Boise Hawks’ Gold molding himself into a pitcher on the fly

Pitcher Brandon Gold laughs during media day for the Boise Hawks on Wednesday at Memorial Stadium.
Pitcher Brandon Gold laughs during media day for the Boise Hawks on Wednesday at Memorial Stadium.

When Georgia Tech coaches asked Brandon Gold to pitch last season, the right-hander thought they were joking.

He came into the program as a corner infielder, starting 50 games as a freshman. He’d only thrown a couple times in intrasquad scrimmages to sketchy results.

“The position players weren’t too mad when I came in the first couple games because they just got hits off me left and right,” Gold joked.

But a rash of injuries his sophomore season created an emergency for the Yellow Jackets, forcing him to make two relief appearances. Georgia Tech liked what it saw and turned him into a starter.

Gold hasn’t slowed down since.

He posted a 9-3 record with a 2.48 ERA this spring as the Yellow Jackets’ No. 1 starter, leading Georgia Tech to the NCAA regionals. His limited time on the mound impressed the Colorado Rockies enough to take him in the 12th round of the MLB Draft earlier this month and send him to Boise to start his professional career.

Sixteen months after becoming a pitcher, Gold can only laugh as he embarks upon a professional career at a new position.

“When I was in high school, I probably pitched 20 innings in four years,” he said. “Not a lot of experience. I don’t even know if I pitched in Little League, to be honest. I was always a shortstop or something like that.”

That lack of experience isn’t necessarily a red flag for the Rockies. The 21-year-old enters the pros with barely any miles on his arm. And Colorado won’t have to chip away at years of bad habits ingrained into his routine.

Gold features a fastball, changeup, curveball and a slider. But he said his largest strength as a pitcher comes from his command. He walked 31 in 105 1/3 innings at Georgia Tech this spring while striking out 81.

Gold attributes that to a game he played as a child with his father, fielding ground ball after ground ball and trying to hit his father’s chest each time at first base.

“I don’t really think too mechanically, because I don’t really know anything mechanically,” he said. “When I used to hit, I’d think mechanically and screw myself up. I really don’t have that yet on the mound.”

Gold said Georgia Tech didn’t offer too many critiques on how he pitched. But with professional coaches in Boise and adversity sure to pop up, he said he’s itching for a few insider tips on his craft.

“I’m looking forward to learning more strategy and learning more about my mechanics and how to pitch a little bit more,” he said.

Michael Lycklama: 208-377-6424, @MichaelLycklama

Related stories from Idaho Statesman