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May 23, 2016 3:22 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Sag Harbor Native Kyle McGowin Now Just One Step Away From Big Leagues

Kyle McGowin was promoted to Triple-A Salt Lake earlier this month and recently won his first game that level. Courtesy of Salt Lake Bees
May 23, 2016 3:22 PM

Three weeks ago, Kyle McGowin was preparing for his next start for the Arkansas Travelers, the Double-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, when his pitching coach, Scott Budner, came up to him with an angry, irritated look on his face.

The reason? Budner was losing one of his prized pitching arms. McGowin, a Sag Harbor native and 2010 Pierson grad, was being promoted to Triple-A Salt Lake.

“[Budner] had told me it took me long enough,” McGowin said. “It was pretty cool and I was glad that it finally happened.”

With the promotion, McGowin is just one step away from making his major-league debut with the Angels, who drafted him in the 2013 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. He started with High-A Inland Empire and was quickly summoned by Double-A Arkansas at the end of May 2014.

There are certainly many reasons why McGowin has surged through the Angels system. First and foremost, McGowin has shown he can hang with big-league ballplayers. He led the Texas League—where the Arkansas Travelers play—in strikeouts last season, and he was with the Angels this past spring training in Arizona. Also, a few arm injuries to the Angels top starting pitchers in Garrett Richards and Andrew Heaney may have led to McGowin being called up.

McGowin made his first Triple-A start in Tacoma, Washington, against the Seattle Mariners minor-league affiliate. He said he was nervous but not nearly as nervous as he was in his first start for Arkansas. He allowed three earned runs on nine hits in five and two-third innings, striking out four while walking one.

In his next start on May 11, his first in front of the home crowd in Salt Lake, McGowin earned his first Triple-A victory, allowing just one earned run on four hits in six innings of work, good enough to beat the Colorado Rockies Triple-A team, the Albuquerque Isotopes. More than 12,000 fifth- and sixth-graders from 17 different school districts in Utah were in attendance for the 14th Annual Salt Lake Bees Prevention Dimensions Kids Day. The game started at 10:30 a.m. It wasn’t McGowin’s typical morning, he said, but he got through it just fine.

“Warming up, it was not one of my best bullpens, but I was able to work around a few things and battled and it worked out,” he said.

McGowin pitched well in his next start on May 19 against the Oklahoma City Dodgers, allowing two earned runs in five and two thirds while striking out seven, but he didn’t factor into the decision.

The biggest difference between Triple-A and Double-A, McGowin said, is the traveling. In Double-A, most teams travel by bus. In Triple-A, teams travel by plane. It’s not the high-end private charter planes that the big-league clubs use, but it’s certainly an upgrade, McGowin said.

“We’re on flights with everyone else, so we still have to get up at 4 or 5 in the morning to make a 6 or 7 a.m. flight,” he said. “They can be tiring still, but it’s also pretty awesome. I almost feel like I’m in the big leagues already. The first year [in the minors] was pretty tough, with all of the buses, but now it’s my life so I’m used to it.”

Being at Triple-A has other perks as well, like being able to pick the brains of veteran ball players. Kyle Kendrick has more than 10 years of professional major-league experience and also has a World Series Championship under his belt, having won with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2008. McGowin talks to Kendrick a lot about pitching. And the Angels just signed McGowin’s idol, Tim Lincecum, on May 22, as well. Lincecum will be with Salt Lake for a few weeks while he works his way into playing shape for the Angels. McGowin can’t wait to talk to the former National League Cy Young Award winner.

As far as when McGowin will be able to start to make a name for himself in the big leagues, it’s just a waiting game at this point.

“I just have to keep doing what I’ve been doing and keep working to put myself in position to get called up,” he said. “I’ll try and be a September call-up, if nothing else.”

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I'm so proud of you Kyle ! I new you when you were a little guy and I would cut your hair..who knew you would be in the big leagues
By asjny (1), southampton on May 24, 16 7:29 PM
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