Grant Gavin Chases Life-Long Dream
The 23-year-old Gavin was a 29th-round pick in 2016 out of Central Missouri, where he set the school record with 13 saves as a junior. Prior to that he was an all-conference quarterback and all-state punter—as well as an all-state pitcher—at Kansas City's St. Pious X High.
"I actually went to Central Missouri to play both, but I ended up quitting football within a month just to focus on baseball,” he said. ". . . I really didn’t want to play quarterback anymore. I knew I wanted to play professional baseball.”
Gavin, a life-long Royals fan, began last season at high Class A Wilmington but earned a quick promotion to Double-A Northwest Arkansas in mid-May.
He got off to a rocky start in the Texas League, giving up runs in four of his first five appearances but finished with a 2.35 ERA in his final 16 games.
"It took me a little bit longer than I would have liked to get my feet under me in Double-A," Gavin said, "but once I did, I felt very confident and good about how I did.”
He suffered a right groin injury on July 12 and missed two-plus weeks, prompting the Royals to assign him to the Arizona Fall League, where he compiled a 1.50 ERA in nine appearances.
Gavin, who struck out 61 in 53.2 innings in 2018, has a fastball that works in the 92-94 mph range and touches 95, plus a salty breaking ball.
"I think they’re both above-average pitches, in my opinion, to get guys out,” he said.
Gavin has a changeup and uses it sparingly, but the Royals would like him to improve it and utilize it more. He is ticketed for Double-A this season, but could pitch his way quickly to Triple-A Omaha.
He is getting tantalizingly close to pitching off the Kauffman Stadium mound.
"I don’t think about it too much,” he said "I focus on getting better. I think if I reach my full potential in the next couple of years, I’ll get a shot. I’m just trying to be ready when that happens.”
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— Second baseman D.J. Burt, a 2014 fourth-round pick, was hitting .327/.441/.452 through 31 games with Melbourne in the winter Australian Basebal League.
— Righthander Yunior Marte did not allow a run in 14.1 innings over 10 appearances in the winter Dominican League. He has held hitters to a .174 average.