We were thrilled to report news this week that Sag Harbor native Kyle McGowin would finally realize his dream of playing Major League Baseball. A Minor League journeyman for the last five seasons, Mr. McGowin worked his way through ups and downs, a potentially serious arm injury, and a trade from the organization that drafted him — the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim — to the Washington Nationals in 2016. While it may have seemed like that new start would set him back, it appears the change of scenery was just what the now 26-year-old pitcher needed.
Mr. McGowin has thrived this season as he worked his way from Single-A to Triple-A, from Potomac, Virginia to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and finally to Syracuse in upstate New York. On Monday, after another impressive pitching performance in Syracuse, Mr. McGowin packed his bags once more, this time on his way to “the show” in Washington, D.C. So what made the difference this season?
Mr. McGowin said earlier this summer that he had changed his mental approach to the game and was no longer focusing so much on reaching the big leagues, despite this being the year that his rookie contract was set to expire. With Minor League salaries basically paying just above minimum wage, Mr. McGowin showed up at the ballpark every day ready to work. He stripped away the pressure of moving up through the ranks, and enjoyed the journey instead of obsessing over his next destination. Hetraveled to training centers during the offseason to sharpen his skills, and said this week that his arm and approach to the game have never felt better.
On Monday, all that hard work finally paid off. Major League rosters expand from 25 to 40 players every September as teams examine their young talent, so there’s no guarantee Mr. McGowin will be on the opening-day roster in 2019, or what kind of looks he will get this fall. But one thing is already certain. Being from a small town at the end of Long Island, far from the eyes of scouts and college coaches, can no longer be used as an excuse to stop young athletes, or anyone else for that matter, from chasing their dreams. Mr. McGowin set off on that chase, worked hard and has reached the mountaintop. Good show.