Q&A With A's 28th Round Pick Conner Crumbliss

Conner Crumbliss, the Oakland A's 28th round pick in 2009, has been one of the most pleasant early surprises from the team's draft this year. Crumbliss was selected from a small school, but he played his first professional year like a player from a big-time program. David Malamut spoke with Crumbliss over the weekend...

In his first professional season, Conner Crumbliss was a force all over the field for the Oakland A's short-season affiliate, the Vancouver Canadians, and their Low-A affiliate, the Kane County Cougars. The Emporia State alum batted .290 with 20 extra-base hits, a .427 OBP, 13 stolen bases and an 831 OPS in 71 games. He also was a valuable player on defense, getting time in both the outfield and at second base.

David Malamut spoke with Crumbliss over the weekend about his first pro season, his adjustments to wood bats, his off-season plans, and more...

David Malamut: How do you feel?

Conner Crumbliss: I feel pretty good. I started dragging here a little bit, but I had a couple of days off when I got here to Kane County and got going with a little bit of energy, so I feel good.

DM: What was your first baseball experience?

CC: With my brothers. I watched them play games when I was in diapers.

DM: What was it like playing at Emporia State?

CC: Kind of a small school. Good coaching staff though. It's a lot of fun and had a nice field. It was a lot of fun.

DM: What did you learn while at Emporia State?

CC: The little things about baseball, things you can't learn by someone telling you. Just picking it up as you go, the little things, when you're playing.

DM: How was reaching the finals this year?

CC: It was the most exciting thing short of being drafted. That was the best time I've ever had and I wish we could go back and play that game over.

DM: You had 12 homers one year in only 39 games. What did you do differently that year?

CC: I hate to say it, but I think it was just a little bit windier. I just kind of got a little bit lucky. I probably hit four or five that were pretty legit home runs, and then quite a few that got up in the wind a little bit.

DM: How was being scouted?

CC: You don't really hear much about it. Maybe it was different for me at a small school, but you really don't hear about people. Scouts don't come talk to you.

DM: How was draft day?

CC: For me it was laid back. I just sat around and watched the computer ticker and just chilled out at home.

DM: How about being drafted by the A's?

CC: I love it, it has been a great time so far. I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world, it's been a great time.

DM: What was Vancouver like?

CC: It was fun, I had a lot of fun there. The fans were good, the stadium is nice, and the coaching staff was great. It was a lot of fun coming here [to Kane County] and I'm glad I made the move.

DM: How was Canada?

CC: I liked Canada. I didn't like that my cell phone cost extra, the money exchange. I didn't like that, but other than that, it was great. I had a lot of fun there.

DM: How big of a difference are the wood bats for you?

CC: I had played summer ball with wood bats before, for three years. For the first few weeks after you've played with metal it takes some getting used to. It's a different weight and different feel when you hit the ball. Now I can't even remember what it was like to hit with the metal bats. It hasn't been too hard of a transition.

DM: You have played the outfield and second base. Which do you prefer and has playing both helped you in either one?

CC: I like both. I don't even care just wherever they want to put me. I don't know if it has helped me with either one. It has helped me a lot in Vancouver, especially to get into the lineup. I got about half and half playing time in the outfield and infield. It has definitely gotten me more at bats, so it has been good.

DM: How has Kane County been so far?

CC: It's been a lot of fun. They get big crowds most nights when it's not school nights. It's been a lot of fun. The people here are awesome.

DM: How do you like being a leadoff hitter?

CC: It's pretty much the only place I've ever hit in the lineup, so I guess I wouldn't know anything different but I like it. I like helping get things started most games and try to have good at-bats.

DM: As the leadoff hitter, is a walk as good as a hit for you, in your opinion, and what are you looking at when the ball comes towards the plate?

CC: Yes, definitely, because if you can get on, if you can just get to first base, you up your chances of scoring and then you can steal bases. It's just finding a way to first which is the only big thing. I try to make a little window where the ball is going to come out. I just try to watch the ball. I don't even think about it.

DM: If you were not playing baseball what would you be doing?

CC: Right now going back to school, trying to finish my degree. I have another year left. I'm not going back this year but I might start back up next fall. We were too late this year, especially with Instructionals, so if I don't go to Instructs next year I will probably try to finish school then.

DM: You majored in pre-dentistry in college, were you going to become a dentist?

CC: Well that was my major when I was a freshman. I don't think they ever changed it [on my bio], but that wasn't actually my major. I majored in recreation, so it kind of changed. I fell through on the dentist stuff my freshman year, and decided I wanted to go into more fitness and health-related activities, trainer-type stuff.

DM: What do you like to do in the off-season?

CC: Just working out. Working on baseball stuff, although I just hang out a lot play some guitar, play some video games, and watch television. Just chill out.

DM: Any good with the guitar?

CC: A little bit, I won't be having any concerts anytime soon.

DM: What is your off-season training like?

CC: I don't know this year, I've only ever done it with college, so they had a set workout program for us. We will see what our strength and conditioning coach has planned out.

DM: What are your top-five artists in your iPod?

CC: Metallica, Chevelle, Three Days Grace, Breaking Benjamins. I don't know if I can get five. I like Queens of the Stone Age, that's a good fifth one.

DM: What are you working on on offense?

CC: Making less easy outs, fly balls, weak grounders. Just trying to get more line drives, and hard ground balls.

DM: On defense?

CC: In the outfield taking better routes. I haven't played much infield here, but in the infield having more sure hands and trying to get quicker at turning double plays.

DM: In college you stole a lot of bases. What are you looking for from the pitcher?

CC: I don't know because when I was in school they didn't have many guys with good pick-off moves so pretty much as soon as they started to move their bodies at all, I'd take off. Here it's a little harder a lot of times. Before the game they will have a key for you to key on, a lot of times it's his elbow or his knees or something that moves first and try to pick that up.

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