading a few books that sort of give you a different perspective on the game and letting things go after they happen. Baseball is a game of failure and can be draining at times, but if you let the bad things go and learn from them then I believe you will see yourself succeed a bit more.”

Josh Miller: “Biggest thing I'm working in is getting healthy again.”

Dillon Overton: “Well, the thing I've worked on most has been to be mentally prepared, along with all the physical work, as well. But knowing I'll be gone for so long; trying to fulfill a dream of mine, being mentally prepared is a huge aspect of the game of baseball. Not only mental preparation, but mental toughness also.”

Dom Vattuone: “Just working on my approach from this angle. Studying videos of different sidewinders, reading articles, etc. With this arm slot, it is a new way of pitching. I am confidant and looking to break through and move up through our organization.”

Chris Lamb: “My focus in training this off-season has been on strength, balance, and stability. This will give me better control of my body during my delivery and improve all aspects of my pitching.”

Ryan Mathews: “I've been working a lot on my flexibility and also quieting down my load and swing. My hips have always been very tight and my overall flexibility has never been great so it's been something I've really been working hard to get that better.”

Nick Rickles: “I have done nothing but work on getting my shoulder healthy and my body in the best shape possible for this upcoming year. Monday through Friday is hard work at rehab and weight training to get ready for this year!”

What Are You Looking Forward to most in 2015?

Drew Granier: “I'm looking forward to hopefully another healthy season I've been fortunate enough to squeeze by with great health. I hope to just compete for a spot whether it be in AA/AAA, ultimately leading to the big leagues.”

Jon Massad: “For 2015 I just want to keep improving. Staying healthy and working on pitching is the biggest thing for me. Not worrying about things I can't control and getting my work in everyday will make that happen.”

Boog Powell: “The thing I'm looking forward to most in 2015 is just another adventure. As much as I hate being away from my family, I love traveling and love being able to play the game I love, everyday.”

Joey Bennie: “In 2015 I am looking most forward to competing on the baseball field again no matter what level that may be. I live to play this game and playing professional baseball is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I can’t wait to show everybody what I am capable of doing on the field, everyday.”

A.J. Burke: “The thing I am looking forward to most in 2015 is the opportunity to participate in my first spring training.”

Heath Fillmyer: “Looking forward to what my future holds in baseball!”

Chad Pinder: “I look forward to continuing to develop in baseball in 2015, as well as continuing to create and build-on the relationships I’ve made this past year.”

Rob Huber: “2015 will bring large strides in the minors for me. I did not get a great start to professional ball in 2014 but ended very strong. I can't wait to get back on the mound and compete.”

Derek Beasley: “In 2015 I am definitely excited to see which team I will be on. My first time on a plane was when I was drafted, so I am excited to see new places.”

Daniel Robertson: “Continue to play the game that I love and to improve each day.”

J.P. Sportman: “Definitely looking forward to Spring Training 2015! My Dad used to take me on trips to Florida to see the Yankees, Astros, Tigers and Mets spring training complexes when I was a little kid. To think that I’m going to have to opportunity to be like those guys I looked up to when I was that young is pretty cool to me!”

Cody Stull: “Playing baseball and experiencing my first Spring Training and having the opportunity to improve my game.”

Max Kuhn: “There is a lot to look forward to in 2015 but the goal is to have a good spring training and make a full season team. From there I hope to have a very good season and continue progressing as a baseball player.”

John Nogowski: “To experience my first full season, hopefully with a full-season team, and all of the ups and downs that come with playing 142 ball games. I'm excited to see what comes of the work I put in during my first off season and honestly I'm just excited to start playing ball again. I'm excited to compete again. There's nothing I love more than winning baseball games.”

Seth Frankoff: “In 2015 I am looking forward to continuing to go be given the opportunity to compete on the mound and hopefully earn a chance to a) be called up to the big leagues and b) stay in the big leagues.”

Ryan Dull: “In 2015, I'm looking forward to getting back to work with my teammates and to keep winning. I am looking forward to seeing where the work I've put in this offseason takes me.”

Daniel Gossett: “The thing I’m looking forward to the most is going through spring training and a full season of professional baseball.”

Bobby Wahl: “Getting the season going and having a healthy year.”

Tyler Painton: “In 2015, I must say I am most excited for this upcoming season. After a shaky start to my professional career with some bad outings and coming down with Mononucleosis; it was not the impression I wanted to give the organization. So, I am ready to get back out there and truly prove what I can do.”

Josh Miller: “Being able to play an inning of baseball is the biggest goal for me this year.”

Dillon Overton: “I'm most looking forward to just getting back on the mound and competing with other guys. It's in my blood and that’s what I strive for is to compete. It's gonna be a fun season.”

Dom Vattuone: “I am looking forward to continuing the success from this past season. I finished the season in a good place and would like to carry that over in to 2015. Just continuing to be the pitcher and person that I am. Work hard each day and master my craft.”

Chris Lamb: “Strikeouts!”

Ryan Mathews: “I'm really looking forward to what God has planned for 2015. Morgan and I really looking forward to the adventure of being married in the minor leagues and whatever this next season brings. We hope to be a blessing wherever we are placed.”


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