Angels Invite McGowin to Spring Training Camp

Kyle McGowin pitched this past summer for the AA Arkansas Travelers
Kyle McGowin’s aim is to win for the Los Angeles Angels organization. Christine Sampson

Two South Fork pitchers, Kyle McGowin of Sag Harbor and Chris Pike of Southampton, are about to embark on another year in their minor league baseball careers.

McGowin, who pitched this past summer for the AA Arkansas Travelers, and who has been in the minors for a year longer than Pike, left Saturday for Tempe, Ariz., at the invitation of the Los Angeles Angels, who, according to McGowin’s father, Shaun, were quite impressed by his showing in the second half of the Texas League season.

“He had elbow trouble in the first half and his E.R.A. was up there, in the high 5s,” the elder McGowin said during a conversation Friday. “But then the elbow pain disappeared, and he did phenomenal after that. He told me he never felt stronger. He ended up with the Texas League’s strikeout title — 125 in 154 innings — his second-half E.R.A. was 3.12. His record was 9-9, but he only lost two of his last 10.”

“He’s on their radar because of his unbelievable second half,” McGowin’s father continued. “He’s ninth on the depth chart at the moment — he’ll probably get a spot start here and there with the major league club this season,” as had been the case last year, he said, with Nick Tropeano of West Islip, who has since been traded to the Angels from the Astros.

His son, he said, has been working out three times a week at Paul Gibson’s All-Pro complex in Bellport since September. 

“Last year was a building block,” said Shaun McGowin. “This is his time-to-shine year. After this season if the team doesn’t put him on the 40-man roster, he’ll be Rule 5 eligible, which means he can go to any team that wants him. And I can guarantee you that every team wants him.”

Pike, who pitched well throughout the season past for the Bowling Green (Ky.) Hot Rods, a Tampa Bay Rays’ single-A team (over the course of his last 10 starts his E.R.A. was 2.63), said Monday that he’ll go to the Rays’ minor league camp at the beginning of March.

Pike came in to get the last out for the winning side in the Midwest League’s all-star game. His record was 10-7 with a 3.13 E.R.A. and a W.H.I.P. (walks, hits per innings pitched) of 1.20.

“This was my first full season in the minors,” he said in answer to a question, “and it will be my second spring training. Kyle’s a year ahead of me.”

“Yes, I’m on track,” he said. “My goal has been to do my best at each level.”

As for things to work on, Pike, who’s 23, and who is the grandson of the late East Hampton School District administrator and coach Carl Johanson, said, “My goals have been to get stronger and in better shape and to improve my technique by locating my changeup and curve better. Also, when I’m ahead in the count I’ve got to put batters away quicker, which will get my pitch count down.”

Asked where he thought he’d pitch this season, he said, “Probably in the Florida State League with the high-A team in Port Charlotte, where the Rays have their spring training complex.”