Oakland A's Q&A: Gil Patterson, Part One

Oakland A's Minor League Pitching Coordinator Gil Patterson recently spent time at both the A's Dominican and US Instructional League. In part one of our two-part interview with Patterson, we spoke to him about Michael Inoa, Garvin Alston's new role, the standouts from the A's US Instructional League camp, and more...

OaklandClubhouse: I wanted to know if you had gone down to the Dominican academy yet this off-season?

Gil Patterson: I did have a chance to go down to the Dominican and, boy, Michael Inoa is a special kid.

OC: Was he throwing in games down there while you were there?

GP: Yeah, he was throwing some innings. When I first went down there [during the season], I gave him a conditioning program and this time I went down there to watch him pitch. I was able to see him throw a couple of innings and a couple of bullpens before he pitched. He was pretty impressive.

OC: What is he throwing right now?

GP: The coaches down there send me a report every night and the reports right now say that he is throwing about 92-94 with a curveball at about 78, slider about 81 and change-up about 79.

OC: That's pretty impressive for a kid who isn't fully developed physically yet.

GP: It sure is. I met his parents and you can tell when you meet him why he is like he is because when you meet the parents, you know exactly why he is the way that he is. I even told them, ‘you know something, you guys didn't have a lot to do with how good he is, God did, but you had a lot to do with how you raised him and you did a tremendous job.' He is such a fine young man. I told them how happy that we are that he is with us. He is just a special kid, a special athlete and a special player.

OC: Is the plan to have him come over to the US for spring training?

GP: I believe he is. You might have to ask David Forst or Keith Lieppman, but everything that I have been told has left me under the impression that he is going to come here for spring training without being told directly when and what date and that stuff. I believe he is and I am looking forward to getting him over here and working with him some more, although there isn't a whole lot of work to be done. The mound is in the same part of the field here as it is in the Dominican. All I have to do is show him the mound.

OC: Is his motion where you want it to be right now, or is he still working on some things?

GP: Yes. His motion looks good. Like I said, all you need to do is point him to the mound and don't misspell his name in the line-up card. [laughs]

OC: The last time you went down to the Dominican, you mentioned that you had some things that you wanted the whole program to work on. Did you notice any improvements while you were down there this time?

GP: Somewhat I did. I was there for over a week, the first few days I worked with [Inoa] and then I worked with the rest of the class. They did a good job with the program. Was it exactly where I wanted it? No, so I showed them for a day or two exactly what I wanted and then I let them take over again. For the most part, I am happy [with the results]. I am going to go back there in January again. You know, there are even changes that we do here [in the US]. There are constant tweakings to the program. If someone was in charge of me, there would probably be tweaking that they would like to see, as well.

We didn't make any changes out of the norm [in the Dominican]. It's just a process that we are going to continue to monitor. Every year, you like to get a little bit better than you were the year before. It is just a constant tweaking of things to help the organization get better.

OC: Was there anyone who stood out for you besides Michael while you were over there?

GP: No one that stood out like him. The biggest thing that I told the two pitching coaches down there was that if the kids are throwing 93-96, sometimes it's like, don't worry about developing a change-up or a breaking ball. But there is no one [throwing that hard right now]. When I went down there the first time, they had some guys who were throwing 89-90 miles per hour and they threw 15 or 18 fastballs in a row. 89-90 miles per hour, that isn't going to work. It's not going to work in A-ball, let alone the big leagues. The biggest thing that they need to do is to make sure that they throw quality pitches. Locate their fastballs and throw a change-up or a breaking ball for a strike.

That was a benefit of having one of the Dominican pitching coaches over here [in the US] for the Instructional League. I got to show them this is what we are competing against. These are the hitters we are competing against and these are the pitchers that the Dominican pitchers have to compete against. They need to see that. They need to see that this guy is throwing 90-91 and he's got a hammer or a slider or change-up that he can throw for strikes. That's why it was such an advantage for our program down there to have the pitching coach with us for the Instructional League.

OC: Switching gears a little bit, I wanted to ask you how Garvin Alston will help you next season in his new role as a rehab coordinator?

GP: I did it a couple of years ago with the Yankees and it was just tremendous. First, the help that he will give to Ariel Prieto, who is in his first year of coaching I believe, and the relationship that he has with Ron Romanick and the big league guys who come to him, will be important. He's not limited just to helping pitchers. If he needs to throw batting practice to position player who comes down, or if he needs to hit him groundballs or flyballs, he can do that. Obviously, he is not going to work with them on hitting, but having someone there that you can trust that you know is going to get the job done the right way is a big help to me and to Jeff Collins [Oakland's coordinator of Minor League athletic trainers], who is going to be running the program as far as conditioning stuff and treatments. He will also be a big help to Ron and Curt [Young], as well.

He may also help me with some of the Latin program, as well. He's going to have a full plate. He's going to be tremendous and he is really going to cover a whole realm of things, including guys who come down in January and February and, of course, the rehab guys in November and December.

OC: Will he be based out of Phoenix then?

GP: Yes.

OC: You mentioned Ariel Prieto. How did his name get into the mix for the pitching staff?

GP: That was maybe more Keith's and Billy's and David's domain, I believe. Him being an Oakland A is a big plus. I had some experience with him during his first time around in the organization. I'm looking forward to getting with him and using his language to help benefit some of the players, with the way that he pitched in the big leagues. He has a lot to bring to the table.

OC: How was the US Instructional League for you? Did anyone stand-out in particular?

GP: I was really lucky with the guys who came. James Simmons came and he was just tremendous. He was a good leader for the younger players and he got his stuff accomplished that he needed to get accomplished, as well as pitching more innings to get his totals up to maybe be able to throw 200 innings next year or something.

Daniel Thomas was throwing 92 when he was drafted, and now he is throwing 94 to 97. His demeanor and his mental approach has gotten so much better. He has gotten his delivery under control and he is still aggressive.

Anthony Capra, Tyson Ross and Brett Hunter made great strides. Hunter made maybe the biggest strides of anyone there and then ended up pitching in Hawaii a little bit. Then there was a little guy from Canada named Mathieu Leblanc Poirier, who by the end was building on some good things for the future. A good fastball. Just like we said about the some of the Latin guys earlier, not over-powering at this point, 89, 90, 91 right now, but he kept the ball down and had good sink on it. And then, he's got a curveball that is very, very good. He really made some good strides towards the end.

Carlos Hernandez was there and he continued to make the same progress he has made all year. Ryan Doolittle did a great job for us. Really, I think overall everyone got better. That's what you are really hoping for, whether it would pitch development or the mental side getting better. It was a good camp.

Stay tuned on Wednesday for the second half of this two-part interview. We will discuss Tyson Ross, Carlos Hernandez, the A's Arizona Fall League contingent, Henry Rodriguez, Fautino De Los Santos and more…

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