As is usually the case in the opening week of the season, Mother Nature was particularly harsh on Beloit and many other teams in the Midwest League. But if there was ever a player adept at handling the harsh conditions, it’s Windsor, Ontario (Canada) native Brett Siddall.
In his first full professional season, the 21-year-old outfielder is feasting on Midwest League pitching to the tune of a .350/.412/.517 slash line. A 13th-round selection in last June’s draft, Siddall settled in at the plate early and has carried it through the month of April. He wrapped up the Snappers’ recent six-game road trip with back-to-back 2-for-5 games in Burlington.
“We had a couple snow storms early, so it was a tough atmosphere to play in,” said Siddall, the son of former major-league catcher and current Toronto Blue Jays' broadcaster Joe Siddall. “I had to get used to the competition, pitching and playing with this new team. It was tough adjusting to that at first, but I feel like once I got into a routine in getting ready for games, I was able to settle in and have a couple good games. I’m hoping to keep it rolling as the season progresses.”
Siddall, a three-year standout at New York’s Canisius University, now has five multi-hit games in his last 10 and has become a steady force in the middle of Beloit’s batting order. Eight of his first 21 hits of the season have gone for extra-base hits. Siddall is also putting the ball in play frequently, striking out only 11 times in 66 plate appearances.
Much of the credit for his fast start was being one of the first to arrive in Mesa ready to work this spring – a good idea for any minor-leaguer preparing for his first full professional season.
“I got down to Arizona a little early,” Siddall said. “I wanted to get to where I wanted to be as quick as I could, so I’d go into the season feeling good instead of still working on things. I feel like I came here with my swing feeling good and body feeling good. That helped me to have a good start and get that confidence going.”
After spending much of his pro debut season with short-season Vermont, Siddall was invited to Oakland’s instructional camp last fall. The experience at Instructs gave Siddall a good foundation heading into the off-season.
“It was about the little things of the game that you don’t think about too much,” he said. “We worked on my swing a little bit to get it where it needs to be. You don’t want to think about things too much going into a game, other than that you’re going to beat that guy and compete against the guy on the mound.”
After Oakland made the 6'1'' outfielder its 13th-round selection last June, the organization assigned him to the A’s Rookie League squad in Arizona. He played 19 games for the AZL A’s and was promoted to short-season Vermont after he feasted on rookie-league pitching to the tune of a .342/.424/.575 slash line. He added 10 extra-base hits and a 10:9 BB:K line.
As with many players going to short-season ball for the first time, Siddall endured some ups-and-downs but finished the season on an up note. He hit .343 with two homers and four walks over his last 10 games. That brought Siddall’s final line with the Lake Monsters up to a respectable .264/.324/.421 over 43 games. Siddall ranked third on the team in doubles and OPS, and he tied for second in homers.
Siddall said the whole experience in Vermont was conducive to him getting established early in his pro career.
“It was a good start,” he said. “I felt like we had a good team to get that going with a bunch of good guys and coaching staff. That atmosphere helped me gain confidence and be comfortable getting my career off on the right foot.
“A lot of guys experience their first struggles when they get to pro ball. It’s dealing with that adversity and failure which is going to help you get through the tough times and hopefully have success as you keep moving forward.”
Although he’s off to the type of start most professional rookies can only dream of, Siddall won’t dwell on it too much and plans to keep the same approach at the plate that’s been successful while also striving to improve on some other facets of his game.
“For me it’s just keeping things simple,” Siddall said. “I get in trouble when I start thinking too much and trying to do too much. I try to keep it to the basics and things I know will help me the most. It’s more of a feel thing than anything, in getting that confidence I need to get results.
“I’m trying to become a complete player in general. I don’t want to just be a guy that can only do one thing. I want to be as valuable as I can to the team. I’m trying to do the little things in batting practice, like getting reads off the bat, base running and being a smarter player. The coaching staff has helped us get off to a good start here.”