Recker Hopes To Power Way To Big Leagues

The Oakland A's landed in the win column for the first time in 2010 on Friday, coming back from a six-run deficit to defeat the Milwaukee Brewers, 8-7. The big blow in the game came courtesy of Anthony Recker, whose three-run homer in the sixth inning capped a seven-run A's rally. After finishing the 2009 season on a hot streak at Triple-A, Recker is looking to make the leap to the bigs in 2010.

Over the last five seasons, Anthony Recker has quietly put together some of the best power numbers of any Oakland A's prospect not named Chris Carter. The right-handed hitting catcher has reached double-digits in homeruns in every season since 2006. Recker showed that power on a big stage on Friday when he crushed a long three-run homerun in the A's 8-7 win over the Milwaukee Brewers in the second game of the Cactus League season. The homer was his first in a big league spring training game.

"It was pretty exciting. I had a big smile on my face when I got into the dugout," Recker said.

Recker's big blast came as part of a seven-run rally that erased a five-run deficit in the bottom of the sixth inning. The A's front office has been talking about the significant offensive talent coming up through the system and that talent was on display during that rally, as prospects Recker, Jemile Weeks, Michael Taylor, Chris Carter and Adrian Cardenas all reached base through either a hit or a walk. Recker noted that the young players in A's camp have helped make each other better.

"We've got a really young clubhouse as it is. Even some of the young guys who are on the big league squad and those of us who haven't quite made it there and are trying to get there, it's been definitely really neat to see how we all get along," Recker said.

"We've all come up together and we've all played together and we definitely have that camaraderie. That is something that you can't really teach. It's something that you earn by playing together. Makes it a lot more fun when you are out there on the field to be able to play like that. It allows you to keep it loose and joke around a little bit. Obviously you take the games very seriously, but if you aren't having any fun, you aren't going to do very well."

Recker is part of a talented catching contingent in A's camp that includes Oakland's two young major league catchers, Kurt Suzuki and Landon Powell, and two catchers expected, along with Recker, to contribute to the Sacramento River Cats this season, Josh Donaldson and Joel Galarraga. The youngest player in A's camp is catcher Max Stassi, who was the team's fourth-round pick last season. Recker said that having the 18-year-old Stassi in camp is aiding the relatively veteran catching corps.

"There is a lot of encouragement between each other. One of us does something well – whether it is in a game or during a drill or in BP, whatever it may be – we are giving each other a lot of words of encouragement . It's definitely a fun group," Recker said.

"We help each other out a lot, especially with Max being in camp. Such a young guy and so much talent. He's really soaking up a lot of the things that we are telling him. We are trying to give him some tips and things like that and he's really sucking that stuff up. Having him here is really helping us because he keeps us focused by asking us questions. That keeps us involved in what we are doing and focused."

Drafted in the 18th round in 2005, Recker has been making steady progress through the A's system. He reached Triple-A for the first time last season, appearing in 78 games for the River Cats, as he shared time behind the plate with veteran Eric Munson. Recker said that the mental aspect of the game was the biggest change from Double-A to Triple-A.

"It's definitely a different game. It's a little faster. There is a little more thinking involved, behind the plate especially. You really start getting into knowing the pitchers and knowing the hitters that you are facing. In terms of me behind the plate, you start having a game plan. There is a lot more of that involved," Recker said.

"I think I should have been doing that in Double-A a little more than I was. I kind of took that aspect for granted, I think, because I was always pretty good at reading guys behind the plate and I never really went in with a solid game plan. "

In addition to learning the mental aspects, Recker had to adjust to Triple-A pitching last season. He struggled early on, posting only a 701 OPS before the All-Star break for Sacramento. However, he recovered during the second half of the season, batting .326 with a 933 OPS. Overall, Recker finished the year with a .261/.333/.449 line with 12 homers for Sacramento. Recker also spent a few weeks with Double-A Midland early in the season and he hit .298 with a 911 OPS in 16 games for the Rockhounds, putting his final combined season totals at .267/.342/.462 with 15 homers in 329 at-bats.

Recker was pleased with the way he finished the season, but he wasn't satisfied with those numbers, putting a lot of work this the off-season in Phoenix in the weight room and on his footwork and agility.

"There are always things that I am focused on working on. No matter what, I am not going to be complacent or completely happy with what I am doing because once that happens, that's when you start to slip a little bit," Recker said.

"I was fortunate to have a really good second half and I am hoping to parlay that into a really good start to this season and hopefully getting a shot somewhere in the major leagues. That is obviously my ultimate goal and once I get there, I want to keep working hard to stay there. But I think definitely ending last year on a positive note is going to help me coming into this year."

Despite those solid numbers, Recker was left exposed to the Rule 5 draft by the A's this off-season. When he wasn't protected, Recker was left uncertain as to where he stood in the A's depth chart, so it was a relief for the Pennsylvania native when he was invited to big league camp.

"You lose a little bit of faith not getting put on the 40-man when you are eligible and not getting Rule 5'd. You hope that nobody is forgetting about you. But you've just got to continue to work hard and it's paying off for me so far," Recker said.

"Hopefully I just continue to get opportunities and I know that I am going to do my best to take advantage of them. It was definitely good to hear that news. I was relieved and excited at the same time because I felt like I deserved to be here, but, at the same time, you never know what is going to happen."

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