Despite their recent run of excellent play, the Oakland Athletics are still in full-blown rebuilding mode, looking for the right combination of young players to bring their small budget team back to the success they experienced during the heydays of Moneyball. While a preferred strategy is to draft can’t miss players, part of the trick is also being able to identify lesser known players that are believed to have the potential to be molded into a quality major leaguer. One of their sleeper prospects to keep an eye on is pitcher Shawn Haviland, who is currently making his way through their minor league system.
Haviland, a right-hander, was drafted in the 33rd round by Oakland in 2008 out of Harvard University. Although he majored in government studies, he was also attracted to the Ivy League institution because of its solid baseball program. Given how everything turned out, it was a good decision.
Haviland has mainly worked as a starter during his time in the Oakland system. He has piled up impressive strikeout numbers, averaging over 8 per 9 innings during his career. His best season came in 2010, when he went 9-6, with a 3.69 ERA and 169 strikeouts between High-A and Triple-A.
During this season Haviland is in the midst of his second year with Double-A Midland. He has appeared in 28 games (18 starts) and posted a 6-8 record, with a 4.61 ERA. More information about his statistics is available at http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=havila001sha.
Even with the season in full swing I was recently able to check in and find out a little more about the Athletics’ young pitcher. Check out our interview and how he has gotten to this point in his baseball career.
Shawn Haviland Interview:
Who were your favorite team and player when you were growing up, and why?: Growing up in Connecticut I was a Yankee fan. Derek Jeter and David Cone were two players I really idolized. Jeter because he seemed to play the game the right way all the time, and Cone because he was a warrior. It didn't matter how he felt that day, he was going to scratch and claw to keep runs off the board.
How did you know that the A's were interested in you?: During my senior season at Harvard I received a few calls from the A's regional scout to make sure I really wanted to play pro ball. The scout didn't let on that they would definitely pick me he seemed to be doing background work in the event that they did pick me.
When you decided to attend Harvard, did you ever think you would eventually pursue a professional baseball career?: The fact that I wanted to play professional baseball is one of the reasons why I went to Harvard. Coach Walsh has done a great job in his tenure in making sure that Harvard plays a competitive and nationwide schedule so that scouts have plenty of opportunity to see you play. Quite a few guys from Harvard have been drafted, including three this year.
What pitches do you throw?: I throw fastball, curveball, cutter, change up and splitter.
What has been your favorite moment so far in your career?: In 2005 we won the Ivy League championship and went to a regional. Storming the field after the last out in the deciding game against Cornell is something I will never forget.
Who has been your most influential manager or coach?: My Dad has been easily the most influential coach that I have had. He coached me from Little League all the way through high school. The lessons he taught me about respecting the game and being a competitor are most of the reason why I am still playing baseball today.
What do you like to do in your free time?: We don't have too much free time during the season, but in my free time I like to spend time with my wife golfing or seeing a movie. We get to go to the movies for free in Midland, which is a great perk.
How easy is it to get discouraged during the course of a season?: I think that you could easily get discouraged playing minor league baseball; it's an extremely cut throat business. For me I have been able to keep a positive attitude by reminding myself that I am lucky enough to play a game for my job. When "the office" is a baseball field it's really tough to have a bad day.
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