New York Mets right-handed pitching prospect Kevin McGowan had a breakout season after switching to a reliever. McGowan, 25, pitched to a 2.35 ERA and 1.091 WHIP in 84.1 innings over three levels. As a reliever he held opponents to a .222/.269/.349 slash line in 2016.
McGowan made 42 appearances including four spot starts after working almost exclusively as start starter the previous three seasons. He had a 0.82 ERA in 33 innings for the St. Lucie Mets before being promoted to the Binghamton Mets. He then pitched to a 3.62 ERA over 49.2 innings for the B-Mets and also made a 1.2 inning cameo with the Las Vegas 51s.
The Mets drafted McGowan in the 13th round of the 2013 draft out of Division II Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, New Hampshire. He went to high school about an hour away in Nashua, New Hampshire and playing baseball in the northeast is one of the topics we touch on.
McGowan saw an uptick in his fastball out of the pen sitting in the mid 90’s and topping out in the upper 90’s. He also saw improvement with the consistency of his breaking ball that helped him have a great season. He set a career high with a 8.9 K/9 and tied a career best with his 2.3 BB/9. He allowed only 70 hits and four home runs in his 84.1 innings of work in 2016.
I would expect to see Kevin get an invite to major league spring training camp this year.
MMO – First off, I want to thank you for taking the time to answer some questions and congrats on a great season. You had success this year in part because of a switch from starting to relieving, how did that come about?
Kevin – Probably from just trusting my stuff and throwing my fastball a lot more. Over the past season or so when I was starting I threw way more off speed then I needed to. Basically trying to be too cute. But it worked out cause for the first time in pro ball I actually had a decent breaking ball. So it paid off this season
MMO – What do you think changed to make your breaking ball more effective?
Kevin – I just never really had one. Or at least a consistent one. It took time, but I finally developed feel for the pitch so I can locate it and add and subtract velocity when I need to.
MMO – Did any specific coach in the Mets system help you make that pitch more consistent?
Kevin – My guy Phil Regan (Assistant Pitching Coordinator)! That dude always takes care of me and has always taken the time to help me out. But Marc Valdes (St.Lucie Pitching Coach) and I always worked well together and he seems to kinda know what I need to make it a better pitch for me. And I was with Glenn Abbott (B-Mets Pitching Coach) for a while this year and him and I talked a lot about how to approach pitching. A main point he would always bring up is breaking ball and my breaking ball specifically. He always wanted to make sure I kept depth with the it so it wasn’t flat. So a huge thanks to those guys.
MMO – What are you doing this offseason to get ready for the 2017 season?
Kevin – Just working out at AB athletics here in Nashua, New Hampshire. And playing golf pretty much until the snow hits. Then it’s video game season haha.
Kevin – Well besides Tyler Pill. He shouldn’t count though cause he was Fullertons’ 3 hitter in college. And Idk man. Bartolo is a legend. But I if you ask my father he’ll tell you I was always a better hitter than pitcher. So batting practice is just wicked fun for me. Five o’clock hitter though for sure.
MMO – What do you think you need to improve to take the next step in your development and get closer to the big leagues?
Kevin – Just build off of last season and continue to get more consistent. Then hopefully get a chance to help out the big league club.
MMO – Growing up in Maine I know what it’s like, but can you explain to the readers about how hard it is to get baseball games/practices in up in the Northeast and some of the challenges you faced in high school because of the weather.
Kevin – Yeah it’s pretty nuts. I haven’t played nearly as much baseball as my competition just cause the weather is brutal up here. High school you had to really dress warm cause it was cold usually most of the time and couldn’t really avoid the cold. Our home field was a Triple-A stadium at one point so we at least had actual dugouts and could avoid the wind. Obviously not all high school fields are nice, so we were pretty fortunate for that.
College was even worse. Started in February and we played probably every game cause we had on a turf field. I honestly can’t remember a game getting snowed out, we played plenty of games when it was snowing. And my college has to have the worst location to play because there’s a lake right behind the field and we’re at the bottom of mountains, so it was never warm. Lots of wind.
My freshman year when we hosted regionals there was still snow behind the fences in May. I remember walking to practice in January and it was no joke -20 plus the wind. So practices when it was too cold would be in our indoor facility which was a bubble. Unfortunately it wasn’t heated well. Practice sometimes was shoveling the snow off the field. With all that being said, we had heated dugouts. Thank god. I don’t mean that to come off like I hated it cause honestly Franklin Pierce was for sure the best college experience I could ever imagine.
MMO – Who of your teammates this year, at any of your 3 stops, impressed you the most?
Kevin – I’ve always been a big Rosario guy, I think he’s the truth. So I feel like I’m never surprised with what he’s capable of. Same with Dominic Smith. Also the truth. Paul Pierce 34! It’s been fun watching those guys starting to reach their potential. And there’s still more room for them to grow which is kinda insane. Pimp C (Corey Taylor) was a lot of fun to watch too. Throws hard and doesn’t mess around. He’s always in attack mode. Ricky Knapp finally showed what I always thought he was capable of and had a sick year. Matt Oberste was hitting rockets all of the yard again.
It was good to see Boomer (David Roseboom) have the year he had. I mean when I saw him in St. Lucie he was struggling. It was great to see him turn it completely around. I think it kind shocked people. Going from that tough half in the FSL to dominating the Eastern League. He’s a high energy, weird dude so watching him get fired up as a closer was hilarious. Sewald is always nasty so when I saw him throw it was nothing surprising. He pitches with a huge chip on his shoulder and it’s great to see him continue to succeed. And of course Jeff Glenn, unreal bullpen catcher. Oh yeah Phillip Evans! Another guy I watched struggle for a bit in St. Lucie and then have an unbelievable season. Won a league batting title. That was sick to see. Pumped for him.
MMO – You must have grown up a Red Sox fan, have you changed your allegiances to the Mets?
Kevin – Oh yeah I was a Sox die hard. Papi retiring hurts though. I have pictures of him all over my room. Same with Pedro and Manny Ramirez. Those three were my idols growing up. But guys who I played with are now a part of the big league club and they seemed to have a seamless transition to the show which is awesome. So I’m always rooting for Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, Josh Smoker, Michael Conforto and all the guys I’ve played with. It fires me up watching them succeed. Obviously it makes me want to be a part of it. So my allegiances have changed for sure.
MMO – Thanks again man for answers and good luck next season.
Kevin – Yeah for sure.
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