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MWL notes: Gettys thinks like a pitcher

Multi-tooled center fielder brings remarkable work ethic to Fort Wayne
April 23, 2015

Gainesville High School baseball coach Jeremy Kemp got to know very quickly that Saturdays weren't for sleeping in once Michael Gettys hit his program.

"Saturday mornings, one of the coaches would have to be at the high school by 8 a.m., because Michael wanted to get in there and work out," Kemp said. "If he threw on a Friday, he would want to work out his legs real hard on Saturday.

"Michael has an amazing work ethic. Since he was in eighth grade, he would be staying after school, doing sprints to get faster, hitting in the cages ... before and after practice. If it's possible, he probably took too many swings. He was incredible in the weight room. He never missed a workout."

Gettys' blue collar is helping the 6-foot-1, 203-pound right-handed-hitting center fielder strive for the gold standard in professional baseball. A second-round selection by the Padres in the 2014 Draft, Gettys has made an impact early for the Fort Wayne TinCaps, hitting .279 (12-of-43) over his first 10 games.

Signed for $1.3 million, Gettys was projected by some experts as a first-round pick as either a position player or a pitcher. He hit .368 with 11 homers, eight doubles and 47 RBIs for Gainesville High in Georgia last season and was 7-4 with a 1.74 ERA with 105 strikeouts and only 20 walks. Gettys lit up radar guns in the mid-90s.

There was never a doubt for Gettys that he would be drafted as a position player.

"I knew all along I wanted to be a position player," said Gettys, a high school All-American. "That's what I thought I could be the best at, and I think that's what pro teams thought, too. My junior year in high school, toward the end, I knew I was going to be a position player. That's what I focused on."

Kemp said Gettys, the Padres' No. 6 prospect, was the best pitcher he's ever been around until Gettys' younger brother, Jonathan, showed up -- he's already targeted as a prime prospect as a high school junior.

Still, Gettys could have been a first-rounder as a pitcher, according to Kemp, if he hadn't also played center field.

"There's no way with a kid that athletic and gifted that you'd want him to play once every fifth day, or just throw a couple of innings a game," Kemp said. "When a kid is that athletic like Michael, you have to get him out there every day. I understand why he went as a position player."

Gettys said that understanding a pitcher's mind-set has helped him at the plate.

"I've thought about a pitcher's approach to how they might pitch to a hitter," Gettys said. "It's helped. I've thought about how I might pitch to somebody."

As Gettys works his way to his Major League dream, he's focused on developing each part of his game.

"I have goals, but I try to make every part of my game better, whether it's hitting, hitting for power, base running, defensively," Gettys said. "I try to be the best at every aspect. I work at everything."

"He has exceptional desire," Kemp said. "He knew what it took and he worked his tail off to get there. I can't say enough about his work ethic. He changed the mentality of our program. As a coach, you can preach it and preach it and preach it, but it's not the same as one of the players leading by example and working so hard and showing the other players what it takes to get what he has."

In brief

Long-relief specialist: Hunter Wood, a 6-foot-1, 175-pound right-handed pitcher for Bowling Green, has shown impressive command of long-relief situations. Wood took over the completion of a suspended game against Lake County on Sunday in which Bowling Green trailed, 4-3. Wood retired the first 12 batters he faced and ended up working five no-hit innings, striking out four and walking one. In the season opener against South Bend, Wood worked four innings of no-hit ball, striking out seven and walking three. He gave up one run on one hit in his only other appearance April 15 against Dayton. The Arkansas native has a 0.82 ERA so far this season in three appearances.

Swings and misses: Pitchers overpowered the hitters in Quad Cities' match-up with Peoria on Tuesday, combining for 25 strikeouts. Chiefs starter Luis Perdomo led the dominance with 10 Ks in 5 1/3 innings. Eight players -- four on each team -- fanned twice as the River Bandits won the contest, 4-3.

Grand theft: Peoria's Blake Drake stole home Sunday, his only theft of the year, marking the first time a Chiefs player pulled off that feat since 2010. Peoria is off to a running start on the bases -- the Chiefs only had 91 stolen bases last year, but through 13 games this season, they've swiped 17 bags.

Power surge: West Michigan only allowed three homers in the first 11 games of the season, but the Fort Wayne TinCaps matched that total in one game. Designated hitter Edwin Moreno, left fielder Nick Torres and first baseman Trae Santos slugged homers in Monday's 12-2 rout of West Michigan. The TinCaps have only one other long ball in 10 games this season.

Curt Rallo is a contributor to