Name: Daniel Gossett
Height/Weight: 6’2’’, 185
How Acquired: Selected in the 2nd round of the 2014 MLB Draft
If there was a comeback player of the year in the Oakland A’s system in 2016, the award would have gone unquestionably to right-hander Daniel Gossett. Gossett emerged from a nightmare 2015 season with a breakout in 2016 that leaves him on the doorstep of the major leagues. Will he crack the door in 2017?
Almost everything that could go wrong did go wrong for Gossett in 2015. After a stellar three-year career at Clemson and a strong pro debut season with Vermont, Gossett came into 2015 with high expectations, but from the start of spring training, the right-hander suffered from diminished velocity and saw his command disappear. Once the regular season started, he struggled against lower level hitters in his pro debut season. He returned to camp in 2016 with a more aggressive attitude, a few more miles per hour on his fastball, a new pitch and found completely opposite results on the mound.
Gossett’s turnaround season began in the spring. He arrived with a four-seam fastball that had considerably more zip than it did in 2015, when he rarely topped 92 MPH. He also continued to find success throwing a two-seamer, which he added during the second half of his 2015 season. Then during a bullpen midway through the spring, Gossett threw a fastball that showed some cutting action. A’s minor league pitching coordinator Gil Patterson happened to be watching the session and he suggested that Gossett try throwing a true cutter. According to Stockton Ports’ pitching coach Steve Connelley, Gossett took to the cutter immediately.
“This thing was 90 miles an hour and broke like a slider. It was late-breaking. I remember Gossett throwing it and stepping off the mound and kind of taking it all in. He had this little grin on his face like ‘woah, what was that?’ It was there. He learned it in two seconds and it was a game-changer for him,” Connelly said.
The addition of the cutter and the continued development of the two-seamer gave Gossett a deep arsenal heading into the 2016 season.
“He’s always had the plus change-up. He’s always had the ability to spin a ball. Last year in Beloit, he started throwing two-seamers,” Connelly said. “He went from only throwing four-seamers to being able to sink it [with the two-seamer] and have a four-seamer that stays true. He’s also got the cutter that breaks late and the change-up and he’s always had the curveball. All of a sudden, with adding the two-seamer and the cutter, he’s got so many more weapons.”
Daniel Gossett Stats
It didn’t take long to see that Gossett was a totally different pitcher from the one in 2015 who posted a 4.73 ERA in Low-A. Gossett struck-out 53 and posted a 3.33 ERA in 46 innings for the High-A Stockton Ports before the A’s decided he was ready for the challenge of Double-A. When he arrived in Midland, he pitched even better than he did with the Ports. He was one of the top starters in the Texas League from June on, posting a 2.49 ERA with 94 strike-outs in 94 innings. Gossett finished the season in Triple-A, allowing three runs in 13.2 innings over two regular season starts and allowing two runs in 5.1 innings in one post-season outing. For the season, Gossett posted a 2.69 ERA and a 151:41 K:BB in 153.2 innings. He won the A’s minor league pitcher of the year award and earned himself a non-roster invitation to big league spring training.
Gossett isn’t a profile right-hander, but his combination of funkiness and pure ability makes him an intriguing prospect. He is a lanky 6’2’’, but he has wide shoulders, plenty of lower body strength and has been durable in his two professional seasons. Gossett’s throwing motion is far from smooth. He has a wrist curl as he takes the ball up and a wippy leg kick at the end. Connelly, who worked with Gossett in Vermont, Beloit and Stockton, says that some of Gossett’s success in 2016 is due to him finding a way to repeat that unusual delivery.
“He’s got a non-traditional delivery. It’s herky-jerky. That being said, he’s calmed it down a lot over his three years in professional baseball,” Connelly said. “If you looked at it the first time, you’d say, ‘that’s a lot of moving parts.’ But if you compare it to how he was throwing when he first came into the system, it’s completely different. He can repeat it better. He stays online better. He can get behind the ball and get it where he needs to. He’s one of the strongest guys we have even though he’s on the smaller side. He’s very strong and he’s got a tremendous work ethic.”
Gossett has always had the ability to throw strikes, but his location was significantly better in 2016 than it had been in 2015. He was able to move the eye-level of the hitter, throwing two-seamers and cutters down in the strike-zone and then blowing a four-seamer by the hitter above the letters. Gossett’s change-up is one of the best in the A’s system and his curveball has tight spin and he can throw it for strikes in any count. He got plenty of swings-and-misses in 2016, finishing tied for 22nd in all of minor league baseball with 151 strike-outs and leading A’s minor leaguers in that category. He also cut his BB/9 by nearly 1 from 3.2 in 2015 to 2.4.
The impact of Gossett’s two-seamer and cutter was evident by the fact that he saw his groundball rate go from 48% with Beloit to 57% in 2016. He also cut his homerun rate in half. Gossett is taller, but his profile is reminiscent to that of former A’s star Tim Hudson, an aggressive strike-thrower with a deep arsenal of pitches and some effort in his delivery.
“I always enjoy watching a guy who with his stuff, he’s giving his team a chance to win. The fielders are staying really busy when Gossett’s on the mound,” A’s Assistant General Manager Billy Owens said. “They are excited to see him.”
The A’s are deep in fifth starter candidates, so Gossett isn’t likely to break camp in the Oakland rotation, but he could factor into the A’s plans by midseason.
“If you told me, that in May or June [of next season] that Gossett was up in the big leagues and having success, I would not be surprised,” Patterson said. “He’s athletic. He challenges the strike-zone. He’s got swing-and-miss pitches. He believes in himself. All of the qualities that you look for in a successful major league pitcher, he has.”
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