Exclusive: Grant Gavin, the Newest San Diego Padre

Exclusive: Grant Gavin, the Newest San Diego Padre

by December 12, 2021 1 comment

Thanks to a lockout that you may have heard about, Major League Baseball has not seen a ton of activity lately. However, many fans received something to complain about last week when the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft was completed. No less than 51 players (a majority of them pitchers) will have a new home. While making a selection is not a priority, most teams did in the first round. With the 10th overall pick, the San Diego Padres nabbed right-handed pitcher Grant Gavin from the Kansas City Royals.

A 29th-round selection in 2016, Gavin hails from Parkville, MO, a mere 15 minutes away from Kansas City. Over five minor league seasons, he has almost exclusively been a relief pitcher, though he can pitch multiple innings. He has saved 16 games with a 3.02 ERA and 350 strikeouts in 295 innings, reaching as high as AAA. The 26-year-old spent all of 2021 with the Royals’ highest leveled minor league team in Omaha, recording 92 strikeouts in 74.1 innings.

Now, it looks like if the local kid makes it to the majors, it will not be with his hometown team. For Gavin, there is some disappointment, but that lies mainly on himself.

“The disappointment is that I haven’t progressed quicker in my development. I should have been better a lot sooner. There’s a lot of things that I got better at too late in my career, and that is a lot of the reason why I never debuted with Kansas City. A lot of it is on me, but I’m working hard every day to do the most I can to reach my potential.”

The new chance to play in the San Diego farm system completely blindsided Gavin.

“I was at home and I wasn’t paying attention to the draft. One of my friends texted me and said ‘Let’s go!’ and told me that I was taken by the Padres. I was like ‘What are you talking about?’. A little bit after that the Royals and the Padres reached out to me and filled me in on what was going on. It was a whirlwind of emotions, since I wasn’t expecting it at all.”

Technical Changes

Gavin has struggled in the past is with his control. He had a 4.2 BB/9 last season and a 3.5 BB/9 in his professional career. He believes that his best way to deal with the problem is to not think about walks. For the former Central Missouri Mule, his plan is to go after his opponents.

“In psychology, whenever you’re thinking in terms of “don’t”, your body will manifest what you are thinking not to do. When I’m at my best is when I’m attacking hitter and saying ‘here’s my best stuff, I’m throwing it right at you, here you go. Hit it, or sit down’. That’s where good command comes from. My biggest focus is to trust my stuff and throw it as well as I can.”

Many scouting reports tout his curveball, but that gets disagreement for Gavin, at least in recent years.

“It was definitely my best pitch coming up. I showed an advanced feel for being able to throw it for a strike in-and-out of the strike zone. I’ve started throwing a splitter which is significantly better than my curveball. A lot of my success this year came from my splitter and not my curveball.”

Major League Baseball’s gigantic draft sprawls out so far that most picks are an afterthought, even to the teams that made them. The struggles that come with being a late pick have even changed Gavin’s mentality.

“I was told three years ago that when I was in High-A I had already exceeded all of my expectations that the Royals had for me. You’re on a one-day contract, you have to prove your worth today so they keep you tomorrow. I feel like I have to prove myself each and every day and nobody owes me anything. I try to make myself the best version of myself. That’s how I’ve gotten to the point I’ve gotten to. I have a lot more to prove and a lot more to improve on.”

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Main Image Credit: via OMAStormChasers

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