The Oakland A’s are currently in a transition period in terms of their minor league pitching development. Over the past few years, the A’s have traded or graduated to the big leagues several pitching prospects. All of that movement has left the organization thin on high-ceiling starting pitching talent at the upper-levels. That could soon be changing, however.
In 2014, the Vermont Lake Monsters had a trio of pitchers on their staff that represent the next wave of starting pitching talent in the A’s organization: 2013 second-round pick Dillon Overton and 2014 picks Daniel Gossett and Brett Graves. All three flashed significant promise with the Lake Monsters this summer.
Gossett, in particular, was impressive. Although he was on a strict innings limit after a long college season, Gossett still opened eyes in his 24 innings with the Lake Monsters. The 6’2’’ right-hander walked just one batter while striking out more than a batter an inning (25). He allowed just 16 hits and only one homerun. Gossett’s groundball rate was 50%.
The South Carolina native came to the A’s with an impressive pedigree. Pitching in the competitive ACC, Gossett had a 2.56 ERA as a sophomore and a 1.93 ERA as a junior for the Clemson Tigers. He struck-out just a shade under a batter an inning over those two seasons and lowered his walk rate by more than one per nine innings between his sophomore and junior seasons.
Gossett has big league stuff. His fastball sits 92-94 with movement and he has an above-average breaking ball that is a hybrid curveball/slider. He also has a promising change-up. Although Gossett was used in two-inning stints in Vermont, he projects as a starter and will return to the rotation next season.
Donald Moore caught-up with the A’s second-round pick during the Lake Monsters’ final roadtrip to discuss his professional debut season.
Donald Moore: How is everything going for you this year?
Daniel Gossett: Everything has been going fairly well this year. It's a big adjustment, it's a new game to be honest. You’ve got the wood bats, you have the high caliber athletes and it's just a completely new game. It's small adjustments, trying to slow everything down and allowing me to play my game at a higher level.
DM: What are your goals for this year?
DG: I pretty much think I have met my goals for this year. I just wanted to be able to compete with the same stuff I had in college and keep getting better as the year goes on. So I was able to make adjustments to my pitching and make adjustments on my game play and still be able to compete at this higher level.
DM: What do you feel is your biggest strength as a ballplayer?
DG: Probably my ability to keep cool. Slow everything down and keep myself calm in big situations. It has helped me out in college and hopefully pitching in front of 80,000 people.
DM: What would you like to improve on?
DG: Just consistency with my mechanics and consistency in feeling good. I want to be able to be top notch every time I go out and finding something that works and being able to repeat that over and over again, so those are my goals.
DM: How are you adjusting to pro ball?
DG: I like it, I love it. It's a little bit of an adjustment but it's a good adjustment. I don't have to worry about school anymore, and I don't have to worry about anything else except playing baseball. So that is really nice and it's something new and I really like it.
DM: What does it feel like to be a professional baseball player?
DG: I don't know if it has completely sunk in yet, because this is what every kid dreams about. You start playing little league, you want to be a professional ballplayer and I am there. It feels great so far.
DM: Any pregame routine?
DG: I do wear a different pair of sliding shorts for games I pitch in, but that's about it.
DM: Favorite thing you like to do in the off season?
DG: I just like to hang out with my family to be honest. Go out and being in school and then being away in the summers, and now being away again, I just want to be able to hang out with my family.
DM: Favorite team growing up?
DG: Atlanta Braves probably because they were just close and I live in South Carolina. My dad was a huge Braves fan, so that helped.
DM- If there is one person who taught you the most about baseball, who would that be?
DG: It's either between my childhood pitching coach, Bill Champion, or my college pitching coach, Dan Pepicelli. About baseball, probably it would be Bill Champion because I was so young and he help kind of mold the baseball aspect, the mental aspect, and physical aspect. But then in college, Dan Pepicelli, the pitching coach in Clemson, was able to fine tune everything. He taught me the details, the specifics, and so on. So the combination of those two helped me for sure.
DM: Craziest thing you ever seen on a baseball diamond?
DG: Everything has been pretty mellow, but I once saw a guy in summer ball check swing at a ball and break his bat. That was pretty crazy. That was pretty cool.
DM: Where do you see yourself in the future in the Oakland organization?
DG: Hopefully as a starter because that is what they are making me into being right now. Get me on the routine and moving up the ladder and eventually be a starter in the major leagues. Everyone wants to move up and being able to do that consistently, you'll find yourself in the big leagues, and that is obviously my main goal.
DM: Thank you so much for your time and the best of luck to you and your future.
DG: I appreciate it and thank you.