When Jack Weisenburger was drafted by the Oakland Athletics two years ago, the prospect of playing professional baseball close to home did not look too promising for the Rockford High School graduate.
That changed last winter, however, when the A's announced that the Lansing Lugnuts would become their high A affiliate.
"Being an hour away from home, that is obviously where I wanted to start the year," Weisenburger said. "A goal of mine was to play for the Lugnuts, at least open up the year and then try to move up as the season goes on. "It is awesome being back home, most guys on our team are from way far away, their family doesn't get to go to any games and mine get to come as much as they want so it is pretty cool."
That plan is playing out just as he had hoped it would.
After just over a month in Lansing, Weisenburger was called up to double A Midland, thanks to an earned run average under two and 26 strikeouts in 15 innings.
This, after not having a season last summer, but he says the year off might have actually helped him.
"I think the length of this last off season helped me a lot," Weisenberger said. "It gave me a lot of time to take my development into my own hands and I got to work with a lot of really smart people, motivated people as well and I kind of just pushed it as hard as I could. I think my stuff got better, I started throwing more strikes."
One definite area of improvement is the fastball velocity.
"In college was kind of 90-93," Weisenburger said about his fastball velocity. "Now I have gotten more into the mid 90's. 94, 96, 97."
Weisenburger credits his time at Driveline Baseball, a data driven baseball development organization in Seattle, Washington, for his improvement on the mound.
"One of my best friends was working there at the time so it worked out," Weisenburger said. "I got to go up there and kind of learn from some of those guys and take what I learned there and implement it into what I would do training wise in the off season."
The strong start to the season has already vaulted Weisenburger from 20th round draft pick to top 25 prospect in the A's organization.