OAKLAND—During his six-plus years in the Athletics system, catcher Anthony Recker has watched his teammates rise above him, hardly complaining and always drawing the accolades of his coaches.
The 27-year-old made the Triple-A Pacific Coast League all-star team this year, and he is poised for what may be the biggest moment of his career. At the end of the season, Oakland will have to decide whether to place him on its 40-man roster or risk losing him as a minor league free agent.
A late bloomer who has improved at each minor league stop, Recker ought to have a legitimate shot at making the big leagues next year . . . somewhere.
"If the A's put me on the 40-man roster, great. If not, I'll go someplace else," Recker said. "I'm willing to do whatever. I want to play. I want to get up and compete at the highest level."
Drafted in the 18th round in 2005 out of Alvernia (Pa.), Recker has demonstrated an intense work ethic through the years. He's always in the weight room or the batting cages. He spends his winters in Phoenix, coming to the A's complex to catch the pitchers who are always looking for someone with a glove.
Recker batted .297/.391/.522 with 15 homers through 316 at-bats for Sacramento this season. In addition to catching, he spends time at first base and works out at third.
Early in his career, the big-bodied, 242-pound Recker had mobility issues and struggled to get low to block balls.
"He has really worked hard with that," farm director Keith Lieppman said. "Guys aren't afraid to throw splits to him with a runner on third. Pitchers really like to pitch to him."
In addition, Recker has improved his release times and had gunned down 28 percent of PCL basestealers, an average rate. But he falls fourth on an Oakland depth chart that includes Kurt Suzuki and Landon Powell in Oakland and Josh Donaldson also in Triple-A.
Recker has generally kept a positive outlook but admits, "It gets very hard, especially when you see guys passing you by. I'm definitely one to get frustrated, but not one to let it bother me. It kind of fuels me."
• High Class A Stockton center fielder Michael Choice missed two weeks, beginning on July 25, with a slow-to-heal quad strain. He belted a home run in his second game back and had 28 through 97 games.
• Slick-fielding shortstop Dusty Coleman received a promotion from Stockton to Sacramento. He missed the 2010 season with a broken wrist.