View Full Version : Ben Jukich Q&A

11-24-2007, 02:55 AM
It's a bit old Jun 11 '07 when he was still with Oakland. But it has some nice info. Another nugget I scooped up from scouts free weekend.

Oakland A's Prospect Q&A: Ben Jukich, SP

Jukich was a 13th round pick in 2006. By Melissa Lockard
Senior Editor
Posted Jun 11, 2007

One of the biggest stories from the Oakland A's draft last season was the rapid rise of 13th round pick Ben Jukich. Jukich was selected from a small school, Dakota Wesleyan, at age 23. He quickly moved through short-season Vancouver and was promoted to Low-A Kane County, becoming one of the Cougars' top pitchers by the end of the season. We caught-up with Jukich on Saturday in Stockton.

Lefty Ben Jukich has had an up-and-down season for the Stockton Ports. Jukich has alternated good starts and bad starts for the Ports almost all season. Through 58.1 innings, Jukich has a 5.40 ERA. However, he has an excellent K:BB ratio (46:15). We caught-up with the lanky lefty on Saturday before the Ports game with High Desert.


OaklandClubhouse: How do you feel your first couple of months have gone in the California League? You've had a good strike-out to walk ratio, but you have given up a lot of hits. Do you feel like that has been a product of the crazy California League ballparks?

Ben Jukich: A lot of it has been adjusting to the league, the hitters, the size of the ballpark has a lot to do with it. First month that I was here, I struggled with my command quite a bit. I was really up and down. I'd have a good game, then I'd have a bad game. For the most part now, I have been able to find myself in this league and I feel a lot more comfortable.

OC: What are you throwing at this point?

BJ: I throw my fastball, my two-seam. My curveball is my bread-and-butter. I throw a slider and my change-up is still a work in progress.

OC: You've made a big jump from being drafted last year to starting in Stockton this year. Has it been a lot to learn?

BJ: Yeah, it has. There has been a few set-backs. You know, coming into this league after being drafted at 23 years old, it isn't something that happens that often, so you kind of have to learn quickly, otherwise you get moved out. It has been interesting. I have had a lot of fun doing it.

OC: You had kind of an unorthodox journey through college to the pros. Did you learn a lot from that?

BJ: There are a few coaches that I have had who have helped me define who I am and to utilize the talents that I have to be the best baseball player that I can be. I have definitely learned a lot over the last few years of my life about who I am. Missing three years of baseball and then coming back into it isn't something that is very easy so without the coaching staffs that I have, I don't know where I would be.

OC: What has you first extended stay in California been like?

BJ: It's hot. [laughs] Being from northern Minnesota, I feel like I am going to melt. It's nice playing in this ballpark. It is one of the nicest ballparks in the league, and we get that breeze that usually blows out, but it still feels good. [laughs]

OC: What were the adjustments you made when you were working on improving your command?

BJ: Just trying to find a rhythm, and staying in that rhythm. I struggled a little bit with my mechanics early on and Garvin [Alston, the Ports' Pitching Coach] helped me figure out a few things. At the beginning of the season, I think I was trying to over-throw the ball a little too much. Coming into last year, I was a 90-92 guy and coming into this year, my velocity has been down a little bit and I think that had a lot to do with the way that I was pitching early on, trying to over-throw the ball. When you try to reach back and the 92-93 isn't there, you kind of fool yourself because if you leave the ball over the middle of the plate, it is going to go a long way.

11-24-2007, 03:00 AM
Also the midseason prospect report which somehow still had Jukich in it even though he had already been dealt.

29. Ben Jukich, SP:

Jukich was one of the more interesting stories coming out of the Aís 2006 draft class. The left-hander was almost 24 when he was selected, as he had taken time away from baseball before going to college. He was very solid during his pro debut, pitching well for both short-season Vancouver and Low-A Kane County. Jukich was pushed to High-A Stockton at the start of the 2007 season, where he was in the Portsí starting rotation for the first two-and-a-half months of the season. In mid-June, he was traded to the Cincinnati organization as part of the Chris Denorfia deal and was assigned to the Redsí High-A affiliate in Sarasota. Like many young players, Jukich struggled during his first few outings after being traded. However, he has pitched very well for the Sarasota Reds in his last two starts.

Jukich has a build similar to former Aís lefty Mark Mulder and a hard curveball that was one of the top in the Aís organization before he left. He has good control (62:25 K:BB ratio this season), but he often catches too much of the strike zone, which has caused him to give up a lot of hits this season. Because of his time away from the game, Jukich is old for his level, but still young in terms of his development as a pitcher. He may move through the Redsí system quicker as a reliever, although with their lack of left-handed starting pitching, the Reds will likely give Jukich a long look as a starter.


11-24-2007, 03:35 AM
If Jukich's problem is that he needs a changeup, they should hook him up with Mario Soto, as the Reds have been known to do with young pitchers. Imagine his curveball with a Soto-taught changeup, and the Reds could have a very good pitcher on their hands.

