Green Putting The Work In

When it came time for the Oakland A's to make their first selection in last year's draft, they were thrilled to call the name Grant Green, who many thought would be gone well before Oakland's slot. The A's then went over-slot to sign Green, who they hope is their shortstop of the future. After playing in only five minor league games last year, Green is getting his first extended taste of pro ball.

When the Oakland A's selected Grant Green with the 13th overall pick last season, they believed they were getting a special hitter for the shortstop position. So it comes as no surprise to see Green's OPS well above the 800 mark through the first 12 games of this season. In 53 at-bats for High-A Stockton, Green is batting .340 with six extra-base hits, including a homerun. In many ways, Green picking up where he left off with Stockton last season, when, in a five-game audition, Green hit .314.

Despite the good numbers, Green is still feeling his way at the plate, as he is working on a number of different mechanical adjustments.

"My swing right when I got drafted was completely a metal bat swing. It wasn't really going to translate very well with the wood bats, so we are tinkering here and there. I'm starting to get a couple of things right away. Other things are taking a little bit longer," Green said before the Ports' game on Sunday.

"It's a work in progress. I'm happy with where I am at right now, although I'm not doing as well as I wish. A couple of games here and there where nothing really felt right, but it's a work in progress. I'm starting to get it going."

Things haven't gone as smoothly on the stat sheet for Green thus far on the defensive side of the ball. He was the DH exclusively during his five games with the Ports last season, so this has been his first taste of playing shortstop as a professional. In 12 games, he has already committed a team-high four errors. Green sees the errors as a byproduct of a number of things he is focusing on defensively with A's minor league roving infield instructor Juan Navarette.

"I am working on some stuff defensively that has caused me to think a little bit too much out there. As a result, I have had a few more errors than I was hoping, but it's going to help me in the long run working with these things," Green said.

"I have to not really worry about the errors right now and I just have to know that it's getting me better and getting me more prepared for the next level."

Scouts have been projecting big things for Green at the next level since he hit .348 during the 2009 Cape Cod League. Green was given the Robert A. McNeece Outstanding Pro Prospect Award for his work on the Cape, an award that has been given to a number of MLB stars, including Mark Teixeira and Billy Wagner. The experience on the Cape gave Green a preview of the level of competition he is now facing in the California League.

"I think it prepared me for the type of pitching I am going to see. Thinking about what pitches might be thrown in certain situations. The type of stuff you see [in pro ball]. The good curveball and the good spotting, the stuff of that nature, is what I got used to," Green said.

Green also got a taste of high-level competition this spring when he participated in the A's major league spring training camp. Although he had less than a week of professional baseball experience heading into camp, Green felt like he was embraced by his A's teammates as one of the guys.

"All of the guys were amazing. I thought going in that they might treat me a little different – me and [Max] Stassi – because we were the new guys and kind of didn't earn to be up there, although we did well at the amateur level. But all of the guys were cool. They treated us like one of their own. It really surprised me," Green said.

One of the aspects of professional baseball Green has most had to get used to is the grind of playing everyday. Spring training was his first big test. He had to prepare for the regular season over a span of just a few weeks, as opposed to the months of preparation he would have before his collegiate seasons at USC.

"Everything is just really compacted [in spring training]. You start feeling the grind. I can even feel it right now a little bit. But it's something I love doing, so I am enjoying it," Green said.

Green had a chance over the weekend to learn more about what it takes to last over a full season from A's Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson, who was in Stockton to work with the club in his capacity as a roving instructor.

"I have been trying to pick his brain about the everyday grind of big league ball and minor league ball, about how every individual day doesn't really matter that much. You always have another four at-bats the next day. It's more just the mental part of the game," Green said.

Green had a break from baseball last summer after the draft, as he didn't sign with the A's until mid-August, just hours before the signing period expired. Although he got some valuable time with his family, Green said he was anxious to get back on the field.

"It was actually the first time I've had some time off. It was extremely boring. I was working out everyday but I was really just sitting there, doing absolutely nothing. Going to watch my brother play and then getting the itch to start playing. There was nothing I could do," Green said.

Green hails from Anaheim Hills in Southern California and is an alum of Canyon High School, the alma mater of current Ports' manager Steve Scarsone. Although Green grew up just miles from the home ballpark of the A's AL West rival Los Angeles Angels, Green's childhood loyalties laid with another A's rival: the San Francisco Giants.

"My dad was a big Giants fan, so he instilled all of his knowledge and rooting interest on me when I was young. When I was growing up, all of the teams I played on were the Giants. So I was a huge Giants fan," Green said.

"Then my brother [Garrett Green] got drafted by the Dodgers, which kind of killed him. I got drafted by the A's, so he's learning to love the rivals of the Giants now. He's enjoying it now, as well."

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