Gil Patterson On A's Short-Season Pitchers

The 2010 draft ushered in another talented group of pitchers into the Oakland A's system. The A's US short-season teams have reflected that talent, as Vancouver leads the Northwest League in ERA and the Arizona A's are third in the AZL in ERA. We recently spoke with A's minor league pitching coordinator Gil Patterson about the C's, the AZL A's and the DSL A's pitching staffs.

Arizona Rookie League A's

On Tyler Vail:

"I like him quite a bit. Just a strike-thrower. For a high school kid just to fire strikes, that's impressive. You hate to kind of say a young Trevor Cahill, but very well could be. Sinks the ball, throws the ball in the high-80s, low-90s. Pretty good feel for a change-up and the breaking pitch is coming. He has only thrown it for a short period of time, so it's in the development stage. But he'll spin a good one every now and then."

On Omar Duran being back to 100 percent after battling injuries last season:

"I'm not sure since we are trying to keep him at a 40-60 pitch max this season, but he has stayed healthy. I'm very happy with Duran overall. Ariel [Prieto, the A's Rookie League pitching coach] has done a nice job with him. He's a left-hander throwing 90-93 [MPH]. He'll touch higher, but he's 90-93 and it's around the plate, throwing strikes. He's made some nice strides this year."

On Argenis Paez:

"He has impressed us quite a bit in Arizona and honestly if there would be a need almost anywhere in Stockton, Kane County or Vancouver for a starter, I would not hesitate to send him whatsoever. That's how much he has improved under Ariel. It's great to see. I like the kid a lot and he's probably going to come to our Arizona Instructional League."

On Jose Macias, who was a position player in college until this year, when he moved to the mound and dominated for Franklin Pierce:

"This kid, when he got here, had zero innings the past couple of years because he had been a positional player. Then he threw 90 [this season for Franklin Pierce College]. We always ask a guy [when they report to Arizona after signing], ‘how are you feeling?' He says, ‘I'm hanging.' [laughs] So we were very, very cautious with him early on and we've continued to be.

"But the thing with him is that he will go one inning and throw nine pitches when we gave him a one [inning] or 25 [pitch limit]. So I'll give him a two innings or 30 [pitch limit], and he'll go two in 25 [pitches]. And I'm, like, ‘holy cow, throw more pitches so they aren't tempted to use you again.' They just got caught in a position where they had a double-header the other day and I said, ‘okay, three and 50 [pitch limit].' Well, he goes like four [innings] in 49 [pitches].

"He's unbelievable. He's a strike-throwing machine, changes speeds, locates well and can throw a little slider. He's been a pleasant surprise because you don't know what you are going to get. The guys who scouted him did a heck of a job. I can see him fighting for a job [on a full-season roster next year]. You say ‘Gil, he's only pitched out of the bullpen in Arizona and now you have him fighting for a job in Kane County with 15 other guys from Vancouver and pitchers in Arizona?' And it's like, ‘yeah, watch him pitch.'"

On Ryan Hughes:

"He's only thrown something like 13 innings his past two years in college, but, if you look at him, he's a left-handed power guy. He only pitches at 90, but it's strong. And it's going to get better. He has a very good split-finger and a good slider."

On Jeff Urlaub:

"He lives in Arizona in our backyard. He's almost like a Jerry Blevins. He doesn't throw as hard as Jerry, but locates it, throws a little slider, throws a little change-up. One inning, nine pitches. Two innings, 22 pitches."

On Andres Avila:

"Another guy named Andres Avila, who has come from Mexico, when you look at his delivery, it's a good solid delivery. I look at him for one game it is two innings, 18 pitches. Then I read in the report the next day and it's one-third [of an inning] and 17 [pitches] with 14 balls, and it's like ‘what?'"

On the news that Michael Ynoa is going to miss a year with Tommy John surgery:

"Yes [it was disappointing]. But in a sense, if you are ever going to totally resolve something, this is the way. At least now we know that after they go in, there's not going to be anything left. No more rest and let's try this. Go in, get it cleaned up, fix it and let's go. I'm just certainly hoping that when they get in there, everything that is in there that needs to get fixed is easily fixed.

"One game it was like, alright, this is the guy. He went two or three innings, 36 pitches and 92 [MPH] average, 82 [MPH] curveball. So I'm hoping at the very least when they get in there they can get it all fixed."

Vancouver Canadians

On Matt Thomson, who was promoted to Stockton on Thursday for what is expected to be a one-stint promotion. Thomson threw five shut-out innings, allowing only two hits and two walks and striking out 10:

"Thomson is just off-the-chart number-wise. He's not overpowering, but he throws strikes. He's not afraid. He can spin a breaking ball and change speeds enough and the ball has some movement."

On A.J. Griffin and Jacob Brown:

"[Griffin] has done a nice job, along with another lefty Brown. Heck, my first video of Brown, I saw that from behind his throwing motion looked just like Mark Buerhle's. And boy if we have a Buerhle on our hands, we'll take him. [laughs] Griffin has thrown the ball very well. I am very happy with him."

