Oakland A's Prospect Q&A: Shawn Haviland

Oakland A's Prospect Q&A: Shawn Haviland

by Melissa Lockard,

Stockton Ports right-hander Shawn Haviland is a man of many talents. A graduate of Harvard University with a degree in Government, Haviland is not only a rising prospect in the Oakland A's system, but he is also the author of a popular blog, IvyLeaguetotheMLB.

Selected in the 33rd round of the 2008 draft, Haviland has made steady progress through the A's system. After posting a 3.48 ERA with the Vancouver Canadians in 2008, Haviland made the Midwest League mid-season All-Star team in 2009 on the strength of a 3.66 ERA in 14 pre-All-Star game starts.

Thus far this year, Haviland looks like the pitcher who took the mound during the first half of last season. After a strong spring, Haviland was named the Ports' Opening Day starter and, in three starts, he has a 2-0 record and a 2.20 ERA. In 16.1 innings, he has allowed only 14 hits and has a 15:4 K:BB ratio.

We caught-up with Haviland on Sunday in Stockton for a Q&A.

OaklandClubhouse: How are your pitches coming along? Are they where you want them to be at this point?

Shawn Haviland: To some extent. My fastball command has been the big difference this year. Especially to my glove side. I wasn’t able to get over there last year. Working with Schulzie [Stockton pitching coach Don Schulze] and Gil [Patterson, A’s minor league pitching coordinator], it’s really been a big difference.

OC: Was that something you were working on in Instructs or spring training or both?

SH: It was something at the end of last year they said I needed to work on in the off-season. Through spring training and the first couple of weeks of the season, that is what we have been focusing on in the bullpen.

OC: You had a big jump up in velocity when you turned pro [from mid to high-80s to 91-93 MPH]. Was that a result of conditioning or a change with your mechanics?

SH: Some change in mechanics and I lost about 20 pounds right after the first season that I signed [2008], so I think that had a lot to do with it.

OC: Has professional baseball been what you expected in terms of the day-to-day?

SH: Yeah, I think so. For a starting pitcher, it’s not so bad. We have one out of five days. By the time that fifth day comes around, you are kind of like ‘can I play yet or what?’ I think for a starting pitcher, it isn’t much of a grind, but I see that for the position players. It’s tough to get out there everyday. It’s a long, long season.

OC: Your statistics weren’t as strong the second half of last season. Do you think that was a conditioning issue because it was your first full season, or was it something else, do you think?

SH: I don’t know. Every time I went out there, I felt great and my velocity was the same. My pitches were still the same. I just wasn’t having the success that I wanted. Just talking to some people, you don’t even realize that you are tired and suddenly your ball gets up a little bit. Given that, I did want to get into a little better shape for this season, so hopefully that doesn’t happen this year.

OC: What was it like to participate in the Midwest League playoffs last year?

SH: It was awesome. Kane is a great place to play. They pack that place out and they get good crowds. It was cool. We didn’t make the playoffs in Vancouver [in 2008], so it was cool to be in my first minor league post-season.

OC: You are an East Coast guy. How are you liking playing in California?

SH: This is only the second time I have been to California. We came out here in college and played in the San Diego area, so I’m looking forward to an off-day to get over to San Francisco. I’ve never been there. And I want to get to an Oakland A’s game. I’ve never done that. It’s different [playing in California]. It’s tough because you call home and everyone is asleep after the games, but it’s cool to see new places. I had never been to Chicago before, either [before last season with Kane County].

OC: Do you and [A’s Assistant GM] David Forst talk about the old Crimson alum stuff?

SH: [laughs] A little bit. I saw him at Instructs my first year and we were talking about Coach Walsh, who is a great coach. He has a really thick Boston accent, so we were both doing our impressions.

OC: Was it a big jump to go from the Ivy League, not a traditional baseball powerhouse, to the pros?

SH: To some extent. At the same time, I had played on the Cape [in the Cape Cod League] and my senior year, we played the hardest schedule in the country. So from the Ivy League itself, it was a little bit of a jump, but we faced some good talent.

OC: What are you looking to accomplish by the end of this year?

SH: I’d just like to be consistent throughout the whole year and not have a streak where I am giving up no runs and then get blown up. I want to go out there