by Adonis Dees
GLENDALE — With so many new faces at spring training, Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has a unique way of breaking the ice. He asks each player to share his hobby or talent.
Pitcher Trevor Oaks, who plays the piano, had no clue Roberts would actually bring one into the clubhouse.
“I honestly could not think of anything else,” Oaks, 23, said. “I said, ‘Yeah, I play a little piano.’ At the time it was a bad decision to say that, but it worked out OK.”
It did and teammates enjoyed his recent performance. The top prospect hopes the team enjoys his work on the field, too, as he competes for a spot on the staff. So far so good. In four appearances and 7⅔ innings this spring, the right-hander has allowed no runs and eight hits while striking out seven.
Teammates were stoked when he put on a “free concert,” Roberts said. Oaks appeared all over social media with video posts from Sergio Romo, Adrian Gonzalez and Alex Wood.
Oaks’ “career” as a pianist began when he was 6 years old. He took lessons and performed in recitals in elementary school until he was 12.
This crowd was different.
“I was a little nervous before I sat down,” he said. “My hands were shaking a little bit.”
After playing Lukas Graham’s “Seven Years” and Scott Joplin’s “The Entertainer,” Oaks helped cement his role as one of the guys.
“Guys seemed like they were really impressed, so it made me feel good,” he said. “Any time you feel welcomed with this ballclub it feels good, and I was really thankful for their response.”
Oaks came to his first spring training as a non-roster invitee. The awkward phase of making a good first impression ended after his musical performance. Now he’s motivated to make a name for himself on the mound.
He was drafted by the Dodgers in 2014 and has played in all levels of the minors. His strong performance there helped secure a spring training spot.
His professional baseball career was almost over before it began.
Oaks had Tommy John surgery in 2012 when he was attending Woodcrest Christian High School in Riverside, California. His presence at spring training is a testament to the hard work he put into his recovery.
(Video by Guillermo Salcido/Cronkite News)
“I learned a lot about taking care of myself,” Oaks said. “Also, learning about people and how to be a good teammate when you’re not the guy on the field who’s winning all the awards and stuff.
“When I came back from surgery, I kind of understood mechanically what I needed to do to be better and I started throwing harder after that, and it definitely helped out a lot.”
Oaks started the 2016 season in Advanced Single-A and finished the season in Triple-A. He posted at 14-3 record in 24 starts at all three levels, along with a 2.74 ERA.
Oaks has been an underdog for much of his baseball career. He did not come from a big-name school and had to wait seven rounds for the Dodgers to draft him.
Now, with an opportunity to prove he can pitch in the major leagues, Oaks yearns to be a part of “something really special” with the Dodgers. He hopes to help the team win its first World Series in almost thirty years.
The right-hander could be on his way to a roster spot.
“Trevor’s great. He’s a great young man,” Roberts said. “He’s got a plus sinker and I like the (change-up). He’s really fit in well with the clubhouse and there’s a lot to like.”
Oaks is banking on the baseball gig because he’s pretty confident he’s not the next Beethoven.
“It’s just fun to mess around on (the piano) on your free time. It’s like an outlet sometimes,” Oaks said. “But I don’t think I’ll be a piano player in the future.”