Tigers encouraged by Anthony Gose’s transformation as he hits 99 mph

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Anthony Gose

Houston – The reports from Lakeland Monday night were accurate regarding Anthony Gose’s debut as a professional pitcher. He brought the heat.

Manager Brad Ausmus summarized the report that was sent to him:

“He was 96-99 mph. I think three pitches were at 99, two at 98, pretty much sat at 97. Threw a couple curveballs, threw one change-up. The change-up was hit for a double.”

Pitching for High-A Lakeland, Gose allowed a run on the double and a walk, with one strikeout.

“For the first outing, I thought it was outstanding,” general manager Al Avila said during an interview with Mike Stone and Jamie Samuelson on 97.1 Tuesday morning. “It's a work in progress, don't get me wrong, and we have to be careful with his arm. We already had to give him some time to rest when he was in extended spring training.

“So it's not something where you can throw him in there at the major-league level and think he's going to pitch on a regular basis out of the bullpen like these other guys, because he's not built up to do that yet.”

But, Avila added, it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility that he could make it to the big leagues as a pitcher, if not this season then perhaps next year.

“I think it would be a push to think he would be in Detroit at the end of the year, but you never know,” Avila said. “Stranger things have happened. I would not put it out as an absolute no, because you never know.”

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Gose, who was the Tigers’ starting center fielder in 2015 and the start of 2016, is 26 years old, so his process will be accelerated to some degree. The fact that he was an elite pitching prospect in high school also helps speed the process.

But there's still a long road ahead.

“He's got to get comfortable pitching in games, fielding his position, all that stuff that he practiced but he never really did at full speed,” Ausmus said. “He's going to have to go back-to-back at some point. He's probably going to have to go multiple innings at some point. Not more than two, but maybe two.

“We just don't know how his arm's going to respond. He'll be in Lakeland for a little bit. Depending on how he handles it and performs, that will determine the length of time he's there and whether he moves up.”

The Tigers’ resident jack of all trades, Andrew Romine, who has pitched in emergency relief roles, is not surprised to see his former clubhouse neighbor make this transition.

“He always wanted to pitch,” Romine said. “He would talk about how hard he could throw and stuff like that. … People are surprised because you get labeled as a position player and it’s like, you mean he can pitch, too?

“It’s like with me. I go play the outfield and people are shocked that I can play outfield. We are world-class athletes here. Anybody in here can play outfield if they had to.”

But not everybody can throw 99 mph.

“Mark Trumbo was like that,” Romine said of the Orioles’ slugger. “I grew up playing against him and he could bring it. He threw gas. I mean he threw gas. But he never wanted to pitch.”

Romine said people – fans and media – need to be patient with Gose and not expect too much too soon.

“That’s way too far off,” Romine said of Gose getting to the big leagues. “Lots of guys throw hard. There’s a boat load of guys that are in the minor leagues that throw hard. We’ll see. Time will tell.

“He has a chance. Absolutely. You can’t deny that a guy who throws 100 mph is good. But I’ve seen dozens of guys that I played against or played with who threw hard and didn’t get past A-ball. We’ll see.”

Both Ausmus and Avila were encouraged, even back in spring training, with the fluidity of Gose’s delivery.

“I saw him throw in spring training the first time he threw off the mound,” Ausmus said. “Very smooth, very low-impact. It's a good delivery, a really good delivery.”

For now, Gose will focus on his fastball and curve ball mix. The change-up will continue to be developed, but there are no plans to add a slider.

“He pitched one inning, and I can tell you the 99 mph was legitimate,” Avila said. “I sat right next to some of our pitchers that do the charts in between their starts and they hold the radar gun. The scoreboard was saying 99 and our personal gun that we use for our charting said 99.”

And 99 mph from the left side is a pretty good place to start.

Twitter @cmccosky