Cal notes: Choice adds pop to Ports

Former first-rounder leading team in home runs and RBIs

Michael Choice was the 10th overall selection in the 2010 Draft. (Ken Weisenberger/

By Chris Martinez / Special to | June 1, 2011 11:33 AM

Michael Choice received the biggest assignment of his brief baseball career when the Oakland Athletics placed him on their Class A Advanced club in Stockton to start the 2011 season. Undaunted at the task of skipping a level in his full-season debut, the 21-year-old outfielder has responded by leading the Ports with 11 home runs and 34 RBIs in 48 games.

The A's selected Choice 10th overall last year in hopes that he would be an offensive leader, just as his early 2011 numbers have proven. Choice says he's making the adjustments necessary for playing every day, like figuring out what kind of approach to take into every at-bat. He also took lessons from fall instructional ball last year on the basics of playing outfield in the pros.

"I feel like so far this year I've been a lot better and more successful than I was in Short Season," said Choice, who hit .284 with seven homers in 27 Northwest League games last season.

Choice recognizes the everyday grind of a full season as his biggest hurdle, though he identified it more as a mental issue than a physical one.

"[It's] knowing that you have 90 more games to go and you have this road trip ahead of you," he said. "It wears you down more than if you take it day by day."

Choice's hitting philosophy also requires mental focus.

"I feel you have to be a hitter before you worry about the power," he said. "If you are a power hitter, and you focus on getting base hits, the power will come."

He's also working on reducing his strikeouts while increasing his walks, which requires the same kind of focus he applies to power hitting.

"[It's about] seeing pitches and not going up there and swinging at everything. That will cut down strikeouts and help produce more walks."

It's all part of working toward the biggest goal for Choice in 2011 -- consistency through his first full professional season.

"You have your really good days and your really bad days," he said. "Whatever you do on your really good days, you want to make sure you do over again and just try to be consistent with it."

Choice set the tone for his season with an invitation to Oakland's big league camp at Spring Training, observing what it takes to make it in the Major Leagues.

"It was a great experience to be up there with those guys and see how they carry themselves every day," he said.

In brief

Better late: Modesto 1B Kiel Roling earned Player of the Week honors for a blistering performance in which he clubbed five homers and 14 RBIs while scoring 15 runs. Roling is batting .422 (19-for-45) since May 21 and has hit well since arriving in Modesto on May 2. He's there to anchor first base since Mike Zuanich went on the disabled list May 29 with a hand injury.

Welcome to the Cal League: High Desert RHP Brandon Maurer earned a promotion from Class A Clinton in mid-May. This week he earned Pitcher of the Week honors after tossing eight shutout innings May 25 against Modesto. Maurer struck out nine without walking a batter, but he did not earn his first win at the A Advanced level until May 30 when he pitched 7 2/3 innings against Lancaster. He allowed five runs in that contest, his highest run total since April 26 with Clinton.

Rancho's rally: Nine runs is a big day for any baseball team. It's too bad that Lancaster's big day was squashed by Rancho Cucamonga's offensive onslaught on May 25. The Quakes put up a franchise-record run total, capped by an 11-run rally in the ninth inning, and Angelo Songco hit for the cycle in a 25-9 win over the JetHawks. Every starter but leadoff man Jake Lemmerman had at least two RBIs. The contest featured seven home runs between the two teams, who combined for 32 hits.

Chris Martinez is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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