Q&A: Ryon Healy on the differences between Pac-12 and minor league baseball

Ryon Healy is back at the University of Oregon to finish his degree in applied business and economics. The former Oregon first baseman was drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the third round of the 2013 MLB June Amateur Draft and has worked his way up to Oakland’s high-A team in Stockton, where he posted a .285/.318/.428 clip in the 2014 season.

The Emerald got a chance to catch up with the former Duck and talk about his time back on campus and his experiences in the minor league system.

Did the A’s push you to come back to school, or was this something that you already had planned?

They give you an option when you sign to go on the scholarship program. They’ll actually pay for the rest of your schooling. It’s on the preference of the player — when they want to do it, how soon — so my preference was that I wanted to get it done because I only had two quarters left and I wanted to get it done as quickly as possible. After this term I’ll actually be graduated and won’t have to worry about it down the road.

What are the biggest differences between Pac-12 and professional baseball?

One thing I notice is how often we play. I wouldn’t say the talent level is a lot better than what we see in the Pac-12 because it’s one of the best conferences in the country, but I’d say there’s a consistent level of competition. I mean, you’re facing everybody’s best guys from all over the country every given day.

The competitive edge is a lot surer. Everyone is very similar in talent levels. I feel like the preparation to get yourself ready to play on a daily basis is the most challenging. In professional baseball you could play 29 games in a month, so being able to wake up every day, get your mind right, is probably the most important aspect.

Does it feel more like a job? Or are you still going out there to play baseball for fun?

It’s a little give and take in both of those categories. It’s definitely a job because I need to show up for work every day ready to go no matter how my body feels. You need to find a way to grind it out. Sometimes the excitement factor isn’t there — the adrenaline isn’t there as often as it is in college — but that’s where the maturity of it comes in too, where you need to be ready to play no matter how you feel mentally or physically.

Do you have any minor league travel horror stories?

Luckily — knock on wood — I haven’t had any, but I’ve had teammates that have. We show up to a random city and we go into a hotel room and there’s only one bed, so guys are having to share beds. When you have grown men sharing beds it makes for a terrible atmosphere, but luckily I wasn’t one of those guys. I don’t think there’s been anything terrible yet, but once again, knock on wood, I don’t want to jinx it.

Have the A’s given you any sort of timeline for your future in the organization?

The A’s are going to do what’s best for them. As long as I perform the way that I know I’m capable of, you’ve just got to hope for the best and hope for as soon as possible. Until then I’m going to enjoy every minute of what I’m doing and do what I can: control what I can control.

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Josh Schlichter

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