Gant Continues To Improve

BROOKLYN, NY - Playing in the New York metropolitan area seemed inevitable for Brooklyn Cyclones pitcher John Gant. He was committed to Long Island University before ultimately signing with the Mets, who drafted him in the 21st round of the 2011 draft out of Wiregrass Ranch High School in Florida. He struggled initially making the transition from high school to the pros, but he is improving.

After making his pro league debut at the tail end of the 2011 season, Gant split the 2012 season - his first as a professional - between Kingsport and Savannah. He was 3-4 with a 4.98 ERA.

Gant, a Savannah native, gave up 72 hits in 59 2/3 innings while striking out 47 and walking 19. His struggles on the mound can be attributed to his inexperience in dealing with the aggressiveness of the hitters in the professional ranks.

"There's a lot more free swingers [in pro ball] than in high school," Gant said. "[The hitters in high school] are not used to hitting a curveball, so they usually just watch it. But in the pros, [the hitters] see that every day so it's nothing new."

To have better success after a rough first season, Gant focused on improving his mechanics in Extended Spring Training.

"I was working on staying taller on my back leg because when I don't, I have a tendency to drift forward and that's when I stray out of the zone with my pitches," he said.

Gant also started to use an offspeed pitch to give batters something else to think about while facing him at the plate.

"The changeup is probably been the biggest adjustment for me," he said. "I didn't really throw it in high school. It was just fastball, curveball so [throwing the changeup] has been a big help to me."

His changeup has caught the attention of Cyclones manager Rich Donnelly who has nicknamed it the "Vulcan" because of how it's gripped.

"Most guys throw with their two fingers," Donnelly said. "[Gant] spreads his four fingers out and puts the ball in the middle, yet he can throw that ball for a strike anytime he wants. It's an amazing pitch."

Given his age, Gant was sent to Brooklyn this summer. With his improved mechanics and effective use of the "Vulcan," Gant has gotten off to a good start. In six starts for Brooklyn, Gant is 1-2 with a 2.76 ERA and has struck out a NY-Penn league best 42 batters in 32.2 innings while walking only 14. The high number of strikeouts is impressive for Gant because he's not overpowering.

In addition to the "Vulcan" which sits in the low 70s mph range, Gant throws a fastball that is clocked at around 85-87 mph and a curveball that also sits in the low 70s. Gant's stuff will not "wow" any scouts, but he can get hitters out consistently because of his command.

"I love pitchers who throw strikes," Donnelly said. "It sounds easy but it's hard to do. I [also] liked the way he has commanded his fastball. If you can't command your fastball and locate it you're going to get killed whether it's pro ball high school, grade school or the big leagues.

"He's learning how to command his fastball, put it at the spot he wants and when he gets the guys in a good count then he throws the "Vulcan" which has been the equalizer."

Gant has shown the biggest sign of improvement in his ability to handle adversity during his starts.

"I think he's getting mentally tough," Donnelly said. "Pitching is a mental game. If you are going to be a starting pitcher, which he's going to be and is now, he has to learn how to fight through the bad innings.

"It's like a fighter, you fight a 12-round fight, but you're not going to win every round. You have to fight through the bad rounds and come back. He has to fight through the bad innings and not get too down on himself and he's learning to do that now."

Considering his recent success, Gant has become a better pitcher than he was a season ago. But there's still lots of room for improvement for the 20-year-old, who hopes to be promoted by season's end.


Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nAfter making his pro league debut at the tail end of the 2011 season, Gant split the 2012 season - his first as a professional - between Kingsport and Savannah. He was 3-4 with a 4.98 ERA.
\r\n
\r\nGant, a Savannah native, gave up 72 hits in 59 2/3 innings while striking out 47 and walking 19. His struggles on the mound can be attributed to his inexperience in dealing with the aggressiveness of the hitters in the professional ranks.
\r\n
\r\n\"There's a lot more free swingers [in pro ball] than in high school,\" Gant said. \"[The hitters in high school] are not used to hitting a curveball, so they usually just watch it. But in the pros, [the hitters] see that every day so it's nothing new.\"
\r\n
\r\nTo have better success after a rough first season, Gant focused on improving his mechanics in Extended Spring Training.
\r\n
\r\n\"I was working on staying taller on my back leg because when I don't, I have a tendency to drift forward and that's when I stray out of the zone with my pitches,\" he said.
\r\n
\r\nGant also started to use an offspeed pitch to give batters something else to think about while facing him at the plate.
\r\n
\r\n\"The changeup is probably been the biggest adjustment for me,\" he said. \"I didn't really throw it in high school. It was just fastball, curveball so [throwing the changeup] has been a big help to me.\"
\r\n
\r\nHis changeup has caught the attention of Cyclones manager Rich Donnelly who has nicknamed it the \"Vulcan\" because of how it's gripped.
\r\n
\r\n\"Most guys throw with their two fingers,\" Donnelly said. \"[Gant] spreads his four fingers out and puts the ball in the middle, yet he can throw that ball for a strike anytime he wants. It's an amazing pitch.\"
\r\n
\r\nGiven his age, Gant was sent to Brooklyn this summer. With his improved mechanics and effective use of the \"Vulcan,\" Gant has gotten off to a good start. In six starts for Brooklyn, Gant is 1-2 with a 2.76 ERA and has struck out a NY-Penn league best 42 batters in 32.2 innings while walking only 14. The high number of strikeouts is impressive for Gant because he's not overpowering.
\r\n
\r\nIn addition to the \"Vulcan\" which sits in the low 70s mph range, Gant throws a fastball that is clocked at around 85-87 mph and a curveball that also sits in the low 70s. Gant's stuff will not \"wow\" any scouts, but he can get hitters out consistently because of his command.
\r\n
\r\n\"I love pitchers who throw strikes,\" Donnelly said. \"It sounds easy but it's hard to do. I [also] liked the way he has commanded his fastball. If you can't command your fastball and locate it you're going to get killed whether it's pro ball high school, grade school or the big leagues.
\r\n
\r\n\"He's learning how to command his fastball, put it at the spot he wants and when he gets the guys in a good count then he throws the \"Vulcan\" which has been the equalizer.\"
\r\n
\r\nGant has shown the biggest sign of improvement in his ability to handle adversity during his starts.
\r\n
\r\n\"I think he's getting mentally tough,\" Donnelly said. \"Pitching is a mental game. If you are going to be a starting pitcher, which he's going to be and is now, he has to learn how to fight through the bad innings.
\r\n
\r\n\"It's like a fighter, you fight a 12-round fight, but you're not going to win every round. You have to fight through the bad rounds and come back. He has to fight through the bad innings and not get too down on himself and he's learning to do that now.\"
\r\n
\r\nConsidering his recent success, Gant has become a better pitcher than he was a season ago. But there's still lots of room for improvement for the 20-year-old, who hopes to be promoted by season's end.
\r\n
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