Oakland A's Prospect Q&A: Mike Affronti, IF

Last season, the Oakland A's selected the MAC 2006 player of the year, Mike Affronti. Affronti made a solid first impression with Vancouver in 2006. He began the 2007 campaign in Kane County, where he was named to the Midwest League All-Star team. Last month, Affronti was promoted to Stockton, where he has been a hot hitter. We spoke to Affronti this weekend about his promotion and more...

Mike Affronti may have come from a small collegiate conference, but he has hung with the big conference players since being selected in the 17th round out of LeMoyne College last season. Affronti flashed a solid and versatile glove for Vancouver last season. Then this season, Affronti began the year in Low-A Kane County, where he was named a Midwest League All-Star. In 78 games for the Cougars, Affronti batted .264 with five homers and 29 RBI while playing solid defense at second and short.

Affronti was promoted to High-A Stockton in late July when Isaac Omura was lost for the season with a broken thumb. Since that time, Affronti has been a fixture in the Ports' line-up as the team's lead-off hitter. Through Monday, Affronti was batting .327 with a .360 OBP and nine extra-base hits in 104 at-bats. Despite being a natural shortstop, Affronti has shown plus range and good instincts at second base for Stockton.

We spoke to the new Ports' middle infielder about his transition to the California League, his adjustment to pro ball and more...

OaklandClubhouse: It looks like you have been swinging the bat really well since you arrived in the California League. Has it been an easy transition from Kane County to Stockton?

Mike Affronti: Yeah. It was a little bit of a transition. I feel like the fields up here, the balls skip past the infielders a little bit. There are a couple of advantages along with the change in the leagues. I've had a couple of things bounce my way, so it has been good.

OC: You got a chance to play in the Midwest League All-Star game in front of the home crowd in Kane County this year. What was that experience like?

MA: That was a blast. It was such an honor to have the coaches name me to that and the home crowd was great. They treated us like kings out there. It was a lot of fun.

OC: You've been a lead-off hitter a decent amount up here. Is that a role you feel comfortable in?

MA: It's nice. I'm trying to get used to it. As you see from the stats, I'm not a big walk guy. When Bushie [Stockton manager Darren Bush] talks to me about being a lead-off hitter, he says don't change my approach at the plate because I wasn't a lead-off hitter my whole life. I am just kind of getting used to it. He likes that I am aggressive at the plate, so he tells me to be aggressive and keep my own hitting style, and things will fall where they go.

OC: You've played in different spots in the infield since being drafted. Is there one you prefer? Do you still like shortstop best?

MA: Yeah, shortstop has been my position my whole life, but I think it helps my resume [to play multiple positions]. In this game, if you can play more positions, you improve your resume, so the more positions I can play, and get good at, I'm going to do it.

OC: You made the jump from a smaller collegiate program to Vancouver last season. Was it tough to compete against guys who had come from some of the bigger D-1 schools?

MA: A little bit. When I got to Vancouver, the biggest change was more consistent pitching. Up in the north by me and the smaller schools, they have their top pitcher and then once you get past that guy, it is a lot easier. But in the pros, everyone is good coming out of the bullpen.

OC: You are from the East Coast, right?

MA: Yep.

OC: Has it been adjustment getting used to the Midwest and the West Coast?

MA: It's a little hot. [laughs] It's very hot. I live out on Long Island and there is water everywhere, so it never gets that bad. Here it has been really hot. It's amazing. I haven't seen a cloud since I have been in California. That has been a little bit of an adjustment.

OC: Has the travel been an adjustment from the Midwest League to the Cal League?

MA: Not really. It hasn't been that bad. I remember in Vancouver, we had a couple of bad ones in the Northwest League, where Boise was something like 14 hours away. It hasn't been that bad here. Since I have been here the last month or so, we've had a lot of home games.

OC: As you get to the end of your first full season, are there things you have learned about conditioning to maintain yourself for the full year?

MA: Definitely. I already know that there are things I am going to have to change next year because it is getting down to the end of the season, I'm getting a little tired and I can feel things starting to ache and things like that. I am really going to have to get after it in the off-season and train my body for the long haul.

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