Mar 4, 2012; Bradenton, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays center fielder Anthony Gose (right) slides under the tag by Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Jake Fox (41) during the game at McKechnie Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE
I wrote about Anthony Gose well before the season started, in a prospect comparison with Wil Myers, but I wanted to give you an update on his season. At the time I said that he had the potential to post a Jacoby Ellsbury-in-2011 type season in him, in that he has some power in his bat and is a demon on the basepaths, and could walk into a random power spike while retaining the speed and power a fantasy team to a victory. Here's what I had to say about Gose at the time:
Anthony Gose - CF - Blue Jays - Gose sports three plus to plus-plus tools in his arm (up to 97 MPH as a pitcher), defense in centerfield and his speed. Drafted in 2008 (though only three months older than Myers) Gose had been coveted by Toronto in Roy Halladay talks. While they were unable to acquire him then, they got their man by flipping Bret Wallace to Houston after Gose had been sent there in the Roy Oswalt trade. Gose has been a toolsy prospect that scouts have loved for quite a while, but I was not on board until after the 2011 season. What changed? He learned to control the strike zone a bit better, generating a 10.6% walk rate (a career-high excepting a 27 game cameo at Hi-A in 2010). Gose also swatted a career-high 16 home runs in 2011, almost doubling the total from his first three seasons combined. These developments have me hopping aboard the Anthony Gose bandwagon, and in a hurry too.* One area that Gose needs no development in is on the basepaths. He swiped 70 bases in 2011 at a career best 82% success rate. Gose's flaws are apparent right on the surface. Despite the improvement in his walk rate, his strikeouts are a major red flag. His strikeout percentage has never been lower than 19% in his career, and was an unsightly 26.2% in 2011, leading to an unsatisfactory .253 batting average. While Gose may never be an above-average hitter in terms of average, but if he can get enough walks, he will be extremely valuable on the basepaths. I wouldn't expect Gose to reach the majors before around May 2013, and despite his deficiencies, he has a chance to be an true impact fantasy player due to his superb speed and emerging secondary skills.
See what progress Gose has made after the jump...
In 2012 Gose has continued to build on the developments he made in 2011. He has maintained a walk rate above 10%, as a 21-year old in Triple-A. Even more encouraging, he has cut his strikeout rate just under 5% from 26.2% to 21.3%. To cut one's strikeout rate so dramatically while maintaining what was an elevated walk rate and jumping up a level says a lot to me about the progress Gose has made as a hitter. To that end, Gose has raised his average from .253 in '11 to .291 this season, though his new approach is not yielding more power (on a rate basis) with his ISO dropping about 30 points. His slugging percentage has increased a meager 12 points in 2012, though he is playing in a drastically improved offensive environment, so I'm not so sure that we can really count that as improvement, or even remaining static. Coming back to that 21.3% strikeout rate, while it is a dramatic improvement on his previous season, that's an awful lot of swing and miss in a player who doesn't produce much power, with Gose providing only 3 home runs on the season while the player I compared him (Myers) with before the season is striking out a comparable 19.5% in Triple-A while hammering 11 home runs in 200 fewer plate appearance. It's a bit of an unfair comparison, as power isn't truly a part of Gose's game, though he does have that ability, with his 16 home runs last season. Where Gose does excel is on the basepaths, where he's snagged 29 bases in 34 tries and while he is not on pace, it's reasonable to think that he could end up around the 70 stolen base mark he achieved last year.
At 21 years of age, Gose is a mere seven months older than fellow highly touted centerfielder Jake Marisnick, and yet for some reason often gets ranked behind Marisnick in prospect lists. This was the case before the season started, and was even the case in Bret Sayre's updated top 50 prospects. While I am a fan of Marisnick myself, I don't quite understand the rationale behind this. Even with the questions on Gose's ability to hit the ball, he is more than surviving at Triple-A while being almost the same age. Marisnick might as well be made by Black & Decker, so I get the appeal, but Gose sports three tools that rate 70 or better himself, though only one of those tools is fantasy relevant. It seems that's as far as people go with Gose though, and assume his other tools just won't come into play, when they are still evolving and could turn him into a fantasy force. Gose will continue to swing and miss throughout his career, but he had absolutely no approach when he was drafted, and now he's working on a second consecutive year with 10+% walk rate. So to think he couldn't continue to improve seems a bit shortsighted. Despite the relative power outage in 2012, Gose's power tool projects to be average, and he could continue to fill out. His trouble with contact will likely prevent him from being a .300 hitter in the majors, but even at .270, Gose would be an impact performer due to his speed, and enough secondary skills to not hurt you in other categories. While you'd likely need two of him to keep pace with Billy Hamilton in stolen bases (and even then, it's highly questionable), Gose's impressive showing at Triple-A could have him in line for a September call up and getting regular playing in mid 2013. His defense is strong enough that it could push Colby Rasmus to a corner outfield spot, and with good reason, cost Rajai Davis some playing time.