Brothers In Arms Once Again

Day two of the MLB Draft for the Oakland A's was about power and tools early and heavy on college pitching later on. Two of those collegiate arms come from the same program, as the A's used their 12th and 13th picks on University of San Diego right-handers. We spoke to Matt Thomson and A.J. Griffin shortly after they were selected.

With their 12th overall pick, the A's selected University of San Diego right-hander Matt Thomson, who, if he reaches the big leagues with Oakland, will be pitching not far from home. The Santa Rosa native attended Santa Rosa Community College for a year before transferring to San Diego.

While growing up in Santa Rosa, Thomson beat a regular path to the Oakland Coliseum, so he was especially excited to have been drafted by the A's.

"Dollar Wednesdays, dollar hotdogs and all of that stuff, it was easy to get to the games. Just a short drive," Thomson said.

"It was an honor [to be drafted by Oakland]."

One pick later, the A's reached back into the University of San Diego pitching staff, selecting A.J. Griffin, who was one of three USD starting pitchers to be drafted on Tuesday. Griffin went 8-3 with a 4.47 ERA and 113 strike-outs in a team-leading 98.2 innings in 2010. It was Griffin's second season as a starting pitcher for the Toreros. Before that the 6'5'' right-hander was a closer. He saved a team-record 14 games for the Toreros in 2008 as a sophomore.

Griffin, who throws a fastball, curveball, change-up and slider and points to his slider as a his best pitch, has enjoyed both roles.

"I like both. Pitching is pitching to me. Whatever they feel like they need me to do, that will be fine," Griffin said.

Thomson has changed back and forth from a starting to a bullpen role throughout his career with San Diego. He was primarily a reliever as a sophomore, primarily a starter as a junior and then returned to the bullpen in 2010.

"I like them both equally. They're different beasts, but I don't really have a preference for either one," Thomson said.

Thomson throws a four- and two-seam fastball, both of which he can move around the strike-zone, a slider, curveball and change-up. The 6'4'' right-hander had a 3.38 ERA in 42.2 innings with 56 strike-outs and seven saves in 2010.

Neither pitcher was expecting the A's to call his name at the time he was selected. Griffin hadn't heard much from the A's leading up to the draft and was hanging out with friends when his name was announced on the draft conference call. Thomson wasn't even listening to the draft when his name was called. He was eating lunch.

"I had just stepped away from the computer. My dad was [listening to it] and he got really excited and started yelling, so it was fun," Thomson said.

"I had talked to the A's about 15 or 20 minutes before, but I wasn't really expecting much. I was pretty surprised when it happened."

Both Thomson and Griffin are seniors, and both had heard their names called in previous drafts: Thomson in 2007 and 2009 and Griffin in 2009. Griffin and Thomson agree that it feels different to be drafted as a senior, knowing that this time they will be entering pro ball.

"Definitely different. It's a lot more exciting. I'm very happy that it happened and I'm excited just to get out there," Thomson said.

"I'm pretty excited to get going," Griffin said.

When Griffin and Thomson embark on their pro careers, they will be taking the same path through the A's organization.

"It will be good at first to have someone that I know there. It will probably make for a smoother transition, but I am looking forward to meeting new guys, as well," Griffin said.

"I just love playing baseball, so [to go pro] will be a new learning experience. I'm really looking forward to it."

Griffin and Thomson won't be the only Toreros getting started in professional baseball this summer. They were two of eight USD players to be drafted on Tuesday.

"It's really exciting to know that I am going to play against them sometimes. That will be interesting," Thomson said.

"It's always fun to see a good friend picked up by a team and see their dreams get realized as well."


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