Anthony Gose has a chance to be an impact player for the Toronto Blue Jays on both offense and defense, and his opportunity to claim a full-time job starts this spring. He has All-Star potential as a center fielder with a cannon for an arm and excellent speed, however, Gose is currently expected to serve as the Blue Jays’ fourth outfielder. This spring Gose’s impressive collection of tools will be on display, and if he can get off to a hot start he may prove to the Blue Jays that he deserves a starting job in 2014.
Gose had his first taste of the big leagues with 189 plate appearances in 2012, and at just 22-years-old he appeared overmatched at the plate with an uninspiring .622 OPS. While his followup in 2013 may not have been considered a success, there were many areas in which Gose improved over his debut season. Gose cut his strikeouts down from 31.2 percent to 24.2 percent and increased his batting average from .223 to .259 despite a drop in his batting average on balls in play (.340 to .333). Gose also provided league average power with a .150 ISO and a jump in his slugging percentage from .319 to .408. The one area Gose regressed was with his walk rate, going from 9.0 percent in 2012 to 3.3 percent in 2013.
While Gose strikes out too much to have much of a batting average, his walk rate in the minors was consistently around 10 percent. If Gose can continue to walk at a similar rate in the majors he should be able to get on base enough to use his plus-plus speed. Gose still needs to work on his base-stealing skills as he had just a 73.7 percent success rate in the minors. With some improvement in this department, Gose may be able to consistently threaten 50-plus steals to go along with 10-15 home runs and Gold Glove caliber defense in center field.
The only problem is that Gose does not have a clear path to a full-time starting job with the Blue Jays. Colby Rasmus is currently the starting center fielder with Jose Bautista in right and Melky Cabrera set to start in left. The best chance for Gose this spring is to give the Blue Jays a reason to elevate him on the depth chart over Cabrera. If Gose can harness his potential and become the offensive weapon he’s projected to be, the Blue Jays may have no other choice but to give him a starting job in 2014.