TAMPA — The education of Jesuit senior pitcher Daniel Gibson continues every time he is on the mound, but also every week with an introspective discussion with his pitching coach.
A pair of talented left-handers, separated by 13 years, sit across from each other and talk power pitching.
Pitching coach Geoff Goetz, ace of the 1997 Jesuit national championship team and No. 6 overall draft pick the same year, asks the questions. And the discussion isn’t about blowing away the dozen or so pro scouts, who come to every one of Gibson’s outings, with his 93 mph fastball.
“We talk a lot, and I think the biggest things I can pass on are the mistakes I made in pro ball that I just didn’t know,” said Goetz, who pitched in the minors for eight seasons until arm problems forced him from the game. “I got hurt, but there are so many reasons I got hurt. I was outside my comfort zone and I didn’t stay within myself, which is something I had done since Little League because I was always pitching to impress instead of concentrating on what could make me the best I could possibly be.
“Gibby is already starting to get that now. He knows the importance of not doing that.”
If Jesuit (27-3) advances to its first state tournament since 2006, Gibson will be the biggest reason.
The 6-foot-4, 210-pound lefty will be the starter at Cape Coral Mariner on Friday, just as he has been the previous two region tournament games.
“He put the team on his shoulders his junior year as a No. 1, and he’s taken the team on his shoulders this year,” Goetz said. “His numbers this year and the way he goes about his business speak for itself.
He’s gotten better each time out. He’s gotten better each year and he’s never comfortable with thinking, ‘Well I’m good enough now.’ ”
One of 15 seniors on this year’s team — 14 of whom played together since legion ball before their freshman year — Gibson (12-0, 1.59 ERA) has signed with Florida. But before he heads to Gainesville, he could get drafted in June’s MLB draft. He is projected to go anywhere from the second to seventh round.
“It’s a great opportunity,” Gibson said. “But I’m excited about the opportunity I have with these guys. It’s been a great four years. We’ve had some ups and downs, mostly ups, but this year we have a really tight group of guys and it’s a great opportunity as a team to try to finish that last goal of winning that state championship.”
Since his freshman year, Gibson has grown into a power pitcher, but under Goetz’s tutelage, he has become a better thinker.
The scary part is his strikeout numbers — 110 in 74 2/3 innings — could be better, but Goetz has preached the value of getting outs more than strikeouts. Under that philosophy, Gibson has thrown his fastballs to be put in play early in the game, which lowers his pitch count.
It’s an approach Goetz said will get him further at the next level, but for now, it allows Jesuit’s ace to be on the mound for the biggest games of the season.
“It’s would be something I’ve tried to do all four years (get to state),” Gibson said. “At the beginning of the year, we set that as our main goal of the season. We’ve worked hard as team to get there and it would be a great accomplishment.”
Going with Gibby
Jesuit senior pitcher Daniel Gibson will start his third straight region tournament game Friday. Here’s how he has fared with the season on the line.
Region quarterfinal at Osceola W, 4-3
52/3 IP, 3 R, 1 ER, 7 H, 0 BB, 7 K, 74 pitches
Region semifinal at Lakewood Ranch W, 7-1
6 IP, 1 R, 0 ER, 3 H, 3 BB, 6 K, 90 pitches
Games at 7 Friday unless noted.
Class 6A: Alonso at West Orange, 7:30
Class 5A: Seminole at King
Lake Wales at Armwood
Class 4A: Jesuit at Cape Coral Mariner
Dunnellon at Hernando
Class 3A: Bishop Verot at Tampa Catholic, 4
Class 2A: Shorecrest at Bishop McLaughlin
Class A: Cambridge at Lake Worth Trinity Christian (Santaluces Baseball Complex)