Fourth-Rounder Max Stassi Catches Attention Of A's





OAKLAND—The buzz surrounding Max Stassi traveled from the Athletics' coaching staff to the front office and then, finally, around the fringes.

The organization believes it has acquired someone special in Stassi, the Yuba City (Calif.) High catcher drafted in the fourth round last year.

"As he moved through instructional league, it was interesting to see how he was received and the impressions he made," farm director Keith Lieppman said. "As a kid, he came in and immediately got the attention of the staff and players at (short-season) Vancouver, and he repeated that in Phoenix."

"Makeup was the key factor. He wasn't intimidated by the professional game. He backed it up with his play. He showed off great skills receiving."

Stassi had been projected as high as the first round, but a commitment to UCLA and anticipated bonus demands pushed him down. Plus, he had battled tendinitis in his right shoulder all spring.  

"He began to throw better as the program continued," Lieppman said. "He put a lot of effort into his rehabilitation and strengthening of the shoulder."

Stassi said that instructs allowed him to develop his skills. "My mechanics were pretty bad, in a way," he said. "I cleaned them up. I became more closed toward second, and I was throwing off my back foot with my weight back."

He said that catching instructors Casey Myers and Marcus Jensen worked with him constantly to improve his techniques. "To be that polished at that age, you just don't see that," Lieppman said. "He's able to grasp the idea of pitch selection, calling the game, taking instruction from the manager. He exudes the capabilities that have the rest of the club looking at him in a leadership role."

That may just be natural because Stassi comes from the ultimate baseball family. His father Jim, who had been a minor league catcher in the Giants system, coached Max through high school. Uncle Myril Hoag was a teammate of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig with the Yankees.

A's ACORNS

• Righthander Marcus McBeth returned to the organization, signing as a free agent after spending last year with the Red Sox. A converted outfielder, he made his way to the majors in 2007 under the tutelage of current bullpen coach Ron Romanick.

• Oakland began its Dominican program in late January, with an eye toward preparing young Dominican and Venezuelan players for the social adjustments they face in the U.S. Juan Navarrete and Ruben Escalera managed the program.