by Nick Badders / A’s Farm Arizona Correspondent
After catching up with A’s prospects Sheldon Neuse and Sean Murphy last week, A’s Farm took the opportunity to check in with a couple more of Oakland’s young stars in the Arizona Fall League this week: RHP Logan Shore and outfielder Jaycob Brugman.
The 22-year-old Shore was a highly-coveted college pitcher whom the A’s selected with their 2nd-round pick in last year’s draft, while the 25-year-old Brugman was the A’s 17th-round selection back in 2013.
Shore spent most of this past season honing his craft with Stockton in the High-A California League, while a hot start for Triple-A Nashville earned Brugman a promotion to Oakland, where he made his big league debut last June.
So far, Shore has made four starts for Mesa in the Arizona Fall League, while Brugman was only recently added to the Solar Sox roster after outfielder Tyler Ramirez was sidelined by a back injury.
After making his pro debut with short-season Vermont in 2016, Shore kicked off the 2017 season with High-A Stockton. He allowed just one earned run or less in six of his first nine appearances for the Ports before landing on the disabled list in May with a lat strain. After a brief rehab stint in the Arizona League, Shore returned to Stockton in July, where he posted a 4.97 ERA over his final eight appearances for the Ports.
AF: What have your impressions been of the Arizona Fall League so far?
LS: It’s been good. It’s been challenging, which I knew coming in, being able to pitch against guys who are going to be in the big leagues in the next year or next couple years. It’s been a really good experience for me, and I know for all the other guys – Nolan [Blackwood], just talking with him, and [Sam] Bragg. And it’s hard. It’s a hard league to pitch in. It’s been fun though.
AF: You mentioned a few guys you’ve played with. There are also a lot of players you have not previously played alongside. How is it playing with such a mix?
LS: It’s cool. Even a lot of the guys…I played against in college, whether it be a couple of guys [who] went to Vanderbilt or Riley Ferrell was at TCU. And so these guys, the guys that I’ve heard of and I’ve seen play…it’s kind of cool to connect names to faces, and it’s been a lot of fun.
AF: Another familiar face, Steve Connelly, is your pitching coach here. How beneficial has it been, having worked with him this past season in Stockton?
LS: Yeah, he was my pitching coach all year. So, anytime you get someone who kind of knows you and knows my routine and how my pitches work and all that kind of stuff, it helps. If I don’t feel right, I can go to him and he can kind of tell me what he sees.
AF: I talked with catcher Sean Murphy a while back and he mentioned that he was impressed by you. What has impressed you about him in his approach, and how have you learned from him as a catcher?
LS: He just knows the game. It’s nice having a catcher you can trust and know that he…kind of sees hitters’ tendencies. And I can trust what he’s doing with calling pitches and that kind of stuff. Even with two strikes, if I want to be throwing a breaking ball or something and there’s a runner on third, I know one-hundred percent he’s going to block it and have no worries if I throw a ball in the dirt or anything like that. He’s as solid as they come. It’s been fun having him catch me in the beginning of the year and then obviously out here and all through the next few years.
AF: Another guy I want to ask you about is A.J. Puk. You played together for three years at Florida and now you’re coming up through the A’s system together after being drafted almost next to each other last year. What’s your relationship like with him going back to college and looking at where you are now?
LS: We were roommates all three years at school, starting freshman year in the dorms all the way through our junior year. We always joked about getting drafted by the same team and obviously never thought that was even a possibility. You know, the chances of that happening are so slim. Obviously, it happened and it’s been fun. We’re best friends. And he’s somebody that I look up to, just because he’s successful and he’s got a really, really long and big career ahead of him. So, it’s fun to have that friendship and push each other to get better.
AF: What was your reaction when you found out that he was drafted and then, shortly thereafter, you found out that you were drafted by the same team?
LS: It was weird. He was supposed to go at one. Then some things kind of happened and he fell to the A’s at six. Forty picks later, I find out I’m going to the A’s, and it was a really cool moment.
