Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local Sports

July 6, 2012

Playing baseball is living the dream for Blue Jays’ Gabryszwski

BLUEFIELD — Baseball is a sport played every day, offering a position player the opportunity to get right back to work with another game.

Not so with a starting pitcher. No matter whether their outing is good or bad, it will be nearly a week before they can return to the mound.

That works for Jeremy Gabryszwski, a right-handed pitcher, who will make his fourth appearance tonight when the Bluefield Blue Jays travel to play the Burlington Royals.

“It is not bad, you get your four days off, you work hard those four days and then you come out for your game and you pitch your best,” said Gabryszwski, a second round draft in 2011 by Toronto.

While Gabryszwski works just as hard as the rest of the team on his off days, he can only watch the games he’s not scheduled to pitch in.

“On those other four days you cheer everybody on, you cheer the pitcher that is throwing that day, you cheer all the hitters,” said Gabryszwski, whose roommate is outfielder Nico Taylor. “Everybody becomes great friends and it pretty much comes down to you cheering for them and wishing them the best.

“That is all you can do. I love sitting here in the dugout and cheering my buddies on, my roommate especially and it is a great feeling.”

The 19-year-old Gabryszwski was raised in Crosby, Texas, just outside of Houston, and had a scholarship offer to play at Lamar University. Being a second round choice — the 78th overall selection by Toronto — was good enough reason to turn down the Cardinals.

“It was a little hard because with the scholarship they really wanted me and my scout was messing with them and telling them he is not going to go to Lamar, he is going to get drafted,” he said. “Going in the second round it was a little bit easier to make that decision, but it is a life-changing decision.

“I lived an hour away from Lamar and now I live 19 hours away.”

Not that he’s complaining.

“I love it, it is not that bad, I have fun,” said the 6-foot-4, 195-pound Gabryszwski, who was in Bluefield for two weeks at the end of the last season, pitching in one game. “I don’t mind staying in the hotels and traveling, it is fun.

“It is baseball every day. People ask me, ‘How is your life.’ I say, ‘Baseball every day.’ I could do this for a job every day.”

Despite living so close to Houston, Gabryszwski became a fan of the Texas Rangers, and they were one of three teams that had shown the most interest in him coming out of high school.

He earned that interest, posting an 8-2 record and a 2.14 ERA as a senior in Crosby, striking out 92 and walking just 11 in 65 1/3 innings.

“It was (the Blue Jays), the Rangers and the Mets, they were talking to me, looking at me real hard,” Gabryszwski said. “My scout actually went to the college that I signed for so he was really heavy talking to me and talking to my college coaches.

“I knew it was going to be the Blue Jays, the Rangers or the Mets so I kind of expected it so it wasn’t a big surprise.”

Gabryszwski signed in July of last year and pitched in four games in the Gulf Coast League, allowing no runs with five strikeouts, three hits and a walk in 4 1/3 innings. He also pitched once in Bluefield, allowing a hit and fanning one in one inning on the mound.

He showed why the Blue Jays made him one of seven draft choices in the opening two rounds last June, all of them high school products, and six of them are now in Bluefield.

“They like me a lot, mechanically there is some stuff they are trying to fix, trying to lengthen my stride out a little bit, and my location has got a lot better,” he said. “I am not throwing too hard right now, I am more just trying to hit my spots and develop a change-up and breaking stuff.  

“I think they are happy with me so far right now.”

He has worked three times this year, twice as a starter and once as a ‘piggy-back’ reliever with Roberto Osuna, who will start tonight, with Gabryszwski following him in the rotation.  

“He is a great guy. Two days ago I started and he came in after me and on Saturday he will start and I will come in after him and that is the way it will be for a couple of more weeks,” he said. “Eventually we will all get to where we will all go by ourselves and we will all have our own game.

“It is a lot of fun, I am glad I am paired with him, he is a really great pitcher, coming from Mexico and pitching in that league over there, a really great guy. I love to be around him, he’s funny, he likes to joke it up and he is a great guy to be with.”  

Gabryszwski has a 2.70 ERA with three no-decisions. He has allowed nine hits and three runs in 10 innings, striking out three and walking one.

“I thought I have done really good. “The first time I threw two innings and then they took me out because we had a 50 minute rain delay, I got hit around a little bit, I guess I got a little lazy on my follow-through and trying to hit my spots a little bit too much,” he said. “That was not that great an outing, but the second one I was really happy with it until the last inning.

“They had hit a home run and then they hit another one and it didn’t even go over, but the umpires called it a home run. That was a really good outing other than those two pitches, and then two nights ago, I threw really good out here, I only gave up three hits and no runs so it was really good.”

The Bluefield pitching staff is full of talented arms, including two first round selections, three from the second round and one from the fourth.

“We have a great pitching staff, we have a couple of injuries right now, but they will be throwing here in the next week or so,” Gabryszwski said. “We will be good to go, once everybody gets working as a team we are going to be unstoppable.”

Every player on the Blue Jays is competitive, seeking to make the next step, but despite trying to do better than their compatriots, they’re also teammates pull for each other.

“We’re all friends, when it comes down to it you are a little jealous of them, but you just try to out-work each other, which makes you better,” he said. “You try to out-work them and try to move up faster than they do, but they don’t take it personal if you go up.

“We don’t make that decision, we just all try to be good friends and get along and cheer each other on. We are just all teammates like brothers, and that is how we treat each other.”

Gabryszwski has enjoyed how the Blue Jays have been treated. The crowds have been up from past season, with Bluefield currently with a 7-9 record heading into Friday’s game with Danville.

It will be their final home game until the Mercer Cup opener with Princeton on July 17.

“It’s been great, the hotels are decent, they are not Triple-A or big league status, but they are good enough for this league,” he said. “A lot of fans, the fans make the game fun, they cheer for you, they boo you, they make it interesting.

“The towns treat us all great, they don’t treat us any different if we go to a different town, and the people here are fantastic. They are real nice to us and treat us well so it has been great.”

Even though the region has experienced record-breaking heat in recent weeks, that isn’t expected to last. It never ended when Gabryszwski was in the Gulf Coast League in Florida when all games are played at noon and spectators can literally be counted on one hand.

“The weather is amazing here, way better, you can’t beat this weather, there is a great atmosphere,” he said. “You have great fans in the stands, more than five fans and scouts so it is a lot better, I like it.”

Gabryszwski also likes the opportunity to play baseball for a living.

“Every baseball player has the dream to play professional baseball and now that you are here this is the life now,” Gabryszwski said. “Now your dream is just to make it to the big leagues and so you are just working hard every day to get there.”

—Contact Brian Woodson


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