To say Darin Gorski's 2011 was a career year may be underselling it a bit.
The 2009 seventh-rounder of the Mets not only established a personal best by winning 11 games for St. Lucie, he surpassed his career win total. Gorski threw the first complete game of his career, and added two more, and he was a Florida State League All-Star.
Add all that up and it's easy to see why he's the recipient of the 2011 MiLBY as the top Class A Advanced Starting Pitcher.
Gorski began the year in the Mets bullpen, with his first five appearances coming in relief. The 24-year-old left-hander didn't make his first start until April 27, when he fanned a then career-high 10 batters over four innings against Bradenton.
"We had a lot of guys that were maybe a little ahead of him and those guys were in the rotation," St. Lucie pitching coach Phil Regan said. "Then it evolved that we decided we had a game where we needed an extra starter. He took the ball and he was outstanding. "
Following that start, Gorski made just more appearance out of the bullpen. He finished the year 11-3 as a starter, with a 1.98 ERA as a member of the rotation. Regan attributed that to Gorski's ability to move the ball around.
"I think one thing is he started out as a reliever and he did well in relief. In working in relief, we had some chances to work on things with him," the former Major Leaguer said. "One thing was he got his hands down a little and smoothed his delivery, which let him work in on right-handed hitters. His control improved and he was able to get inside on hitters.
"The key for him is he's a hard worker and he asks questions. His change-up is an outstanding pitch and he can get that over in any count. He's got a good slider, a Major League slider."
The Kutztown University product finished the season with a 2.08 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP, leading the Florida State League in those categories. Gorski was second with three complete games and tied for fourth with 11 wins. He had entered the 2011 season with a career 4.70 ERA.
"This should give him a great boost, being Player of the Year down here and knowing he can get people out," said Regan, a former All-Star. "I think that's the biggest thing, that it gave him the confidence that he can pitch with anyone."
St. Lucie entered the 2011 season with top prospects Matt Harvey and Jeurys Familia in their rotation. Regan doesn't think that it made much difference to Gorski who was in the rotation, because Gorski was ready to do what needed to be done.
"I believe if you're prepared there is no pressure, and he worked hard," Regan said. "When he had the opportunity to pitch and start, he was prepared to do that."
Regan couldn't be happier with the progress Gorski made, and he thinks the hurler's makeup will allow him to go far.
"I just want to say what a great kid he is," Regan said. "He really was great to work with. We worked on things, we watched film, he's always out early, he's really a kid that is dedicated and wants to pitch in the big leagues. It shows in the way he goes about his work habits. I think he's going to be a very good pitcher."
Robert Emrich is a contributor to MLB.com.