After pitching 8 shutout innings in the NCAA Regionals, one would think your draft stock couldn't be any higher. Especially for Kyle Gibson, the #4 prospect on Baseball America's Top 200 Draft Prospects list. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Gibson has a stress fracture in his right forearm and will be shut down for six weeks.
Before the injury, Gibson was being considered as thesecond best pitching prospesct behind Stephen Strasburg. Early projections had him going 4th overall to the Pittsburgh Pirates. The latest projections have him sliding to the Colorado Rockies,32nd overall.How big of a slide is that? Well if you look at last years slot projections, the slot money for the 4th pick was 2.75 million. The slot money for the 32nd pickwas 1.06 million.
The good news? He is not facing reconstructive elbow surgery. After the regional start in which his fastball was only 83-86 mph, Gibson was quoted as having "forearm tightness", which often is a precursor ligament damage and Tommy John Surgery. With the signing deadline on Aug. 15th,Gibson will still be able to throw for the team that drafts him.
The connection to the IMG Academy baseball program? Gibson spent 3 summers at the IMG Academy baseball program before moving on to the University of Missouri. Gibson spoke of his experience at IMG recently in an article from the Columbia Missourian.A sample from the linked article below:
After playing summers with the Bandits, Gibson spent three summers while he was in high school at IMG Academy, a sports performance facility in Bradenton, Fla., that trains athletes to perform at an elite level.
â(My parents) were able to afford to let me to go to Florida and let me play summer baseball which helped me out just as much as anything,â Gibson said.
Other notable alumni of the IMG institute include the Texas Rangers Josh Hamilton and Adam Dunn of the Washington Nationals.
It was at IMG during the summer before his senior year of high school that Harold Gibson said everything clicked thanks to an opportunity that opened up for his son. That summer's college camp didn't have enough pitchers to field all of its teams. So skinny, tall Kyle Gibson was given the chance to to take the mound against hitters a lot older and more physically mature than he was.
âIt was a two-month summer league that we played 40 games," Kyle Gibson said. âI was a 17-year-old kid throwing against college kids. It gave me a taste of what college ball was going to be like. Learning how to throw against (college players) and get those guys out definitely helped me out.â
The main thing Kyle Gibson struggled with while he was in high school was being consistent on the mound. He had difficulty repeating the same pitching motion from batter to batter, until he got some help from IMG coach Drew Thomas, whom Gibson developed a close relationship with.
âHe knows what he's doing,â Gibson said. âHe knows what it means to be a winner.â
Thomas had Gibson field a ground ball from shortstop and throw it to first base.
âWhen I did, he said that's how you have to throw from the mound, that's the best way your arm works,â Gibson said. âTake the feeling you have from your arm from shortstop and take it to the mound.â