The ride through the minor leagues for former Mountaineer Jedd Gyorko can be summed up pretty easily in one word – efficient.
After getting drafted by the Padres in 2010, the former WVU slugger took the minor leagues by storm. He began his professional career at short-season Eugene, Oregon where in 26 games fresh out of college, he hit .330 with five home runs and 18 RBIs. Those numbers quickly escalated him to low-A Fort Wayne to finish out the season where he hit .284 with two home runs and 23 RBIs in 42 more games.
To start out the 2011 season, Gyorko hit .365 for high-A Lake Elsinore in California for 81 games before eventually being promoted to Class AA San Antonio for the remainder of the 2011 season where he hit .288.
Then in May of this year, Gyorko got the call up to Class AAA where he has been lights out, batting .343 with 13 home runs and 47 RBIs.
“I feel like I’m supposed to be where I am,” he said on Monday’s MetroNews Statewide Sportsline. “I definitely wouldn’t say that I don’t belong, but it’s definitely humbling. Kip Wells has been on the team and I remember watching him pitch for the Pirates when I was back in high school. It’s humbling to get to play with some of those guys and just try to learn as much as you can from them.”
But it took a little while for Gyorko to get going early on this year while still in Class AA. By mid-April, the former Mountaineer was hitting atypically below .220.
“I was struggling after the first month and I talked to the guys a couple times just working on the small things,” he said. “Then, I had a game where I played pretty well and I kind of felt my swing go back to what it normally was and from there it’s been pretty good."
And now he finds himself just one step away from the major leagues. And overall after two years, Gyorko says the whole process has been just what he expected.
“I don’t know if you’re ever really ready to play a full baseball season as a professional because you never really think about playing 162 games in one summer,” he said. “But as far as the game goes, it’s pretty much everything I’ve always wanted to do and thought of doing.”
But how has the mental part of the game changed for him at the professional level? Obviously, the pressure to win isn’t quite as significant at this point as it is for him to individually put up numbers.
“Throughout the minor leagues everyone is obviously trying to play for themselves and trying to put up good stats,” he said. “But you really can’t drive in the runs you want to without the guy in front of you getting on base. So, you’re kind of pulling for each other and in the end we’re all for the Padres. We’re all trying to do well so we can win at the Major League level.
“In the end, it’s all about winning,” he continued. “The game is all about winning and all about competitiveness, going out against the other team and trying to beat them. That’s why we play.”
Bottom line, though, is that the former Mountaineer has proven he can hit and do it consistently. It’s not entirely clear, however, what position he figures in on the field at the next level. The Padres have split his minor league playing time at both second base and third base, positions he said he feels equally as comfortable with.
“I would like to think I’ve shown the people that have seen me play that I can play either second or third,” he said. “But I don’t really worry too much about what those guys say. I just go out and play and know what I’m capable of. I’ve been doing decently well in the field, I’d like to think.”
The hope is that Gyorko will get the call up to the majors before the end of the year. However, just when, exactly, that time comes, is anyone’s guess.
“They don’t really tell us a whole lot of anything,” he said. “We just go out and play and I guess it’s like a big secret to not let anyone know what’s going on. But I’m just going to bide my time and if that opportunity comes, I’ll be ready for it.”