Name: Daniel Gossett
Height/Weight: 6’2’’, 185
How Acquired: Selected in the 2nd round of the 2014 MLB Draft
The 2015 season wasn’t kind to Daniel Gossett. A top-10 Oakland A’s prospect going into the season, Gossett struggled through most of the year before starting to come around during the final stretch of the season. Will the 2015 season end-up being a footnote in a successful career for Gossett, or will the problems persist into 2016?
On paper, it looked like an easy first full-season assignment for Gossett. The Midwest League is known as a pitcher’s league and often polished collegiate pitchers with Gossett’s resume breeze through the league. Gossett came to the Beloit Snappers as a second-round pick from the year before after a strong three-year career at Clemson. He dominated the New York-Penn League in his pro debut in 2014, striking out 25, walking one and posting a 2.25 ERA in 24 innings for the Vermont Lake Monsters.
Daniel Gossett Stats
The 2015 season got off to an ominous beginning for Gossett when he allowed six runs (four earned) in a five-inning season debut. He allowed a homerun, walked two and struck-out just one. Gossett’s struggles continued for most of the first half, and he entered the All-Star break with a 5.57 ERA and a 57:33 K:BB in 64.2 innings.
The Snappers’ 2015 pitching coach Steve Connelly said it was Gossett’s fastball that gave him the most trouble at the start of the season. Gossett threw only a four-seam fastball and it wasn’t getting any movement. That allowed hitters to layoff Gossett’s secondary pitches and wait for a straight pitch they could handle. Gossett was working on a two-seam fastball all season, but he didn’t throw it in games much until late June, when Connelly encouraged Gossett to start using it. That new pitch made a significant difference for Gossett, who posted a 3.72 ERA from June 30 until the end of the year. His ERA in the 69.1 innings before that was 5.84.
“He really struggled [the first half],” Connelly said. “His fastball was as straight as an arrow and it got hit. His secondary pitches are great. They are always going to play. He is always going to have a chance because of those secondary pitches. That kid worked hard on a two-seamer and by the end of the year, it became a really good pitch for him but he still wasn’t using it like he should.
“He kept his four-seamer because it plays well off of the two-seamer because it stays true. He can throw this sinker that is running away from a lefty and running into a righty and they see that. Then he can leverage a four-seam that’s true and he can tie hitters up a little bit more with that. Instead of his fastball always being straight and them jumping on it, now they have something that they are rolling over the top and they are getting groundballs with.”
The Snappers were a young team in 2015 and their defense didn’t always help the pitching staff. Gossett and the rest of the Beloit staff had to learn to deal with trouble innings made worse by poor defense. At times, Gossett would try to pitch away from contact and blow the four-seamer past hitters, which would generally have the opposite effect. By the end of the year, he was starting to trust his stuff a lot more, trusting that the two-seamer and his sinking fastball were good enough to beat hitters even if they were lower velocity than the four-seam.
Gossett’s four-seam fastball sits 92-94. He can locate it where he wants, but the pitch takes a straight line from his hand to the glove. The two-seamer is still developing and sits in the 88-90 MPH range, while his sinker has been effective, at times, as well. His best pitch is his change-up, which is a true go-to pitch, especially when he has his other pitches working and hitters can’t sit on it. Gossett’s slider is also an effective pitch, especially when he is ahead in the count.
Gossett’s delivery is unorthodox and he has had trouble repeating it at times. The A’s believe that Gossett’s unusual delivery is part of what makes him effective because it creates deception, but they have worked with him on smaller mechanical changes so he can repeat more consistently. A’s minor league pitching coaches also worked with Gossett on moderating his effort level and tempo so that he doesn’t get himself out of sync during high-stress innings. He is slight in frame, but Gossett proved he could handle a full workload, tossing 144.2 innings. He showed fatigue in mid-August but was able to rebound and throw three good starts to finish the season.
Gossett’s late summer revival lends hope that he will have a bounce-back season in 2016. He is currently at the A’s minor league spring mini-camp, where he will get plenty of one-on-one attention from A’s coaches before full minor league camp begins. With a solid spring, Gossett should move up to the California League, where he will put his improvement to the test in a hitter’s environment.