Lucas Gilbreath will chalk year No. 1 at the University of Minnesota up to a learning experience.
The Legacy High graduate was one of the most feared pitchers in the state of Colorado, especially his senior season of 2014, and his devastating repertoire of pitches from the left side made him especially dangerous.
Doing it at the high school level is one thing. Doing it against some of the nation’s best at the collegiate level is an entirely different animal.
Gilbreath had to adjust to a new role for the Golden Gophers this past season, coming out of the bullpen and making the most out of what precious innings he got during his freshman campaign.
“It’s just something I wasn’t really used to and getting hit a little bit,” said Gilbreath, who finished 1-3 with a 5.46 earned-run average in 18 relief appearances this spring.”A lot of these hitters are better than what you face in high school and you really have to be careful with your pitches.”
Starting pitchers are creatures of habit and they get in a routine with their throwing schedule during the week, especially when they know their next scheduled start.
Gilbreath had to wait six games before he was able to make his first appearance and he did so against the top-10 University of Texas Longhorns in Austin, which along with Nebraska he called, “some of the greatest atmospheres in the country.”
“At first there was a lot of pressure for me and I maybe panicked a little and was a little amped up,” said Gilbreath, who called that first appearance the highlight of his season. “The big learning curve was actually learning to come in and do my job for one inning.”
Gilbreath, who was selected by the Colorado Rockies in the 36th round of the 2014 Major League Baseball draft, has the opportunity to work on things all summer and stay close to campus, playing in the Northwoods League for the St. Cloud Rox.
Playing on the same team with Fairview’s Ryan Kokora, Gilbreath entered the week having appeared in five games, starting twice, and he has a 1-0 record with a 6.75 ERA.
“We play 72 games and the big thing I am working on is back into the starting role and building up my stamina,” he said. “I’m also going to work on my change-up a little more too.”
Jon Yunt: firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/JonEYunt