PHOENIX—For lefthander Ian Krol, walking into the Athletics complex for instructional league was the ultimate adventure.
An 18-year-old just out of high school in Naperville, Ill., this was the beginning of a new career, a new life. He responded by being one of the most impressive performers in camp.
"He has great ability and a great makeup to attack hitters," farm director Keith Lieppman said. "He has an air of confidence about him."
In a fine display of control last fall, he allowed only one walk in his 16 innings. "My command was spot on. It was getting better," Krol said. "I like to paint the corner. I'm kind of a crafty little guy."
Last June, many clubs considered Krol to be a risky pick when the A's took him in the seventh round. For one thing, he had a firm commitment to Arizona. For another, he had been suspended from his high school team for a violation of the athletic code of conduct and had not pitched during his senior year.
The negotiation lasted much of the summer before Krol made the decision. "It was tough," Krol said. "It came down to that last day. I didn't know if I was going to college or going to Oakland.
"But you can't really turn down that much money. It came to the last second, and the money swayed my decision."
He signed for $925,000, a whopping bonus by A's standards. And Krol put it in the bank to assure his future as he prepared for his present.
At the end of instructional league, the 6-foot-1 Krol met with conditioning coach Judd Hawkins and put together a workout program he believes has helped add significant strength to his body. He said he weighs in at 193 pounds now, up a dozen from draft day.
Krol relies on his fastball in the low 90s, plus a workable curve that the A's expect will improve with experience. He also is learning the rudiments of a circle change. "I changed my grip on it, and once I found the grip it really started coming together," he said.
• Outfielder Michael Taylor, an offseason acquisition, made a big impression during the early days of big league camp, lashing line drives to all fields.
• After missing most of 2009 while recovering from Tommy John surgery, hard-throwing righthander Fautino de los Santos hit 92 mph in the first days of camp.