The A's grabbed Kilby in the 29th round and sent him to low-A Vancouver, where he served as one of the Canadians' closers on a Vancouver squad that made it to the championship series in 2005. Kilby appeared in 23 games for the Canadians in 2005, going 2-0 with a 1.95 ERA in 27.2 innings. He struck out 38 and walked only 11 and he saved 14 games.
Kilby was sent to low-A Kane County in 2006 and he picked up where he left off at Vancouver. He started the year as one of the Cougars' primary set-up men and then moved into the closer role after Brad Davis and Steve Sharpe were promoted to High-A Stockton.
Kilby was outstanding in the closer role for the Cougars, saving nine games. He didn't allow an earned run after the All-Star break, throwing a remarkable 25.1 innings with a 0.00 ERA. During that stretch, Kilby held opposing batters to a .119 BAA and he had a 36:9 K:BB ratio, He also won four games for the Cougars.
Overall, Kilby finished the season with a 1.63 ERA in 49 games. He struck out 73 in 60.2 innings and he didn't allow a homerun all season. He continued his fine work into the playoffs for the Cougars, helping lead the Kane County to the championship series.
We caught up with the promising left-hander to find out his thoughts on pitching in the playoffs, being a reliever, his plans for the off-season and more…
OaklandClubhouse: You have excelled as a closer so far in your career and you also had success as a set-up man earlier this season. What role do you like best?
Brad Kilby: I like both. I like the feeling of being in a pressure situation. I pretty much approached both roles the same way and treated it like it was always the ninth inning.
OC: Do you think you have an advantage as a closer being left-handed since most closers are right-handed?
BK: Being left-handed, my best pitch is my change-up and I only really throw that to righties. When I was closing, usually if a lefty was coming up, the other manager would pinch hit him for a righty, which probably worked to my advantage. I'm not sure if [Kane County manager Aaron] Nieckula was looking for a left-handed closer specifically, but it definitely worked out. It was a fun year.
OC: What was it like pitching deep into the playoffs this season?
BK: It was unbelievable. Last year in Vancouver we went to the final game of the championship series and lost, so to get all the way back to the championship again was pretty amazing. It was a lot of fun, but at the same time it was heartbreaking to get that close to a ring again and miss out. It was still an incredible year.
OC: What is the difference between pitching in the playoffs and pitching in the regular season?
BK: Pitching in the playoffs is a lot of pressure. Every pitch can swing a game or a series one way or the other so there is a lot more riding on it [then in the regular season]. That being said, you still have to approach being in the playoffs like a regular season game. There is definitely a lot more pressure, though.
OC: The Cougars had a number of 2006 draftees who were called up to Kane County towards the end of the season. Did you and the other "veteran" guys in the bullpen do a lot of teaching for those guys?
BK: There was a little bit of teaching. One thing we had to emphasize with some of the new guys is that if [Kane County pitching coach Garvin] Alston wants you to get ready, you have to get ready in a hurry. Some of the guys took a little while to get that, but they all eventually did.
One of the guys who was called up was Branden Dewing, who was a college teammate of mine. He was a roommate of mine at home, so it was great to have him on the same team.
OC: Growing up in the Northern California area did you root for either of the Bay Area baseball teams as a kid?
BK:I was a big Giants fan as a kid, but I liked the A's, too, because they were in the other league so they didn't really compete with the Giants. I probably went to more Giants games as a kid because my hero when I was little was Will Clark.
OC: Were you always a pitcher or did you play in the field at all?
BK: I was actually a number three pitcher as a junior in high school and then I was the number one pitcher as a senior in high school, but only because the ace of the team got hurt. I didn't pitch at all as a freshman [at San Jose State] and was only a position player. I pitched a little my sophomore year and then my junior year, my coach told me he needed me to pitch full-time because of injuries. I ended up having a great year and by the time I came in as a senior, there was no doubt that I was going to be a pitcher. I knew that if I was going to be drafted, the only chance I had was as a pitcher.
OC: Do you miss being a position player at all?
BK: I miss hitting every day, taking batting practice and hitting a ball into the gap. That stuff is a lot of fun. I don't really miss playing defense as a position player. I think I prefer playing defense as a pitcher.
OC: You started a little bit in college, but have mostly been a reliever. Do you like pitching in the bullpen or would you like to be a starter someday?
BK:I like being in the bullpen, definitely. I'm ready to pitch in the seventh, eighth, ninth innings, whatever they need me to do. Being a starter gets you more recognition, I guess, but being in the bullpen gets you into more pressure situations, which I love. I like that as a reliever you never know if you are going to play that day or not and you really get to play a lot more if you are in the bullpen.
OC: What pitches are you throwing these days? Was there a pitch you improved on this season?
BK:I throw a change-up, fastball and slider. My slider was pretty much a spinning pitch at the beginning of the season and we really worked on it and by the end of the year, it was an average to above-average pitch for me.
OC: What is the velocity of your fastball right now?
BK: My fastball has been sitting at 88-91 and it occasionally hits 92.
OC: Do you consider yourself more of a strikeout pitcher or a control-type pitcher?
BK:Probably both. My strikeout numbers were pretty good this season and my control, minus my first two outings, was pretty good all season, so I think I can do both.
OC: What are your plans for the off-season?
BK: After last season was over, I worked out on my own and heading into spring training, I just wasn't ready to play. This year, I have a personal trainer and I am going to be running every day. I have two more weeks off and then I'll be at it Monday through Friday, 8:30 to 5:00.
OC: Where are you hoping to be sent at the end of spring training next season?
BK: I am hoping to move up one level and if I moved up two levels to AA that would be fantastic. High-A Stockton is about 20 minutes from my house so I could live at home if I was there. I had a pretty good year, so maybe I deserve to move up to AA or maybe I don't, it's hard to say. I'll definitely be happy wherever they send me.