Oakland A's Prospect Q&A: Anthony Capra, P

Only a year-and-a-half into his professional career, Stockton Ports left-hander Anthony Capra is already establishing himself as one of the bright spots from the Oakland A's 2008 draft class. The Wichita State alum has posted a 3.08 ERA in 134.1 innings for the A's two A-ball affiliates, with an A's system-best 148 strike-outs this season. We caught-up with Capra on Saturday for a Q&A…

Shortly after the Oakland A's selected Anthony Capra with the team's fourth-round pick last season, A's Director of Scouting Eric Kubota described the lefty as a "proven winner" with "moxie…[and the] ability to pitch." So it is no surprise that when Capra was pitching well but not getting wins for the Low-A Kane County Cougars earlier this season, the lefty was frustrated. Capra's fortunes in the win column eventually took a more positive turn and he is one win away from evening up his season record (which currently stands at 6-7). More importantly, however, Capra has shown that he is the polished collegiate product that the A's expected they were getting when they took him out of Wichita State.

Capra has been a workhorse in his first full professional season. After throwing 125 innings for Wichita State and Kane County in 2008, Capra has thrown 134.1 innings in 24 starts for the Cougars and High-A Stockton in 2009. The Colorado native has posted impressive statistics at both levels. For the Cougars, his win-loss record was 4-7, but he allowed only 70 hits in 100 innings (a .197 BAA) and he struck-out 103 while walking 40. He has done even better since being promoted to the Ports, despite the fact that he moved from a pitchers' league to a hitters' paradise. In six starts with Stockton, Capra is 2-0 with a 2.62 ERA. He has held opposing batters to a .230 average and he has struck-out 45 while walking 17. Capra recently had a run of three starts with Stockton during which he struck-out 29 in 18 innings.

For the season, Capra is 6-7 with a 3.08 ERA and 148 strike-outs against 57 walks in 134.1 innings. He is currently tied with Ports' teammate and fellow lefty Ben Hornbeck for the lead in strike-outs for the A's minor league system.

We spoke to Capra before the Ports' game versus San Jose on Saturday about his move to the California League, his best pitch this season, his strike-out tendencies and more…

OaklandClubhouse: How has the transition been from the Midwest League to the California League?

Anthony Capra: It hasn't been bad. I feel like I kind of hit the ground running out here. I had played for Nieck [Stockton manager Aaron Nieckula] and Schulzie [Stockton pitching coach Don Schulze] before, so that kind of made it easier. I knew what I was getting into with them. I had heard some things about the league, that it was a good league. I just wanted to come out and throw well and so far it has worked out.

OC: At the beginning of the year with Kane County, you were pitching well but not getting the results maybe you wanted in terms of wins. Was that frustrating to work through?

AC: Yeah. I had about a month and a half or so where it was really frustrating. Gil Patterson, the pitching coordinator, came to town and we had a sit down. We both got some things off of our chests. We basically just cleared the slate and from there I just ran with it and put together some good starts, moved up here and have had some good starts here.

OC: What has been your best pitch so far this year?

AC: I would say my change-up has been my best pitch this year. I picked it up in Instructs [last fall]. Ben Hornbeck also throws it. Me and Gil were working together one day and he kind of offered it up to me and I threw one and it was really good, so I said, ‘let's go with it.'

OC: You had a teammate from Wichita State who was taken by the A's the year before in almost the same spot as you. Was Travis Banwart able to give you a heads up on what the organization was when you were drafted?

AC: Yeah. He was one of the first people I called after the draft and I asked him ‘what can I expect?' and that sort of thing. He did a good job of telling me what I could expect from the coordinators and the coaches. It's good to have someone ahead of you who can tell you those kinds of things.

OC: You've had a lot of strike-outs this year. Have you always been a strike-out pitcher or is that something kind of new?

AC: I guess I have had a lot of strike-outs in the past, but I don't really know why. I don't have overpowering stuff. I like to think that I can hit my spots and hopefully I can get them off-balance with two-strikes and go from there. But I don't necessarily try for them. They are always nice. I like them, but I don't see myself trying for them.

OC: Wichita State is obviously a great college baseball program. Did it help you in your pro career to come from a good college program like that?

AC: Yeah definitely. I was drafted in the 49th round out of high school and I wasn't ready for pro baseball. Getting those three years with Coach Kemnitz [Shockers' pitching coach] was great. I think he is probably the best pitching coach in the country. He did a great job of getting me ready for pro ball. That is what they told me when I was coming into the program that ‘it's our job to get you ready [for pro ball]. We want you out of here in three years. As much as we'd like to have you for four, we want you to be ready to pitch pro ball in three years.' That really worked out for me.

OC: Are you going to Instructs this year?

AC: Yeah. I'm going to Instructs again.

OC: Anything in particular that you are going to be working on?

AC: I'm assuming that I am going to go there and work on the breaking ball more. I have kind of improved that this year, but I think I have a little bit of a ways to go with it and maybe work on holding on runners at first base and my pick-off move, stuff like that.

OC: Is it hard to get training in during the off-season in Colorado with the snow and everything?

AC: It's difficult at times. I have access to some pretty good facilities and I go back to Wichita at times, so I have access to those facilities as well. So I get my work in.

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