Photo by Bill Seals

A's White Learning from First Pro Struggles

Mikey White's time in the Midwest League wasn't easy, but the Oakland A's 2015 second-round pick learned from the experience.

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA - Mikey White began his pro career red-hot, blitzing the New York-Penn League over a month-long period. The Oakland A's 2015 second-round pick earned a quick promotion to Low-A Beloit, where he took over as the Snappers' everyday shortstop in the quake of Yairo Munoz's promotion to High-A Stockton. That transition didn't go as smoothly as his first jump from pro ball to short-season.

After a nasty slump that saw him record just three hits in his first 40 Midwest League at-bats, the Alabama product showed signs of life during the season’s final weeks. White has hit safely in seven of his last nine games, and he hit .241 in seven games in September after batting just .202 in August. He finished his stint with the Snappers with a .200/.283/.262 line in 35 games.

White says that the Midwest League pitchers approached him differently than the hurlers in the New York-Penn League.

“They’re just mixing it up,” White said of the pitchers he’s faced with Beloit. “In Vermont, pitchers were throwing a lot more fastballs and here that’s not necessarily the case. Guys aren’t just trying to blow you away because everybody is good up here.

“They have scouting reports and mix it up on you. At the same time, I need to improve my pitch selectivity. I’ve been chasing some pitches and it’s getting me behind in counts and getting me out. I need to find my pitch and drive it.”

White was doing plenty of that with Vermont, as he posted a .315/.405/.459 in his first 29 professional games. He drew 14 walks and struck out 29 times in 111 at-bats with the Lake Monsters.

While with Vermont, White played a lot of second base alongside A's 2015 top pick and fellow shortstop Richie Martin. When Franklin Barreto went down with a wrist injury with Stockton, it gave the A's a chance to move up Munoz and separate White and Martin a level. White says he prefers playing shortstop.

“I felt like I was playing really well in Vermont and was embracing that challenge and doing really well with it,” White said. “That’s probably part of the reason I moved up to Beloit, to give me a new challenge to push myself with.”

Although he’s had his fair share of struggles at the plate with the Snappers, White has shown signs that he can make the necessary adjustments. Beloit’s hitting coach Lloyd Turner is looking beyond the stat sheet in measuring the young shortstop’s progress.

“I think for a lot of guys coming out of college, fresh into minor league baseball, it is kind of up and down whether they’re going to have success or not,” Turner said. “He went to Vermont and had some success, which allowed him to be promoted here to us to help us out.

“He’s hit a little road block, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a good ballplayer. You see the way he plays defense, his actions and the way he handles his failures at the plate. You look at those types of things in a player’s development and see this guy’s going to be OK. I like him as a ballplayer and think he will do some good things.”

White performed well over the spring at Alabama, leading the Crimson Tide in a number of categories, including batting average (.339), runs scored (48), doubles (19), triples (six), walks (31), slugging percentage (.537) and on-base percentage (.444).

Since he was a draft-eligible junior, White had the option of returning to the college ranks to help the Crimson Tide in 2016, but that was never a consideration and he hasn’t regretted his decision to turn pro.

“I wanted to win a national championship, but I felt like I did everything I wanted to do in college,” White said. “I grew up and matured. Part of the reason I didn’t come out in high school was because I felt like I needed to mature and grow up. I felt I did that and was ready to begin my pro career. I’m just having fun and enjoying this first year. I’m embracing this experience of playing professional baseball and playing my game.”

As with many of Oakland’s top draft picks this year, White will head to the A's fall Instructional league in Arizona later this month to get more hands-on coaching. He could return to Beloit next season, although a good instructs and spring training could allow him to jump a level to Stockton.

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