How many of you thought about what it might be like, to make it to the big league? All kids dream of making it big in some way or another. How about waiting for that first call or email, which would invite you to Spring Training with a Major League Organization? It doesn’t matter whether you were just starting out your baseball journey, a seasoned player, or reliving the glory days of baseball seasons past, one can imagine that the player in all of us would have dreamt of such a day. Many of us will never know what it is like to see this “diamond dream” come to life. Now, wouldn’t it be nice to hear from someone who is living this dream as his reality right now.
Trevor Oaks, the Lancer Alum from Riverside, was nice enough to spend some time away from his extensive offseason training regimen to let us know about his experiences so far. After congratulating Trevor, I asked him about what it is that is going through his mind right now? “I’m very excited for the opportunity to come to camp and try to show the coaching staff I can compete at this level.” Oaks continued, “I wasn’t surprised by the news. I felt that it was something I earned and feel very honored to have this chance. I want to make the most of it and do my best to make a good first impression.” Fans in the California, Texas and Pacific Coast League’s witnessed some tremendous first impressions from the right-handed pitcher, to include throwing a near no-hitter, being named an All-Star (Texas League) and claiming two Pitcher of the week awards. He throws strikes, is aggressive, goes deep into ball games and his pitches have some nasty movement.
Trevor had an extensive workload in 2016, more innings and pitches thrown than any season before. Oaks threw over 150 innings last year, spread out between starts in Class A (Rancho Cucamonga), Class AA (Tulsa) and Class AAA (Oklahoma City). I asked the young sinker ball pitcher about his arm and his overall health in general. “My body is feeling really strong and ready to go. I feel like I’ve picked up right where I left off. My arm feels fresh and ready to go! I’m excited to get going on this next season.” We are all excited for 2017, especially if Trevor can continue to put together really effective outings like he did in the ’16 campaign. Oaks compiled an overall record of 14 Wins against only 3 Losses, while keeping his ERA under 2.75 (2.74) for the season. Trevor was promoted to Tulsa after only 4 starts with the Quakes, then proceeded to become a Texas League All-Star with the Drillers going 8 and 1 in 10 starts. Eventually the control pitcher was bumped up again, this time to Oklahoma City where Trevor shined going 5 and 1. Last month, when I first interviewed Trevor, he mentioned that he would like to be known as an efficient pitcher. Especially for the kids, I asked Oaks to talk about why that is so important, particularly for starting pitchers? “It allows you to control the pace of the game and dictate the momentum. Your focus is on attacking the bottom of the strike zone, with an emphasis on getting weak contact on the ground, while keeping your pitch count at 15 pitches or less per inning.” Trevor went on to say (listen up kids), “I have found that my teammates are more locked in and focused on every pitch because they’re anticipating contact.”
I wanted to press beyond the stats from last year, wondering with all the success that Trevor Oaks enjoyed, was there anyone who gave him a bad time at the plate. I asked who was the toughest out he faced last year? “Danny Volgelbach! He had my number and I couldn’t figure out how to stay off his barrel.” For the moment, Volgelbach is a member of the Mariners organization, however, with Dipoto as G.M. who knows for how much longer. Imagining a soon to be Major League debut, I asked Trevor, who do you least look forward to seeing in the opposing batters box? The confident, but humble prospect replied, “I can’t say there’s anyone in particular I wouldn’t want to face. I want to see how I do against them. Some guys will be better at hitting me, and some guys I’ll have a lot of success against. It’s just the nature of the game.” For us visual dreamers, further information was needed to complete the scene, we need some names Mr. Oaks! The 2016 Texas League All-Star stated, “I would love to face everyone because I’ve grown up watching all of them. I would love to face Bryce Harper and Miguel Cabrera. I like the challenge and I would want to see how I would do against them.” He certainly seems ready for the “trial by fire” that is pitching in the Major League’s as a rookie and beyond. Great character, an effective-control pitcher with the drive and determination to not only battle through early injuries in his career, but also gracefully rise through the levels in the minors last year. I had to know, who was Trevor’s biggest influence growing up. His response, “My Dad. He’s my hero and everything he did, I wanted to be a part of. He’s always encouraged me to try different sports and to stay
active. He helped me with baseball and taught me everything he could. If he didn’t know, he got me lessons so I could learn.” While I was lucky enough to have this time, I knew it was coming to a close, I asked Trevor Oaks about his offseason workout routine. His answer may surprise you, because of how much stuff he does! His trainer, Kevin Royce, at Crossfit Proper in Corona, not only trains Trevor Oaks, but also trains Mr. Caleb Dirks, Lancer Alum and former Dodger farm hand. Oaks recommended, if you want a professional type of workout, with an amazing trainer, go see Kevin Royce of Crossfit Proper.
After speaking with Trevor Oaks at length, I feel myself rooting more and more for this talented young man. It is just one more reason to be very excited for the 2017 season. Pitching prospects like Oaks, going to his first Big League Spring Training, while taking some of us day dreamers along on his “adventure of a lifetime.”