Monday, March 3, 2014
Kohler surging to Beloit (Q&A)
The Athletics have had previous heartbreaks within their previous few draft classes when attempting to hook another prep southpaw into their organization following the 2009 acquisition of Ian Krol, as campaigns launched to persuade Jace Fry in 2011 and Kyle Twomey in 2012 have gone awry, with Fry now slated to be one the most sought after collegiate arms available amongst 2014 eligible draftees. However, Oakland was vindicated for their losses to a certain extent with the addition of Chris Kohler, a Rancho Cucamonga native, as the A's have snagged a stellar asset to utilize upon the mound with a projectable 6'3", 195 dimension and storied high school résumé at Los Osos that convinced Oakland to take him at 106th overall, a compensation selection bestowed to the A's for losing the aforementioned Twomey the year prior. For the Oklahoma commit, it was an instantaneous decision to opt for the Athletics, signing just hours after his selection for a $486,600 contract - "I was so happy when I was picked, it was a dream come true" Kohler said. " It made my parents so proud and it's what I've worked toward all my life. It didn't take me long to make my decision because my parents and I knew that the professional path was best for me as a pitcher". Kohler had originally made a vow to USC before his sophomore season had begun, having impressed the Trojan program as a first baseman as opposed to a left handed pitcher. Despite an equally as phenomenal stint as a positional player, Kohler seems destined to permanently remain as an arm, though still could be capable of a Joe Savery-esque shift should an injury require it.
"Well, to be honest, I hope that never happens. But yes, I am a pretty good hitter and I definitely could do it if it came down to that." Kohler stated. "But, let's hope it's not needed." Of course, Kohler only would transition should his career as a pitcher be stalled, which is extraordinarily unlikely given his potentiality. The lanky lefty has dazzled at his alma mater of Los Osos, showcasing his outstanding progress as an arm, dominating Southern Californian competition during his senior campaign with a cumulative 72 IP between his 12 outings, five of which were complete game efforts. Amassing an absurd 113:32 K/BB with one lone dinger allowed, Kohler completed his stint prior to his draft initiation with a no-hitter to clinch his ballclub's league division title in a memorable completion to his amateur career. The performance inticed the Athletics to the youngster who had turned 18 a month before the draft proceedings, and they packaged him to Papago for preparations just days afterward.
Kohler would flourish in his initial professional foray between his 13 appearances and 22 2/3 frames, establishing a 32:9 K/BB (33.0% K%) and a 3.29 GB/FB ratio to coincide with his zero HRs permitted for a debut that was one of the more favorable cumulative attempts between any 2013 draftee - "The AZL was really fun." said Kohler. "Once I got there I really tried to start commanding my fastball because I realized people can hit it a lot further and harder now. But overall, it was a fun time for me". Following his sensational outings versus rookie league opposition, Kohler was sanctioned to the instructional league, once more being retained in Arizona and mingling with significantly more seasoned assets through September, as Kohler is the youngest stateside pitcher at the moment, born one day after that of Ronald Herrera on 5/4/1995 - "Even though I'm so young it doesn't really matter. Everyone treats you the same and we're all good friends and teammates. It was a good time"
Kohler's success has been derivative of his exceptional strike placement, significantly limiting well struck contact, and a repertoire bolstered by a stifling delievery that has puzzled offenses. His velocity gradually increased during his high school tenure, boding well for Oakland as he continues upon his physical matutation, finally sitting 87-91 MPH as his senior season concluded. Possessing an additional curveball and changeup that have received acclaim, Kohler has the potentiality to manufacture consistent results with his secondary offerings as well. However, Kohler's mechanics have been relentlessly debated by scouts as he utilizes a deceptive wrap towards the end of his delievery that assists in the effectiveness of his arsenal, yet hinders and inhibits his precision, a distinct issue for the southpaw thus far. Kohler's sequence also includes him dragging his foot upon release, squandering some velocity upon his repertoire. While housed within the Oakland organization, Kohler indicated the A's had tweaked his delievery to an extent, yet was unwilling to divulge in detail - "Yeah, they tweaked a few things in the Instructional league and I worked on a couple things... I don't want to say too much...". The Athletics seem to have some sort of developmental program instilled for their prized teenage phenom to mature however, evidently receiving legitimate reviews from Scott Emerson while in attendance, comparing Kohler to Andy Pettitte for his arsenal and pitch sequencing. Regardless of mechanical differential or revision that may occur, Kohler's capability and athleticism is remarkable, servicing as another brilliant prospect asset for Oakland to utilize as he transitions onward to a 2014 campaign in where he's evidently in contention to commence upon Beloit's roster and bypass Vermont in its entirety. Still blatantly youthful, a stint in the NYPL wouldn't be disastrous towards Kohler's prospects or development, but the Californian has aspirations for his preferred destination in Wisconsin, easily capable of grappling against Midwest League opposition - "I hope to be on a full season team" Kohler remarked. " I think I've shown that I'm capable of moving up and making that jump, but we will have to see what happens".
Slated to be stretched out at this instant, Kohler is flexible towards his fate heading into his sophomore campaign after nine relief outings in the AZL - "Whatever gets me to the big leagues the fastest and keeps me there. I'm all for it!" He stated simply. Only witnessing a glimpse of his ceiling while housed amongst AZL competitors, Kohler possesses the potential to undergo a monstrous 2014 season and skyrocket upwards towards being one of Oakland's most salivated over farmhands, now having to navigate Ian Krol's path to the major leagues and ease the Athletics' sorrow over departures of Fry and Twomey. Should he be slotted within Beloit and excel between the Midwest League, Stockton wouldn't be outlandish at some instance for the approaching 19 year old and premier A's lefty.