10/07/2016 9:15 AM
Former St. Joseph Mustang pitcher Grant Gavin received the Royals' Rookie League Pitcher of the Year Award at Kauffman Stadium on September 30.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Two years after dominating MINK League competition in St. Joseph, Grant Gavin found himself one hour down the road at Kauffman Stadium receiving his first major accolade as a professional baseball player.
Gavin was named Pitcher of the Year for the Arizona League Royals, the club's rookie affiliate. For the pitcher that grew up in nearby Parkville, it was a dream come true just to be drafted by his hometown team, and even more special to be recognized by the parent club.
"It is a great feeling being able to represent the organization that you grew up watching," Gavin said. "It feels like I've watched thousands of Royals games ever since I started watching baseball. Being able to wear their uniform is truly a blessing."
Gavin was drafted by the Royals last June in the 29th round of the Major League Baseball Draft. He was assigned to the Royals' Rookie League squad and flourished with his first professional team.
The 21-year-old appeared in 13 games, four of those being starts, and posted a 3-1 record. He finished with a solid 2.01 ERA through 49 1/3 innings, and opposing batters hit just .217 against him. Those numbers earned the University of Central Missouri product Postseason All-Star honors.
"I think that overall my first season went well, but the competitor in me knows there is a lot of things I could've done better. Now I'm worried about focusing on what I need to improve throughout the rest of instructional league and this off-season, so I can come back to spring training ready to go, better than I was this year."
Gavin's success won't come as a surprise to followers of the St. Joseph Mustangs. During his 2014 campaign with the MINK League Champs, Gavin's ERA was just 0.84 and he was second in the league with seven saves. In his junior season at UCM, he finished with a 2.64 ERA in 27 appearances, and struck out 35 batters through 30 2/3 innings.
Gavin has high expectations for his baseball career, but isn't going to look too far down the line just yet.
"I try not to think about the future, really," Gavin said. "I was just in rookie ball this year, so I realize that I have quite a ways to go by reaching the major leagues. I think about things one day at a time, and try and focus on how I can improve myself today and hope that improving everyday will allow me to reach my potential as a player someday."