Due to a plethora of depth in the starting rotation, Cyclones' pitcher Dillon Gee
was originally slotted to be one of the team's long relievers. After both J.J. Leaper and Todd Privett
had Tommy John surgery two weeks apart, Gee has made the most of his opportunity and is now a fixture on the staff. Brooklyn needed someone to come out of the woodwork to produce, and with a 1.61 ERA and two wins in four starts so far this season, the University of Texas-Arlington graduate has done just that.
Not originally pleased with the organization's ploy to keep him out of the starting rotation, the 21-year-old feels that while many of the fans at Keyspan are surprised by his success, he knew all along that he could succeed if given the chance.
"I was a little disappointed when I didn't make the starting rotation in the beginning of the season," said Gee. "I feel bad for the guys that got hurt, but I take this as an opportunity for me to go out there and show the organization what I got."
Gee admits it is still quite a transition from playing in front of 100 people in college, but he is loving every second of his time in Keyspan this season.
"I'm just trying to get used to the atmosphere here," said Gee, who has only given up five runs this season. "I'm not used to seeing so many screaming fans when I pitch. I'm just trying to stay within myself and not get overwhelmed. I never thought I'd be playing in front of 8,000 fans every night. I'm living a dream."
He posted a 5.16 ERA and a 15-25 record after three years at UTA, and did not have a drop of the success that Cyclones starters like Dylan Owen
, Eric Niesen
and Nick Waechter
had. Those struggles were probably the biggest reason why he was not slated to join the staff at the beginning of the season, but Gee has put his college troubles behind him. He feels that his numbers there only tell half the story.
"We had some troubles, we only won about 18 games last season," said Gee. "My team made a lot of errors and things just didn't go my way on the mound. It was kind of disappointing because we made the regionals the year before. Not to sell my teammates down the river or anything, but things just went that way this season."
Now getting the chance to play professional baseball in New York, Gee has noticed several differences between college ball and the pros.
"There really isn't any break in the lineups here, so I always have to stay focused. In college, once you get to the bottom of the lineup you can make a few mistakes and get away with it. Here, it doesn't matter where they hit because they were all three hitters in college. You can't lose focus out there. As soon as I step on the mound though, I'm all business. I just focus on the glove and try and get guys out."
A control pitcher by trade, Gee has managed to walk only two hitters in 28 innings of work this season and has given up only 24 hits. Drawing comparisons to Greg Maddox after his last start from manager Edgar Alfonzo, Gee has made it his personal mission to drive opposing hitters batty this season.
"My best pitch is probably my changeup, but everything revolves around my fastball," said Gee. "I use my fastball to set up my changeup and then work off of my slider low and away. Every once in a while I take something off of my changeup too to keep the hitters honest and get them to swing. I change speeds a lot and get a lot of ground balls to get my outs. I just try and make sure I hit all of my spots and keep the hitters off balance."
Getting a ton of ground balls from opposing hitters, Gee doesn't have to worry about his defense making mistakes like he did in college. Not giving up an unearned run all year thus far, the Cyclones defense has done nothing but help the budding young right-hander.
With the adjustment from college ball seemingly made for the young Gee and the Brooklyn defense playing phenomenal defense behind him, the seedling for a Cinderella story may be in place at Keyspan.
"It's awesome to be here; I never have to worry," said Gee. "Everything that's hit at them, they take care of. They make errors every once in a while, but that happens; it's baseball. Then on top of the good defense they play, they put up five or six runs a game. It's just awesome."
Drafted in the 21st round of the 2007 MLB Draft, Gee resides on a rotation chock-full of rookies and veterans who all have a posted stellar numbers. After injuries to the rotation, Gee has stepped up and proved through each appearance that he deserves more time on the hill.