Anthony Gose of Bellflower is a left-handed pitcher who can throw a fastball 95 mph. There are major league teams that have paid million-dollar signing bonuses to teenagers with similar skills.
Before the season started, he was listed by Baseball America as the 24th-best draft prospect in the nation.
And yet, Gose has made it perfectly clear what he thinks about pitching.
"If I didn't have to do it again, I wouldn't even miss it," he said.
Gose, 6 feet and 190 pounds, is convinced he can make the jump to the major leagues as an outfielder, and that's what he keeps telling scouts interested in selecting him in June's amateur draft.
He's one of more than half a dozen Southland prospects vying to become high draft picks, pending final evaluations by scouts and player personnel over the next six weeks.
While Gose has exceptional speed and a strong arm -- "Any ball hit into the outfield you believe he's going to catch it," Bellflower Coach Keith Tripp said. "He's got an absolute cannon for an arm." -- he has never finished a high school season hitting .400 or better.
Proving he can hit at a high level is the one obstacle Gose is determined to overcome.
He has become nearly a daily regular at the Urban Youth Academy in Compton, where he works on hitting fundamentals -- pitch selection, when to be aggressive in the count, transferring his body weight and hitting through the ball.
Gose's improvement is evident this season; he is hitting .439 with 26 walks and 24 stolen bases.
"I've made a lot of progress over the last three, four years with my hitting," he said. "I've worked so hard I don't want to throw it away just for the draft. I want to keep it going. I'm going to stick with it.
"My favorite player is Juan Pierre, and I feel I can do everything he can do, if not better."
But Gose, who has signed with Arizona, can be dominant on the mound. Some say he's crazy for not giving pitching a try at the next level.
"Pitchers pitch once every four games," he said. "I want to be an everyday player. I'm just being up front with all the teams. I want to play in the outfield.
"And if I fail, I can always go back to pitching."
Gose has agreed to keep pitching in high school for the good of his team. He was put on the mound as a sophomore when Bellflower was in need of pitching for a tournament game. He proceeded to strike out 14.
"He didn't want to pitch," Tripp said.
Now, Gose has made it clear that he doesn't want to be only a pitcher.
"I know I can make it as an outfielder," he said. "Things will turn around this year. I've learned a lot. My approach has changed."
Gose hasn't pitched since March 10 because of tendinitis in his shoulder, limiting him to designated-hitter duties. Tripp is hoping Gose becomes available for the playoffs next month.
Darrell Miller, director of the Urban Youth Academy, raves about Gose's dedication and work ethic.
"I haven't seen a harder worker," he said. "The one thing about him is that he really wants to get better. He has this desire. He's just a great kid. From every angle, he's one of the most amazing young men I've ever met."
So fans should enjoy the few remaining moments when Gose is on the mound because if he has his way, it will be his final season pitching, no matter how hard he throws.
"I'm determined," he said of being an outfielder. "I'm not going to let myself fail. I know I can do it."
It's going to be an important month and a half for the players hoping to make a positive final impression on scouts as the June 5-6 draft approaches. The Tampa Bay Rays have the first selection.
Last year, three local players were chosen in the first 12 picks, with Chatsworth's Mike Moustakas and Matt Dominguez going second to the Kansas City Royals and 12th to the Florida Marlins, respectively, and Cypress' Josh Vitters going to the Chicago Cubs with the third pick.
Moustakas signed for $4 million, Vitters received $3.2 million and Dominguez $1.8 million.
Here's a look at some other Southland players in the running for possible big paydays:
* Gerrit Cole, Orange Lutheran. With a fastball that touches 97 mph, Cole is considered the region's most dominant pitcher. He has 61 strikeouts in 37 innings. He signed with UCLA but has agent Scott Boras as an advisor, and it was Boras who negotiated a $7.29-million, four-year deal last year for first-round pick Rick Porcello, a pitcher from Seton Hall Prep (N.J.).
* Isaac Galloway, Rancho Cucamonga Los Osos. He's a center fielder with speed and instincts. He's 6-3, 190 pounds and performs well in big games. Galloway signed with San Diego State, but his pro potential makes it unlikely he will play college ball.
* Aaron Hicks, Long Beach Wilson. At 6-2 and 165 pounds, Hicks, who has signed with USC, is a speedy outfielder with arm strength that allows him to throw a fastball in the mid-90s. He has 25 steals in 28 attempts this season. Whether it's fielding or running the bases, he makes things happen, and he knows how to get on base.
* Kyle Skipworth, Riverside Patriot. He broke a 27-year-old state record by getting 18 consecutive hits this season. Skipworth is enjoying a phenomenal senior season in which he's batting .621 with 36 hits, 31 runs batted in and eight home runs. He's 6-4 and has signed with Arizona State. Skipworth might be the nation's best prospect at catcher, one of the toughest positions to play.
* Cutter Dykstra, Westlake Village Westlake. A UCLA signee, his speed and baseball instincts have scouts intrigued. While Dykstra has struggled at times playing shortstop, forcing his coach to move him to the outfield, his hitting has been consistent, and his bloodlines, being the son of former major leaguer Lenny Dykstra, leave no doubt of his potential.
In a mock draft in February by MyMLBdraft.com, Cole went No. 7 to the Cincinnati Reds, Skipworth No. 9 to the Washington Nationals, Hicks No. 13 to the St. Louis Cardinals and Galloway No. 17 to the Toronto Blue Jays.
There's still time to watch all of them play, free of charge, at a local ballpark.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times