Oakland A's Prospect Q&A: Andrew Bailey, SP

The Kane County Cougars had a rough first half, but one of their bright spots was their starting rotation. In particular, right-hander Andrew Bailey was a solid contributor. Bailey struck out 74 batters in 51 innings for the Cougars in 11 appearances. He was promoted to High-A Stockton last week and struck out 10 in his High-A debut. We caught-up with Bailey on Sunday in Stockton.

After posting a 2.02 ERA in 58 innings for the Vancouver Canadians in 2006, right-hander Andrew Bailey entered the 2007 season as one of the Oakland A's most promising young arms. An oblique injury delayed his debut this season, but he made up for lost time in Kane County quickly, posting a 3.35 ERA in 51 innings with an outstanding 74:22 K:BB ratio and a .219 BAA. Bailey was promoted to High-A after the All-Star break and he made his Stockton debut on July 6 in Bakersfield. He allowed two runs in 5.2 innings of work and he struck out 10 in the game.

Bailey was selected in the sixth round of the 2006 draft out of Wagner College in the Northeast Conference. He underwent Tommy John surgery during his junior season at Wagner. Now more than two years removed from the surgery, Bailey is back to throwing in the mid-90s. We spoke to the hard-throwing right-hander in Stockton on Sunday.

OaklandClubhouse: Congratulations on the promotion!

Andrew Bailey: Thank you.

OC: Once you recovered from the oblique injury and settled into Kane County, how did you feel full season ball has been treating you?

AB: It's been fun. It's a long season. They really stress staying in shape and staying healthy and not over-working ourselves out there. It tends to get hot, so they try to keep us on an even keel.

OC: Your strikeout totals have been pretty incredible this season. Is that something where you think you are attacking each hitter looking for a strikeout or do they just happen almost by accident because you are placing your pitches where you want them?

AB: I tend to go right after people. I'm the type of pitcher who just kind of approaches each at-bat like ‘hit it or miss it.' I'm definitely going to go after hitters. I guess the numbers say that I am a strikeout pitcher. I guess I do tend to look for the strikeout or those cue-ball contact hits where the ball is at the fielder.

OC: Are you back to 100 percent with your velocity? Have you felt totally healthy?

AB: Yeah, I feel 100 percent. My arm has felt totally healthy, which is really the key since coming off of Tommy John surgery. I have just been working to be totally healthy and velocity-wise, I feel like I am back to where I was.

OC: I know when we spoke during extended spring you mentioned that you had reworked your throwing motion. Is that something you have been able to stick with as the regular season has gone on?

AB: Yeah, definitely. I have been using that new motion all year. Ron Romanick [the A's roving pitching instructor] and also my other pitching coaches have been helping me out all year to stay balanced and to stay fluid. Before I was really herky-jerky, so we have really worked on smoothing that out.

OC: I know that you have had only one start, but have you noticed a difference from the Midwest League to the California League?

AB: Yeah, my first game here, I think it was 16-14 and then the next game was 14-10 and then I think it was 12-11, so I'm like, wow, there is a big difference. I saw the power numbers and they are really different. I think I saw 18 homeruns while I was here and that is all we saw the whole time in Kane County, it seemed like.

The talent level, I'm sure, will get better every step of the way. My first start here I had to locate a little better than I did in Kane County. You really have to just pitch your game and if they hit it, they hit it and if they don't, they don't.

OC: Do you feel like your off-speed stuff has been improving this year?

AB: Yeah. I'm still working on developing my change-up. That is the pitch that they have been stressing me to develop more and that is the one pitch I definitely have to work on the most is my change-up. My curveball has been there for me this season.

OC: Do you have any specific goals for the rest of the season?

AB: Just stay healthy. You are going to play a long time if you stay healthy. I think that is probably my main goal is to stay healthy and to just go out there and keep competing.

OC: I know that Kane County had a rough first half of the season. You didn't get there until May, but did you feel like it was hard for the guys to stay positive at all?

AB: No, not really. Everyone is staying focused and working on getting the job done. Our head coach, Aaron Nieckula, was just saying that this is why we are here. It is player development. We are not in the big leagues so every game, as long as you learn something, that is the point of each game. Even if it is a loss, he stressed that it was important to take something from every game. Everyone is pretty loose there.

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