Ex-Cat Trevor Gott having whirlwind season in minors

thurley@herald-leader.comJuly 29, 2013 

TinCaps

Former Tates Creek and Kentucky pitcher Trevor Gott was promoted to Single-A Fort Wayne after four games in the short-season Northwest League. In June, he was drafted by the San Diego Padres in the sixth round.

CHAD RYAN

Former Tates Creek pitcher Trevor Gott will always remember the phone call he took on June 7, 2013. He won't forget the days and weeks that followed that call, either. Huddled around a computer in his parents' kitchen, Gott picked up the receiver to learn the San Diego Padres would select him shortly with the 178th pick in the Major League Baseball Draft.

That's where the whirlwind started for the University of Kentucky's all-time leader in saves.

The days that followed included a flight to Phoenix, a drive to Peoria, Ariz., physical examinations, an MRI scan, and the signing of a pro contract. Gott, a sixth-round selection, received a $200,000 signing bonus, according to Baseball America.

Six days after draft day, Gott arrived in Eugene, Ore., to begin his professional career, and seven days later that career was under way with the Eugene Emeralds of the short-season Class A Northwest League.

"It was kinda hectic but I can't complain," Gott said.

Things started well in Eugene. Despite not having thrown to a live batter in weeks, Gott allowed only one earned run in his first 41⁄3 innings as a professional. Moments after his fourth appearance for the Emeralds, Gott was called into the manager's office for another conversation he'll probably never forget — one informing him he'd been called up to the Fort Wayne TinCaps in the full-season Class A Midwest League.

"To only throw in four games and get moved up that quickly, it was kind of a shock," Gott said.

Time to pack, again, and to hop on a plane, again; but not before a late-night phone call to Lexington to tell his parents, Vaughan and Teresa, the good news.

"The time difference is pretty big out there so it was about 11 o'clock in Eugene so it would have been 2 in the morning in Kentucky," Gott said. "I called my dad and told him to wake up my mom and get in the same room and then I told 'em and they were very happy, and then I called my girlfriend ... it was great, obviously."

Gott linked up with the TinCaps on the road in Lansing, Mich., making his debut the next night, shutting out the Lansing Lugnuts in one inning of work.

Until his most recent appearance in which he allowed five earned runs in 2⁄3 of an inning, Gott had appeared in 10 games for Fort Wayne, picking up two saves and a win in 122⁄3 innings while holding a 0.71 ERA.

"I feel a lot more comfortable here than I did in Eugene," Gott said. "I was getting back into the competition, facing hitters in Eugene, and then when I got here I just stepped up my game a little bit more because the competition gets a little bit better."

Being able to focus on just baseball instead of going to class isn't the only thing different between playing in the blue and white of UK and the green, white and red of Fort Wayne.

"The biggest difference I've seen is the competition top to bottom, one through nine, everyone can hit," said Gott, who bypassed his senior season at UK to turn pro. "Everyone has a plan in the box, as opposed to college where ... in a good SEC lineup, you'll face three or four hitters who will play professionally. That's the biggest difference, there's no easy out so you have to come after every batter.

Fort Wayne is roughly 41/2 hours north of Lexington, a tad closer than the 36-hour drive to Eugene.

Gott's parents, sisters — Morgan, Maddison and Tatum — girlfriend, Holly (a member of UK's gymnastics team), and her mom, Kim, all made the drive to see Gott make his home debut in Fort Wayne on July 5.

They saw their man strike out two in 11⁄3 innings on the way to his first professional win, a 16-10 decision over the South Bend (Ind.) Silver Hawks.

Playing closer to home, having friends on the team — former Wildcat Brian Adams, for one — and changing the monotonous cycle of hotel rooms for an apartment with teammate Maxx Tissenbaum have helped Gott feel at ease with the TinCaps.

Fort Wayne's coaching staff also is at ease with UK's single-season (12) and career (23) saves leader — despite not knowing much of him before his arrival.

"We like him, we like the way he goes about his business, we like the way he gets on the mound and competes," TinCaps pitching coach Burt Hooton said of the 6-foot, 190-pound right-hander. "He throws strikes, he's not afraid of getting hit and so far he's done very well ... I think there's something there that we can build on."

Hooton knows a thing or two about pitching in college and then moving up to the pros in a short period of time, having made the jump from the University of Texas straight to the big leagues without a single minor-league appearance.

He pitched 15 years in the majors with the Cubs, Dodgers and Rangers, winning a World Series with Los Angeles in 1981.

"You're looking for players who come in and that are aggressive and enjoy playing the game and go after it — and Trevor's one of those guys," Hooton said.

Another familiar name on the TinCaps' coaching staff is Manager Jose Valentin, a 16-year MLB veteran with the Brewers, White Sox, Dodgers and Mets.

"It's awesome to be around guys like that," Gott said. "Just hanging around those guys you learn a lot. You just gotta soak it in and learn as much as you can ... these guys really know what they're talking about."

It's been a good start to his career, but Gott knows the hard work has only just begun and there's a long way to go before the dream of pitching at PETCO Park in a Padres uniform becomes a reality.

The Tincaps have another two-plus months left in their season, then Gott plans to work out with former teammates in Lexington this winter to prepare for spring training. All the while, working toward earning the right to be in another conversation he'll likely never forget.

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