Oakland A's Prospect Q&A: Gregorio Petit, SS

Gregorio Petit is in the middle of a breakthrough season that has seen him earn a spot on the Texas League All-Star team and go from Double-A to Triple-A. We spoke to the River Cats shortstop last Sunday about his new approach at the plate, the advice he received from Marco Scutaro and more…

Ever since he came to the United States, Gregorio Petit has been considered one of the Oakland A's best fielding middle infield prospects. Petit came to the US at age 18 and he has been moving steadily up the A's organizational ladder ever since. He first caught the attention of prospect watchers in 2005 when he hit .289 for the Low-A Kane County Cougars while dazzling in the field.

In 2006, Petit was promoted to High-A Stockton, where he was asked to move to second base while the A's 2005 top draft pick, Cliff Pennington, saw most of the reps at shortstop. Petit made the transition to second smoothly, but was able to move back to his natural shortstop position during the second half of the season when Pennington was out with injuries. In 2007, Petit began the year in Double-A Midland, while Pennington repeated at High-A Stockton, allowing both players to see a lot of time at shortstop.

Petit got off to a strong start with the Midland Rockhounds in 2007. He batted .306 in 66 games for Midland and earned a spot on the Texas League All-Star team. Before he could participate in that All-Star game, however, Petit was promoted to Triple-A Sacramento (soon after Petit's promotion, Pennington was promoted to Double-A Midland). After struggling badly during his first 10 days with the River Cats (two hits in his first 25 at-bats), Petit has been a steady offensive presence in the bottom third of the River Cats' line-up. For the month of July, Petit is batting .320 with an 803 OPS. He has also continued to impress defensively at shortstop. On the season, Petit is batting .293 with five homers and 44 RBI in 95 games.

We spoke to the Venezuelan native last Sunday about his promotion to Triple-A, his new approach at the plate, his experience playing in the Venezuelan Winter League with A's utilityman Marco Scutaro and more…



OC: You made the Texas League All-Star team this season, but you didn't get to play in the game because you were promoted to Triple-A before the All-Star break. Were you disappointed not to be able to participate in the game?

GP: Oh, yeah, definitely, a little bit. That was something I really wanted to do and it was a game I really wanted to go to because it was the first time I had made [an All-Star] team. But, hey, I'll take the promotion to Triple-A for sure. [laughs]

OC: You've been back at shortstop pretty much full time this season compared to last year when you played a lot of second base. Do you like being back at short?

GP: I love it. It's the position I feel the most comfortable at in the whole infield. It is the position I have been playing my whole life.

OC: You got to play a lot more in the Venezuelan Winter League this past off-season compared to past years. Do you think that helped you coming into spring training?

GP: I think that it did. When I got to camp this year, the coaches told me that they don't want me to try to pull that many balls any more. They wanted me to try to keep the ball up the middle. The process of that was seeing the ball and hitting the ball, rather than trying to do too much at the plate, and I guess that it works. [laughs]

OC: You struggled the first few weeks in Triple-A, but you have been hitting a lot better lately. Anything change?

GP: When I got here, it was my first time in Triple-A. I know that it was my first time in Double-A this year, too, but I was playing with guys that I have been playing with for a couple of years now [when he was in Double-A]. I knew the manager there [Todd Steverson, who had managed Petit in Single-A in 2006] also.

When I got here, I think maybe I was trying to do too much and trying to show them that I could play. Here, you have guys with more experience and guys have gone to the big leagues and come back down. In Triple-A, if you try to do too much as a hitter, they get you easily.

OC: What do you think you have improved on the most this season?

GP: Like I said, when I came to camp and I tried to work on hitting the ball up the middle or to the opposite field. I think that that has really helped me this season to have a lot of success compared to last year.

OC: Do you feel like you are getting close to being major league-ready? Does the dream seem more real?

GP: [laughs] You know, that's a dream for you all the time, no matter where you are at. But I don't really want to start thinking about that because last year I was trying to get on the [40-man] roster and trying to doing a lot to get on that roster and it didn't work. This year, I have just tried to not put any pressure on myself to make the roster. I am just trying to concentrate on playing the game the right way and whatever happens, happens.

OC: Are you going to play Winter Ball again this year?

GP: Hopefully, I will. Hopefully I will play every day there.

OC: You play on the same team in Caracas as Marco Scutaro right?

GP: Yep.

OC: Is he someone who has helped you?

GP: Yeah, definitely. Last year, he saw me trying to pull a few balls and he said. ‘hey, your hips are coming out too quickly before your hands.' And so I said, ‘okay' and I tried to follow his advice and I asked him to please tell me when he sees me doing that again. And he said ‘sure, I'll let you know.' He was a big help.

You know, a lot of those guys [on the Caracas team] have been in the big leagues and no matter how long they have been there, they got there because they know what they are doing. You listen to them and you pay attention to what they say, you will get there, too, eventually.


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