A's Prospect Interview: Chad Boyd

With a .364 average in 52 games for Class-A Kane County, Chad Boyd is having one the most impressive seasons at the plate for any A's prospect by any standards. The outfielder's journey got off on a rocky path this season, as he began 2006 in Extended Spring Training nursing a knee injury that would keep him on the shelf until mid-June.

When short-season play began, the 21-year-old Boyd went to Class Low-A Vancouver in the Northwest League and appeared in five games, a quick test lap around the A's minor league racetrack before the promotion to Kane County.

Since joining the Cougars, Boyd has been the top cog atop the Kane County lineup. He has a .418 on-base percentage and almost as many walks (20) as he has strikeouts (21). We visited with the former ninth-round pick from 2004 and got to the bottom of the success he's having in what is easily his best year yet.

Oakland Clubhouse: You missed the first two months with a knee injury. What all can you tell us about it?

Chad Boyd: There was some tendonitis in my right knee. It was just some nagging little pain that wouldn't go away. I did some exercises and stretched every day. I took time out of my day every day to stretch, especially right before I went to bed. That was the key to me getting healthy and I feel really good right now. I keep sticking with what works and haven't felt any sign of pain in the last few months. I'm completely past it and have forgotten about it.

OC: Obviously a lot of people are paying attention to your average, but your OBP is as good as there is just about anywhere. Was the walk philosophy something you had to pick up once you got here, or did it extend all the way back through high school?

Boyd: I think it's something I've always done. When Oakland goes to draft players, they don't do so hoping they can turn something around. They draft you because of what you do and where you're already at. That's a good thing for us – knowing the strike zone. It should be like that for every organization. Even in high school, I was always selective. I was selectively aggressive. I'm a firm believer in it and everyone I've ever tried to help out, I've tried to let them in on our philosophy.

OC: One-third of your hits have been doubles. Have you always considered yourself a doubles, gap-to-gap hitter?

Boyd: Yeah, I have the occasional home run pop, but I'm not going to homer every game. I look for the gaps and for something to drive. That's all I focus on. The rest is going to take care of itself. I can't really control where it goes after that. Looking at where the defense plays me near the wall, why would I go for the deep fly? Why not take that outside pitch and slap it to left field? The best line I've heard is that baseball is just a big version of a whiffle ball game. Instead of going out to parties and such in high school, I played whiffle ball.

OC: Being that you're primarily batting as the leadoff hitter, do you see yourself being groomed in that role throughout the rest of your career?

Boyd: Every manager is going to have their feel for me as a hitter and where they want to insert me into the lineup. I may not be the fastest guy, but I like hitting in the one-hole. To me, a leadoff hitter is the guy who gets on base any way they can. If he can get on, he's on. That's the key, because it's the first step of scoring runs. I like being in that situation, getting our guys going.

OC: Are you disappointed not to have more stolen bases in the leadoff spot?

Boyd: Stolen bases are going to come. I can steal bags and have been taking advantage of the opportunities I've been given. I've gotten caught stealing three times and just haven't really looked into running yet. The fellows behind me are doing such a good job of getting me to second that we really haven't tested it yet. It doesn't bother me much, especially with this group. We'll see. I don't think speed is going to be a factor because I have good instincts. I know I can steal, but I haven't really been offered that.

OC: Also, in an American League organization like you're in, the philosophy tends to shift more toward power hitting and getting guys on rather than running yourself out of innings. With that said, I was curious if not attempting so many stolen bases was your call or the team's call?

Boyd: Well, we're going to hit the ball. That's what's been engraved in everyone over here: getting on base and not trying to run yourself out of innings and let the game come to you. We all have the green light every now and then, but it's not a real concern. Situations may come up where you need to steal, but we're a good fundamentally hitting team that finds ways to get runners over. I think that may be a reason why we're not getting so many stolen bases. Also, it's August, and a lot of guys on this team right now are slowly starting to get tired this time of year.

OC: You've only been in center for the past two weeks. Do you still look at yourself as a corner outfielder by default?

Boyd: Yeah, I've always been a corner guy. In high school, I was a first baseman that went to right field my senior year. I told myself before this season that by the end of this year, I'd be out in center. You get to see a lot of balls out there. I feel good shifting guys and taking control of the game out there. I like center and hopefully I can stay there.

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