Prospect of the Day: Anthony Gose, OF, Toronto Blue Jays
The Toronto Blue Jays put outfielder Jose Bautista on the disabled list yesterday with wrist inflammation. In his place, they promoted outfielder Anthony Gose from Triple-A Las Vegas. Gose is a prospect with impressive strengths to go with significant weaknesses, so he's today's topic for Prospect of the Day.
Anthony Gose was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the second round in 2008, from high school in Bellflower, California. He was an excellent high school pitcher and many teams preferred him on the mound, but Gose wanted to be a daily player and the tool-loving Phillies obliged. He was quite mediocre as a hitter initially, hitting .259/.323/.353 with 35 walks and 110 strikeouts in Low-A in 2009, although he also stole 76 bases and impressed scouts with his glovework. He showed a bit more power in 2010, hitting .263/.325/.385 in 103 games for High-A Clearwater, then .255/.360/.426 in 27 games for Dunedin after being traded to the Blue Jays via the Houston Astros.
Gose spent all of 2011 with Double-A New Hampshire, hitting .253/.349/.415 with 16 homers and 70 steals. He fanned 154 times in 509 at-bats, but also drew 62 walks and did a better job of working counts. This year for Triple-A Las Vegas, he's hitting .292/.375/.432 with 18 doubles, 10 triples, five homers, 47 walks, and 93 strikeouts in 377 at-bats. He's stolen 29 bases but been caught 10 times.
The friendly Pacific Coast League hitting environment means we need to take his raw numbers with a bit of salt, although his home park at Las Vegas (which normally helps hitters a lot) hasn't done much for Gose: he's hitting just .259/.351/.395 at home but .323/.399/.469 on the road. I spoke with Gose at the 2012 MLB All-Star Futures Game a couple of weeks ago, and personally he doesn't put a lot of stock into the theory that the environment helps hitters do anything that they aren't normally capable of doing.
Gose mentioned how hard he's worked to refine his hitting approach, and neutral PCL observers report that he's made some legitimate progress. He still has significant problems against lefties (.187/.291/.227) but he's handled right-handers well (.318/.397/.483) and shows more power than he did early in his career. Although Gose isn't going to be a big home run guy, at least in the short run, he's not punchless, and he's done quite a bit to improve his plate discipline and ability to handle breaking balls. His strikeout rate remains quite high and I don't think he's a good bet to hit for high averages at this point. Note his comments about how many breaking pitches he's seeing in Triple-A.
Despite the mixed results from his bat, Gose can still be a valuable player due to his outstanding outfield defense. His range and arm strength are top-notch, and he has superior instincts to put an exclamation mark behind the pure tools. His makeup is well-regarded, and at age 21 he still has a huge amount of development time left on the clock.
Gose will be fun to watch due to his speed and defense. Expectations should be kept reasonable about his hitting, although there's enough in the bat that he can make pitchers pay for mistakes. I rated him a Grade B+ prospect pre-season, as a high-risk bat with excellent upside. That analysis still seems sound.