Brady Basso Thrives In New Role
As spring training rolled along, Athletics farm director Ed Sprague and his advisers Keith Lieppman and Grady Fuson had one big question:
Why isn’t lefthander Brady Basso a starter?
So they went to A's pitching coordinator Gil Patterson and asked. After a short discussion, the 23-year-old Basso’s fate changed.
Once the Wild Man of Stillwater, Basso had been an erratic lefty at Oklahoma State. He made seven starts in three years, but most of his work came out of the bullpen, where he had constant control problems.
The A’s drafted Basso in the 16th round in 2019, and he made a good impression in the Rookie-level Arizona League.
Coach Craig Lefferts started working with him, smoothing out his delivery. Then throwing performance coach Casey Upperman joined the mix. Basso began firing far more strikes than balls, and Oakland's braintrust decided he had an upside as a starter.
Basso responded with three solid starts for High-A Lansing to open the season. He put up a 2.53 ERA, struck out 11 and walked one in his first 10.2 innings. The A’s are now looking at him long-term as a starter.
“Basso is tremendous,” Patterson enthused. “The ball jumps out of his hand.”
Basso's improved delivery has helped his velocity. He averages 94 mph and has hit 96 on a fastball that Patterson rates as a plus pitch. Basso threw a slider in college, but that has evolved into a cutter.
Patterson says both his cutter and hammer curveball rank as above-average pitches right now.
The next step for the 6-foot-2 native of Pearland, Texas, is to develop his changeup, and he was working on that consistently in Lansing. Basso has proved a very apt pupil.
“He just says, ‘Gil, give me the ball,’ ” Patterson said. “He’s very unassuming. Very hard working. He’s a really good guy.”
Now comes the long road from Lansing to Oakland, where he must to prove himself at every stop.
“If this guy can repeat and maintain," Patterson said, "if he can do it for five or six innings, we could have somebody special.”
— Jared Koenig, a 27-year-old lefthander from the independent leagues, made a big impression with his early work as a starter at Double-A Midland. After pitching for Cal State Monterey Bay, his stops have included Australia and five different indy leagues, before he landed his shot with the A’s. He pitches in the low 90s with a cutter, change and curve.
— Jack Weisenburger has emerged as a reliever to watch at High-A Lansing. Patterson said he pitches at 96 mph with a wipeout slider, a combination that makes him tough on hitters. He pitched out of the bullpen at Michigan and was the Athletics' 20th-round pick in 2019.