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Born to be an ‘A’

Quite a storybook scene unfolded at the Coliseum before today’s game. The A’s agreed to terms with right-hander Tyson Ross, their second-round draft pick out of Cal, and invited him to throw a bullpen session in front of the major league staff and front office. I can’t imagine what was going through this kid’s head. He grew up playing youth baseball in Oakland — he recalls Rickey Henderson stopping by the Oakland Babe Ruth fields occasionally — and went to Bishop O’Dowd High.

Watching close by were his parents, Willie and Jean, his younger sister, Frankie, and younger brother Joe. Jean showed off a baseball card of a 4-year-old Tyson posing and wearing an A’s hat in 1991. It was shot at the Coliseum while the family was attending a game.

“I didn’t even breathe on the mound,” Ross said in explaining Thursday’s excitement. “I dreamed about being out here as a kid.”

Some scouts were concerned leading up to the draft about Ross’ mechanics. He has a noticeably short stride  toward the plate in his delivery, which is unusual for someone with a lanky, 6-foot-5 frame. But one scout said Thursday he put more stock in Ross’ impressive results at Cal than he did in how he looked while doing it.

 Considering Ross’ local ties, the A’s got a long look at him throughout his Cal career.

“He pitched five minutes from  my house,” A’s assistant GM David Forst said. “We’re excited he was available. You don’t take a guy just because he’s from here. But when the talent and that (factor) matches up, it’s certainly nice to have someone from your backyard.”

Ross is leaving for the A’s minor league complex in Phoenix on Saturday. Then he’ll begin his pro career with low Single-A Kane County. (Most draft picks begin at short-season Vancouver). Forst said the A’s feel more comfortable working Ross a little bit harder this summer than they worked 2007 first-round pick James Simmons last season. Simmons started out in Double-A but threw out of the bullpen to limit his innings after a heavy workload with UC Riverside. 

Joe Stiglich