Through the first two months, the 2017 season was memorable for all of the wrong reasons for Stockton Ports’ outfielder Brett Siddall. Fighting for regular playing time for the first time in his baseball career, Siddall found himself with a .237/.301/.397 line at the start of June. Siddall’s season took a dramatic turn at that point, however, and he now sits tied for fifth in the California League in homers and fourth in the league in OPS.
When the season opened, Siddall was one of four outfielders on the Ports’ Opening Day roster. With the Ports also carrying two first basemen/DHs, Stockton manager Rick Magnante had to juggle the playing time between Siddall, Skye Bolt, Seth Brown, Tyler Ramirez, Chris Iriart and Sandber Pimentel. As a result, Siddall appeared in only 16 games in April. He hit just .236/.311/.345 in 55 at-bats the first month of the season.
“Everybody got off to a pretty good start except for Brett started slowly,” Magnante said. “Playing time was limited. Then with the movement of the roster and Iriart going down [with an injury] and now giving Brett a chance to DH a little bit, he started to swing it.”
Siddall’s playing time increased during the second half of May. Although he hit only .237 for the month, his slugging percentage jump to .434. Part of the everyday line-up in June, Siddall posted a 998 OPS and earned our minor league player of the month award. He has played even better in July. After a 4-4 performance on Sunday, Siddall is batting .373/.447/.578 in July and .300/.368/.503 for the season.
Siddall says that while it was hard for him to get into a good rhythm when he wasn’t playing everyday, he never lost faith that he could hit.
“It was tough. For me, it is a big thing to be able to see live pitching every day,” Siddall said last Thursday. “When I did play, I felt like I was in a tougher place. I felt like I didn’t really have a chance some days, but once I was able to grind out some at-bats and see some good results and keep that ball rolling, it helped me out in this recent stretch.”
Knowing that he is going to be in the line-up everyday has helped Siddall develop a stronger routine.
“I have always had the confidence in my abilities, but seeing the results made me feel more comfortable out there,” Siddall said. “I got into a little routine and got into a hot streak there. I hope to keep it going.”
Magnante says that Siddall’s breakout can be traced to his work with Ports’ hitting coach Tommy Everidge and to Siddall’s positive attitude.
“I would give credit, first and foremost, to the player, no doubt, but Tommy Everidge works hard with him,” Magnante said. “He tried to get Brett a little more balanced and centered approach to allow him to recognize pitches a little better so he could make that late decision to swing or not to swing a better decision. It’s really helped him.
“I’m really pleased for him and it’s good to see. It points to his character. He wasn’t getting playing time and he didn’t hang his head. He didn’t mope. He kept working hard and kept believing in himself. He got an opportunity and it has paid off.”
Siddall’s emergence came at a good time for the Ports, who lost some of their top first-half hitters to mid-season promotions.
“Losing [Sean] Murphy and losing [Tyler] Ramirez, we certainly lost some big bats in the middle of the line-up and he’s really helped to pick up the slack,” Magnante said.
Siddall has found a home in the middle of the Ports’ line-up and is currently fifth in the league in slugging with a .503 mark. Siddall relishes the opportunity to hit in the third and fourth slots in the order.
“I see myself in the middle of the line-up,” he said. “I like to see myself as a run producer and so I’m hoping to get those opportunities and to be able to execute for the team and help the team win. It’s been good so far this year and I’m hoping to have it continue.”
Siddall came to the A’s in 2015 as a 13th-round pick out of Canisius College in Buffalo, New York, where he hit .353 with 12 homers during his junior season. He made a strong first impression as a pro, batting .342 in 19 games in the Arizona Rookie League before earning a promotion to short-season Vermont. He posted a respectable 745 OPS in the pitcher-friendly New York-Penn League.
Last season, Siddall spent the entire year with the Low-A Beloit Snappers. Unlike this year, Siddall got off to a fast start, batting .347 for the month of April. Siddall was up-and-down the rest of the season and finished his first full professional campaign with a .241/.321/.356 line.
Siddall says that his time in the Midwest League gave him a good foundation to build off of in the Cal League.
“I found that most of the pitchers we are facing [in the Cal League] are the good pitchers that we faced last year that moved up. If you had success in that league, you moved up,” Siddall said. “I know a lot of these guys from the Midwest League last year and obviously there are only eight teams in this league, so you are seeing the same teams over and over. I like to see that. It’s a constant battle with these pitchers.”
With the Cal League down to only eight teams this season, pitchers have had plenty of opportunities to find other ways to attack Siddall. Thus far, when those pitchers have zigged, Siddall has zagged.
“Once you have success against somebody, they aren’t going to pitch you the same, so it turns into a mind-game at that point,” Siddall said. “It’s fun. I like trying to figure out what he’s going to try to throw me to try to get me out. It’s a constant back-and-forth, which is fun.”
A native of Windsor, Ontario, Siddall isn’t the only Canisius alum in the A’s organization. Jake Lumley joined the A’s in the 33rd round out of Canisius this season. The second baseman is currently batting .333 in the Arizona Rookie League. Siddall says he and Lumley have been friends since childhood.
“He’s from my hometown as well. We are pretty good friends,” Siddall said. “He’s down in the AZL right now and he’s enjoying it. He’s doing pretty well, as well. We went to the same college, are from the same hometown and now are with the same pro team. It’s fun for us.”
Siddall’s baseball roots run deep. His father, Joe, played parts of four seasons in the big leagues and is currently a broadcaster for the Toronto Blue Jays. Siddall says his father is there when he needs him, but that he gives his son room to figure out things on his own.
“He lets me do my own thing. Obviously if I have questions or need advice, I can go to him, but he tries to let me do my own thing and doesn’t try to get in my hair and try to interfere with what I’m trying to do,” Siddall said. “He knows that I have had success growing up and so far through my pro career, so he lets me do my own thing. But he’s a great resource to have.”
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