Crossroads? McGowan sees wide-open track

There are people questioning how much longer Nashua’s Kevin McGowan has to reach the majors before he’s considered too old by prospect standards.

The former Nashua High School North and Franklin Pierce University standout turned 25 on Oct. 18, so according to most projections, his reaching Triple-A this summer has him right on track for a pitching prospect drafted as a college junior at 21 years of age.

"I’m not really concerned with that age discussion at the moment," McGowan said. "I’m on the right track as far as I’m concerned, and from what the organization has told me over the last couple of years.

"Every year I’ve had some sort of promotion and I’m happy with my progress."

Drafted in the 13th round of the 2013 MLB Amateur Draft, the New York Mets placed him in the short-season New York-Penn League to begin his career. He had success with the Brooklyn Cyclones, striking out 27 and walking only eight in 30 2/3 innings of work – the majority of that coming out of the bullpen (one start). He finished the 2013 campaign at 0-2 with three saves, a 5.28 ERA and 1.337 WHIP.

In 2014, at 22, he split the summer between Class-A Savannah (Ga.) of the South Atlantic League and Class-A Advanced Port St. Lucie (Fla.) of the Florida State League.

McGowan started all 10 games with Savannah (4-2 record, 2.14 ERA, 1.085 WHIP, 44 Ks, 22 walks, 59 innings) where he earned a spot in the SAL All-Star Game. He started 10 of his 11 appearances with Port St. Lucie (3-5, 5.06 ERA, 1.382 WHIP, 30 Ks, 24 walks, 58 2/3 innings).

In 2015, at 23, McGowan spent most of the summer at Port St. Lucie. He started 24 of his 26 appearances (6-10, 4.50 ERA, 1.424 WHIP, 72 Ks, 49 walks, 132 innings), earning a promotion to Double-A Binghamton (N.Y.) of the Eastern League for his final two appearances (one start) of the summer (0-1, 9.00 ERA, 2.857 WHIP, five Ks, four walks, seven innings).

This summer, at 24, McGowan jumped from Port St. Lucie to Triple-A Las Vegas.

In 15 appearances (two starts) with Port St. Lucie, McGowan posted a 1-0 record with two saves and a 0.82 ERA in 33 innings of work (33 Ks, four walks, 0.727 WHIP). He returned to Binghamton (4-2, 3.26 ERA, 1.309 WHIP, 48 Ks, 17 walks, 49 2/3 innings) for 26 appearances (two starts), including a couple visits to Manchester to face the Fisher Cats.

It was on that last trip home to New Hampshire that McGowan got the news he was promoted to Vegas in the Pacific Coast League. It was a short stay before heading back to Binghamton.

"I wanted to stay in Vegas," said McGowan, who only pitched once in Vegas, striking out two and walking one in 1 2/3 innings of work. "Unfortunately, right after I got there, they needed a couple of spots for rehabbing major leaguers. I was only there a few days, but it was cool. It was a lot of fun.

"I’m hoping that’s where I start next season."

While in the PCL, McGowan was 2.7 years younger than the average pitcher. Just another statistic that he uses to support that he’s currently on pace for his trajectory to the majors.

"While some teams stash their top prospects in Double-A, the Mets like their guys to go through Triple-A," he said. "The PCL is a high level of play. To get there this year – I was one of the youngest there – was special."

It’s going to be a big offseason for McGowan.

With four years of minor league experience, he is now eligible for the 40-man roster. If the Mets don’t protect him he may be scooped up by another team in December’s Rule-5 Draft.

"We’ll see what happens," McGowan said. "I’m not concerned. I think the organization sees what I can do.

"I feel like I’ve shown I can pitch anywhere at any level. I’m ready for whatever comes my way. If that’s a full year at Vegas before getting my shot in the majors that’s fine. I think I’m ready to get up there now. I’m ready for whatever comes my way.