Lansford is a Midwest League All-Star.
Before this season, Jared Lansford may have been best known for being the son of former AL batting champion Carney Lansford. However, after a stunning first month performance that included a no-hitter, Lansford has quickly made a name for himself. Jennifer Harasek recently caught up with Lansford to discuss his no-hitter, his goals for the season, having "Stew" as an agent and more...
Jared Lansford has had quite an auspicious beginning to his professional career. Drafted in the second round of last year’s draft, Lansford was part of a surprisingly large group of A’s draft picks who were high school picks in 2005.
After posting solid numbers in the Arizona Rookie League in 2005, Lansford made an immediate splash at the full-season level by hurling a no-hitter in his first professional month. He was recently named to the Midwest League All-Star team and he has five wins despite missing the first month of the season.
Lansford is a second-generation member of the Oakland A’s organization, as his father, Carney Lansford, was an important piece of the great Oakland A’s teams of 1988-1992. Jared’s older brother Josh was recently selected in the sixth round of the 2006 draft by the Chicago Cubs.
Our Kane County Correspondent, Jennifer Harasek, recently caught up with the talented young right-hander for a Q&A.
Jennifer Harasek: What was going through your mind during that final inning of your no-hitter? Have you ever thrown one before in Little League or high school?
Jared Lansford: Well that last inning... it was a 7 inning game so the first 6 innings you're just trying to keep your mind off it, but then when the fans get into it and they start screaming, then you start feeling the pressure. I tried to just stick with the same game plan I had the entire game, nothing changed. I just tried to stick with the way I was pitching to the hitters, and it ended up working out. Actually, with the first or second batter I ended up getting into a little trouble. Luckily, my defense helped me out there to win the game. I've never thrown a no-hitter before, actually, maybe in little league but I don't remember.
JH: Have you been surprised with your early success against Midwest League hitters?
JL: It was a little difficult coming up here because I had never pitched a full year on a long season team. I didn't know how I was going to be able to adjust to it, but I was down in extended spring training for a little bit trying to work out some problems that I had. When I came up here, we had already played the teams a couple of times, so we had some good scouting reports on them. They had never seen me pitch so it was kind of an advantage for me. Coming in I know how to pitch to these guys and they've never seen me before so I'm just trying to use that to the best I can and luckily it has been working out.
JH: Does your shoulder feel 100%? What was the injury exactly?
JL: In extended spring training, I just had a little bit of early soreness, some inflammation in my rotator cuff, so they were just doing some precautionary stuff. They didn't want to rush me too quickly, get me up here and have me hurt it even worse, so I just stayed down there for about a month. I'm 100% right now. I haven't had any complaints.
JH: What has been the biggest adjustment from high school to the pros?
JL: In high school, pitching to me was throwing the ball up there as fast as I could, trying to get everyone out, trying to overpower everyone. Down here it is more of a finesse game. You have to know where to pitch hitters, you have to know certain situations and everything. I've been learning that for the past year or so. That has to be the biggest difference. I don't strike a lot of guys out, I used to in high school, but I don't anymore. It's just learning to pitch to contact and letting my fielders play. They are professionals, too, so they are doing there job pretty well. It's nice to have those guys.
JH: Is there a pitch that you have spent the most time working on?
JL: Yeah, actually there is. Last year I came down to rookie ball and they wouldn't let us throw curveballs, so I had to learn a new pitch. I had to learn a changeup, which I never had to use in high school because no one could ever catch up to my fastball. I never needed a changeup but now it's every game, just throwing fastball/changeups. Just trying to keep the hitters off-balance. That's my biggest pitch, that's my out-pitch now, so that's gotta be the biggest one.
JH: Has anything surprised you about professional baseball?
JL: A little bit. On the road is a little bit of a surprise. You travel about 5 or 6 hours to a town on a bus, and then you go stay at--I mean, they're not bad hotels, but it's just exhausting. Sometimes you have to pitch the next day, come back at 1 or 2am, and have to get up for a day game or something. That's the hardest part, but everything else is not too surprising.
JH: Do you miss playing a position and hitting or are you happy being a full-time pitcher?
JL: Sometimes I miss it, but I try not to think about it. There's no use for me thinking about it unless I'm recalling the glory days back in high school. We have a rule on our team that if we throw a shut out as a pitching staff, we get a pitcher's batting practice. We've been hitting some pitcher's batting practice lately and I've been showing off my skills a little bit, but it's fun.
JH: How much did your decision to sign rather than go to Santa Clara have to do with being drafted by the A's as opposed to another team?
JL: The A's were one of the organizations that I really didn't talk to that much before the draft. When they told me that I was possibly going to be a top round pick, I just didn't even believe them. I didn't believe it because I wanted to go to college. I had my mind set on going to college and everything but when the draft came around I had already told them that if they drafted me in the top 3 rounds I was going to go.
So when my name came up in the second round, it was like wow, I actually have to go now. It was a good feeling, and I couldn't have picked a better organization to go to. I know a lot of the guys here, I know a lot of the upper levels, all those guys--the GMs and everything. It's nice coming to an organization you are familiar with and coming right out of high school. It's been nice.
JH: How much exposure to the organization did you have through your dad when you were growing up?
JL: Besides being in the clubhouse up until I was 8 years old, I keep in-touch a little bit with a couple of the guys in the front office. We know Billy Beane, but that's pretty much it.
JH: What is it like to have Dave Stewart (former Oakland A's star pitcher) as your agent?
JL: Dave is one of our family's close friends. I couldn't have picked a better agent, let alone he's doing it for free. He's a great guy, a great businessman, and I couldn't ask for a better agent.
JH: Your brother was selected by the Cubs in the draft. Are you looking forward to facing him someday, and striking him out?
JL: Yeah, I've never faced him before. Hopefully he gets called up to Peoria sometime this year and I can face him.
JH: Did you set any goals for yourself at the start of the season? If so, what are they?
JL: My goal is to get up to 20 wins by the end of the season. My ultimate goal is to keep moving up levels. Hopefully I will get called up to Stockton at the end of the season, or somewhere along the line. That's basically my main goal, to always get called up.
JH: You were recently added to the All-Star roster. What are you looking forward to the most about the All-Star break?
JL: I just want to get in there. It's going to be more fun than it will be a competition. It's going to be a lot of guys going out there, having a fun time, and putting on a show. I can't wait to see [Jeff] Baisley in the homerun derby contest, that's going to be fun.