Austin House’s third season as a professional baseball player has been full of hits and misses.
The former La Cueva High School and University of New Mexico pitcher has been a hit in the Oakland Athletics organization, earning a brief stint in Triple-A and being picked for a coveted spot in the Arizona Fall League.
The 23-year-old reliever has missed plenty of bats this season, striking out 82 batters, but also just missed out on a homecoming trip to New Mexico.
House, who was a 14th round draft pick of the Oakland A’s in 2012, has spent most of the 2014 season with the Class-A Advanced Stockton (Calif.) Ports. With the Ports, House is 3-4 in 46 games with a 3.46 ERA and 19 saves.
“It’s been awesome,” House said. “It’s a grind out here but we’re in the playoffs. We have a good team, hopefully we can win it. I kind of struggled a little bit early on in the season but I hit a hot streak. I’m just trying to be consistent, that’s all you can ask for.”
That consistency paid off for House, who last week was selected by the A’s to represent the team in the fall league, where he’ll play against some of the top prospects in baseball, including a pair of former UNM teammates.
“It’s an honor to be nominated to go to the fall league, and I can’t thank the A’s enough for the opportunity to go,” House said. “It’s going to be a good experience, my teammates here in Stockton are also going with me. Sam Wolff and D.J. Peterson are also going, so it should be fun to play against them.
“It’s just another chance to show the other teams in Major League Baseball that I can compete at any level they throw at me and against any competition. I play for the A’s, but you also play for all the other teams because you can be traded at any point. You have to prove to people around the league that you can pitch at the highest possible level.”
Earlier this season, House reached the highest level of minor league baseball when he was promoted to Triple-A Sacramento on July 3.
“It was fun,” House said. “It was different. The hitters have a better approach but it’s still 60 feet, 6 inches, so you can’t really give them too much credit. You just have to throw strikes, get ahead and do your best to put them away.”
House put away most of the batters he faced with Sacramento, allowing just three hits and no runs in seven innings. The initial plan was for House to just stay in Triple-A for one day but he ended up sticking around until July 13 and pitched in four games for the River Cats.
“They needed help in the bullpen for a couple days because they got a little taxed,” House said. “Stockton is just a 30-minute drive to Sacramento. I was surprised but the coaching staff anticipated someone going there and helping out.
“I was only supposed to go up there for one night, so I was lucky enough go up there for 10 days or so. I knew it was only going to be for a short stint, but I actually had the chance to pitch a couple games. That was really cool.”
What wasn’t cool was the timing of House’s return to Stockton on July 14, just before Sacramento visited Albuquerque to play the Isotopes.
“They were going into the All-Star break and after the break they were going to Albuquerque,” House said. “I was keeping my fingers crossed that I’d be able to go to Albuquerque for at least a night and see my parents and family and friends. I wasn’t disappointed that I was going back down but that I missed the Albuquerque trip. But I had a chance to make a couple outings with the team, so I can’t hang my head too low.”
While he missed out on a Duke City reunion, House took out that frustration on opposing batters in the California League. Since his return to the Ports, House has allowed just one earned run in 182/3 innings and has 24 strikeouts.
“It’s a long season whether you’re in the majors or the minors,” House said. “I’ve definitely had my struggles but that’s something that’s going to happen. Struggling isn’t always a bad thing; it can be a learning experience. You can always find something to work on.
“My goal is to be consistent every day and every time I get a chance to get the ball, so the coaching staff and the organization know what they’re going to get from me. My No. 1 goal is to be consistent in everything I do, so the A’s know what kind of person they’re getting and they have faith that I’m going to get the job done.”