The Indians are selecting the contract of outfielder-turned-pitcher Anthony Gose, as first reported by Indians Prospective (on Twitter). The left-hander will be appearing in the Majors for the first time since 2016 — and for the first time ever as a pitcher.
Gose, now 31 years old, was a two-way star in high school and a second-round draft choice by the Phillies back in 2008. He focused solely on developing as an outfielder, and by the 2011-12 offseason, Gose ranked as a consensus top 100 prospect in all of baseball. He played the 2011 season as a 20-year-old in Double-A (about four years younger than the league-average age) and slashed .253/.349/.415 with 16 home runs, 20 doubles, seven triples and 70 stolen bases — the second 70-steal season of his young professional career.
In 2010, the Phillies traded Gose to the Astros alongside J.A. Happ and Jonathan Villar in the trade that brought Roy Oswalt to Philadelphia. Houston immediately flipped Gose to the Blue Jays for corner-infield prospect Brett Wallace, who’d been a first-round pick in 2008 and was a highly regarded prospect himself at the time.
Gose made his big league debut with the Jays as a 21-year-old in 2012 but never really found his footing in Toronto. He spent three seasons as an oft-optioned member of the Jays’ outfield but managed just a .234/.301/.332 output in that time. The Blue Jays and Tigers swapped Gose for second baseman Devon Travis in the 2014-15 offseason, and Gose only found marginally more success in Detroit. He batted .254/.321/.367 in his first season as a Tiger but played just 30 games in his second season (2016).
Those struggles at the plate carried over into Triple-A, and beginning in 2017, the Tigers gave Gose the opportunity to work off the mound all the way down in Class-A Advanced. The transition wasn’t particularly smooth, as one might expect. Gose appeared in 11 games, allowing nine runs in 10 2/3 innings. He fanned 14 of the 45 hitters he faced (31.1 percent), but the Tigers removed him from their 40-man roster and he opted for free agency at season’s end.
Gose signed a minor league pact with the Rangers in the 2017-18 offseason and was selected by the Astros in the Rule 5 Draft just days later. He didn’t make it out of Spring Training with the ’Stros before being returned to the Rangers. Gose made it to Double-A as a pitcher in the Rangers’ system and clearly intrigued the Indians’ baseball ops department enough to sign him as a minor league free agent the following offseason.
Gose has hung on with Cleveland ever since, but he hasn’t gotten a call to the big leagues until today. The lefty pitched for Team USA in the Olympics earlier this summer, and he’s had a generally solid season on the mound. Walks have been an issue since he made the move to the mound, and that’s true to an extent this season as well. Gose has worked to a 3.55 ERA with a hefty 34 percent strikeout rate but a bloated 19.4 percent walk rate.
However, most of those command issues came early in the season. Since returning from the Olympic team, Gose has yielded just one run in 14 frames. He’s walked six of the 52 batters he’s faced in that time (11.5 percent) and fanned a whopping 22 of them (42.3 percent). Given that recent run of dominance, it’s hardly a surprise that Cleveland is both rewarding Gose’s tenacity and also taking the opportunity to get a late look at him in the big leagues.
While Gose has appeared in parts of five big league seasons in the past, he has yet to even amass three years of Major League service time. As such, Cleveland would be able to control him all the way through the 2025 season — if he is indeed able to stick as a pitcher. Gose, by all accounts, has built his heater up to sit in the upper-90s and at times reach triple digits. Opponents are hitting just .172/.333/.328 against him so far in 2021 — including a .086/.192/.154 batting line since he returned from the Olympics.
It’s a frankly remarkable journey for Gose, who has been with four organizations in five years since attempting to reinvent himself as a pitcher. He’s pitched for clubs in the Puerto Rican Winter League and Dominican Winter League along the way after restarting his career as a 26-year-old in Class-A Advanced. He’ll now reap the benefits of that half-decade odyssey as he returns to the Major Leagues for what, in many ways, will be a second big league debut.