by Josh Moore / A’s Farm Stockton Correspondent
It was a surprise spring training start in late March that gave many A’s fans their first look at Logan Shore. Donning a nameless jersey with the very spring training-esque number of “92” emblazoned on the back, the 22-year-old faced an Angels lineup that featured most of the team’s best big-league bats.
Shore, who had just been selected by the A’s in the second round of the amateur draft the previous summer, set down the first seven batters he faced, including reigning American League MVP Mike Trout and Kole Calhoun, both on strikeouts. He didn’t allow a base runner until the third inning and, in his fourth and final frame, the kid from Coon Rapids, Minnesota retired the mighty Trout once again.
Shore would complete four full innings, allowing one run on just two hits while walking one and striking out three Angel batters. Although that one run earned him the loss that day, his impressive performance in a last-minute start opened a lot of eyes in the A’s big league camp.
Consistency and control have always been a big part of Shore’s success. Over the course of his college career at Florida, he walked an average of just 1.8 batters per 9 innings while compiling an ERA of 2.42 and increasing his strikeout rate every year. This year, in his age-22 season at Stockton, he’s currently sporting a 9.9 K/9 rate and a microscopic 1.1 BB/9 rate.
So far this season, Shore has surrendered one earned run or less in five of his seven appearances for the Ports, and he’s set to make his eighth appearance of the season for Stockton on Tuesday at Lake Elsinore. We took the opportunity to chat with Shore last weekend in Stockton and discussed his first season with the Ports, the organization’s recent tandem-pitching experiment, and what’s it’s like to have the chance to start his pro career alongside his long-time Florida roommate, A.J. Puk…
AF: A lot of folks got to see you for the first time in spring training, in that late-spring start you made against the Angels, when you struck out Mike Trout in the first inning. How much did that experience increase your confidence heading into this season at Stockton?
LS: I think it was two starts before that that I was pitching against the Cubs and got to face [Anthony] Rizzo and [Wilson] Contreras over there, and I ended up striking out Rizzo twice. So, it was actually that which gave me confidence, especially going into that start, because I’d never faced big league guys before. It was my first full season in pro ball, so I didn’t have a whole lot of experience facing guys anywhere near that caliber. So really, for the Angels game, I was told the day before that I might start, so I was just going into it with an open mind and gave it all I had. There wasn’t a whole lot to lose.
AF: You’ve always done a great job of maintaining control of the strike zone and limiting your walks. But from your freshman year at Florida up through this season at Stockton, you’ve also been increasing the rate at which you’re striking out hitters every single year. What have you been learning and utilizing that’s helping you miss bats with greater frequency?
LS: You know, honestly, my fastball has gotten a lot better as far as my velocity. I’m up two to three miles per hour since my last year in college. I think the command to both sides of the plate right now, from spring training until now, is the best in my career; on top of that, just throwing my changeup behind in the count and late in the count for swings and misses. My breaking ball has gotten a lot better too. That’s still going to be a work in progress but, for the most part, it’s gotten better from last year.
AF: When we spoke with Brett Graves last week, he mentioned that he was pretty into TrackMan, and he gave us some insight into what he’s been looking at with A’s minor league pitching coordinator Gil Patterson. Is that something that you’re also focused on?
LS: You know, I never really looked at it before. We started getting the information in instructional league last year. Gil loves it and has helped us understand the numbers and statistics and all that goes into it, and I think it does help. Like Brett said, it’s good to see how your data matches up against guys who are pitching in the big leagues. You look at spin rate, velocity, etc. I try not to look too in-depth into it and get too caught up in it, but it’s really amazing to see how my stuff matches up with guys who have been pitching in the big leagues for ten years.
AF: You and left-hander A.J. Puk both came out of Florida together. So how has it now been for you to have the chance to come up through the A’s system together?
LS: Being drafted with him was the best thing that happened since starting pro ball. Going back to college, we always joked about being drafted together to the same team. We roomed together our freshman, sophomore and junior years at Florida, so we’ve always been roommates, and now we’re roommates here again. But yeah, we always joked about being drafted to the same team but really never considered that it would actually happen. What are the odds?
AF: Do you remember facing your current Stockton teammate Mikey White when he was at Alabama?
LS: Oh, yeah. There are a lot of SEC guys. Anyone that comes from the SEC knows how tough it is to play in the SEC, so we sort of have this bond.
AF: The eight-man tandem pitching rotations that the A’s have been experimenting with, what were the positives and negatives that have come out of that?
LS: Now we’re going to the five-day rotations with a couple of tandems. There were some positives and negatives. For me, the positives were that I was able to pitch out of the bullpen, which is something I had never done before. So learning how to come in when there was a runner on first and two outs and you have to get out of the inning, or learning how to come in when you’re up by one run in the seventh and finishing out the game. The negatives for me were also that I had never pitched out of the bullpen. I developed a good routine in my first year of pro ball, and then changing it up was kind of tough, because you think 5-man rotation, and you’re doing this, this and this. I had it all mapped out in my head. And we come to the next season and it gets kind of flipped on us, which is totally fine. I mean, it turned out that it worked pretty well, so I feel good, I feel fresh.
AF: How is your relationship with catcher Sean Murphy behind the plate? I know you had a chance to pitch to him a little in Vermont last year and a little bit here in Stockton.
LS: Before Murph got hurt… I loved throwing to Murph. I threw to him in short-season last year. He does an outstanding job, as well as all of the other catchers. Everybody does their homework and they’re all phenomenal behind the plate.
AF: Random question time – what’s favorite type of music?
LS: Right now, it’s been country.
AF: Same with Brett Graves. Have you two been listening to music together or what?
LS: [Laughs] He was probably the biggest impact on me during spring training. He was always there for me, always helping me with everything and kind of telling me what to do, where to go, where to be.
AF: Have you been given any idea when you might be joining him in Midland?
LS: Nah, that’s the fun part of the game. You never really know when you’re going to be promoted or anything like that. So, for me, it’s first year of pro ball, just trying to work hard every day.
AF: What’s your favorite professional sports team besides the Oakland A’s and the Minnesota Twins?
LS: [Minnesota] Wild.
AF: True to your home state! Thanks for the chat. We’ll look forward to seeing you in Oakland.
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