Oakland A's Prospect Q&A: Sean Doolittle, 1B

Sean Doolittle was the first position player chosen by the Oakland A's during the 2008 draft, although that wasn't readily apparent on draft day. Doolittle was excellent pitcher at Virginia in addition to being a standout first baseman, but the A's ultimately liked him at first. They are excited about Doolittle's potential at the plate and with the glove. We spoke to him on Saturday in Stockton.

Sean Doolittle was selected in the supplemental first round by the Oakland A's in the 2007 draft after a record-breaking career at the University of Virginia. He hit 22 homers and had a career average better than .310 for the Cavaliers and set a team record by winning 22 games as a starting pitcher. At the time of the draft, many scouts were divided over whether Doolittle would have a better pro career as a left-handed pitcher or as a first baseman.

Doolittle already has three extra-base hits in four games.
The A's weren't hesitant about making Doolittle a full-time first-baseman. Some scouts worried that Doolittle wouldn't develop the power to be an effective major league first baseman, but the A's believed strongly that Doolittle's line-drive stroke would produce plenty of power once he was a full-time hitter.

Doolittle was sent to short-season Vancouver to start his pro career. After batting .283 with a .421 OBP in 13 games with the Canadians, Doolittle was promoted to Low-A Kane County. He hit only .243 with four homers in 55 games with the Cougars, but Doolittle finished his season on an up note by winning the Most Valuable Player award during the A's fall Instructional Leagues. He also received high praise for his glove-work in the field.

After a strong spring, Doolittle was sent to High-A Stockton to start the 2008 season. He has gotten off to a fast start this season. In four games, Doolittle has six hits in 15 at-bats (.400 BA), including a double, a triple and a homerun. He has driven-in six runs and he has scored three times.

We spoke with Doolittle at Banner Island Ballpark before the start of the Ports' game on Saturday.

OaklandClubhouse: You had quite a second game of the season (4-4 with a homer) for Stockton (on Friday). How important was it to get off to a good start with a new team?

Doolittle is rated strongly with the glove.
Sean Doolittle: It is huge. Obviously, in my first long season, I've got to remember that I'm playing about 140 games, which is double the number of games that I have ever played in one season, so you don't ever want to get too high or too low, especially early in the season. But I think getting off to a good start was pretty big.

OC: You had a great Instructional League season. Was there anything that you carried over from Instructs into the start of the season?

SD: I think so, yeah. I think that Instructional League was huge for me because, really for the first time in my career, I was able to concentrate solely on being a position player. I got all of my reps in in the cage and we tweaked some things with my swing. It was stuff that I worked on all winter and I carried it all the way into spring training. I had a pretty good spring training, as well, so I am feeling pretty good right now.

OC: You made the jump from short-season Vancouver to Low-A Kane County pretty quickly last season. Was it tough to make that jump to a full-season affiliate only a few weeks removed from being in college?

SD: Yeah, I think a little bit, just because the guys that were there already in Kane County, they already had their pro debuts under their belts. So, in a way, that was sort of baptism by fire for me.

I was also able to learn a lot about the stresses of playing every day by watching them, and I think that was big for me, as well. Rather than go through that experience with a bunch of other guys who had never gone through it before themselves, I was able to have teammates to look at and follow who had experience. I think that really helped.

OC: Is it weird to be a full-time position player now and not be pitching every fifth day?

SD: I'm just about used to it at this point, although I do miss pitching. But I am really having fun just knowing that every day I am going to be out there playing first base.

OC: Was there anything different that you did in the off-season to prepare you for playing the extra games this season?

SD: I worked out a lot. Everybody was saying ‘you've got to hit for more power' and stuff like that. Really, I was already hitting a lot of line-drives to begin with. I added some strength, so hopefully some of those line-drives will start to carry over the fence.


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