AF: You two were drafted in 2016, so you haven’t been in the organization that long. What have been your impressions of how the organization has helped you grow and develop as a pitcher?
LS: Just kind of learning who you are. I mean, you kind of learn who you are in college, but pitching in college and pitching in pro ball is a little bit different in my opinion. Having to go out there every five days, compared to every seven, playing 140 games instead of 75 or 80, it’s just a different ball game. You kind of have to learn who you are as a person, who you are in the weight room, that kind of stuff. It changes so much. So, the first year, this year, was really a big learning experience for me, figuring out what I need to do to put myself in the best possible situation every fifth day to be successful. It’s been going well.
AF: You were pitching pretty well before your injury this year. Was it hard to get back into that groove on the mound after returning from the disabled list?
LS: Yeah, it took a little bit. I mean obviously pitching out in the AZL [Arizona League] is a lot different than throwing in High-A or even in Low-A. It took me a couple of outings. I felt really good in the AZL and it was fine. And then when I went back to Stockton, I got hit around a little bit the first couple of games back. Overall, anytime you go through failures like that, it’s a good learning experience and you get stronger from that.
AF: Outside of the talent level, what kind of differences have you noticed between the AZL, Stockton and now the Arizona Fall League?
LS: Yeah, I mean, big jump in talent from AZL to Stockton. I would say from Stockton to here, it’s just the three or four top hitters in High-A are pretty much every hitter out here, which is fun. You’ve really got to lock in and really got to think ahead and be prepared.
AF: There’s just a couple of weeks now left in the AFL season, so what are your plans for the offseason?
LS: You know, just hang out with my family and friends and get some good work in and get ready for spring training in 2018. Obviously, being out here playing this long, through the middle of November, maybe take a week or so off and then start right back up working out and that kind of stuff.
AF: Do you have any plans or goals for 2018? Any specific things you want to accomplish before spring training?
LS: I mean, really just work on the things that I feel body-wise to put myself in the best possible situation to stay healthy next year. I mean, some things, obviously, I’m sticking with that I learned during the rehab process in the two months I was back in Arizona. Just kind of hone in on those things and whatever happens, happens next year, and just keep working hard.
2017 (Stockton): 72.2 IP / 81 H / 33 ER / 16 BB / 74 K / 4.09 ERA / 1.33 WHIP
2017 (AZL A’s): 8 IP / 2 H / 0 ER / 0 BB / 13 K / 0.00 ERA / 0.25 WHIP
2017 (Total): 80.2 IP / 83 H / 33 ER / 16 BB / 87 K / 3.68 ERA / 1.23 WHIP
AFL: 16 IP / 24 H / 11 ER / 2 BB / 11 K / 6.19 ERA / 1.63 WHIP
An Arizona native, Brugman began the 2017 season with Triple-A Nashville. After posting a .307 batting average for Nashville in May, he soon earned a call up to Oakland, where he batted .266 over 48 games with the A’s. Shortly after the club acquired outfielder Boog Powell from the Mariners in August, Brugman was sent back to Nashville, where he ended up finishing the season on the disabled list. A back injury to outfielder Tyler Ramirez in the AFL recently opened a roster spot for Brugman on the Mesa Solar Sox squad, and he’s gotten into just four games so far in Arizona.
AF: You haven’t been down here in the Arizona Fall League that long. So, how did it come about that you ended up in the AFL?
JB: I was looking for a winter ball team, and one of the players [Tyler Ramirez] got hurt and the organization reached out to me and said, “Hey, it might be a good idea to play some games in the fall league if you’re looking for extra ABs,” because I got hurt in the season. So, I was like, “Sure, that sounds like fun.”
AF: You were with the Solar Sox in 2015. So, how does it feel to be back? Have you noticed any differences or similarities?
