Oakland A's Prospect Q&A: Anthony Aliotti, 1B

In 2002, the Oakland A's drafted a corner infielder with a sweet left-handed swing and a smooth glove from Saint Mary's College in the East Bay suburb of Moraga. That pick, Mark Teahen, has gone onto a solid major league career. The A's hope that Saint Mary's alum Anthony Aliotti, a smooth-swinging, slick-fielding first-baseman who was an '09 pick, can put together a similar career.

Anthony Aliotti knows the East Bay. The Oakland A's selected Aliotti in the 15th round of the 2009 draft after he put together a standout career at Saint Mary's College in Moraga, which is located only 20 minutes from the Oakland Coliseum. Aliotti is a native of the East Bay city of Pittsburgh and he attended De La Salle High School in Concord, where he was a star pitcher and first-baseman for the Spartans.

Aliotti is off to a solid start to his first full professional season. He is batting .274 for the Low-A Kane County Cougars and, thanks to 24 walks, he has a .436 OBP, which is second on the team to Conner Crumbliss.

In addition to having a good eye at the plate, Aliotti has a reputation for being an above-average defensive first-baseman. Last fall, he was singled out by Stockton Ports' manager Steve Scarsone, who managed the A's Instructional League team, for his outstanding defensive work during the Instructional League.

David Malamut sat down with Aliotti over the weekend for a Q&A...

David Malamut: How has the season gone so far?

Anthony Aliotti: Good so far. Slow start at first but we are picking it up though. Swing is coming along. The team is coming along, a lot of good guys here.

DM: What are your goals for this season?

AA: Get the average up a little bit more, keep having good swings, develop a plan or approach to every at-bat. Keep things going the way they are right now.

DM: What did you learn while playing for De La Salle High School (in Concord, Calif.)?

AA: A great place over there. A lot of brotherhood-type stuff. Close bonds of togetherness, a lot of teamwork, a lot of respect. Kind of like just how to go about your business. It's a high school, but you learn stuff like that as well.

DM: Did you also pitch in high school?

AA: I did. I kind of miss all of that right now.

DM: Would you be pitching if the Cougars needed a position player to pitch?

AA: I would love the opportunity to pitch out here if it was a blowout. That would make my season.

DM: What did you learn from playing at Saint Mary's (in Moraga, Calif.)?

AA: More of how to get ready, how to prepare yourself mentally and physically. The season gets longer then you go summer ball, and it's the same thing. It's everyday, bus trips and the everyday grind of just playing. It's a good experience to get ready for pro ball which you hope to play one day.

DM: Where did you play summer ball, and how was it?

AA: I played in Alaska. Kenai, Alaska league out there. It was awesome. Alaska is a different place but a nice place. The weather similar to this, playing against some guys you know, it was a good time.

DM: How hard was it trying to learn both pitching and first base?

AA: It wasn't too hard to learn. I did it. Everyone's a pitcher when they are little. I enjoy having the ball. I kind of just developed pitching in high school. I did ok. In college I got a shot. I did ok, started some games. I miss pitching. I wish I could get out there.

DM: What was your major, and do you plan on graduating?

AA: Business. I do plan on graduating. I plan on attending next semester. I got a full year left so I hope I can knock it out of the way during the off-season.

DM: What was draft day like?

AA: Draft day was awesome. I kind of had an idea that I might go in the draft. Just kind of waiting, phone calls and text messages like that come in. I saw my name online. I got a lot of phone calls from family and friends saying congratulations.

DM: Were you an A's fan?

AA: I'm a hard core Giants fan. If you're from the Bay Area it's either Oakland or San Francisco. My whole family is San Francisco.

DM: What are they now?

AA: They are Giants fans. They don't care what I do, they are Giants fans.

DM: How hard was the transition from college to pro ball?

AA: A little different. Just going to wood bats, you get a little taste in summer ball in college, but you don't swing it all the time, so it's a little adjustment to the game. It speeds up a little bit, the pitching gets a little bit better, so you've got to make minor adjustments. People are here to help you so it's easy to improve.

