Q&A With A's 26th Round Pick Ryan Doolittle

In the 2008 draft, the Oakland A's selected a number of players with strong baseball lineages. One such pick was Ryan Doolittle, the A's 26th round selection, who is the younger brother of Oakland's 2007 supplemental first round pick, Sean Doolittle. Ryan, a pitcher, was thrilled to be selected by the same organization as his brother. We spoke to Ryan about being drafted, his family ties and more

After a successful season at Cumberland College, a two-year college in New Jersey, during which he went 4-2 with an 0.68 ERA, Ryan Doolittle was selected by the Oakland A's with the team's 26th round pick in this year's draft. Doolittle, a 6'3'' right-handed pitcher, signed quickly after the draft and is currently in Phoenix, Arizona, participating in the A's draft pick mini-camp.

It was the second consecutive year for the A's to select a Doolittle. Last season, Oakland used its second pick on Ryan's older brother, Sean. Sean is currently starring for the High-A Stockton Ports as a first baseman, leading the California League in a number of offensive categories.

Like Sean, Ryan was a two-way player in college. The A's selected Ryan as a pitcher, however, after he struck-out 59 and walked only six in 40 innings for Cumberland in 2008. It was his first season at Cumberland College after spending his freshman year at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington.

We spoke to Ryan Doolittle on Thursday about his reaction to joining his brother in the A's organization, his strengths as a pitcher and more…

OaklandClubhouse: What was it like when you found out that you had been selected?

Ryan Doolittle: It was amazing. It was probably the coolest feeling that I have ever had. I found out from all kinds of people that I got picked up by the A's. Not only just getting picked up, but by the A's, too, made it special. I've heard from Sean, my brother, that it is a great organization and with him having so much success with them, it was just literally a dream come true, just making it this far. It was great.

OC: Did you know that the A's were interested in you or did it come as a surprise to you?

RD: Actually, a little bit of both. They were talking to me to say that they were interested during the end of my [sophomore] year [at Cumberland College]. But then I didn't really hear anything from them for a couple of weeks when I went down to Virginia to play summer ball. I knew that they were in the mix and I knew that their name was out there and that they were interested, but I didn't really have a great idea that they were going to be the team. Then to hear that they got me was great.

OC: How much has Sean been able to tell you about the organization and what pro ball is going to be like?

RD: A lot actually. Before I even thought about the draft, I was talking to him, trying to get the ins and outs of being in pro ball. Once I found out that we would be in the same organization, I started picking his brain left and right about locker-room stuff and being on the field and this and that. I asked him, ‘How do you carry yourself?' ‘How do you show that you are a major league baseball player?' ‘How do you act the right way?' Before I left, I kind of got a big checklist from him, basically that I should bring this and bring that, so I didn't forget anything. He has been great. A big brother is great to have on your side, especially now that I can kind of go to him for help, too.

OC: You were a two-way player in college. Were you happy with the decision to be a pitcher only, or were you hoping to be a position player?

RD: I was actually hoping to pitch. I was always a catcher who could pitch on the side. Or I played short and I could pitch, but I started pitching more in college and focusing more on that. I am excited to have the opportunity to work on just this one thing [pitching] and get better at it. Definitely pitching is what I wanted to do.

OC: How would you describe yourself as a pitcher? Is there one pitch in particular that you see as your best offering right now?

RD: Right now, to be honest, I think they are all great. I'm just trying to figure out which pitch is the best one for me in certain situations. I love to locate pitches in-out, up-down, whatever it might be. Right now, I am just kind of focusing on getting those three quality pitches and making those the best. I wouldn't say that I have one stronger than the other, but definitely locating and hitting my spots would be my big thing.

OC: How has the Arizona mini-camp gone? What kind of stuff have you guys been working on there?

RD: We get together bright-and-early in the morning and we do a lot of skill work. Usually for the pitchers, we start our throwing program, whatever we might be doing that day, sometimes a bullpen [session], or a long-toss [session], or throwing off of flat ground. Whatever is on our chart is what we do. Then usually we go into team defense. We work on bunt coverages and first-and-thirds, rundowns, team-defense stuff with our signs. Usually, as pitchers, we shag flyballs in batting practice and then we get ready to play our scrimmage. After that, we call it a day and hit the weight-room for a little bit, and then get some rest for the next morning.

It's been fun. It's been a lot to learn. I am trying to pick everyone's brain to try to get as much as I can out of this. They definitely know their stuff out here, so it has been a lot of fun.

OC: How has it been getting to know the other draft picks who have signed?

RD: It's been cool. It's actually been a little bit different than I expected. It's just cool to hear how everyone got to the same point. I took a different route than my roommate, and then he took a different route than this other pitcher and this other position player. It's also cool to see where everyone comes from. We are from all over the country, but we are all working with the same goal in mind. So far, we have all become pretty good friends.

OC: Your brother mentioned that you used to go to A's games together when you both were little kids. Is that something that you remember doing? Did that make it even more special to be drafted by the A's?

RD: Oh, yeah. We actually had season tickets back when Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco were on the team. Hands down those were our favorite players at that point. We have a lot of pictures of us and I still remember going to the ballpark and going to bat day and getting a real bat. We had season tickets way, way up. [laughs] We kind of had our own little area. It was great. We had a lot of fun at the games. We have pictures of Sean and I all decked out in A's gear as kids, and now we have real A's gear, which is very cool. It was different, but it was very exciting to hear that we both got picked up by a team that we loved as kids and went to watch a lot.

OC: Has baseball always been a big part of your family's lives?

RD: Yeah, definitely. Especially my mom's side. Her three brothers played and my uncle actually played at James Madison University on their College World Series team. And her dad played, as well. As every kid does, we played every sport that we could sign up for as kids, but baseball just kind of stuck as something that we liked to do. It was fun, especially with me catching and putting on that gear, when I was little, that was probably the coolest thing ever. So that just kind of stuck and we got a little bit better each year, and then figured, ‘hey, this is fun,' so we kept going and kept pushing ourselves and did anything we could to get to this point. Now we are here and we aren't going to stop working hard. We are just going to try to get to the next level now.

OC: Has the team told you where you are going to spend this season? Are you going to report to the Rookie League or Vancouver or have they not told you yet?

RD: Right now, I think it is up in the air. We are now just getting ready to start the Arizona League. We start on Sunday. I do know that I will be pitching on Sunday. I'm not sure how long I'll be here. I guess we are just playing it by ear. Wherever they tell me to go, I'll just pack my stuff and I'll go. But I think it is just kind of up in the air right now.

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