Righties rule top of A's Draft board
Oakland takes nine pitchers among first 12 picks, including eight right-handers
The A's wanted pitching, and pitching they got. Right-handers, mostly.
Nine of Oakland's first 12 picks in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft were pitchers. Eight of those nine were righties.
Even the A's first-round selection, Cal State Fullerton third baseman Matt Chapman, has experience throwing 98 mph out of the bullpen -- though the A's have no intention of putting him on the mound.
"I don't think we necessarily set out searching for right-handed pitching," A's assistant director of scouting Michael Holmes said. "I just think it was one of those things where we identified some guys, we identified wanting to bring some pitchers into our system, and they just happened to kind of all fall into that right-handed category."
Among the other trends that emerged in the early rounds for Oakland was a penchant for undersized pitchers.
Of the 208 pitchers taken by all teams in the first 12 rounds of the Draft, 157 were 6-foot-2 or taller, and 118 were 200 pounds or heavier.
Of the A's first nine pitchers selected -- eight of whom are college players -- only three stand at least 6-foot-2, and all nine weigh under 200 pounds.
Again, Holmes downplayed the significance of the trend.
"There's certain aspects that certain people on every team has, certain likes and dislikes," he said. "What we've found is, [if] we've got a pitcher that we like their stuff, we like their delivery, we like their ability to throw strikes, it's been something that we haven't tried to be stubborn as far as put a height requirement on these guys."
The A's second- and third-round picks -- Daniel Gossett of Clemson and Brett Graves of Missouri -- fit the bill of relatively small, hard-throwing right-handers.
"We like a lot about him," scouting director Eric Kubota said of Gossett. "He's a proven college performer. He's got a fastball that's from 92 to 94 [mph]. He throws strikes. He's got the makings of an out-pitch breaking ball and a very good changeup. He's a very athletic kid."
Oakland also took several pitchers who were late bloomers in college.
Fourth-round selection Jordan Schwartz had an 8.17 ERA his sophomore year at Niagara University, but as a junior this spring, he lowered that number to 3.15 while striking out 109 and walking 35.
Fifth-round pick Heath Fillmyer, from Mercer County Community College, converted from shortstop to pitcher late in his freshman year, and as a sophomore, he boasted a 0.68 ERA and was named the National Junior College Athletic Association Player of the Year.
And ninth-rounder Mike Fagan, a southpaw who attended Princeton, lowered his walk rate from 13.69 to 2.79 per nine innings as a senior, transforming into the Tigers' ace and making the All-Ivy League First Team.
"You're talking about guys that come from the Northeast, weather certainly plays a part in their college seasons. Sometimes those guys tend to be slow starters," Holmes said. "Our guys that had a chance to see them, scout them, really like the potential that they have."
The A's took a break from loading up on pitchers in the sixth and seventh rounds to snag a pair of left-handed-hitting middle infielders: high school shortstop Trace Loehr and University of Virginia product Branden Cogswell.
Loehr, who started at second base for USA Baseball's 18U team last year, and who has committed to play at Oregon State, did not make an error in 13 games for Team USA, posting team highs in steals (six) and walks (seven).
Cogswell, meanwhile, became the A's first University of Virginia draftee since current closer Sean Doolittle in 2007. Cogswell moved from shortstop to second base early this spring, and he was an All-Star for the Harwich Mariners of the Cape Cod League last summer.
Oakland waited until the 14th round to take a catcher (Casey Schroeder), until the 23rd round to take a first baseman (Collin Ferguson), and until the 25th round to take an outfielder (Joseph Estrada). The A's last nine selections were all position players.
Of their 40 total picks, 30 were college players and 18 were pitchers.
"The biggest thing is, with these arms, we identified some athletic guys with velocity and upside," Holmes said. "We think we got some guys that are just starting to scratch the surface as far as their ability."
Aaron Leibowitz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.