Daniel Gossett was not on many radars heading into this season. He was not ranked in the top-ten on any A’s prospect list, and only MLB Pipeline mentioned Gossett as anything more than an honorable mention. And it isn’t terribly difficult to see why - after all, he pitched to a 4.73 ERA in 144.2 IP in his first full season as a professional, spending the entirety of the 2015 season at age-appropriate Single-A. It’s tough to get excited about a second-round pick struggling under such circumstances.
There were subtle signs of improvement as the season wore on, though - he had a 3.95 ERA and just 1.98 BB/9 from July forward, and he closed out the season with three consecutive strong starts (18.0 IP, 10 H, 2 BB, 11 K, 1.00 ERA). It is difficult to get excited about such sample sizes, given the greater context, yet it is nevertheless good to see a pitcher improve so much in-season, and achieve superior results. And, as a pitcher from a major college program, the expectations are a bit higher.
Even with the subpar overall results, the scouting reports on Gossett were rather strong. He featured a low-to-mid 90s fastball with good movement, a swing-and-miss curveball, and a workable change-up with a bit of upside. The biggest knock on Gossett as a prospect has long been his size, as his 6’2”, 185 pound frame may not be ideal for the rigors of throwing 200-plus IP in a season. His stuff, while considered as more good than great, has never come into question. And, despite walking more than 3 batters per 9 in 2015, most scouts agree that his command is a true weapon. Gossett thrives on hitting his spots and inducing weak contact. Unfortunately, weak contact is not as effective in the minors as it is the Majors, given the quality of the fields and the defense.
While none of this quite explains away his season, the picture of a legitimate prospect begins to emerge. And in 2016, we saw Gossett begin to make good on that promise as he marched through High-A, Double-A, and Triple-A, pitching to a combined 2.69 ERA, 8.8 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, and 1.08 WHIP in 153.2 IP. Those numbers become a bit more impressive when factoring in the leagues, as well, as the A’s High-A and Double-A affiliates play in hitter-friendly parks in hitter friendly leagues. Did anything change, though, that might explain this?
Yes, actually. Gossett developed a cutter, giving him four average-ish or better offerings to pair with his solid command and control. He repeats his release point well, and has enough deception to make his pitches play-up - and his fastball (which sits right around 93 MPH) and cutter (87 to 88) have enough separation to completely fool hitters. There may be some luck and natural variance here, but it is clear that Gossett made adjustments and thrived as a result. That is the mark of a player with genuine upside.
All told, Gossett has all of the makings of a solid mid-rotation starter, and could make his MLB debut as soon as Opening Day 2017. He has the arsenal to pick-up a league-average number of strikeouts (if not a bit more), and keep the ball on the ground (thereby mitigating home runs). His control should allow him to limit his walks, as well. Those factors, combined with Gossett’s home ballpark, should come together to make him a tremendous fantasy asset.