Anthony Gose is in a new organization, wearing a new uniform in a new town, but says he's still the same ball player. The quick-footed center fielder, who set out to lead all of minor league baseball in stolen bases at age 18 in 2009, and followed through when he swiped 76 bases as a member of the Phillies' Class A affiliate, the Lakewood BlueClaws, is now a member of the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. Gose was ranked as the 4th best prospect in the Blue Jays system by Baseball America prior to this season.
The 6-foot-1-inch, 195 pound Gose has stayed on track with the tools that earned him such high praise. He continues to get on base, swipe bags and exhibit terrific instincts and range on defense in the outfield.
Traded by the Phillies to Houston in the deal for starting pitcher Roy Oswalt last July, Gose ended up with Toronto when the Astros flipped him, almost immediately, in another trade for infielder Brett Wallace.
The lefty hitting Gose was playing with the Phillies High A Level team, the Clearwater Threshers, at the time and felt sure that he would be headed to Houston once rumors of a Phils deal for Oswalt began circulating heavily. When the trading commenced, Gose never heard from Houston. Even though he had been included in a package of players for the 3-time Astros All star, the first call Gose got was from Phillies assistant general manager in charge of player development Chuck LaMar, telling Gose that he was being dealt to Toronto.
The 20-year-old Gose describes the series of events as a great help to his personal life because he didn't have to move out west, where the Astros' affiliates play.
"It was a bit of a relief to be going to Toronto, nothing against Houston- I don't know their organization or anything like that- but the relief came in the sense that I just bought a house in (the Tampa Bay area) three weeks before the trade. So, it became a little more of a comfortable situation, to be going to Toronto (whose Class A affiliate in Dunedin, is close to Clearwater)."
Gose, a 2nd round draft pick by Philadelphia in 2008, also felt comfortable going to the Blue Jays organization because there were familiar faces there. The system included guys that Gose had played against and had gotten to know in the post-season instructional league, in spring training and during the regular season. There was also one individual who Gose considers a close personal friend waiting to greet him.
Travis d'Arnaud, another former Phillies farm hand that was traded for a different Roy (Halladay in December, 2009), grew up fairly close to Gose in California and the two competed against one another during their high school careers and in recreational leagues. The two players developed a relationship simply through facing off for so many years and were then united when each was drafted in the Major League Baseball amateur draft by the Philadelphia Phillies. d'Arnaud was selected in the 1st round of the 2007 draft by Philadelphia.
Within the Phillies' developmental system, d'Arnaud and Gose solidified their friendship, into a virtual brotherhood while leading the Lakewood BlueClaws to a South Atlantic League Championship. Gose and d'Arnaud were reunited in Dunedin last season and are teammates once again in the Double A Eastern League this year with New Hampshire.
"It's been great, having him (with Toronto) as someone I know and can relate to. We've known each other for quite sometime and we just have this bond," Gose said.
Excited and awesome were among the words that the 21-year-old d'Arnaud turned to when he described getting the news that Gose was coming to the Blue Jays system.
"We played against each other growing up," d'Arnaud stated. "That Lakewood year, me and (Gose) were really close. We always pretty much roomed together and always cracked jokes on each other. Now that we're (together with New Hampshire) it's almost the exact same thing. Having someone you've grown up playing with on the same team with you (in the pro's) is a lot of fun."
The two Jays farm hands stay in touch with former organization mates from the Phillies system like "Moose" Mattair and Jiwan James. Bonds that the players have built have outlasted the trades and even helped to enhance relationships between other players in the Toronto and Philadelphia system, as Gose would use his aforementioned home to host friends for Sunday night card games at his Florida home during spring training. The residence served as a clubhouse of sorts for players from two different organizations to meet, build better friendships and stay connected.
However, Gose stressed that while staying in contact with his teammates was simple, parting ways with one other man made the entire trade experience a difficult one. Gose's manager from the Lakewood championship team, former Royals catcher Dusty Wathan, joined him upward one level in the Phils' system at Clearwater, in 2010. Gose developed a great fondness for Wathan on a personal and professional level, which made the move more tough for the caring speedster.
"The hardest thing about the trade was saying bye to Dusty. Playing for him the last two years and growing close, and I still talk with him and things like that. That was probably the most difficult part of everything," a sincere Gose stated.
Early into a fresh 2011 campaign with a new skipper, Gose is already developing a considerable amount of respect for his current manager, former Phillies catcher Sal Fasano. The youngster appreciates the wealth of knowledge that the veteran of parts of 11 big league seasons possesses.
"He is unbelievably smart," Gose said with amazement all over his face. "This guy has probably forgotten more about this game than I'll ever know. He was the center of everything, as the catcher, and he knows where everybody's supposed to be, how things are supposed to look and what people are supposed to do. It's unreal how smart he is. You definitely learn a lot about the game, just being around him."
Going forward, no matter where Gose plays, no matter who his teammates are and no matter who he plays for, his sights are set on the big leagues. The kid who predicted in 2009 that he would lead the minors in stolen bases, then followed through on that notion, wishes to keep doing big things and he wants to do them at higher levels. With Toronto playing a more uptempo thievery themed style of play, Gose could fit right in at some point soon. His pal Travis will likely want to continue rolling with him and the Jays would surely love to see that.
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