Oakland A's Prospect Q&A: Mickey Storey, RP

OAKLAND – With 16 saves, a 1.44 ERA and a remarkable 41:4 K:BB ratio in 31.1 innings this season, Stockton Ports' right-hander Mickey Storey has moved quickly from being a little-known 31st round pick in 2008 into an intriguing prospect. We caught-up with the Florida Atlantic alum on Monday at the Oakland Coliseum, where he and his Ports' teammates were visiting their parent club...

Sometimes a player's misfortune can equal a team's good luck. Injuries can often affect a player's draft status, causing that player to fall lower in the draft than he would have been projected to go if otherwise healthy. The Oakland A's have benefited from slides like these in recent years, taking players in later rounds who were coming off of injuries in hopes that those players might recapture their pre-injury magic. The A's might have found another such player in 2008 31st round pick Mickey Storey.

Storey's collegiate career ended on a poor note in 2008 when he posted a 7.39 ERA in 63.1 innings, but his earlier seasons with Florida Atlantic University offered a few hints that he would be able to produce at the level he has as a professional in 2009. Storey's first year at FAU, in 2005, was outstanding. Acting as a sometimes starter/sometimes closer, Storey went 10-1 with a 1.70 ERA in 95.1 innings. He saved seven games and tossed two complete games, including a shut-out. Storey was named Collegiate Baseball's 2005 National Freshman Pitcher of the Year. He followed that season with a 7-9 campaign as a starter, during which he posted a 3.84 ERA and struck-out 125 batters in 119.2 innings. That following summer, Storey finished fifth in the Cape Cod League in strike-outs with 48 in 47 innings.

The 2007 season was supposed to serve as Storey's final exclamation point on an outstanding college career and a jumping-off point into the MLB draft. Unfortunately, Storey finished the Cape Cod League season with a sore elbow. He tried to pitch through the injury during the 2007 collegiate season, but was shelved for the year after only five starts. Despite the injury-plagued campaign, Storey was drafted in the 22nd round by the Minnesota Twins.

Storey decided not to sign and looked to rebuild his draft status with a healthy senior season. He wasn't the same pitcher for FAU in 2008, however, posting a 7.39 ERA, although he did find late-season success as a reliever. The A's selected Storey in round 31 and started him off slowly, having him pitch in the Arizona Rookie League as a 22-year-old. He went 2-2 with a 3.27 ERA and 23 strike-outs in 22 innings for the Rookie League A's in his pro debut season.

The A's continued to take it slow with Storey at the start of the 2009 season. He began the year at Extended Spring Training and only joined a full-season squad in mid-May, when he became part of the Low-A Kane County Cougars' roster. He tossed four scoreless innings in his Cougars' debut and never looked back. In 17.1 innings with the Cougars, Storey allowed only one run on five hits and one walk, while striking out 23 and saving nine games. He made the jump to High-A Stockton in late June and immediately stepped into the closer's role with the Ports. Storey has found success with Stockton, as well, posting a 2.57 ERA and striking out 18 while walking three in 14 innings. He has seven saves for the suddenly resurgent Ports.

With the Ports visiting the Coliseum on Monday, we had a chance to speak with Storey about his first full professional season, his thoughts on closing and more…

OaklandClubhouse: Congratulations on a strong first pro season. Have you been surprised with the level of success that you have had so far this season, or were you expecting to go out there and get everyone out like this?

Mickey Storey: No, not surprised. I have confidence in what I can do. The last couple of years, I have been injured and stuff, so it is good to get back out there and see that I can still get guys out. That's just been the main thing the past couple of years, just staying healthy.

OC: Gil Patterson was talking to me about your curveball and he was basically saying that no one can hit it. Is that something that you have always had or is that something that you developed lately?

MS: No, I think it has been better in the past and maybe now I am starting to get it back a little bit. He's a little over-blowing it on the unhittable thing because it got hit a little bit last night [laughs], but, yeah, I've always had a pretty good one. I'm starting to get a good feel for it again.

OC: What are the other pitches that you are feeling comfortable with right now?

MS: Pretty much all three – fastball, curveball, change. I pretty much throw all three in any count which is probably a big reason for some of the success I have had. I have been able to mix and match all of my pitches. Right now I am just mixing and all of them are feeling pretty good right now.

OC: Were you a closer in college, or is this something new since you got to pro ball?

MS: No, I was a starter. This is something new. They offered the idea to me when I was in Kane County and asked if I would be willing to do it. I said yeah and it has sort of taken off from there.

OC: Do you like the pressure of closing?

MS: Yeah, I do. Coming in there with the game on the line, it really feels like you are a part of a win instead of throwing five or six innings and then the game is up in the air. I feel like it is something to enjoy because you usually come in in winning situations and you get to put on the finishing touches on a win. I like it.

OC: You guys [the Ports] have been playing a lot better recently. Do you feel like the team has come together the past few weeks?

MS: Definitely. We've had key additions since the All-Star break, getting some good players in. We've had some of those key players move up too. I don't know what it is. We just got on a roll and our offense has really come alive and our starting pitching has been good and our bullpen has been strong. All those things are going well, you are going to have wins.

OC: What's the biggest difference between the Midwest League and the Cal League?

MS: Better hitters. It's tougher.

OC: Are the ballparks a little smaller or is that more the mystique of the league?

MS: It might be a little windier. But windy blowing towards the fence. In the Midwest League, the wind is blowing every which way. Seems like in the Cal League, a guy can hit a flyball and it can go out.

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