Unheralded Milone Gets By With Less For A's





OAKLAND—A guy like Tommy Milone is the reason scouts can go bald scratching their heads.

Milone, 25, lacks the velocity or big pitches that make scouts swoon. The radar guns do not thump when he throws a fastball; his curve does not elicit oohs and aahs. Yet Milone finds a way to thrive.

"Obviously, I'm not going to overpower people," Milone said. "But I have the confidence that I can put the ball wherever I want, keep the ball low, move it around when I need to. I feel like when you can do that, it makes it a lot easier."

He is all about the artistry of pitching: hitting spots, changing eye levels, keeping hitters off-balance. And he does it with a remarkable poise that rarely comes with so little experience.

"Every time he goes out there, he gives you the appearance that he's been doing it for four or five years," Athletics manager Bob Melvin said. "He just looks like a veteran pitcher. He understands what works for him very well, and how to attack hitters."

The 6-foot, 205-pound lefty has spent much time defying the projections. The Nationals made him a 10th-round pick out of Southern California in 2008. He had a 16-17, 4.78 career record for the Trojans. Then came the push through the minor leagues when he won 12 games each in 2009, '10 and '11. He succeeded at every stop, and received a September callup to the Nats last year, when he went 1-0, 2.81 in five starts. That led the A's to desire and acquire him in the Gio Gonzalez deal.

The A's say there was no mystery in their desire. They saw his achievement at Triple-A and the outstanding command, and it was enough to see if the lefty could repeat his success at the majors. He has, posting a 9-6, 3.34 record.

He mixes a fastball in the high 80s with a curveball, cutter and changeup. Only the changeup would grade above-average, but the combination of location, preparation and a feel for pitching has turned him into a poised and effective starter in just his rookie year. He has become an artist on the mound.

A's Acorns

• Righthander A.J. Cole was regaining his form after a dismal 0-7, 7.82 start to the season with high Class A Stockton. Cole was moved to low Class A Burlington, where he had allowed one earned run or fewer in 10 of his 12 starts. He was 4-2, 2.11 for Burlington.

• Righty Graham Godfrey reeled off nine consecutive Triple-A wins for Sacramento before taking a loss on July 22.