This week should have been full of baseball and its first full week of games. However, due to COVID-19, the MLB has now suspended all baseball operations as of March 12, 2020. In the meantime, I had the chance to interview two Kansas City Royals Prospects. They are RHP Tyler Zuber and RHP Grant Gavin. Both players answered a few questions and talked about what their concerns are going forward, what they are doing to stay in shape, and much more.
First off, lets get some background on both Pitchers.
Tyler Zuber was drafted in the 6th round of the 2017 MLB draft out of Arkansas State where in his senior year went 6-1 with a 2.06 ERA. Last season, Zuber pitched in High A Wilmington and AA Northwest-Arkansas. In 2019, he posted a 2.77 ERA in 43 appearances.
Grant Gavin was picked by the Royals in the 26th round in the 2016 MLB Draft out of the University of Central Missouri. In his last year in college, Gavin had a 2.64 ERA with 13 saves in 27 appearances. Gavin last year pitched for AA Northwest-Arkansas where he appeared in 41 games, with a 6-4 record. He also had a solid 3.61 ERA along with 73 strikeouts.
Question 1: What was your first reaction to hearing MLB/MILB have been suspended due to the break out of COVID-19?
Zuber: “My first reaction was anger and frustration, but that switched to concern and more worried about the safety of others”
Gavin: “We saw the shut down coming because we saw other things around the country getting shut down. It was a tough feeling still because I was so focused on getting ready for the season and one day everything is just paused and there is a lot of uncertainty about what’s happening with your job.”
Question 2: What are you doing now since baseball is suspended?
Zuber: “Back home in Arkansas, trying to do as much lifting as I can and throwing outside as much as possible. I try to piddle around and find stuff to keep me busy. A lot of video games and Netflix are getting me by.”
Gavin: “I came back home to spend more time with my family, honestly it’s not much different than my normal off-season because my days are centered around training, the only difference is it’s harder for me to find part time work at nights with businesses being shut down.”
Question 3: Are you still working out/ doing drills? How so if you can’t go anywhere due to your location?
Zuber: “I do what I like to call Prison workouts at home. I just utilize all my resources and make it work.”
Gavin: “I had to shake up my training a little bit recently and I’m having to lift weights in my basement other than at my normal gym. For my throwing I’ll either throw in my yard with my dad or usually I’ll go meet up with other minor leaguers in the area and throw outside.”
Question 4: Would you be willing to play games without fans? How many double headers a week would you be willing to play?
Zuber: “I’d be willing to play. I don’t care. I just want to play. This makes me realize how much love I have for the game. 2 Doubleheaders a week I guess.”
Gavin: “I would be more than willing to play games without fans. Obviously that is not ideal but I want to get out and start play ASAP. I’d agree to a lot of things to make that happen. In terms of doubleheaders, that’s a tougher question because the more games you play the more pitching that would be required. I’m not opposed to it because it would most likely create more opportunity for relief pitchers and I am always a fan of that.”
Question 5: How do you think double headers would throw off a lineup/bullpen? Would they have to add roster spots?
Zuber: “I think you have to add and expand rosters in order to accommodate the extra games weekly and the stress it’s going to put on the teams.”
Gavin: “To make double headers work you would almost certainly need extra starters so guys can maintain their 5 day rotation. Probably utilize the piggyback system and have long relief type pitchers throw every 3 to 4 days in those double header games. Also the more double headers you play, the more need you’ll have for extra position players. You’d be asking a lot to have guys potentially play more than seven games in a week. So if double headers are going to happen consistently, the rosters will almost certainly need to expand.”
Question 6: What are you biggest concerns around the suspension of baseball?
Zuber: “Concerns would be getting paid and the big question of is this virus going to slow down? We have to get it under control for our health’s sake and the worlds sake.”
Gavin: “My biggest concern about the suspension is just when it will resume. Obviously no one knows for certain when we can play again and that makes it tough mentally, but you just gotta prepare like normal and have faith we will be able to play again soon.”
Zuber and Gavin have had to adjust their everyday life due to this virus. Both guys are doing the best they can to stay in shape while also staying at home and being with family. Also, both pitchers have a concern of when this suspension will end. This has been Royals Prospects Q&A with Tyler Zuber and Grant Gavin.
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