DM: Did you have to change any of your mechanics of your swing?

AA: My swing used to be based on being down in my stance. I'm still the same hitter. I just changed a few things, getting taller, trying to generate a little bit more power.

DM: How was playing in Vancouver and what did you learn?

AA: Vancouver was awesome. That's a great city, good people. We sold out there all the time. The fans are great, the team was great. It's most of the same guys we have here. Vancouver was awesome. First year in pro ball you learn how to be ready, how to prepare for a game, getting yourself used to the everyday bus trips and ball games, and the off the field stuff, siging autographs, all the stuff off the field. That league has long bus trips. Our average bus trip was like six hours, so the bus trips were not very fun, especially when the bus breaks down. On the average trip, we went through three movies. If you need quotes from movie lines come to me. I've got every movie quote you need.

DM: What was the off-season like?

AA: It was good. I spent the first week or so getting back with the family, going to say hi to every body, then going meet back up with my friends, hangin' out with them for a little bit. Then it was back to business, starting to get ready for this season, working out, lifting, running.

DM: Did you do anything different this off-season compared to off-seasons in college?

AA: In off-season in college you have summer ball. You don't have that much time to workout and stuff like that, a lot more working out. I didn't swing every day. My hands would've fallen apart if I had swung every day.

DM: How was spring training?

AA: My first spring training was cool. You go there and really don't know what to expect. You meet a lot of guys. It's your chance to show everyone what you can do, and all the hard work in the off-season hopefully it will pay off.

DM: Did you get to learn from any former A's?

AA: Rickey Henderson was down there a little bit. He talks to us and you try to take a few things that he says.

DM: Did he help you on your base stealing, since you got two on the recent road trip?

AA: They wouldn't allow me in that meeting. I was kicked out of that meeting. I tried to sneak in but they wouldn't have it.

DM: How do you like Kane County and the Midwest League?

AA: It's fun. I haven't really gotten to go see a lot yet, just because we haven't had too many off days yet. Hopefully I will make it down to downtown Chicago. The stadium [Elfstrom] is nice. We get a decent amount of fans.

DM: What do you want to see downtown?

AA: I don't know, see what it's like down there. See Wrigley. I have a couple of friends that live down there.

DM: How about the Midwest League so far?

DM: Good competition. I've played a lot of these guys before and have seen a lot of them in spring training. You know what most teams are capable of and what they do.

DM: Have you always played pitcher or first base?

AA: They tried to throw me in the outfield in high school and in college to experiment a little bit. It didn't go too well. I can't get to the balls very good.

DM: Top 5 artists in your iPod?

AA: Taylor Swift, Little Wayne, Ludicris, Eminem. A shocker might be Will Smith, throw it back a little bit.

DM: What was it like being scouted?

AA: You get a little bit [when being recruited for] college with letters and stuff like that. It's a different process with pro ball scouts. They have a lot more information on you. You've got to perform day in and day out. They may see you multiple times, you never know who is watching. You just try to keep the same approach and same mindset.

DM: Who has been the biggest influence in your career?

AA: Probably my grandfather and my dad. Both of them taught me to be level-headed. Never get too high, never get too low, and just go out and play hard.

DM: Besides baseball what do you like to do?

AA: I'm a big ping pong player. I enjoy ping pong, Scrabble, pool. I love card games.

DM: What do you have to work on offensively?

AA: I'm still getting my approach down. We are still messing around with the swing, hand position, little tweaks that I need to make to get better.

DM: What are you working on defensively?

AA: A lot of focusing, never taking a pitch off. Knowing where you are supposed to be, kind of staying in the game.

DM: What is your approach at the plate?

AA: I like to look away until a pitcher can prove he can come in consistently. I like to keep my approach away, look for something on the outer half, and hit it where it's pitched. If they come in you try to bang a mistake.

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