OAKLAND—After righthander Trystan Magnuson finished his fourth year at Louisville in 2006, his older brother Sam had a few words for his younger sibling.
"He told me, 'Dude, you don't throw like a major leaguer,' " Trystan recalled. As a catcher for Louisville, Sam had an ideal vantage point.
Undrafted in 2006, Magnuson returned to the Cardinals in '07 as a fifth-year senior, but not as the same type of pitcher. He began to incorporate his lower body in his delivery and his velocity spiked. He began touching the mid-90s where before he topped out in the high 80s.
The 6-foot-7 Magnuson, whose family moved from Winnipeg to Louisville when he was 12, shot up draft boards in 2007, ultimately landing with the Blue Jays as a supplemental first-round pick. The Athletics pried him loose last November in the trade that sent Rajai Davis to Toronto.
Oakland called on Magnuson, 26, in mid-June to fill a hole in the bullpen. He made two appearances, allowing six runs in three innings, before returning to Triple-A Sacramento
"It was really exciting," Magnuson said. "Even though the crowd was small, they were cheering me on. I really enjoyed it."
He said he immediately connected with Sacramento pitching coach Scott Emerson and pitching coordinator Gil Patterson.
"He used to throw only a two-seamer," Patterson said, "but now he throws more four-seamers. That increases his velocity. He pitches at 94 and touches 95. He had a cutter, but he and (Emerson) turned it into a slider."
That pitch has made a big difference for Magnuson, who has posted a 2.32 ERA with four saves in five chances as he moved into the closer role with the River Cats. Righthanded batters had gone 8-for-62 (.129) with 18 strikeouts.
"I needed a swing-and-miss pitch," Magnuson said. "We started working on a slider and it really took off. It's become a really good offspeed pitch with some depth . . . and that was everything."
Magnuson walked on to the Louisville baseball team and red-shirted his first year, a move that afforded him an extra year to earn his degree in mechanical engineering.
• The A's promoted high Class A Stockton righthander A.J. Griffin to Sacramento for an emergency start. The 23-year-old struck out eight in six innings while allowing three runs.
• First baseman Chris Carter returned to Sacramento in mid-June after missing April and May with a thumb injury. In his first 20 games, he went 15-for-73 (.205) with five homers and 17 walks.