Dodgers’ prospect Q&A: Trevor Oaks, 2014 7th-rounder

The Dodgers selected right-handed pitcher Trevor Oaks out of California Baptist University in the seventh-round of the 2014 MLB Draft. He answered some of my dumb questions.

What were you doing on draft day when you heard your name called?
– My older sister Tifani and I went down to the driving range and hit golf balls. My college coach suggested that I stayed away from the TV and just waited for the call. My dad, on the other hand, was watching every pick and was sending me updates, even if I didn’t want them at the time.


What was your immediate reaction to being drafted?
– I felt relieved more than anything. I think there’s a lot of pressure on players when the draft comes, and I was a little nervous about it. I was checking my phone every 10 minutes to see if I had any texts or phone calls. I was on the phone about to ask my advisor if he had heard anything, when all the sudden I got a text from my pitching coach Cole Bullard that said “congrats bud.” I looked at my sister and said, “I think i just got drafted.” Obviously, everything is out of your control, so you just hope that everything turns out for the best. Thankfully, it all worked out, and I’m with the right team. I’m so thankful for all the help of my coaches over the years. It was definitely an exciting day.


Who did you talk to with the Dodgers before being drafted?
– I spoke with Bobby Darwin a couple of times before the draft. They invited me to a pre-draft workout on June 1, but I wasn’t able to attend due to the death of my grandfather. I knew they were somewhat interested, but I didn’t think they were going to be the first team to pick me. It was definitely a surprise!


Did you know you were going to get picked, or was it a surprise?
– I had a pretty good idea I was going to be selected, I just wasn’t sure where. I was told there were a ton of high school pitchers with good (velocity) this draft, so I knew there was a good chance I could fall a couple of rounds. However, most teams said somewhere in the top 10 rounds. Thankfully, the Dodgers saw something they liked, and they picked me in the seventh.


You’re three years removed from Tommy John surgery. Have you noticed a difference in your game pre- and post-surgery?
– A year after surgery, there’s still some caution and mental issues that you have to battle through. You have to find your release point and trust that your arm isn’t going to fall off if you snap a breaking ball. But after the second year, you definitely find your groove and begin to feel more comfortable. I would say most people can pitch their first year back, but their sharpness and mental grit usually develops after 18 months. You need confidence and that mound presence to pitch, and that’s all mental. The only difference for me between pre- and post-surgery is my preparation. I run a lot more for my next starts, and I also lift (weights) a few times a week to make sure that my legs and body are strong. That’s an important aspect that takes some maturity and experience to learn.


What is your best secondary pitch?
– My best secondary pitch is usually my curveball. However, it’s been on and off at times. I’m really trying to develop my changeup because it has been so effective this past season. I’m looking forward to sharpening up my off-speed and seeing how much I can develop in the next couple of seasons.


What are you looking forward to most about being a professional baseball player?
–  I’m really looking forward to the process of developing and learning different tools that I can use to become a better baseball player. I’ve heard that it’s a grind, but I want to persevere when things get tough, and do my best to learn from the good and bad.


What are your goals this season? Future seasons?
– This season, one of my biggest goals is to establish myself, get into a routine, and develop my off-speed pitches. I think it’s important to feel comfortable where you’re playing and the routine that goes into each game. I want to establish myself and become more comfortable with the system and process. In the future, I really would like to fine tune my curveball, slider and changeup, to the point where I could throw them in any count, at any time. The key is consistency, and I think all these goals will contribute to that primary focus.


Where will you begin your pro career?
– I am currently playing for the Ogden Raptors. After that, its really up to the organization to see where they want me.


Do you try to emulate any pitchers? If so, who?
–  I don’t try to pitch like anyone. I have a different delivery and throwing motion that allows me to throw strikes and have a sinking fastball. But I don’t think it’s health to try to pitch the exact same way as another pitcher. I do admire several pitchers in the big leagues, two of them being Clayton Kershaw and Adam Wainwright. I love watching them succeed and I admire the way they carry themselves on- and off the field. They are both great men of character that stand out just by being themselves. I think that’s a very important quality to have, especially when you’re meeting so many new people and are constantly in the spot light. And it doesn’t hurt that they’re two of the best pitchers in baseball.


Which professional pitcher (past or present) would you compare yourself to?
–  I was told by a scout that I reminded him of Bert Blyleven, but I’m not completely sold on that one yet. His curveball was insane, and I’d have a long way to go before I could compare myself to him. I haven’t really seen anyone else with a similar throwing motion.


Oaks, 21, signed for $5,000 less than slot as the team’s seventh-rounder. He has yet to make his professional debut, but, as he said, is listed on the Ogden Raptors’ roster. He might be a kid from this draft to keep an eye on, especially if he can refine his off-speed stuff. ranked him as the 199th-best prospect in the draft, and the Dodgers got him at No. 219. That’s pretty good value.


About Dustin Nosler

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Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosted a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He was a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times and True Blue LA. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif.