Oakland A's Prospect Q&A: Jemile Weeks, 2B

Even before the first pitch was thrown, the 2010 season was already off to a better start for Oakland A's second base prospect Jemile Weeks because he was healthy and in an Opening Day line-up. The A's 2008 first-round pick is off to a strong early start for Double-A Midland. We spoke with Weeks from Midland on Friday.

At this time last year, Jemile Weeks' name was nowhere to be found in the minor league boxscores. The former Miami star was back in Phoenix, working his way through a myriad of leg ailments that stemmed from a torn hip flexor he had suffered during a game with the Low-A Kane County Cougars in July 2008.

Weeks didn't complete his rehab until May, when he joined the High-A Stockton Ports. Even when he did report, his activities were still somewhat limited. Weeks wound-up appearing in only 80 regular season games with Stockton and Double-A Midland last season, batting .278 with a 782 OPS. After helping the Midland Rockhounds win a Texas League title, Weeks, now healthy, participated in the Arizona Fall League and was named to the league's All-Prospect team.

Weeks was a non-roster invite to the A's big league spring training camp for a second consecutive season. During camp, he got to work with A's Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson, who was a special instructor. Weeks hit well in big league camp, collecting two extra-base hits and scoring four runs in seven official at-bats.

At the close of spring training, Weeks was assigned to the Rockhounds, and he has helped Midland get off to a 2-0 start by collecting five hits in his first nine at-bats, including two doubles and a triple. We caught-up with Weeks on Friday to get his thoughts on the new season, his health, being teammates with Stephen Strasburg and more…

OaklandClubhouse: How was it to be out there for Opening Day after missing it last year?

Jemile Weeks: It was great. Obviously it was my first one. Just for it to be my first one, it was something that I was looking forward to since coming into spring training. It was refreshing to get out there and know that I am starting out the season on the right note.

OC: Obviously, it is early, but how would you compare this year's Rockhounds team to the one you won the championship with last season?

JW: It's pretty similar. We don't have a big bat like we had with Chris Carter last year, who is going to give us 25, 30 homeruns in a season. But we have a lot of guys who are skilled players, who can put it out of the ballpark up and down the line-up. I think we are more balanced, maybe.

OC: How was spring training this year? I assume you were able to get in all of your workouts since you were healthy.

JW: It was really good for me. I was able to play at 100 percent. It was good to be out there on the field and know that you were going to be playing.

OC: Did you have to do anything special this off-season to keep your legs and hip healthy?

JW: You just tailor your workouts to the deficiency that you have. For me, it was my legs, so I focused on my core and my legs mostly this off-season.

OC: How was it working with Rickey Henderson in Instructs and again this spring? Did you learn anything?

JW: From what I learned [from Rickey Henderson], it was a few little things that I think are going to help a lot. Mostly it was just getting that aggressiveness back from not being healthy enough to run every day. He really banged that into my head, just the fact that you really have to have that eagerness and that readiness that nobody can get you out. That's what gives you that aggressiveness to go. That's probably the biggest thing that I took from him, but he had some little tidbits that he used to do that I am working on.

OC: Were there any tricks that he taught you that you were surprised to learn or did it all make sense when he was explaining it?

JW: Some of the stuff was surprising, but for the most part, it made sense. There are some things that he did that are obviously not going to be able to translate to other people, but, for the most part, what he said made sense.

OC: Did he help you with just base-running or did he work with you on being a leadoff hitter, as well?

JW: Everything, yeah. It was specifically for base-running, for the most part, but he actually stuck around the hitting a lot when he was working with me.

OC: How was big league camp this year, having been a part of it last year? Were you a little more comfortable?

JW: Yes, that is exactly what it was, more comfortable. I already knew the guys and the coaches, so it wasn't much of a reason to be nervous or anything like that.

OC: It seemed like you were swinging the bat well in big league camp. Did that carry over into minor league camp?

JW: Yeah, it actually did. I was seeing the ball pretty well and I was able to work on a few things that I am using right now. Hopefully it will translate well throughout the whole season.

OC: Your regular season stint last year with Midland was a bit of a struggle (Weeks hit only .238 with Midland). Were there things from last year that you are trying to improve on for this year?

JW: Just the mental part of the game. At that point in the season, it is easy to pretty much go through the motions at times. But this year I think mentally I am stronger. I think I am better prepared to go out there and carry out what I need to do throughout the whole season.

OC: You were teammates with Stephen Strasburg during the Arizona Fall League last year. Was the media attention surrounding him kind of weird?

JW: It wasn't really weird. I kind of expected it once he got there. We knew all of the hype and that the media was going to be crazy over him. It wasn't really weird, it was actually more interesting than anything.

OC: Did he live up to the hype when you saw him pitch?

JW: Yeah, I thought he was a great pitcher. He's a big league pitcher if you ask me. Maybe he needs some polishing up, like a lot of people believe, but in the end, I believe with his arm and his control, he's a big league pitcher.

OC: Did you learn anything from the coaches at the Arizona Fall League, even ones not in the A's organization?

JW: Yeah, I actually liked working with the coach who was with our organization a lot, Coach Mac [Sacramento hitting coach Brian McArn]. He helped me to keep my body centered at the plate and being well-balanced. Those were the main things that I was working on.

OC: How are you feeling defensively right now?

JW: I feel pretty good. I know that is one of the parts of my game that I am working on and I am going to continue to work on it. As of right now, I feel like I have improved and I am definitely looking to improve more throughout this season and definitely into the next off-season.


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