John M. Gant
RHP, Savannah Sand Gnats (A)
Age (2014 season age): 21
Acquired: 21st round, 2011
Date(s) seen: 4/26/14 @ Lakewood Blue Claws: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 10 K
2014 so far: 7 G, 40 IP, 40 H, 13 R, 13 ER, 16 BB, 38 K
The short of it: Gant has some funk, and shows two potentially solid offspeed offerings, but a fringy fastball leaves little margin for error.
The long of it: Gant has added size and velocity since last year's stint in Brooklyn, and is probably about 25 pounds above his listed weight. Really low-effort delivery with a short arm path and a LOT of funk. Very fidgety out of the wind-up with multiple toe taps on the rubber as he goes into his delivery. He hides the ball incredibly well. Below-average fastball velocity gets on batters fast and ball appears to come from a weird angle even though it is basically a standard 3/4 release point. Gant was 87-90, T91 with the fastball early, 87-88, T 89 out of the stretch, and 86-88, T 89 late in the game. Even out of the stretch Gant maintains a lot of his quirkiness/deception. Fastball is always around the plate, command projects as average, maybe a tick above, but currently has trouble spotting the fastball down in the zone or getting much downward plane. Part of this is likely due to a very stiff landing leg, Gant looks like he has some knee bend from behind the plate, but he snaps his leg straight at release, creating a shallower release point. He's using his height better this year, with a longer stride in general, but I wonder if he can't maybe wring a bit more velocity out of the delivery.
Gant's primary secondary offering is a high 70s change that acts like a split at times. He has advanced feel for the pitch and maintains his arm speed well on it. It's simply too good for hitters in A-ball, and Gant is confident enough to use it early and behind in counts to both right and left-handed hitters. Can spot it for a strike. He uncorked a nasty one on a 3-2 pitch late in the game, which is unfair at this level. Slow curve at around 70, had issues getting it out of his hand at times, but feel improved as the start wore on. Will still cast the pitch out of his hand at times, but pitch showed good break/depth overall. Potentially average offering with refinement.
The optimistic projection: Backend strike-thrower in the Dillon Gee mold.
The pessimistic projection: There's a lot of guys in the Mets system that sit 88-90 and only one Dillon Gee. Gant's polish and secondaries will get him to Binghamton, after that it's about how well he can command the fastball and how much the curve improves.
What to look for during the rest of the 2014 season: Gant could move quickly, and I don't expect him to be in Savannah much past the end of the first half. Watch to see if the K and BB rates change at St. Lucie, the South Atlantic League is not going to offer him much resistance.