A's sign second-round pick
Univ. of California pitcher thrilled to play for hometown team
OAKLAND -- Tyson Ross was born and raised in the East Bay Area, played his high school ball at Oakland's Bishop O'Dowd, grew up idolizing Rickey Henderson and matriculated to nearby University of California, where he became a two-time All-Pac-10 performer.
Did he really need to be asked how it felt to be wearing green and gold Thursday before the A's took on the Yankees in the finale of a three-game series?
Probably not. Duh. But he was asked anyway.
"It's pretty amazing," said Ross, Oakland's second-round pick in last week's First-Year Player Draft.
Earlier in the day, the 6-foot-6 right-hander had agreed to terms on a contract that included a bonus said to be in the neighborhood of $700,000, and now he was cooling down from a session in the bullpen at McAfee Coliseum.
"Kind of hard to believe I'm here," said Ross, who wore uniform No. 97 and was joined in the dugout by several members of his family and his agent, Joe Wolfe. "I was a little surprised [to get picked by the A's], but it's great to be here."
Were it not for a strained lat muscle that cost him a few weeks of the 2008 season and a fairly unorthodox delivery that worried some scouts, it's unlikely Ross would be with his hometown squad.
Cal's Friday-night starter in Pac-10 play -- read: ace -- throws a fastball that's been gunned as high as 96 mph, and he went 4-1 with a 0.82 ERA in eight appearances (five starts) for Team USA last summer. Prior to the injury, he was projected as a sure-fire first-rounder. But to the delight of first-year A's area scout Jermaine Clark, Ross was still on the board when Oakland's second pick, No. 58 overall, came around.
"I was extremely surprised," said Clark, who starred at the University of San Francisco before embarking on a professional career that included big league stints with five teams, including the A's (2005). "I know a lot of other scouts are surprised, too. It's been the talk of the [high school] showcases I've been at since the Draft. I didn't think he'd get past the first round, and I definitely didn't think he'd be there at 58, because Milwaukee had a couple of back-to-back picks at the start of the second round, and [Ross] would have been a good fit for them.
"I tell you what, though: We're awfully excited to have him. I mean, the combination of the injury and unconventional mechanics is something you think about, but it's not something you pass on."
Ross, who chatted with A's general manager Billy Beane for several minutes after his bullpen session, said he was told that he'd be assigned to Class A Kane County to start his pro career. First, however, he'll head to Oakland's Minor League complex in Phoenix for a rookie mini-camp.
Also agreeing to terms with Oakland on Thursday were shortstop Jason Christian, a fifth-round pick out of University of Michigan; shortstop Nino Leyja, a 15th-rounder out of Houston Christian High; right-hander Matthews Fitts (16th, Lewis-Clark State College); righty Michael Hart (19th, Texas State) and righty Kenny Smalley (24th, Delta State).
The A's have signed or agreed to terms with 16 of their Draft picks, including four of the top nine.
Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.