JB: It’s all the same. It’s pretty fun. I really liked it when I came in ’15. I like getting to know new players from different organizations, so that was a cool thing.
AF: What is that like, playing with guys you haven’t played with before?
JB: I’ve only played with one of the A’s guys before, so it’s fun to get to know other people. It really builds the networking throughout your career. Later down the road, you see someone you played with and it’s an instant connection.
AF: Is there anything you are trying to work on or anything the organization wants you to try to work on in your few weeks here?
JB: I’m trying to work on certain little things for my game here and there personally. Nothing specific from the organization, but I’m always trying to get better. And I know what I need to do to try and work on it now.
AF: I want to take you back to this past season. Did you have an expectation of potentially getting called up to the big leagues?
JB: I was hopeful. I went into it with the attitude of “I’m going to make them call me up.” That’s what you kind of have to do. It was good. I was fortunate enough to get called up and make my debut, and it was pretty awesome.
AF: How’d you react when you found out you were being called up?
JB: I was…just a lot of emotions. It was really fun. I was excited that the team in Nashville, the coaching staff – I’ve been with them for a few years – I was excited to have them experience it with me. So, that was fun.
AF: Your manager in Nashville, Ryan Christenson, who’s sort of come up with you through the organization – Stockton, Midland, Nashville – will be the bench coach in Oakland next year. What kind of an impact has he had on you?
(photo: Nick Badders)
JB: Oh, huge. I’m really comfortable around him and I know I can ask him anything. He knows so much about the game. I’m constantly just asking him questions and we’re just talking baseball and that’s what he loves to do. He loves talking baseball, and that’s why he’s such a good coach, because he’s personable and loves baseball. It’s going to be a fun time up there. Hopefully I can get up there again this next year and be able to play with him on the bench.
AF: What was the biggest takeaway or most valuable thing you learned in the big leagues?
JB: Just how everything is amplified up there. Focus, all the little things, fundamentals. Doing it the right way and be professional. A lot of times in the minor leagues, you get lost in the small towns and the no-one-really-watching-you kind of thing. So, I just probably learned to go about my business in a better way and be a little more professional and kind of grow up a little, you know? Little bigger stage.
AF: What were your impressions of the big league coaching staff?
JB: They’re all great. I really liked them. Unfortunately, [Mark] Kotsay, the bench coach, he had to leave – you know the incident with his daughter. But he was great. Scar [Steve Scarsone] was his replacement. It was just a good group and all the guys, [Bob] Melvin and Chip Hale, it was really fun playing for them. Any big league coach will have an impact on you because they’ve been around so long and they’ve got so much to give.
AF: You’ve played all three outfield positions throughout your career. Is there somewhere you feel most comfortable?
JB: I like center field. I feel a little more comfortable out there. It’s where you play the most every day that you get comfortable with. So, whether I’m playing left every day, it’d be left, or right. I like them all, it’s just a fun time for sure.
AF: Now you only have a couple of weeks left in the AFL season and then you’re off for the winter before spring training starts. Do you have any plans for the winter or anything you want to work on before spring training gets underway?
JB: Yeah, I mean, I’m just going to work on different tweaks that I’ve made to my swing, things like that. But really just trying to rest the body and get it ready and as strong as I can get and come into spring training ready.
AF: Outside of making it back to the Coliseum, do you have any goals or plans for 2018?
JB: Just play as hard as I can and try to force their hand almost and not let them send me down – make the club and try and put pressure on them for me to be there. Just play my game and keep doing what I know I can do and have confidence and force their hand a little.
2017 (Nashville): 1 HR / 19 BB / 28 K / .275 AVG / .355 OBP / .340 SLG / .695 OPS
2017 (Oakland): 3 HR / 18 BB / 38 K / .266 AVG / .346 OBP / .343 SLG / .688 OPS
AFL: 0 HR / 7 BB / 2 K / .000 AVG / .438 OBP / .000 SLG / .438 OPS
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