September 20, 2021

happy-House

The home veterans

WooSox notebook: Michael Gettys, who hit 35 home runs in Triple-A in 2019, is trying his hand at pitching | Katie Morrison

7 min read

Michael Gettys came to the Red Sox as a big bat, signing as a minor league free agent in November 2020 after bashing 35 home runs for Triple-A El Paso (San Diego Padres) in 2019. But now, Gettys is reinventing himself, giving pitching a shot with the Red Sox’ Florida Complex League squad.

Maybe reinvent is the wrong word. Gettys is no stranger to pitching; far from it. In high school, Gettys was one of those players who did it all for his team. The star of the Gainesville (GA) High School baseball team, Gettys was named the Gainesville Times All-Area Baseball Player of the Year in 2014. According to the profile on Gettys, he drew comparisons to fellow Gainesville High alum Micah Owings, who went on to have a six-year MLB career as a pitcher. But Gettys did it all on the diamond, and did it all very well.

“Some people are good hitters, some are good pitchers, and I like to always think I was a very good baseball player,” Gettys said. “I ran the bases right, I played good defense, I hit well, I hit for power, I pitched well, and that’s kind of what I like to do is play baseball and play it the right way and just be a good baseball player, not just be good in one area.”

Gettys was a standout pitcher in high school, posting a 29-5 record with a 1.42 ERA, 303 strikeouts, 19 complete games and 14 shutouts. Yet after hitting .377 with 11 home runs and 53 RBIs in his senior year and boasting an arm and range that made him a valuable outfielder, Gettys was drafted as a position player, taken 51st overall by the San Diego Padres in 2014 straight out of Gainesville High.

That was part of the plan for Gettys, though. Even though he knew he enjoyed pitching, he understood it would be nearly impossible to start out as a pitcher and switch back to hitting.

“I was going to get drafted as a pitcher, but I enjoyed hitting more and wanted to be a hitter,” Gettys said. “It’s easier to hit and then come back to pitching than it is to pitch and try to go back to hit later on in your career. So that’s kind of what I’m doing now just trying to bring more value. I always thought I was a better pitcher than a hitter.”

“I always knew this was possible,” Gettys added. “If I would have gone into the draft as a pitcher, I don’t think I would have been able to convert to a hitter because it’s too many years to take off from hitting. It’s too hard. I still think hitting is the hardest thing to do in sports. So you can’t take that many years off from it. But I throw every day, even as a position player.”

Michael Gettys

WooSox right fielder Michael Gettys makes a running catch during a game on July 31, 2021. (Katie Morrison / MasssLive)

Position players converting to pitching isn’t unheard of, obviously. But Gettys’ situation is unique. Although this is his eighth year in the minors, Gettys is only 25 years old. And although he struggled at the plate in inconsistent playing time this season in Worcester (.201/.271/.349 in 46 games), Gettys is just a season removed from his 2019 campaign for Triple-A El Paso in which he blasted 31 home runs.

“This was always in the back of my mind and I never really told people this, I always knew I was a better pitcher than I was a hitter when I was younger, and all the way coming up, even going into pro ball,” Gettys said. “And I damn near made it to the majors as a hitter and I still think I could and can so I think if I believe and know I was a better pitcher before, we’ll see.”

Seven seasons of hitting in the minors gives Gettys a different perspective than most pitchers, which will only work to his advantage.

“I feel like I’ve learned a lot in terms of what hitters look for and what they feel like. I know what makes me feel uncomfortable as a hitter and I know what it’s like being in that box,” Gettys said. “I know the knowledge as a hitter is going to help me pitching-wise because I know what guys, I’m friends with many hitters and I know what I feel like as a hitter and I know how it is from that perspective so that can help.”

After injuring his wrist with the WooSox, Gettys was unable to hit for a couple of weeks, so the Red Sox sent him down to Fort Myers to start throwing in the Florida Complex League. Gettys says he’s unsure if he’s going to be a two-way player or just focus on pitching, but for now, the attention will be on getting back into pitching shape.

“I think this offseason when I get some time to rest and do a proper buildup and all of that, I think I’ll make a lot of strides then,” Gettys said. “Right now I feel close to what I was like in high school, I would say, I did it all year round back then so I was more comfortable but I feel like I’ll be better eventually.”

Working with his fastball, changeup and a breaking ball he describes as a “curveball-slider-type-thing,” Gettys has thrown right into the action as a pitcher, pitching a scoreless inning in relief in the Florida Complex League on August 31 and earning the win. He walked one and struck out one and didn’t allow a hit.

“It felt good. I love competing,” Gettys said. “I think the thing I liked more about pitching than hitting when I was younger is I’m in control. As a hitter, nothing happens until the pitcher throws, but as a pitcher, I can go after you and I can be aggressive so that’s the thing I like about it. So I didn’t feel that nervous because I like that feeling.”

The plan going forward is for Gettys to get in the routine of a pitcher, throwing a couple of times a week, pitching in relief.

“This year I told them I wanted to get in games because I want to get the feel of what it would be like and the routine of what it’s like to throw a couple of times a week and whatnot,” Gettys said. “In the offseason I’ll get everything prepared since I jumped into it mid-season this year.”

While it may feel like Gettys is starting from scratch, returning to the FCL after being just a step away from the majors, he’s in the right headspace to make the climb back to Triple-A and beyond.

“I believe in myself and I know what I can do,” Gettys said. “I’m trying to learn some things, I haven’t done it in seven years, so just getting back to what I was…it will take some time but I believe that I can do it.”

WooSox return from a very successful road trip

Even though the WooSox are losing players left and right as the Red Sox call on just about anyone who’s available to help out as the team reels from a COVID outbreak, that hasn’t affected the WooSox in the least as they went 11-1 on their 12-game road trip, the longest of the season.

The hot streak has pulled the WooSox into a second-place tie with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, five games behind the first-place Buffalo Bisons.

Here are some highlights from the trip:

Rocking the Red Wings

The WooSox rolled into Rochester as winners of five of their last six and went on to sweep the six-game series against the Red Wings. It was the WooSox’ second series sweep of the season, doing it on the road at Syracuse back in June as well.

Perhaps most impressive is that the WooSox have been winning tight games. In the series at Rochester, only one game was decided by more than three runs.

Dominant relief

The WooSox bullpen was lights-out over the road trip, posting a 2.55 ERA over 12 games, and a 2.11 ERA in the 11 wins.

Colten Brewer made his first appearance with the WooSox since May 31, after he was placed on the injured list on June 17 with a right knee sprain. He tossed two scoreless innings against Rochester on September 4, giving up two hits and a walk and striking out four.

Seth Blair tossed six scoreless frames over three appearances, striking out six and allowing just three hits.

Kaleb Ort logged his 18th save on Sunday in a 2-1 win over the Red Wings, and recorded five saves on the road trip. He gave up just one earned run in six innings of work while on the road.

Franchy on fire

Before he was called up to Boston as Danny Santana hit the COVID IL on Sunday, Franchy Cordero was riding quite a hot streak. Over his last five games with the WooSox, Cordero went 11-for-20 with four doubles, a home run, and seven RBI.

The WooSox return home for the second-to-last homestand of the season and the final six-game set as they host the fourth-place Lehigh Valley IronPigs.

Katie Morrison’s weekly Worcester Red Sox notebook runs on MassLive every Tuesday. Follow her on Twitter @KatieMo61.

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