Athletics Rustle Up Five-Tool Find In 2011 Draft





OAKLAND—Sue Crocker did everything she could to make her son into a cowboy. Almost from the time he could walk, Bobby Crocker learned to rope and ride horses. He even spent his youth working the chutes at the rodeos around his rural hometown of Aromas, Calif.

But Crocker soon found a different muse: He loved to hit. He wanted to smash baseballs at every chance, and he loved that competitive flavor of the diamond.

So baseball became his passion, and it took him to Cal Poly and now to professional baseball, after the Athletics tabbed him in the fourth round of last year's draft. They are excited about the outfielder's potential.

"He's one of the few guys who is a self-motivated, hard-working player," farm director Keith Lieppman said. "I watched the way he plays, and the first thing that caught my eye was his work ethic. He runs out every ball and works hard in practice. He has a good feel for the game."

Lieppman said the 6-foot-3, 225-pound Crocker shows five projectable tools, which is unusual for a fourth-round pick. He has the arm to play right field, above-average speed for a corner outfielder and a good sense for routes in the outfield. The 21-year-old also shows the potential to hit for power and average.

"A lot of guys try to take the easy road. This guy doesn't," Lieppman said. "Sometimes he plays so hard we may even have to try to get him to tone it down a bit. You can tell he came from a good coaching background."

Crocker's background includes playing for the Monterey-based Aldrete Baseball Academy travel team, then advancing to Aptos High and Cal Poly, where he hit .339/.431/.497 with five homers in 189 at-bats as a junior, earning first-team all-Big West Conference honors.

He credits Cal Poly coach Larry Lee with furthering his development, saying, "He taught me I'm the man who controls my swing. He taught me what it takes to become a better hitter."

Crocker's baseball education continued in A's instructional league. "I worked mostly on staying behind the ball and just reacting to the inside pitch," he said.

A's ACORNS

• Righthander Michael Ynoa finished his offseason program by throwing well in simulated games, Lieppman said. The A's expect the Tommy John surgery alumnus to engage in full competition this season after sitting out 2011.

• The A's plan to give trade acquisition Miles Head a chance to return to third base. He played first base in the Red Sox system prior to joining Oakland in the Andrew Bailey deal.