By Gavin Menu
Kyle McGowin, the Sag Harbor native with a rocket for a right arm, was invited to participate in his first Major League training camp with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim earlier this month and will join players from the 40-man roster when camp opens on February 19.
McGowin, a graduate of Pierson High School and former pitcher for the Sag Harbor Whalers of the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League, was selected by the Angels in the fifth round of the 2013 draft following a standout career at Savannah State. He played last season for the AA Arkansas Travelers, where he had 125 strikeouts and a 9-9 record that was not reflective of an otherwise outstanding finish.
The Express caught up with the 24 year-old pitcher and his mid-90s fastball who was attending a mini camp at the Angels complex in Tempe, Arizona.
You have been invited to participate in your first Major League training camp. What are your expectations going in?
Pretty much show them what I have and be there with the big league guys, pick their brains as much as possible and try to bring a few new things with me into the season.
You started in the rookie league and have been moving through the minor leagues and the different levels of professional baseball. What are the biggest challenges as you move up the ladder?
Just learning to adjust. Going out with a game plan each game and try to learn something new each game, whether it’s a new pitch, or how to pitch to each batter. Obviously the opponents get better, they’re more advanced and have a better approach. But you pretty much just have to go out there and do what you do best.
You had an elbow injury early last season that hasn’t turned out to be as serious as you originally thought. How is the elbow and your health overall?
Last year for the second half of the season my arm’s strength was amazing. I was a lot more confident in myself. My arm felt great and my mind felt good. Mentally, I was a lot stronger. So I’m just sticking with the same program I had last year, making sure my arm feels healthy. It feels great right now.
If not a spot on the Major League roster, what are your primary goals for the upcoming season?
That’s everyone’s goal, obviously, to make the Major League roster. Maybe I’ll a get a late September call up, give them some innings and give them a chance to win. Whatever team I’m with I’ll be doing whatever I can to try to win a championship and get better for next year. Double A is always an option, but obviously I’m hoping for Triple A or even the big leagues. I just have to go out and pitch the way I pitched last year and make their decision very tough.
The Angels have some big-time players like Albert Pujols and Mike Trout. What will your approach be if you face them in spring training?
I’m pretty much going to go with whatever the catcher says (laughing). They’ve been around longer than I have, and if I have a veteran catcher, I’m going to go with him and pretty much just attack. These are people you grew up watching, so you’re going to get nervous, but then remember it’s just baseball, and I’m a professional too, so stick with what you know best.