Dusty Coleman has eight homeruns this season.
Last year’s draft was notable for the Oakland A’s not only for their first top-15 selection in a decade, but also because the team went over-slot to sign a few promising draft picks. Dusty Coleman, a shortstop out of Wichita State, was one such signing. Thus far, it has been a successful decision for Oakland, as Coleman is off to a terrific start to his career. David Malamut caught-up with Coleman
South Dakota isn’t exactly a hotbed of baseball talent, but over the years, the Oakland A’s have had some success with infielders from the Mount Rushmore State. Dick Green and Mark Ellis are two of the best second basemen the A’s have had over the past 30 years and both hail from Rapid City, South Dakota. The A’s are hoping to add another name to the list of great South Dakota-raised Oakland Athletics with Sioux Falls, South Dakota, native Dusty Coleman.
Coleman was selected by the Oakland A’s in the 28th round of the 2008 amateur draft out of Wichita State. A draft-eligible sophomore, Coleman was considered no sure bet to sign when he was selected. However, the A’s monitored Coleman closely as he competed in a summer league and when the August 15th signing deadline approached, Oakland made Coleman an offer that was too good for him to pass up. He signed for $675,000, an amount usually commiserate with a top-three round talent.
Thus far in his professional career, Coleman has played like a top three-round talent. He appeared in 26 games for the A’s short-season affiliates at the end of the 2008 season and hit .293 with 11 RBIs. In 2009, he was sent to Low-A Kane County, where he has been one of the Cougars’ top hitters all season. Through 54 games, Coleman is batting .276 with eight homers, 37 RBIs and an 879 OPS in a difficult hitters league. Coleman posted OPS above 900 in both April and May. He was recently one of seven Kane County Cougars to be named to the Midwest League All-Star team.
David Malamut caught-up with Coleman over the weekend to discuss his thoughts on his first full season, the transition from metal to wood bats and more…
David Malamut: How is it playing with a college teammate [Anthony Capra] this year?
Dusty Coleman: It’s great definitely having someone with a familiar face around, so you can be comfortable. He is one of my good buddies, so it’s great being able to play with him again.
DM: What was it like playing summer ball in high school?
DC: Summer ball in high school, I played on a traveling team. High school ball didn’t really start until, I think, sophomore year, so I didn’t really play until my junior year. Most of my summer ball was with the traveling team. We would go to Omaha and Kansas City, any time we could get a chance to go south we would go down there.
DM: What does it mean to be a Midwest League All-Star?
DC: It’s definitely a good accomplishment for me, it was one of my goals that I set out before the season. I had a good start, and it got me off on a good roll. I'm trying to maintain it now, hopefully keep it rolling for the second half.
DM: You came out of college after your sophomore year? What led to the decision?
DC: I just thought it was the right situation for me. I knew that Oakland put a lot of investment in me and I knew that they had a good farm system and were good at developing players, and I thought that God was kind of leading me in the right direction to go play pro ball.
DM: Are you going to try to finish up your college degree?
DC: Definitely, when I get enough of a break to get some classes in I’ll go back and get my degree as soon as possible. My major was business administration.
DM: What is your pregame routine?
DC: I guess just always getting loose, playing catch. I guess my main routine is that I always pray before the game, I guess that is the routine that I always have to get done.
DM: Why the #8?
DC: Honestly, I used to be a number 7 guy. It was always my favorite number when I was a kid. When I got to Wichita State my freshman year, the number 7 was taken by a senior, so I just went to number 8 and turned out liking it, so I’m keeping it.
DM: What did you learn from playing college summer league for the Weatherford Wranglers?
DC: I just learned a lot more plate discipline, and got some more experience against some more college pitching, and just tried to grow as a player all around. It was a great summer league for me to do that.
DM: What was the difference between the metal and wood bat?
DC: It actually turned out that I liked playing with the wood bat a little bit better than the metal. It kind of feels different in your hand. Ever since then I have felt a little more comfortable in the box, I actually prefer it.
DM: What was it like playing for Wichita State? How was it with all of the success they have had over the years, and all of the big leaguers they have produced?
DC: It was definitely great playing for a program with such a great tradition. The teams that I was on had a bunch of great guys—great athletes, great players. Probably a couple of future big leaguers on there, too. So it was just a great opportunity for me to learn from that coaching staff and play in that atmosphere.
DM: How was draft day, and what was it like getting picked by Oakland?
DC: On draft day we were actually playing Florida State in the Super Regional. I wasn’t really too worried about getting drafted at that point. Honestly, I thought I’d get drafted low and then I didn’t even think I would sign. I wasn’t too worried about it. I was just worried about the task at hand.
DM: What was the biggest difference last year between, college, Vancouver and the Arizona Rookie League?
DC: I thought it was just the consistent pitching talent. In college, you know you have your weekend guys who are always good, then maybe your midweek guys are not up to par, but every day in pro ball you have a good arm coming out there, every at-bat. That is probably the biggest difference.
DM: What did you learn from last year?
DC: Definitely some more plate discipline. I learned not to chase some bad pitches and I feel that I’m getting better with my two-strike approach, even though I still need a lot of work on it. I also learned that baseball is a continual learning process, so I always have stuff to work on.
DM: How was the experience of pitching in college and what did you learn?
DC: Pitching was different. I always came in if we had a big lead. They wanted me to become a closer-type, but they didn’t want to take me away from shortstop late in the game mostly, so I only got a few innings here and there. It was fun. I do miss pitching every once in a while getting up on the bump and kind of feeling like you have the game in your hands, so it was a great time. I usually threw just fastball, slider, changeup so pretty much average right hander.
DM: Coming into this season what were your goals?
DC: Coming into the season, being one of the leaders in defense in the league. I honestly don’t feel like I've done that well, for that goal. Hitting with power and being more of a consistent hitter was my goal offensively. Also getting a better two-strike approach. I’m always trying to get better.
DM: What were your expectations?
DC: That it was going to be a grind, coming out and playing every day. I’ve never played 140 games in the summer, and I knew that that was going to be tough to be mentally prepared everyday. And so far I feel like I have done a pretty good job of it. I guess I’m only half way through, so well just have to keep rolling.
DM: How has it been playing in Kane County so far?
DC: I love it, great fans everyday, they come out and we have a good crowd, and it’s a great baseball atmosphere, great field, great stadium, a great place to play.