Over the past several years, the Oakland A's have drafted several players from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. Former Spartans selected by the A's over the past seven years include Jermaine Mitchell, Pat Currin, Robert Gilliam, Blake Hassebrock and Tyler Hollstegge. Dominique Vattuone became the latest Spartan to join the green and gold when he was selected by the A's in the 32nd round of this year's draft.
Vattuone spent two seasons at UNC-G, pitching almost exclusively in relief. Vattuone's raw numbers in college weren't overly impressive on their face. He had an 8.87 ERA in 2012 and a 7.31 ERA in 2013. However, he struck-out 8.87 batters per nine innings for the Spartans and flashed promising stuff with the potential for future growth.
The A's have already seen Vattuone start to tap into that potential. He had a solid first professional season split between the A's Arizona Rookie League team and the Vermont Lake Monsters. With the AZL A's, Vattuone posted a 3.31 ERA with an impressive 21:4 K:BB in 16.1 innings.
In late July, Vattuone was promoted to short-season Vermont. He breezed through his first seven appearances with the Lake Monsters, not allowing a run in 11.2 innings. He struck-out 14 and walked four over that stretch. Vattuone struggled over his final two outings, however, allowing seven runs over two innings of work. Even with those two poor outings, he finished with 17 strike-outs in 13.2 innings with Vermont. Between the AZL and Vermont, Vattuone had a 38:12 K:BB and a .221 BAA in 30 innings pitched.
Donald Moore caught-up with Vattuone during the Lake Monsters' final roadtrip of the season for a Q&A.
Donald Moore: How is everything going for you this season?
Dominique Vattuone: So far, so good. I got moved up in the middle of the season from AZL season up to here, so it's been a good transition. Very exciting stuff.
DM: What are your goals for this year?
DV: Just continue pitching the way I've been pitching and hopefully just keep doing what I'm doing. Doing well so far, so I'll keep doing that.
DM: What is your greatest strength as a ballplayer?
DV: My work ethic. Just going out each day to trying to improve one aspect of my game each day.
DM: What would you like to improve on?
DV: I mean each day is different. Obviously you want to improve on your fielding, command, velocity, location. All those kinds of each tool.
DM: How are you adjusting to professional ball?
DV: I'm think I'm making a good adjustment. Surprising. Doing better now than I was in college, so that's good.
DM: What do you like best about being a pro?
DV: Just the status here. It's everything that comes with it, it's great.
DM: Any pregame routine?
DV: Not so much because I'm a reliever, so you never know when you are going to be up, or not, so it all depends. Starters have more routines than relievers, just it's kind of ‘get up and go'.
DM: Favorite team growing up?
DV: I grew up a Yankees fan just because my dad moved here from Chile to live in the Bronx, so I kind of grew up a Yankees fan. But I live in D.C., so I'm more of a Nationals fan.
DM: If there is one person who taught you the most about baseball, who would that be?
DV: Each coach adds in his perspectives and helps me along the way. My greatest influence would be my agent now, Jay Witasick. He pitched for the A's and Cardinals. He's my agent now, but he was my pitching coach in GK. So he knew what it would take to get to the next level and move up the ranks. He would kind of test me, and stuff like that, so I was very thankful and fortunate to have him.
DM: Craziest thing you ever saw on a diamond?
DV: It was during BP a couple weeks ago when one of our guys got drilled with a line drive to the face and broke his cheek. That was pretty wild.
DM: Where do you see yourself five years from now?
DV: Doing this. I love this, it's the job I've been playing for for all my life, so I'm happy I got it, and I'm just going to ride it out and see how far it can take me.
DM: Thank you for your time and the best of luck to you.
DV: Thank you.