Feature Photo: Anthony Gose, LHP, Astros
Your humble scribe (heretofore known as YHS!) has been known to kinda “geek out” over the annual MLB Rule 5 Draft, the event that unofficially signals the end of the Winter Meetings and the new beginning of many players’ careers.
Here at 2080 Baseball we’ve provided readers with a reasonably handy-dandy list of the players who were drafted this year as well as a basic “nuts and bolts” sidebar that explains some of the finer details of the event.
Even though the internet is allegedly endless, life under deadline is not, so it would be difficult to give you full stories on every player drafted this past week (you know I’d love to, right?), but here is just a small recap on one name that was of particular interest to your humble scribe.
With the 15th-overall pick, the last player taken in the first round of the Major League phase was Anthony Gose, chosen by the Houston from Texas.
The Astros specified when they made the announcement that they were selecting him as a left-handed pitcher.
That clarification was necessary because Gose, 27, has spent the majority of his professional career – including all or parts of five seasons in the majors with Toronto and Detroit — as an outfielder.
YHS first saw Gose play back in 2009, his first full minor league season, when he was the starting center fielder for the Phillies’ entry in the Class A South Atlantic League, the Lakewood (N.J.) BlueClaws. There was no missing the tools this raw player had – if you saw my beautifully-kept scorebook from that period, you might see little drool marks — and indeed he went on to lead the minors that summer with 76 steals. I was definitely “Choo Choo Charlie” on the Anthony Gose bandwagon train.
In what would be in essence a three-way trade on July 29, 2010, he landed in Toronto, as the Phillies sent him first (on paper) to Houston as part of a trade for pitcher Roy Oswalt, and he then was flipped to the Blue Jays in exchange for 3B Brett Wallace.
Between his two stops in 2010 Gose stole 45 bases, and had his second 70-steal season in 2011 before being called up to the majors by Toronto in 2012. He would spend parts of 2012, 2013 and 2014 with the Jays before being traded during the off-season to Detroit for second baseman Devon Travis. Overall, he posted a career .240 batting average.
However, when drafted out of Bellflower (CA) High school by the Phillies in the second round of 2008, it hadn’t just been that plus-plus speed and defense that had excited scouts for several teams. He had also been a star pitcher at Bellflower and a closer for his team at the then-fledgling Urban Youth Academy in Compton, where he was teammates and close friends with current Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks and played under the tutelage of MLB veteran Ken Landreaux.
Gose was high on several teams’ list before that 2008 draft, for some as a speedy center fielder and for others as a strong-armed southpaw.
Gose stated he wanted to be drafted as an outfielder/hitter, and that fit well with the Phillies’ view of him. But over the years, when it appeared his star might not shine as brightly as originally hoped as a big league centerfielder, the Tigers decided it might be the right time to think about a return to the mound.
In the summer of 2017, Gose worked closely with the Tigers’ staff down at Lakeland on this new phase of his career. He worked with the club at their complex and also saw a few active innings with their High-A Florida State League squad, going 0-2 with a 7.59 ERA but also striking out 14 while walking six in 10 2/3 innings over 11 games.
This past fall, Gose signed with the Rangers as a minor league free agent and was already on their official list of non-roster invitees to spring training before the Astros swooped in and selected him from their cross-state rivals, adding him to their 40-man roster.
Astros Director of Scouting Kevin Goldstein, who for many years had been one of if not THE most respected figures on the “prospect scouting/reporting” scene in his time with Baseball Prospectus and ESPN, admits he’s always been a Rule 5 Draft fan who likes to take chances. And while Gose qualifies as a “chance,” his potential upside is huge.
“He throws in the upper 90s with a huge power breaking ball,” said Goldstein, who saw Gose throw in Lakeland this summer. “He’s got quality big league left-handed reliever stuff. It’s a risk, but his combination of stuff and athleticism makes it worth taking.”
Your humble scribe couldn’t help asking Goldstein, though: So, if you happen to need a pinch-runner or late-inning defensive center fielder in a game, would Gose get the nod?
“Maybe,” Goldstein smiled. But at this point they just want him to concentrate on pitching.