11-24-2007, 04:27 AM
I think this kid is a sleeper. He gets knocked for his age, but the story above explains it a little. He doesn't throw overly hard, but he's a lefty and there really aren't many that do. I'd like to see him start 2008 in AA, but the Reds have a crowd for AA and A+ with Thompson, Fisher, Lecure, Wood, Ondrusek, Avery, Vasquez, Smit and Watson.

He, along with Carlos Fisher, are my sleeper choices. Both have the late start, old for their level tag that gets them left off of a lot of lists by people who look at the age and not the circumstances. If Jukich is ready for the majors at say 26 or 27 and the Reds have the lower cost years through the prime portion of LH pitcher's career that isn't so bad. For the record, many are high on Marcus McBeth and Brad Salmon and they'll be 28 during the 2008 season and neither has had a full season in the bigs yet. If he becomes a guy for the back of the rotation mix, a lefty that can "provide length in the pen" or becomes a LH specialist it is still better than a lot of the more highly touted players will achieve. LH who can throw in the 90s with a good curve can find a major league career. Ones who can do it through their prime on the cheap are pretty valuable resources for a team looking to free up some coin for other areas.

11-24-2007, 11:17 AM
I kind of expect the Ty Pelland path for him. My guess is that he'll stay a starter until AAA or so, when he'll primarily become a LOOGY.

11-24-2007, 01:18 PM
Speaking of McBeth here's a story when he was dealt. Don't know if it's been posted prior but it too has a bit of insight.

McBeth Dealt To Cincinnati

McBeth was one of the A's top relief prospects. By Melissa Lockard
Senior Editor
Posted Apr 28, 2007

The Oakland A's sent one of their top relief pitching prospects to the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday. Marcus McBeth, who converted 32 saves last season, has been dealt to Cincinnati as one of the players to be named later in the Chris Denorfia deal.

All season, the Cincinnati Reds have been looking for live arms for their struggling bullpen. They may have found one on Saturday. The Reds acquired right-handed reliever Marcus McBeth as one of two players to be named later in a deal that sent Chris Denorfia to the Oakland A's on Friday.

McBeth, a former centerfielder, made the conversion to pitching in 2005. He burst on the scene in 2006, excelling as a closer for Stockton, Midland and Sacramento. McBeth saved 32 games for those three A's affiliates last season and he struck out 86 batters in 70.1 innings. He was the closer for the AFL champion Phoenix Desert Dogs this past fall and was the AFL Pitcher of the Week for the week of October 30.

McBeth could join the Reds bullpen sometime this season. The South Carolina grad is armed with a low to mid-90s fastball and a change-up that has been compared to Trevor Hoffman's. McBeth had been acting as the Sacramento River Cats closer this season and he was 1-0 with five saves and a 1.80 ERA in eight appearances for the River Cats in 2007.

Unlike McBeth, Denorfia is guaranteed not to have an impact on the A's this season. Denorfia is on the 60-day DL after undergoing Tommy John surgery in late March. He isn't expected back on the field until October at the earliest. Denorfia is a good defensive outfielder who can handle all three outfield positions. Denorfia has some good speed, having stolen 15 bases in 16 chances for Triple-A Louisville last season. He had a 724 OPS in 106 at-bats for the Reds last season. For Triple-A Louisville last season, Denorfia had an 893 OPS in 83 games (312 at-bats).

The A's still owe the Reds one more player to be named later, but that player is expected to be revealed for a few more months.

06-21-2008, 08:15 PM

06-21-2008, 08:45 PM

Thanks Mario-Rijo

06-21-2008, 08:53 PM
Thanks Mario-Rijo

No Problem, glad to help.

06-21-2008, 09:09 PM
One thing to add with most of this being old is with Jukich's 2008 season the reliever idea is being shredded. He's solidified his status with results and is the next starting pitcher preparing to pass Bailey on the prospect chart.

06-22-2008, 08:45 AM
One thing to add with most of this being old is with Jukich's 2008 season the reliever idea is being shredded. He's solidified his status with results and is the next starting pitcher preparing to pass Bailey on the prospect chart.

It wouldn't surprise me.

06-22-2008, 11:07 AM
It wouldn't surprise me.

That's not a slam on Bailey, really, just a reflection of Jukich's age and experience to date. Homer will be a better pitcher than Ben and probably Thompson given a year or two. I still believe...but not every kid is ready to go at 22. The Reds haven't helped Homer, either, imo.

06-22-2008, 07:54 PM
That's not a slam on Bailey, really, just a reflection of Jukich's age and experience to date. Homer will be a better pitcher than Ben and probably Thompson given a year or two. I still believe...but not every kid is ready to go at 22. The Reds haven't helped Homer, either, imo.

Couldn't agree more. Folks need to remind themselves that even the Great Voltron Volquez, another highly touted prospect, didn't get it until this year. Homer has certainly showed flashes of greatness. There are defenitely a bit more questions than there were, given his changed mechanics, loss of velocity, etc. Lets hope he gets it together. Failure can be a good thing to learn from, and lets hope Bailey takes those lessons, applies them, adjusts and finds success. Because I sure as hell would love to have him with Edinson, Cueto, Thompson, etc.