East Bay native James Terrell got to live every kid's dream last season when he heard his name called in the MLB draft by the team he grew up rooting for. Terrell went to the Oakland A's in the 11th round last season after a standout senior season at St. Patrick - St. Vincent High School in Vallejo. Terrell was limited by injuries during his pro debut season, appearing in only 21 games for the AZL A's.
This season, Terrell spent the first half of the year at Extended Spring Training. When that season ended, he went east to Vermont as part of the Lake Monsters' Opening Day roster. Terrell appeared in 26 games for the Lake Monsters. He batted .220/.268/.275 and connected on his first professional homerun. On August 6, the A's sent Terrell back to Arizona and he finished the season in the AZL. He got off to a fast start, but a late slump dropped his batting average from .286 to .200. He collected seven extra-base hits in 14 games for the AZL A's and posted a .420 SLG.
Terrell won't turn 20 until January. He is one of the fastest players in the A's system and will be a candidate to jump to full-season ball next year. Donald Moore spoke with Terrell in late July when Terrell was with Vermont about his transition to pro ball, his background as an A's fan and more...
Donald More: Hi James, how is everything going so far for you this season?
James Terrell: Pretty good, pretty good. Trying to get it done, trying to make it to the playoffs this year and trying to develop as a team.
DM: What are your goals for this year?
JT: My goal is to develop closer to my ultimate goals, and that is to make it to the major leagues. I want to become a more mature baseball player. I'm only 19, so it's kind of hard, but being around all these older guys, you learn a lot of things and with our coaching staff, most of them know how it goes with the young guys. They have been here for a while, so it's pretty good learning from them and absorbing what they can teach me.
DM: What do you feel is your greatest strength as a ballplayer?
JT: My speed, for sure. Defense is pretty solid right now and hopefully I'll turn up the hitting a little bit, but my speed and defense
is pretty solid.
DM: What would you'd like to improve on?
JT- Hitting, a lot. More contact. That falls in the category of becoming a more disciplined and mature baseball player. I want to become better in that area.
DM: It's your second year playing professional baseball. How are you acclimating to the New York-Penn league this year?
JT: I like it a lot. I kind of knew what to expect because my dad played [outfielder James Terrell]. He played for the Seattle Mariners, and he played all the way up to High-A ball. I'm the third. He played and taught me almost everything about what is going on right now, so it's pretty fun. It is just exactly what I thought it was going to be like.
DM: What is the best thing about being a professional athlete?
JT: For me, it's playing for my favorite organization. I grew up an A's fan. I'm from Vallejo, California, which is about a half an hour from the Oakland Coliseum, so I used to go to the stadium a lot. Another thing is just learning and meeting all these new, great baseball players. That is really fun.
DM: What is the hardest thing about being a pro baseball player?
JT: That's a good question. Long bus rides, trying to sleep at night. The earliest I sleep is at two AM, but if I just can't it will be just like 5 AM. That is the hardest part.
DM: Any pre game routines?
JT: I listen to music. I listen to a lot of Bay Area music, such as Mac Dre, and rappers like that. And today I am starting something new, eating watermelon. I'm getting hydrated and not crushing the water or Gatorade, so I can leave some for the team.
DM: If there is one person that taught you the most about baseball, who would that be?
JT: That would be my father. He taught me everything about baseball. When I was young, he didn't know anything but pro ball, he didn't teach me little league stuff, right off the bat, it was knob to the ball, not a long swing. Make contact.
DM: Craziest thing you have ever seen on a baseball diamond?
JT: I was at an A's game, A's versus Yankees, and Mark Teixeira was batting left-handed and he hit it down the left field line and he tried to run out it for a triple. We were all like, what? He was gunned down by a mile.
DM: Any off-season plans?
JT: I plan on going to Hawaii with my girlfriend , a lot of LA trips. I have a lot of friends and family in LA and I work out with Gary Pettis for about a week or two. He's the third base coach for the Astros. So I work out with him, sharpen my outfield skills and a little bit of hitting. I know his brother, so that is how I met him.
DM: Thank you so much for your time and the best of luck to you and your career.
JT: I appreciate it and thank you.