Oakland Athletics prospect Sheldon Neuse came to the Arizona Fall League focused on becoming a better player. We spoke with Neuse about his AFL experience, the offseason and his advice for those with professional baseball aspirations.
The A’s acquired Neuse in July, as part of the trade that sent Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson to the Washington Nationals. After spending time with their Double-A affiliate Midland RockHounds for their championship run, he received short notice of his fall assignment to Mesa. His experiences in baseball throughout the years and relationships with former Nationals teammates have helped him get comfortable.
“Growing up playing travel ball, playing college ball, getting traded, you’re going into a totally different atmosphere. It was something that I have experienced before.
Come into it with an open mind. Know what you’ve got to do day in and day out to prepare to have success. I was excited to be on the same team as those guys and get to see them again.”
The AFL offers its players a more relaxed atmosphere, along with an increased level of skills on the diamond. Two important aspects that separate the good from the great are their levels of focus and consistency. Both of which Neuse is working on in this year’s Fall League.
“Trying to stay consistent at the plate. Have fun. Enjoy myself. The league is supposed to be fun. Stay focused and consistent with my approach. With the pitchers here, there’s not much room for error. Maintain the focus on every pitch.”
Playing against advanced competition is an experience that helps a player grow. Neuse’s experience from Double-A competition this season helped ease his transition into the talent level that the league has to offer.
“It just prepares you for the higher levels. You’re facing guys that are in High-A, Double-A, some guys have spent some time in the bigs. In Double-A this year, I’m a little more familiar with it. I’m glad that I was able to experience that before coming here. It’s a big step that’s going to carry over into Spring Training. Instead of taking time off right now, you’re facing some of the best guys in Minor League Baseball.”
Rest and relaxation are hard to come by during the baseball season, but Neuse is looking forward to some time away from the field, once the Fall League concludes.
“Spending time with my family. Getting to see my brother, it’s his first year in college. Two of my best friends are getting married in January and February. It’s going to be a very fun and relaxed offseason till I kick it back up again in the new year.”
Neuse gives his two pieces of advice that are must if someone would like to pursue a career in professional baseball.
“Dedication and commitment. If you don’t commit to this 100 percent, you’ll never make it. There are too many guys that are committed far more than anyone would ever expect. Some of those guys don’t get a shot. It’s going to consume your life. If that’s what you want to do, you’ve got to dedicate yourself and your friendships and relationships. Everyone has to understand that this is what you want to do.”