After getting off to a solid start at the short-season level last summer, Wyatt Marks, Oakland A’s 13th-round selection in the 2017 draft, has carried that over this spring to a Low-A assignment with the Beloit Snappers.
Marks opened his 2018 season with five innings of one-run, four-hit ball at Wisconsin on April 7th to pick up the victory. The former Louisiana-Lafayette standout struck out three and walked one while working against a 70-pitch limit.
“It went well,” said Marks. “The weather wasn’t too bad. It was kind of chilly but you kind of deal with that. Everything felt good and it was a good start to the season. Once you get heated up, you don’t notice the cold. It’s out of your mind. I was just making pitches and letting my defense work.”
He followed that up with another strong outing on Friday, going five innings in a 9-6 win over the Kane County Cougars. Marks allowed one earned run on seven hits and no walks. He struck out nine.
It has been a solid start to 2018 for Marks, who said he put himself in position to make a full-season club out of the spring with a pretty simple approach to workouts.
“I put my head down, went to work and tried to get better every day,” he said. “I tried to clean up a few things with my mechanics, but we’re always trying to do that. It wasn’t anything out of the ordinary.”
Already armed with a fastball and slider as he entered the A’s organization, Marks said he has been able to refine the third pitch in his offering to give himself a better chance as a starter.
“My change-up has improved a lot,” he said. “Last year was the first year I started throwing a change-up. I worked on it every day when we were playing toss. I figured out what works and doesn’t work. I changed the grips around.”
A starter during his first two years of college ball, Marks made the move to the bullpen during his junior season and he succeeded. He was named a first-team All-American by Baseball America after recording a 2-1 record, seven saves and a 2.28 ERA. Marks’ 14.97 strikeouts per nine innings led the nation.
His experience as a starter and reliever would pay dividends after his selection by the A’s. After making two starts in the AZL and allowing three hits in five scoreless innings, Marks was summoned to short-season Vermont where he was part of a hybrid pitching assignment.
“It was a great experience and a lot of fun,” Marks said. “It’s a great town to play baseball in. The fans are great. I had a great host family. Since we had a lot of starters, we did a piggy-back role. I’d start one game and the next game I’d come in relief.”
Marks has taken a simple approach to his craft at every stop along the way, from college to the pros.
“Pitching is the same thing at every level,” he said. “You make your pitches, you’re going to get outs. That’s what you’ve got to keep on doing. Obviously, the higher level, the fewer mistakes you make the bigger it’s going to be. It’s all about making the pitches and letting your defense work.”
This mindset has served Marks well during the brief start to his pro career.
“Just go to work every day, trying to get better and trying to improve something every day,” he said. “I want to learn as much as possible by watching other pitchers and talking to them. You can learn something new every day.”
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