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A's Ecstatic With Sullivan

June 3, 2003
By Casey Tefertiller

OAKLAND--It was almost more than scouting director Eric Kubota could believe. Somehow Brad Sullivan's name remained uncalled until it came time for the A's to make their selection, and Kubota was excited.

"We were shocked," Kubota said moments after the draft's first day concluded Tuesday. "For arguably the best pitcher in the country to reach 25, we were pretty surprised."

The Houston Cougars righthander had been expected to go well before Oakland made the call with 25th pick in the first round. Most projections had him going at about pick No. 13, and Sullivan anticipated going between 11 and 19. The A's never thought they had a chance of Sullivan reaching them, and they did not contact him before the draft.

"I didn't think I was going to last that long. I never talked to them," Sullivan said.

He had a lights-out sophomore year for the Cougars, putting together a 13-1, 1.93 record with a Division I-best 157 strikeouts. He followed by going 7-0, 0.72 with Team USA over the summer, earning Baseball America's Summer Player of the Year award. But '03 has been more of a struggle, as he was 6-7, 2.71 going into Houston's super-regional against Rice.

He was troubled by a blister near the end of the season and had a rough outing in a regional loss to Alabama. Kubota speculates that the difficult outing may have dropped Sullivan in a couple of teams' eyes. "We weren't that concerned with one performance out of a career," Kubota said.

Sullivan assures there is no reason to worry. "Two weeks ago I threw a fastball and got a blister in my middle finger, then I pitched through it the rest of the game," Sullivan said. "It's a hundred percent now."

Sullivan recently told the Houston Chronicle that he thought he could reach the majors in a year. After being selected by Oakland, he revised that estimate. "Being drafted by the A's, I realize what type of top-line pitchers they have," he said. "I think it will take between two and three years, being with them."

His key pitches are a darting sinker and a nasty slider, but he also throws a four-seam fastball, a curve and a change.

"I think I need to improve on throwing the inside fastball, and throwing the straight change to righthanded hitters," Sullivan said.

Oakland also had the 26th pick in the first round, picking up compensation because the Giants signed free agent Ray Durham. With that spot, Kubota picked Stetson third baseman Brian Snyder, an on-base fiend who batted .398-10-51 and became the highest-drafted player in Hatters' history.

Kubota said that an A's scout graded Snyder as a potential 8 hitter on a 1-to-8 scale. "We think he's a born hitter," Kubota said. "We identified him very early in the year. We saw him a lot in the Cape Cod League (which uses wood bats), which we think is very important. He's just a pure hitter, and we were ecstatic to get him where we got him. We think he's going to hit more home runs as he matures."

Snyder was equally excited to join the A's. "I'd like to sign as soon as possible," Snyder said, "but I'd like to get a week or two off for a little rest and relaxation. I had an idea I was going to go pretty good--late first or second."

He said he sat in front of his computer waiting to find out what would occur, only to have the audio go out on the MLB.com website. "It came back up on the 23rd pick. I was lucky to hear my name being called."

The A's used their second-round pick on Arizona State outfielder Andre Ethier, whom they originally drafted out of junior college in 2001 (37th round). The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder, who has a 20-game hitting streak entering a super-regional this weekend, is projected as a power hitter when he adds weight and muscle as he matures. He was hitting .373-9-66 on the year.

The A's selection of Texas shortstop Omar Quintanilla in the supplemental first round came as something of a surprise, as many organizations considered the Quintanilla as only a fringe prospect. Kubota disagrees. "We really like this guy. We thought there were probably a few clubs that liked him like we liked him. Rather than take a chance, we decided to pick him there." Quintanilla carried a .355-5-68 season into Texas' super-regional at Florida State, a series that also will include A's draftees Dustin Majewski (Texas, third round), Trent Patterson (Florida State, fifth round) and Matt Lynch (Florida State, 10th round).

The A's drafted 22 players in the first 20 rounds, waiting until the 19th round to select a high schooler. Kubota said this was just the way the draft fell--that there were other preps the organization would have picked higher had they been available. The total wound up being 21 college players and one high schooler on the first day.

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