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

Sean Doolittle's assault on minor league pitching began during the Oakland A's Instructional League this fall, when he earned the A's MVP award. His bat hasn't slowed since. He recently was named to the Cal League All-Star team. He also had the joy of learning that his brother would be joining him in the A's organization. We spoke to Doolittle about his strong first half, his brother and more…

For someone who was scouted more as a pitcher than as a position player coming out of high school, Sean Doolittle is proving himself to be a pretty good professional hitter. The Oakland A's 2007 supplemental first-round pick has been one of the top hitters in the offensive-friendly California League since Opening Day and he has shown no signs of slowing down. Through Monday, Doolittle was batting .332 with 16 homers, 53 RBIs and a 1027 OPS through 69 games. His OPS is tops in the California League.

Doolittle wields a slick glove at first base.
Doolittle hasn't hit lower than .325 in any month yet this season. He has hit both right-handed pitchers (.319/.408/.611) and left-handed pitchers (.363/.433/.613), and he has a .320 average with five homers with runners in scoring position. Those numbers earned Doolittle a spot on the exclusive California League All-Star team, which draws its roster from the entire 10-team league.

The slick-fielding Doolittle came into professional baseball with a reputation as a good defensive first baseman. He has lived up to that reputation thus far in his pro career, and he has shown more versatility this season by playing some corner outfield, as well as first base.

Doolittle starred at the University of Virginia as both a first-baseman and as a left-handed pitcher. Some scouts thought Doolittle's future in the pros would be most promising on the mound, but the A's were steadfast in their belief in his future as a hitter, and they have thus far been rewarded for their decision.

Doolittle's ability to pitch and play a position runs in his family, it seems. Earlier this month, the A's selected Doolittle's younger brother Ryan out of Cumberland College. Ryan, like his brother, was a two-way collegiate player. Unlike Sean, Ryan's future appears to be on the mound, however, as the A's selected Ryan with the intention of using him as a pitcher.

We spoke with Sean Doolittle over the weekend about being named an All-Star, about having his brother join him in the organization, and more…

Doolittle hit his 16th homer of the season on Sunday.
OaklandClubhouse: Congratulations on being named to the Cal League All-Star team.

Sean Doolittle: Thank you!

OC: What did it mean to you to be named to an All-Star team in your first full pro season?

SD: I was excited. Coming into this year, I really didn't know what to expect. To be honest, I guess [making an All-Star team] wasn't really one of my goals. I was really just looking to get used to playing every day in a long season. Everything else was going to be icing on the cake, so to speak. To get an honor like that was really cool.

OC: That news came on the heels of your brother [Ryan Doolittle] being drafted by the A's. What did it mean to you that your brother was drafted by Oakland?

SD: That was awesome. It was always one of those things that we had always kind of joked about, saying ‘what if that happened? How cool would that be?' We weren't even sure if he was going to get picked this year, but I guess everything fell into place just right and I am really looking forward to seeing what he does in the A's organization.

It's kind of cool because for both of us, our first experience with baseball really was out here in California going to A's games. We used to live in Atwater when we were really little. So that is kind of cool that we started out going to A's games when we were little and now we are both in the organization.

Doolittle is second in the Cal League in homers, fourth in RBIs, fourth in batting average, sixth in OBP, first in OBP and first in OPS.
OC: Do you know where he is going to report to first?

SD: Don't know yet. He's out [in Arizona] for their mini-camp and he threw an intra-squad [on Saturday].

OC: Was it funny to you that the A's selected you and had you go into hitting and selected your brother and had him go into pitching?

SD: Yeah. We were joking about that. Going out of high school and heading into college, we were kind of flip-flopped. I was the pitcher and he was the position player. Now it is backwards.

OC: Did you ever play on the same team in high school?

SD: High school, no. He actually ended up going to a different high school because they re-did the districts. We did play on a couple of summer ball teams and a couple of scout teams together in the fall. Same thing, I was pitching on those teams and he was behind the plate. [laughs] I'm really excited for him.

OC: I have been following your journal on MiLB.com. What has that experience been like for you? Had you been a writer before?

SD: Not really. I like to write. In school, I always did well when I had to do a writing assignment, but it wasn't something that I worked on in particular. But it's fun. I try to keep it light because nobody wants to read something super-serious from a player. I don't want to over-analyze anybody or anything and get boring with people. I try to keep it light. I have fun with it. The guys joke about it. I try to get some of their names in there every once and awhile.

OC: Do you get any weird e-mails from readers?

Doolittle and his Ports' teammates finished just short of the first-half division title, but they began the second half with a win over San Jose and are 43-28 on the season.
SD: [laughs] I've gotten some kind of weird e-mails. I get more weird e-mails from that journal about things like ‘why didn't you give me your bat?' and stuff like that. I do get some good questions and some e-mails from people that I haven't heard from in a really long time, which is cool.

OC: I know you have been mostly at first base this season defensively, but you have played a few games in the outfield. Are you comfortable out there in the outfield?

SD: I'm getting more comfortable. I played the outfield a little bit in my summers in college with the USA team, so I have done it before. I'm kind of getting re-used to it right now. The more I am out there, the more comfortable I get. But I enjoy it, mixing it up a little bit and getting into the outfield.

OC: You guys have been in the middle of a pennant race with San Jose for the first-half division title [the Ports wound-up finishing one game behind San Jose for the title]. Has the pennant race been an added incentive for you guys to come out and win as the weather has gotten hotter these past few weeks?

SD: Definitely. The weather is getting hot and it would be easy for us to come to the ballpark everyday and just go through our routines, but having something to play for every night has been fun. There has been a lot of added energy in the dugout. It has been fun having every game mean something.

OC: Do you keep tabs on players who are ahead of you in the organization, or are you keeping the blinders on and only concentrating on what you are doing in Stockton?

SD: I check up on a few guys, like I keep close tabs on [Andrew] Carignan [in Double-A] because he was [in Stockton] earlier this year and I played against him in college a lot. I also check up on Corey [Brown] a lot because we played together in Vancouver, but it is not something where I am comparing guys or anything like that. That would be too much for me to handle during my first full season. So I'd say that I check up on guys, but I am not really trying to compare myself to them and say, ‘well, if I do this and he does this, then I should be here and he should be there.' That doesn't come into play. I'd drive myself crazy if I did that, to be honest.

OC: Was it interesting to watch the draft process and the College World Series and realize that that isn't you involved in those events anymore?

SD: It's been a lot more relaxing and I have been able to enjoy it a little bit more as a spectator. I was way more excited when my brother got drafted than when I got drafted. When he found out, he was still kind of nervous and not sure what to expect, so I was a lot more excited when I found out that he was drafted than he was, I think. Watching the World Series has been almost weird, but I have enjoyed it.

OC: Do you guys have side-bets between you about which alma mater is going to win and that sort of thing?

SD: [laughs] A little bit. [Josh] Horton and I had some side-bets during the Virginia-UNC series during the season. Now we are trying to get a pool going for the World Series. We are just having a lot of fun sitting back and watching it.

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