Avila, Ausmus impressed with Gose's arm

Left-hander clocked at 99 mph in Class A pitching debut

HOUSTON -- Major League managers and GMs don't normally find themselves talking about 26-year-old pitchers in Class A ball. When the pitcher in question is a left-handed outfielder who throws a 99 mph fastball in his pro pitching debut, though, it's anything but a normal situation.

This is where the Tigers now find themselves with Anthony Gose. Their Opening Day center fielder from last year is now a relief prospect, and what seemed like a crazy idea at the end of Spring Training now has some momentum behind it.

Gose had a relatively mundane line pitching the ninth inning Monday night for Class A Advanced Lakeland, allowing a run on a hit with a walk and a strikeout. But his pure pitching made an impression, starting with a fastball that was harder than advertised.

"I can tell you the 99 mph [reading] was legitimate," general manager Al Avila told Jamie Samuelsen and Mike Stone Tuesday morning on 97.1 WXYT. "I sat right next to some of our pitchers that do the charts in between their starts and they hold the radar gun. The scoreboard was saying 99 and our personal gun that we use for our charting said 99. He did hit 99 on several occasions, some 98s and pretty much averaged out at 97. The delivery looked clean. He had a quick arm. He's got a good, nice windup and delivery. He has a good curveball."

That velocity, according to Tigers folks, does not come from a max-effort delivery. Tigers manager Brad Ausmus saw Gose throw for the first time in Spring Training and said he has a low-impact delivery.

The lone hit Gose allowed, a double, came off the changeup, which probably defeated the purpose against a lineup of A-ball hitters. But after spending the last month and a half pitching in extended spring games rather than competitive situations, he has a chance to get a feel for game pitching, among other facets.

"He's got to get comfortable pitching in games, fielding his position, all that stuff that he practiced but he never really did at full speed," Ausmus said Tuesday. "He's going to have to go back-to-back [games] at some point. He's probably going to have to go multiple innings at some point. Not more than two, but maybe two."

That description makes it sound like a rehab assignment rather than a Minor League progression from one level to the next. Realistically, Ausmus said, it's probably somewhere in between. Gose is old enough that he doesn't necessarily need a lot of time at every level, but he's inexperienced enough as a pitcher that he needs to go through the ups and downs.

"It's a work in progress, don't get me wrong," Avila told 97.1, "and we have to be careful with his arm. We already had to give him some time to rest when he was in extended spring training. So it's not something where you can throw him in there at the Major League level and think he's going to pitch on a regular basis out of the bullpen like these other guys, because he's not built up to do that yet. But I wouldn't put it out of the realm that he could pitch in the big leagues at some point, and right now he's off to a good start."

Said Ausmus: "We just don't know how his arm's going to respond. He'll be in Lakeland for a little bit. Depending on how he handles it and performs, that will determine the length of time he's there and whether he moves up."

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.