Cary News

Landon Powell tries to win MLB job

Landon Powell is enjoying Oklahoma City and watching the city’s excitement during the NBA playoffs, but he’d prefer to be in Houston.

The former Apex High and University of South Carolina graduate is playing with the Houston Astros’ AAA baseball team in Oklahoma City, where downtown is bedecked in pennants as the Thunder plays in the NBA semifinals.

“It is really a pretty exciting team here,” Powell said. “The city loves the Thunder.”

Powell spent the last three years in the Major Leagues with the Oakland A’s before joining the Houston organization this year.

He is playing well in Oklahoma City, catching almost every day and hitting .294. He could be one injury away from returning to the majors, but he’d rather prove he belongs in the big leagues instead of moving up because another player is injured.

“I don’t want to think about somebody getting hurt and them needing to call me up,” he said. “I’d rather play well here and show them that I should be up.”

Powell was a reserve catcher for Oakland and generally caught once or twice a week. His highlight was catching Dallas Braden’s perfect game against Tampa on May 9, 2010.

“It was amazing,” Powell said. “There’s only been 21 perfect games and we’ve been playing baseball for a hundred years. It is amazing to be a part of that.”

Powell likes playing regularly: He had 363 at-bats in his three years with the A’s but already has 109 at-bats in Oklahoma City in half a season.

“It is tough to hit consistently when you aren’t playing every day,” he said. “I’m trying to take advantage of this opportunity to work at getting better.”

Powell said he has no hard feelings toward the A’s. “They were great to me,” he said. “They paid me a lot of money so I could provide for my wife and family and they were really good to me. They were in a spot with five catchers for four spots (two in the majors and two in AAA) and I probably was the most logical one to leave.

“But right now I want to show the Astros that I can help them if they call me up.

“I think I can still contribute.”