Oakland A's Prospect Q&A: David Thomas, OF

In what is shaping up to being a successful 2008 draft class for the Oakland A's, 14th round pick David Thomas has been one of the most pleasant surprises. An outfielder from little-known Catawba College, Thomas has looked like a draft pick from a top Division I program. We spoke to Thomas over the weekend about his early success, his move from Kane County to Stockton and more…

David Thomas might not have come into minor league baseball with much fanfare, but he may not stay anonymous for long. The Oakland A's plucked Thomas out of a small Division II school, Catawba College, with their 14th round pick in the 2008 draft. A decorated player for the Catawba Indians, Thomas landed on the radar of professional scouts in 2007 when he was named the Rawlings Coastal Plains League Offensive Player of the Year. The Coastal Plains League is a summer wood-bat league for collegiate athletes.

After signing, the North Carolina native hit the ground running during his first stint in professional baseball, batting .300 with a .396 OBP and an 833 OPS in 62 games for the A's Rookie League team and the short-season Vancouver Canadians. He had a 15-game hitting streak for the Canadians and hit a remarkable .367 away from Vancouver's notoriously pitcher-friendly Nat Bailey Stadium.

Thomas continued to be a sparkplug at the top of the order for the Low-A Kane County Cougars in 2009. In 17 games with the Cougars at the start of the season, the switch-hitter batted .284 with four homers, 10 RBIs, five stolen bases and 18 runs scored. He posted a .360 OBP and drew eight walks in 17 games.

Those numbers prompted the A's front office to give Thomas an early promotion to High-A Stockton. The A's brass hoped that Thomas could help to ignite what has been a stagnant Ports' offense this season. When Thomas arrived in Stockton, the Ports were 4-14. Since Thomas was promoted, Stockton has improved, going 6-8 in 14 games.

Thomas has been the lead-off hitter for the Ports since arriving in Stockton and he has done what a lead-off hitter should do: reaching base at a .393 clip and scoring 10 runs in 13 games. He has walked 10 times and has five extra-base hits. Thomas had an eight-game hitting streak snapped on Sunday.

We caught-up with Thomas on Sunday to discuss the change in leagues, being a lead-off hitter and more…

OaklandClubhouse: How are you liking the new league and the new team?

David Thomas: I like it a lot. It's good to be out here and be in California where the weather is nice, especially since the weather is a lot better than the Midwest. All of the guys are nice and we've got a good team.

OC: You got off to a good start in a tough pitchers' league [the Midwest League]. Was there a key that you found to being successful that early in the season?

DT: Not really. I think it was a matter of just being aggressive early. That's what I like to do. I was able to get some fastballs and get ahead in the count and put a good swing on the ball.

OC: You came to the A's from a smaller conference college. Did you feel like you had to prove yourself when you signed?

DT: I definitely did. I feel like every time I step on the field, I have something to prove because I come from a small, Division II college. I feel like every time I step on the field, I have people that I need to convince that I can play at this level.

OC: Did participating in wood-bat summer leagues while in college help you make a smoother transition to the pros?

DT: Definitely. I played two summers in the Coastal Plains League and that definitely help me to get prepared for the minors.

OC: Do you like being a lead-off hitter and being the guy who sets the table for everybody else?

DT: Exactly. I definitely do. It is what I have always done and it is what I feel most comfortable doing.

OC: How are you feeling defensively?

DT: I feel good about my defense right now. I have been working hard with Timmy [Tim Garland], our outfield coach, on getting some good jumps on balls and getting my arm strength there and I feel like that is just another part of my game that I can use to help this team win.

OC: On the bases, do you have a green light most of the time, or is it more case-by-case?

DT: It usually goes case-by-case because I've got some good power hitters behind me. My main focus is just trying to get on-base and get into scoring position for those big hitters.


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