It has been an unusual path to professional baseball for Ryan Gorton. The Oregon State alum played four seasons for the Beavers before being selected in the 31st round of the draft last season by the Oakland A's. Gorton was set to sign with Oakland shortly after the draft, but a pre-signing physical revealed that Gorton had a torn meniscus in his knee.
The injury meant that Gorton's dream of playing pro baseball had to be put on hold. He rebabbed the injury without a signed contract and even returned to Corvallis as a coach of the Beavers' baseball team before finally signing with the A's in April. Gorton then reported to the A's extended spring training camp, where he worked out at the team's minor league facility for the first half of the season.
The A's were immediately impressed with Gorton's ability to handle a staff, and the A's actually sent Gorton to join the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats at one point, as the River Cats were thin on healthy catchers. He wasn't activated by the River Cats at that point, but he did receive the call at the start of the short-season, suiting up for the Vermont Lake Monsters.
Gorton would share the Vermont catching duties primarily with 2013 draft pick Josh Miller. In 35 games, Gorton hit .212/.339/.260 in 104 at-bats. He showed a good eye at the plate, posting a 19:20 BB:K. Defensively, Gorton developed a reputation as a solid receiver. He threw out 28% of potential base-stealers and had a .992 fielding percentage.
A two-way player in college, Gorton even pitched in a game for the Lake Monsters, allowing a run on four hits in one inning of work. He struck-out one.
Donald Moore caught-up with Gorton during the Lake Monsters' final roadtrip of the season.
Donald Moore: How is this season going for you?
Ryan Gorton: I was drafted last year, but I had a meniscus tear, so I didn't get signed until this April. It's been kind of a up-and-down year for us. We started pretty bad here getting swept here [against Tri-City]. I think we got out-scored 26 to 11, or something like that. And then we started to play really well and we won 10 of 12 at one point, and now we are kind of back on a decline. We lost a bunch of games in a row. So, it's been kind of an up-and-down but the overall experience has been pretty good for me individually.
DM: What are your goals for this year?
RG: I wanted to hit .250. Being a catcher, I feel that's a good mark. You know if you can hit that well and prove to be valuable behind the plate, you can move up. I haven't quite met that goal but I think I made some good strides. So I'm happy where I am.
DM: What is your greatest strength as a ball player?
RG: I would say my aptitude for the game. Especially behind the plate. You have to have that, and I like to think I have a pretty good idea on calling pitches, and how to be able to handle a staff.
DM: What would you like to improve on?
RG: I definitely would like to improve my power. I don't really want to be a singles guy. Catchers got to hit with some pop. And I think in order to help that is hitting off three pitches.
DM: How are you adjusting to pro ball?
RG: Ah well, I think so. It's definitely way different than in college. You're just playing everyday, having to make sure your body is ready seven days a week, instead of three and four days in college. I think sleep is a big key for that.
DM: What's the best part about being a ball player?
RG: You get to play a game for a job. It's pretty cool and part of what I get paid to do.
DM: Any pregame routines?
RG: Not really. I'm not a very superstitious guy. If I'm catching, I go out and stretch 10 minutes prior to when we start throwing, and I go through that routine the same everyday. But as far as superstitions go, nothing to report on.
DM: Favorite thing to do off the field?
RG: Right now in my life, just play guitar. I love to play the guitar.
DM: Favorite team growing up?
RG: Seattle Mariners.
DM: If there is one person who taught you the most about baseball, who'd would it be?
RG: My dad, without question. He was my coach since I was four years old in tee ball, and he went probably to 85 to 90 percent of my games in college. Going on the road, and he's always there talking about the game with me. He played a little minor league ball when he was younger, so he knows the game and he passed that knowledge down to me.
DM: Craziest thing you ever saw on a field?
RG: Bases loaded, a guy hits it to third base. The guy tags third, so that guy's out, but tries to throw it home, gets by the catcher, and the guy from second came all the way around and scored. But, the guy who was put out at third was just jogging home, so they just made the throw home and try to tag him, and he was safe and the next guy was safe. I remember turning to a guy in the dugout and saying ,"you've played this game for 20 years, and there is something new everyday."
DM: Where do you see yourself four years from now?
RG: Ideally, I would like to be in Oakland, playing with the A's, but I know it's a long road to get there. I don't know in four years if it will be enough time. If I'm not playing, I'm sure I'll be coaching somewhere.
DM: Thank so much for your time.
RG: Thank you.