UPDATE (2:08 pm PDT on Saturday): The A's officially selected the contract of left-handed pitcher Dillon Overton from Triple-A Nashville on Saturday. To make room on the roster, left-handed pitcher Eric Surkamp was optioned to Nashville.
To clear a spot on the 40-man roster, right-handed pitcher Henderson Alvarez was transferred to the 60-day DL.
ANAHEIM — Dillon Overton tried to stay focused on his own pitching, but the lefty wasn’t naive to what was happening around him on Triple-A Nashville’s pitching staff.
First the A’s called top pitching prospect Sean Manaea up in April. By early June, Daniel Mengden was Oakland-bound. Overton knew his chance could be coming soon if he kept taking care of business on the mound.
He got the news of his promotion Thursday night, and by Friday afternoon he was taking the field at Angel Stadium in preparation of his first major league start Saturday.
“I was trying to throw well enough to where I was making the people in the front office think about it for a minute,” Overton said. “I’ve been blessed enough to throw good and they ended up giving me a call. … As soon as Mengden came up, I knew my shot would be next as long as I stayed consistent and threw well.”
Overton had won seven starts in a row with Nashville before getting the call. He was 8-4 with a 3.01 ERA at Triple-A, but his story is as much about perseverance and hard work as it is numbers.
The A’s knew that Overton had some elbow issues when they drafted him in the second round in 2013 out of the University of Oklahoma. Just a month after he was drafted, Overton underwent Tommy John surgery. He didn’t take the mound again until June 2014, but less than three years out from his surgery, the 24-year-old native of Clinton, Oklahoma is in the big leagues.
“It’s a credit to him and how hard he’s worked,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. "He’s a pretty tough-minded kid who had a goal to get to the big leagues as soon as he could. You’re talking about a guy who was a second-round pick. Usually those guys out of college are semi-fast tracked to the big leagues, and for (a year) he was sidelined. But he didn’t get discouraged by it.”
Overton has yet to recover the velocity that once touched the mid-to-high 90’s. That pitch generally sits in the high 80’s and low 90’s now, but Overton possesses a very good curve and changeup, and this season he developed a cutter with help from A’s minor league pitching coordinator Gil Patterson and Nashville pitching coach Rick Rodriguez. Current A’s bullpen coach Scott Emerson has also worked with Overton in the past.
“I like to call it he’s got the ‘cherry branches,’” Emerson said. “He can move the ball this way, he can move the ball that way.”
Overton said when he told his parents, Pat and Lavon, about his promotion, his mother broke down and cried over the phone. He expects 28 people to attend Saturday’s game at Angel Stadium, including his wife, Morgan.
Rich Hill came out of a 35-pitch bullpen session well and he’s on track to make his rehab start Monday for Stockton and possibly be activated after that.