Prospect Gose working on consistency at plate
Centre fielder aiming to live up to expectation of ideal leadoff man
Prized center-field prospect Anthony Gose, fresh off taking part in the Arizona Fall League's esteemed Rising Stars Game, has long been coveted by the Blue Jays. So much so that when they failed to land him from the Phillies in the Roy Halladay deal two offseasons ago, general manager Alex Anthopoulos tried again before the non-waiver Trade Deadline in 2010. He eventually yielded Gose from the Astros in exchange for first baseman Brett Wallace.
In a matter of hours on that July 29 day, Gose went from playing for the Phillies to getting traded to the Astros (as part of the Roy Oswalt deal) to being a part of the Blue Jays' organization. At least, Gose figured, he was going to a club that saw him as its center fielder of the future.
Then, a year later, Anthopoulos got another young center fielder, acquiring the more-established but still-developing Colby Rasmus from the Cardinals in a complex trade this past July. It was the kind of deal that can rattle the psyche of a young player like Gose; perhaps even make him believe that his club had moved on without him.
But the 21-year-old Gose swears that he didn't think that far ahead.
"I'm not ready for the next level at this particular point in time offensively," Gose, listed as the Blue Jays' No. 2 prospect by MLB.com, said in a phone interview from Arizona. "They need somebody now to immediately impact the team and help them win. ... So until I'm ready and they feel I'm ready, I don't really think too much about it. When the time comes, I'm sure there's a plan in place for me, whether it's with the Blue Jays or another organization -- or vice versa, whether it's for Colby."
And so for now, Gose will continue to work on becoming the ideal leadoff hitter that so many projected him to be when he was plucked out of Major League Baseball's Urban Youth Academy in Compton, Calif., three years ago.
Gose stands a slender 6-foot-1, hits left-handed, plays a solid center field and can run for days. He stole 76 bases in 131 games at Class A Lakewood in 2009 and swiped 70 bags this season, setting a franchise record for a Double-A New Hampshire team that won the Eastern League championship.
In doing so, Gose also improved his success rate, going from 58 percent while stealing 45 bags in 2010 to 82 percent while swiping 25 more in 2011.
But it's his success rate at the plate that requires the most improvement.
Since being a second-round Draft pick by the Phillies in '08, Gose has a .258 batting average, a .334 on-base percentage and 408 strikeouts in 409 games. In his first season of Double-A this year, he posted career highs with 16 homers and 59 RBIs, but hit just .253 with a .349 on-base percentage.
Gose knows that until those numbers pick up, he can't expect to be an everyday Major Leaguer -- regardless of Rasmus' situation.
He's hoping to use the unseasonably warm weather of Arizona as another venue to keep improving.
"That's been my whole goal since I've been in pro ball, to just create a consistent swing path, get a consistent approach and be more consistent offensively," said Gose, who struck out in his only Rising Stars Game at-bat and is batting .242 (22-for-91) with three homers and six stolen bases in 22 AFL games for the Phoenix Desert Dogs this fall.
"I feel [consistency at the plate] is the biggest area of need. My whole game needs some improvement, but I feel that's more where my weakness is right now at this particular point in time. I just need to become a better offensive player."
In hopes of doing that, Gose hasn't been resistant to change.
With the help of Double-A hitting coach Justin Mashore, he has widened his stance, which he believes will help him stay through the ball and keep his bat in the zone longer. And he has also quieted his hands in order to "be more fluid and not so robotic."
Throughout high school, Gose trained at MLB's first UYA "every day," using the free, state-of-the-art baseball facility and tenured instructors to take his game to a new level. Today, he is one of its proudest alums.
But if he hopes to go from being one of many UYA products who have been drafted to one of few who have debuted in the Majors -- joining Trayvon Robinson of the Mariners and Efren Navarro of the Angels -- he'll have to prove that he can get on base on a more consistent basis.
In that regard, 2012 is a big year.
"It's time to show everybody my talents, my skills, my ability on the field -- what I can do," Gose said. "Hopefully I can make an impact [next season] to where I can eventually be playing in the Major Leagues."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.