By Gavin Menu
Kyle McGowin, who graduated in 2010 from Pierson High School and pitched for the Sag Harbor Whalers in the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League, was drafted by the Los Angles Angels of Anaheim in the fifth round of Major League Baseball’s First-Year Player Draft on Friday.
McGowin, a 6-foot-4 right-handed pitcher who excelled at Savannah State University, was the 157th player taken in the draft and the Angels’ fourth overall pick. According to Sean Crowley, McGowin’s high school coach, he is the first Pierson graduate ever to be drafted into professional baseball.
“We knew we were going somewhere from the third to the tenth round,” McGowin said on Tuesday from Sag Harbor, where he watched the draft at home with friends and family. “I had heard from a couple other teams earlier in the day, so when I heard my name called by the Angels it was a surprise. It was a good surprise because when we were talking about organizations I would love to play for, that was one of them.”
McGowin on Tuesday said he would sign with the Angels organization immediately and would forego his senior season at Savannah State University, where he was the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year after finishing the season with a 12-1 record, a 2.02 earned run average and 135 strikeouts, which set a new school record.
As a result of the accomplishments, he is one of 10 semifinalists for the College Baseball Hall of Fame National Pitcher of the Year Award, which will be announced on June 29.
“Ever since I saw David Wells pitch a perfect game in 1998, I always wanted to play baseball,” McGowin said. “And then my freshman and sophomore year was when I started to get an idea this dream could become a reality.”
McGowin gave credit to the coaching staff at Savannah State and to his work with summer league teams, which included the Sag Harbor Whalers in 2011 and 2012, for helping him develop into the pitcher he is today.
“He’s a player that’s going to continue to get better because he’s going to get bigger and stronger,” said Tom Gleeson, who, along with Sandi Kruel, is the general manager of the Whalers. “He pitched very well for the Whalers both years for us. You saw a lot of maturity on the mound and I think as he went along he got a better grasp of what pitches to throw and when.”
According to his Major League Baseball scouting report, McGowin is projected as a “fringe No. 5 starter” with a fastball in the high 80s with sinking and cutting motion, but an inconsistent curveball. Some reports have him possibly transitioning to the role of reliever as another way to reach the major leagues.
“He always had a nice long, loose delivery and then he got bigger and stronger and better and he was always very competitive,” Crowley said when asked what kind of player McGowin was in high school. “When I watched this past week when they played Florida State, the announcers during that game were really high on Kyle’s ability, his velocity, his competitiveness, his location. So as I started seeing that, who knows? His potential is all up.”
The Angels minor league system is reportedly weak on starting pitching, something which was made clear when the organization used its first seven selections on pitchers. McGowin on Tuesday said he was working out a contract, which is somewhat limited by Major League Baseball’s collective bargaining agreement, which determines how much each team can spend on signing bonuses in the first ten rounds.
“There are plans for me to be a fourth or fifth starter in the major leagues, but if that doesn’t work out, I would be happy to be a reliever,” McGowin said. “I’m not sure right now where I’ll be heading, but whatever the organization wants me to do, I’m ready for it.”