Oakland A's Prospect Q&A: Shane Keough, OF

As it has been for so many of the Stockton Ports' position players, it has been an up-and-down beginning to the season for outfielder Shane Keough. After getting off to a good start, Keough slumped and saw his batting average dip below .200. Keough has been hitting better lately, however, batting at a .310 clip over his last 10 games. We spoke to the 22-year-old over the weekend…

It hasn't been the start to the season that any of the Stockton Ports' envisioned during spring training. After winning the California League title in 2008, the Ports have gotten off to a cold start to 2009, beginning the year at a 9-22 clip. The offense has been the biggest problem for Stockton. As a team, the Ports are batting only .235 with a 653 OPS. The Ports have some talented players on their roster, however, and are expecting better things ahead.

One of those players who is looking to pick up the pace is outfielder Shane Keough. A 2005 draft-and-follow selection, Keough has been brought along slowly since signing with the Oakland A's in 2006. Considered a raw talent when he signed, Keough missed the 2006 short-season with a back injury and hit only .214 in 54 games for the short-season Vancouver Canadians in 2007. Last year was Keough's first as part of a full-season affiliate. The switch-hitter batted .244 in 104 games for the Cougars. Keough fared better as a right-handed batter (.303 versus .223 against righties). He struck-out 103 times, however, and managed only a .306 OBP.

Keough had a strong spring training and the A's sent him to High-A Stockton to start the year. After a solid first week, Keough struggled for much of the rest of April along with the rest of his Ports' teammates. He has been showing signs of life lately, however. Over his last 10 games, he is batting .310 with two doubles and six RBIs. On the season, Keough is thriving with runners in scoring position, batting .414 in 29 at-bats. Defensively, Keough has shown an impressive throwing arm already this season, with four assists from the outfield. He has played primarily in left-field, although he has also seen some time in center. Keough has appeared in 29 of the Ports' 31 games this season. He already has 113 at-bats after having only 340 at-bats all of last season.

It is perhaps not surprising that Keough has a strong throwing arm. His father is former A's 20-game winner Matt Keough and he is the grandson of former Major League outfielder Marty Keough and grand-nephew of former Major League outfielder Joe Keough.

Keough's family isn't just famous for baseball, however. Over the past four years, the Keoughs have been main characters in Bravo!'s popular reality TV show, The Real Housewives of Orange County. Shane's mother, Jeanna, is still a main character in the show.

We recently caught-up with Shane Keough to discuss his thoughts on the season thus far, what he is hoping to improve on and more…

OaklandClubhouse: How do you like the California League and being back in California after playing in Chicago last year?

Shane Keough: I always made jokes when I was in Chicago last year that California is the Graceland, so it's fun to be back here. I've got family up and down California, so it is a great experience to be back here, that is for sure.

OC: You've been in the line-up pretty much everyday this season. Do you feel like that will help you progress as a player?

SK: Yeah, it's definitely comforting showing up at the yard and knowing that you are in the line-up. You are more confident to make adjustments and you don't feel like you are behind the eight-ball all of the time.

OC: What kind of adjustments did you make during the off-season? Was there anything that you were working on in particular?

SK: Just hitting in general. I'm still kind of new to the whole switch-hitting thing. Definitely my outfield play was something that I worked on, as well, getting more comfortable at all three positions.

OC: Is there a swing that you feel most comfortable with, your right or left-handed swing?

SK: I think it has been back-and-forth. The last three or four years, my right-handed swing has been a little more consistent, being my more natural side, but left-handed is coming along and I think in the long-run, it will be just fine.

OC: Has your dad been out here to watch you play much?

SK: Dad hasn't yet. He has been working around, but my mom has been to a couple and my aunt, my uncle and my godfather have been to a few.

OC: You have a lot of major league baseball experience in your family. How much did they help you know what to expect when you started your career?

SK: I think you said it right. They helped me to know what to expect and how to go about my game and what to expect from other people. I think that has been the biggest thing with me, coming to the yard everyday, knowing what to do and how to prepare and go from there.

OC: Is it more comfortable to have some of the same coaching staff this year in Stockton that you had in Kane County last year?

SK: Yeah. Nieck [Aaron Nieckula, Stockton manager] and Schultzie [Don Schultz, Stockton pitching coach], I was with them both last year and Timmy Garland [Stockton hitting coach], he has been really good with me the last couple of years in the Instructional Leagues, so it has been good to get up here and work with him on a regular basis.

OC: Have you set any goals for the year?

SK: Maybe not numbers-wise, but I try to get better everyday and hopefully at the end of the year, I will be happy with what I did.

OC: People obviously know you from the TV show [The Real Housewives of Orange County]. Has that made it tougher for you in your career to blend in with the team, or has it not been much of a distraction?

SK: No, it's been fine. It's never really hard to blend into the team. If I want to go unnoticed, I can try to go unnoticed. It's fun. I expected it when I bounced onto that show, so it's been fun either way.

OC: Are you still doing the show?

SK: No, I'm done with that. It's time for baseball. My mom still does it and whatnot. It's fun for her.

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