Position: Second Baseman
The Tigers plucked Gosse out of Oklahoma in the 23rd round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft. With success in their back pocket drafting another small second baseman (Will Rhymes), the Tigers weren't daunted by reports that cited Gosse's small 5-7, 165 frame. Gosse played two years at Mexico Junior College before joining the Sooners in 2007, and he struggled slightly with the transition to the more challenging Division I game. Michael only hit .247 in his first year, but there were dramatic improvements heading into his senior campaign.
In his final year on campus, Gosse hit a whopping .368 with a .569 slugging percentage on the back of 23 doubles, two triples, and eight home runs; an impressive feat in the ultra-competitive Big 12. For his efforts, he was awarded All-Big 12 Honorable Mention, and was named to the Tempe Regional All-Tournament Team.
The Tigers assigned Gosse to Oneonta of the New York-Penn League to make his professional debut, where he jumped right in and tried to start hitting for Manager Ryan Newman. After a bit of a slow start, Michael turned it up a notch in July by going for a .297/.316/.405 with four doubles and two triples while seeing action in 21 games. That performance left him as the Runner-up for the TigsTown Oneonta Player of the Month honor.
Gosse's bat is going to be the tool that propels him through the minor leagues and gives him a chance at a big league job. He is an aggressive hitter that will attack the first pitch he believes he can drive. As a result, he rarely works deep counts, and pitchers can work ahead of him by throwing breaking balls early in counts. He has more pop than his size suggests, and he can drive balls to all parts of the field with ease. Gosse is at his best when he uses the whole field, but as with most young hitters he does get carried away trying to pull everything for power on occasion.
He is an average to slightly below-average runner, but he makes up for that on the bases with above-average instincts that are continually improving through diligent work. His defense is a bit rough at second base, and he doesn't project to ever be a positive at the position. His hands are solid but his reactions are a bit slow and his range is limited as a result. He hangs in very well on the double play, but a meager arm keeps him from turning a truly nice double play.
One scout admitted it was cliché, but tossed a Dustin Pedroia comp on him in an attempt to stress his style of play and the surprising pop in his left-handed bat. Gosse projects as an offensive minded second baseman, but if his bat doesn't hold up against more advanced pitching, he could falter quickly.
Performance Level Team AB AVG 2B HR RBI SO BB OBP% SLG% SS-A
Gosse works hard and has avoided major injuries to date. His scrappy style of play and unwillingness to back down can get him in precarious situations at times, so there are concerns that he could be the casualty of some freak injuries along the way.
Gosse should be the primary second baseman at West Michigan in 2009, and it will be a very good test for him in a full-season league. He will be 23 before the midpoint of next season, and he'll need to play well and convince the Tigers to push him hard so he can continue to play at a level appropriate for his age.
Be careful to look past the raw numbers next year, as Gosse – much like Kody Kaiser in 2008 – is exactly the type of player who could really be hurt by the pitcher friendly dimensions and tendencies of the Midwest League, and more importantly, the West Michigan ball park. There is a small window of opportunity for Michael to make a name for himself and move quickly, and with his all-out style, he could jump through it if he can hit at a high level right from the start of the season.
Mark Anderson is TigsTown's Managing Editor and feature Minor League writer. He can be reached at Mark@TigsTown.com.