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.”
Six Pitching Prospects Whose Stuff Ticked Up In 2018
Identifying young pitching prospects whose projections have changed after their stuff improved last season.
— 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.