Athletics Organization Report
Ziegler's New Look
OAKLAND—With his career stagnating at Double-A, righthander Brad Ziegler knew he would need something special to reach the major leagues.
So he was receptive when Athletics pitching coordinator Ron Romanick threw out a bold suggestion: that Ziegler convert from starter to submarining reliever.
"I toyed with it in the bullpen, and it went okay," Ziegler said. "After talking to my agent and my family, I decided that if this is my best chance to get there, then we should do it."
So Ziegler went to instructional league after the 2006 season to learn to sling, and the results were startling. He began the 2007 season back at Double-A Midland, where he posted a 1.14 ERA in 15 appearances before being promoted to Triple-A Sacramento. With the River Cats, Ziegler proved to be one of the Pacific Coast League champions' most durable and effective relievers. He went 8-3, 2.96 in 55 innings over 35 appearances, giving up just 46 hits and 14 walks while striking out 44.
"With his makeup and the way he treats things, he'll only get better," farm director Keith Lieppman said. "He's a very hard worker. He really wants to succeed at this. I can very easily see him filling a role in a big league bullpen in the future."
By the end of the season, Ziegler had become more than a right-on-right reliever—he was retiring lefthanders as well. He got outs against the last 16 lefties he faced in Triple-A, the kind of success that gives hope that he won't be locked into a specialist role.
Ziegler's fastball darts to the hitter in the mid-80s, with enough movement and deception to keep most batters confused. He is also developing a changeup and slider to keep hitters off balance.
After the season, Ziegler received more good news. The 28-year-old will attend major league spring training for the first time in his five-year career. That career began in 2003 after the Phillies made him a 20th-round pick out of Southwest Missouri State. The A's signed him in June 2004 after he'd been released by Philadelphia and pitched 24 innings in the independent Northern League.
The A's released righthander Mike Rogers, their second-round pick from North Carolina State in 2004. He stalled at Double-A, posting an 8.54 ERA in 53 innings there.
Oakland signed Dominican shortstop Franklin Contreras, 17, signaling the organization's intention to rebuild its Dominican presence.