On whether Deyvi Jimenez has fulfilled pre-season expectations:

"For the most part, he has. He did go down with a sore elbow last week, so whenever someone goes down, I'm always concerned about that. You'd like the hit number to be down and the strike-out number to be up a little bit. But I am happy with his progress. I still think that there is more to come. He has to get this sore elbow problem resolved, but I still think there is more to come for him."

On Jonathan Joseph [who started the season in Kane County, then pitched for Vancouver and is now back in Kane County]:

"I'm happy with Joseph's progress, but he has not reached his full potential yet. There's a lot more there. I believe he is coming to our Arizona Instructional League. He's getting there. He's better than he was two years ago."

On Ryan Doolittle and Michael Hart, who both battled injuries last year and graduated from Vancouver to Kane County and Stockton, respectively:

"Both of them, I've been very happy with, especially Doolittle. The last game or two he has struggled some in Kane, but he had almost 40 innings for us [in extended spring training] in April and May in Arizona and he is going to finish with close to 75 or 80 [innings]. So it has been very good for him.

"Hart is the same way. He started off in Arizona and couldn't wait to get out and I said, ‘listen, you are not getting out. You aren't going to jump above people. It's just the way it is. So you'll pitch in Arizona and then go to Vancouver and then you never know what is going to happen.' And now he is in Stockton. And that's the way it is kind of supposed to be. He wasn't going to jump over guys who were pitching well. You hate when guys get hurt, but he wasn't going to jump over them [if they were healthy]. But he pitched well in Vancouver and when a spot opened, it was like ‘ok, who do we have in Vancouver who is capable of pitching in Stockton?' And he was that guy because he pitched last year and he did okay in Kane County and he had a little bit of that Midwest League experience. So I am happy with both of them."

On the draft class in general:

"Drew Tyson has been impressive. You know how you can sometimes look at numbers and they can be a little bit misleading, but every guy that we have had [from the 2010 draft class], we have seen positive signs in. Josh Bowman has made some good strides, as has Blake Hassebrock. Logan Chitwood went from Arizona to Vancouver and has pitched well.

"Zach Thornton throws like the old Ron Gator [Guidry] and looks like he might be something. Even though sometimes you might look at the numbers and say, ‘that's not something to be happy about,' but all of the guys have shown signs. And even some of the guys that we signed that were free agents [have looked good]. A left-hander named Charles Mye. He's thrown the ball really well and has helped Ariel. As I have seen both clubs, I have just been very happy with what I have seen."

Dominican Summer League

On the Dominican hurlers in general:

"There's no 95 mile-per-hour guys down there other than David Mota, but he is still coming back from the Tommy John surgery, although he has thrown the ball well."

On Robinson De Los Santos:

"Robinson De Los Santos is a right-hand pitcher who has a pretty good fastball, a breaking curveball and a change-up mix. Throws the ball over the plate. Repeats his delivery pretty good. There is some sharpness to his breaking ball. Robinson is a nice little pitcher. He's got an idea. He doesn't just try to over-throw and throw pitches too hard. He just pitches."

On Kevin Rodriguez:

"The left-hander Rodriguez, it's the same thing. He's got a little bit of a live arm. He's been in the high-80s, low-90s. 91-92 [MPH]. But he threw his breaking ball pretty well. The change-up needs a little bit of work, but, for the most part, a strike-thrower. Being left-handed and being able to spin a breaking ball, you like to see that."

On Carlos Navas:

"Navas is just a young kid. I think he is 17 [turned 18 on August 13]. It's going to be neat to kind of see him grow. Right now, the velocity isn't there. We are hoping that the conditioning that we give him and with him growing, he'll add [velocity down-the-line]. But Navas is a good, young pitcher. Kind of a follow guy. He'll probably stay in the Dominican again for next year, but it is nice to see someone who has a repeatable delivery, can spin a breaking ball, has a feel for a change-up, can locate a little bit and is not afraid. All good qualities."

On Leonel Benzant:

Note: Benzant was suspended 50 games on July 27 under Minor League Baseball's steroid policy for testing positive for metabolites of Stanozolol.

"Benzant is just a big, strong kid. He hit 90-93. I really don't know the whole story [in regards to his suspension], but our complex in the Dominican, we have a good enough [conditioning and education] program that people don't need help with anything. We've got them covered pretty good. That's the frustrating part sometimes. That all said, I believe he can pitch again during the [Dominican] Instructional League and I am looking forward to working with him again then."

On Jose Azor:

"He's an interesting guy too. He throws a sinker a little bit firmer than the other guys, 90-93 [MPH], 90-94. Keeps the ball around the plate and he has a decent breaking ball. As a matter of fact, I believe he was supposed to come over this year, but I think he had some visa problems.

"I'm scheduled to go back and see these guys again during the Dominican Instructional League. All of those guys are going to be ready to come over here, probably not in March of next year, but in April hopefully [with the exception of Navas]. Or, at the very least, they will be ready to pitch with us next year in the Arizona Summer League. To get those guys over here would be a nice mix and I think when I go down [to the Dominican this fall], I'll get to see a few more of the other guys, so that will be good for me, as well."

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