Banwart Sets Sights On Reaching Oakland





OAKLAND—Righthander Travis Banwart has worked for every promotion and opportunity he has received with the Athletics.

The 25-year-old has spent the bulk of the past two seasons with Triple-A Sacramento, and some in the organization believe he's ready to take the next step.

"I think this guy can pitch in the major leagues," pitching coordinator Gil Patterson said. "I think he now trusts that he has good enough stuff to pitch in the big leagues."

Banwart put together his strongest showing last season, going 9-9, 4.63 with a 1.28 WHIP in 150 innings for the River Cats. Oakland neglected to add him to the 40-man roster in November, however, making him eligible for selection in the Rule 5 draft.

To the relief of Patterson, no other team drafted Banwart.

"It's just something I can't control," Banwart said. "I tried not to pay attention."

The 6-foot-3 righthander joined the organization as a fourth-round pick in 2007 out of Wichita State, where he had been a big winner on a good team.

Banwart has increased his velocity since turning pro, a testament to hard work and physical training. He has touched 96 mph with his four-seam fastball, which he complements with a two-seamer, curve, slider and changeup. As he has progressed through the system he has learned to think like a pitcher.

"Gil's helped me out a lot in my career, particularly with the whole mental part," Banwart said. "When I first started as a pro, I'd get so down when I gave up a double that it only made things worse. I learned I've got to take it with a grain of salt and come back for the next pitch."

Patterson said he plans to direct as much attention as possible toward Banwart in spring training, and the Kansan could well be first in line for a shot in Oakland during the season.

"I think I came pretty close last year to getting called up," Banwart said

A's ACORNS

• The A's made no selections in the Rule 5 draft, but they lost one player in the minor league phase. The Rangers drafted 23-year-old lefty Fabian Williamson, who finished the year with Double-A Midland.

• Outfielder Jermaine Mitchell, recently added to the 40-man roster, expected to be ready for spring training after having offseason knee surgery. He batted .332/.430/.530 in 536 at-bats for Midland and Sacramento in a breakout season.