Word on the (Huston) Street

"Wow, that's a question I haven't gotten," Huston Street thinks about it...for awhile...and then smiles, "I really don't know if I've ever played on a losing team." He chuckles. "My high school team won a lot, we were really good at UT, and we're winning here." Street, the super stud closer at the University of Texas, is now probably the hottest prospect on the Phoenix Desert Dogs, the first place team in the Arizona Fall League.

In 25 innings this past season split between Sacramento, Midland, and Kane County Street gave up four earned runs. That's a 1.60 ERA. In 17.1 innings in the Arizona Fall League he's given up one run, that's a 0.52 ERA. The three minor league stops yielded 30 strikeouts and only eight walks. The AFL has produced 18 Ks and only two walks. This kid is the real deal in spades.

Two other Oakland prospects have what might be the best view of Street, they catch him. Says Jeremy Brown, "He just has a real good idea of what he wants to do."

John Baker has more to say, "We treat him like he's our little brother, because he's young and maybe a little naive in the clubhouse, but as soon as he steps between the lines that completely changes. He's an incredible competitor. Even when he's in the dugout he's always up on the front step watching the other team's hitters, and he'll turn to Jeremy and I and say things like, 'His bat looks slow, maybe we can get him with fastballs inside,' and asking us questions about guys we've seen and he hasn't. So even though he hasn't seen a lot of guys as far as pitching to them, he's watching the hitters and how they are swinging that day."

Baker sums it up pretty clearly, "I'm confident he'll be on the A's next year."

When I inform the catching tandem that Street gives a lot of the credit for his AFL success to Baker and Brown they shake their heads. Brown takes this one, "His stuff makes it real easy to call a game. He doesn't have a bad pitch, even his changeup is already pretty good."

That changeup has been the focus of Street's time in the AFL, the Oakland organization gives every young pitcher a changeup along with a uniform and a hat. It is working for the A's, who have a history of developing pitching. For Street that was a huge plus when he was drafted.

"Oakland likes to promote from within. They have to because they are a small market team, but they are also playoff contenders every year. How can you go wrong with that?" Street can't stop smiling when he talks about the organization.

"The team has also been so supportive. After I was drafted I got to go to meet the big league team, and every guy came up and introduced themselves to me. These are big league baseball players, they don't have to talk to me, but all the guys were shaking my hand and saying, 'Hi.' Everything has just been perfect so far."

Baker isn't the only one who sees Street in the big leagues next year, after rocketing to AAA last year he seems almost a shoo-in to be on the A's, the only question will be if he's given the closer's role right away.

Street doesn't worry, "Billy Beane is the man because he knows talent. He'll know when I'm ready. My job is to take care of my own business. If I make the team that's great, but if I go back to the minors, I know there's a reason."

"Chris Shelton is great, and I've played with Omar (Quintanilla) before, man, I don't know where to start." Street is talking about the players in the AFL that have impressed him, "There are so many good ballplayers down here." Anybody in particular who has hit you?

"Oh, that would be Ian."

Texas Rangers prospect Ian Kinsler can say something no one else in the league can say, he's got Huston Street's number.

"I saw him in college, and he hit me there, and I've faced him four times down here and he's gotten four hits off me, so I've gotta figure him out."

The winning ways continue for Huston Street. The Desert Dogs are in first, Street is dominating, and when he joins the A's it seems likely the winning trend will continue. Maybe the biggest compliment Street can get came from Erik Bennett, Street's pitching coach on the Desert Dogs and a member of the Anaheim Angels organization.

"He's on my list of guys we're going to try to pick up." Bennett smiles.

James Renwick is the Senior Editor of FutureBacks.com, a website focusing on the Arizona Diamondbacks. He has been covering the Arizona Fall League for Scout.com.

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