Posted Online: Jan. 14, 2013, 6:14 pm

Bacus ready for 'big' opportunity

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By Daniel Makarewicz, danmak@qconline.com

Photo: Indiana State Athletic Media Relations
Dakota Bacus, shown here pitching for Indiana State last fall, has been invited to an Oakland Athletics mini camp that starts next month in Scottsdale, Ariz. The 2009 Moline graduate was a ninth-round selection in last June's draft.
With one month remaining in his offseason, Dakota Bacus prepares for spring training with a simple goal of "climbing the ladder."

From the looks of it, he's on his way.

Prior to spring training, Bacus will participate in an invitation-only mini camp with the Oakland Athletics in Scottsdale, Ariz. Despite being in the organization less than one year, a dominant rookie-league stretch has Bacus leaving an impression in a system filled with decorated prospects.

"I will attack this like any other opportunity I've had," Bacus said on Sunday evening. "This opportunity is big. I can't let it slip through my fingers."

Using the past as an example, the 2009 Moline graduate will not waste this chance.

Bacus' journey to a major league organization started with him being cut from the Moline baseball program as an underclassman. From there, he eventually made the team, helped Moline Post 246 reach the 2010 American Legion World Series, and pitched two years at Southeastern (Iowa) Community College before settling at Indiana State last year.

Now, he's nearing his first spring training.

"To be honest, it's mind-blowing," Bacus said. "I started out not evening thinking I would make the high school team. I wasn't even planning on playing college baseball. After that, I wasn't planning on playing Division I baseball."

Drafted in the ninth round last June, Bacus continued his remarkable journey. Upon reaching the rookie-level Arizona League Athletics, he threw 30 relief innings with 35 strikeouts, five walks and a 1.20 ERA.

He also crafted a 0.57 WHIP.

"I was in my own world," Bacus said. "It was me and nobody. I felt so confident about everything. It was wild."

The next step is duplicating the dominance. The mini camp is a good start.

Informed before Christmas that he received an invitation, Bacus said the pre-spring training camp opens early next month with about 40 players. According to Bacus, the camp is mostly pitchers and catchers with a handful of positional players.

Other than being told by his former college coaches the camp is a big deal, Bacus does not know the full extent of what he calls a business trip.

"If I have the same mindset I had over the summer, it will be dominant just like it was in the summer," said Bacus, who will go from reliever to start this year. "I'll do well."

Knowing what is within his grasp, Bacus spent the offseason following a strict, five-day-a-week workout plan in Terre Haute, Ind. Three days consisted of weight training and the other two were "circuit" days.

During that time, he rested his arm to ensure it would be healthy for his first full professional season. Only recently did he start throwing.

"I feel great right now," Bacus said.

A nice jolt was provided last week as Bacus was included in the Athletics' top 50 prospects by Scout.com. Bacus, who could start the season in the Midwest League, was No. 46, up one spot from the previous rankings in November.

"Pretty cool," Bacus said. "I wasn't expecting it."

The ranking, though, does not alter his expectations.

"My expectations for myself are just as high as they were last year," Bacus said. "To me, I have a chip on my shoulder. At the same time, I'm embracing it. That's all I can do."

Still, you should never count Bacus out.

Oakland certainly is not.

"I'm sitting on cloud nine right now," Bacus said. "Definitely."