By: Will Burchfield
Anthony Gose made his professional debut as a pitcher on Monday night just a few months after making the switch from outfielder.
In one inning for the Class-A Lakeland Flying Tigers, Gose allowed one run on one hit and one walk. He also recorded a strikeout and lit up the radar gun, prompting FSD’s Rod Allen to make a bold prediction during Monday night’s game between the Tigers and the Astros.
Tigers GM Al Avila was in attendance for Gose’s pitching debut and came away impressed. Asked on Tuesday morning if the 26-year-old could take the mound at Comerica Park this season, Avila wouldn’t rule it out.
“Stranger things have happened. I would not put it out as an absolute no,” Avila told the Jamie and Stoney Show on 97.1 The Ticket. “You just never know.”
Gose had spent the first two months of the season in extended spring training. He was called up to Lakeland on Monday afternoon.
“He pitched one inning and I can tell you the 99 miles per hour was legitimate, I saw it,” Avila said. “I sat right next to some of our pitchers, who do the charts in between their starts and hold the radar gun. The scoreboard was saying 99 and our personal gun that we use for our charting said 99. He hit 99 on several occasions, some 98s and pretty much averaged out at 97.”
Prior to this season, the lefty-throwing Gose hadn’t pitched since high school. But he didn’t show any signs of rust on Monday night, according to Avila.
“The delivery looked clean. He’s got a quick arm, he’s got a good, nice windup and delivery. His curveball is legitimate. He did walk one batter after striking out (one) and a guy did get a base hit, which came on a changeup. Quite frankly, I have no idea why he wanted to throw a changeup when he’s throwing 99 miles per hour and buckling guys with his curveball,” Avila said with a laugh, “but he wants to show his whole repertoire.”
Gose, obviously, has a long way to go to reach the big leagues. But he’s fully committed to pitching. Tigers vice president of player development Dave Littlefield told the Free Press that Gose is no longer logging time in the outfield.
And his debut on the mound was a step in the right direction.
“For the first outing I thought he was outstanding,” Avila said. “It’s a work in progress, don’t get me wrong, and also we have to be careful with his arm.”
The Tigers had to rest Gose during extended spring training to protect his arm from fatigue.
“It’s not something where you can just throw him in there at the major league level and think that he’s gonna go in there and pitch on a regular basis out of the bullpen like these other guys,” Avila said. “He’s just not built up to do that just yet.”
Numerous big-leaguers have made the transition from playing in the field to pitching, including A’s closer Sean Doolittle and Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen. The Tigers are hoping Gose is the next in line.
“Like I said, I wouldn’t put it out of the realm that he could pitch in the big leagues at some point, and right now he’s off to a good start,” Avila said.
Gose, once a highly-touted centerfield prospect, was acquired from the Blue Jays in 2014 in exchange for second baseman Devon Travis. He hit .247 with 183 strikeouts in 170 games over parts of two seasons with the Tigers.