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5th-round pick Duchene had the perfect mentor

LHP's college pitching coach was part of famed Moneyball Draft class

OAKLAND -- Kevin Duchene's already been schooled on the club that drafted him in the fifth round Tuesday -- has been since Illinois pitching coach Drew Dickinson began recruiting the left-hander out of high school.

Dickinson was a 28th-round pick by the A's as part of the famed Moneyball class in 2002.

"I've always talked to him about my story as a pitcher and whatnot, speaking to him a lot of how I got every opportunity with the A's," Dickinson told by phone Tuesday. "I told him, you're going to a great organization that, from a Minor League standpoint, you can't beat it. I had every opportunity in the world, and I know that they'll take good care of him over there, and he's in a great situation."

Tuesday Draft recap: Rounds 3-5 | Rounds 6-10

Duchene, the 158th overall pick in this year's Draft, went 10-1 with a 1.30 ERA in 13 starts for Illinois as a junior this year, striking out 85 in 89 2/3 innings after missing time in 2014 with a forearm injury.

Overall, he finished his collegiate career with a 2.12 ERA and 191 strikeouts to 63 walks, and it's his plus command, in addition to plus offspeed pitches, "that makes him so valuable," said Dickinson.

"It's his ability to put the ball where he wants it whenever he wants it," he said. "To me, that's an uncanny ability and trait that top-notch players have. Like how a clutch hitter always comes through -- he does that on the mound, and that's what makes him so good. That's how he was for three years here.

"His No. 1 strength is his competitiveness. He's a winner."

• Draft Central

Duchene's fastball, on a big-league scale, is slightly below average. But along with a good curveball and exceptional changeup, he throws a slider that often turns into a cutter -- a la Sonny Gray.

"He'll throw the cutter at 82-83, sometimes 85," said Dickinson, "Then he'll take something off it and throw it like a true slider at 75-80, so it's a pitch he can always manipulate. It shows you how good of a feel he has for his stuff. I've told every scout I've talked to about Kevin that whoever gets him is getting a big leaguer."

• Draft Tracker

Dickinson pitched in the A's system from 2002-05, reaching as high as Double-A Midland.

"I put up numbers, so they moved me," he said. "As a late-round pick, that's all you can ask for. If you put up numbers, you deserve to be moved. If you don't, then you get released. That's just the way baseball is.

"Top-round picks get more opportunities usually than lower-round picks. That's just the nature of the business, but the A's gave me every opportunity that I earned, and I will always thank them for it. Every person who worked there was top-notch."

Jane Lee is a reporter for
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