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July 20. 2011 9:46PM

Kevin Gray's On Baseball: Fast track for Fishers' Gose

The Fisher Cats' Anthony Gose breaks for second trying to steal during Wednesday night's game against the Reading Phillies in Manchester. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

MANCHESTER - The best catchers in the Eastern League receive a pitch and throw to second base within 1.9 seconds - and often have no chance against Anthony Gose.

The Fisher Cats leadoff man needs one more stolen base to match the franchise record (46) set by Darin Mastroianni - and it's only July 21.

Gose, on a fast track to play center field for the Blue Jays, is putting together his most productive offensive season with 53 runs, nine homers and 39 RBIs. Add a rocket arm to the equation, and it's no surprise Gose is considered among the top prospects in the minors.

At age 20.

Scouts from around the majors usually inquire about Gose when making a trip to the press box. They ask about his intensity and maturity. They want to know what happened between Bowie catcher Caleb Joseph and Gose, who was suspended three games for shoving the catcher in the face at home plate.

No big deal, really, though Gose admits he lost his cool after the catcher wouldn't stop jawing during an at-bat. Overall, the California native has shown maturity that belies his age. The kid is already married. Doesn't party. He gets up early and works baseball camps for the Fisher Cats. His ideal non-baseball activity is casting a line in the water.

Baseball-wise, Gose is a disruptive force in the lineup, helping lead the Fisher Cats to first place and a shot at the Eastern League playoffs this season.

"He's made tremendous improvements and has a better understanding for when it's time to steal and when it's not," Fisher Cats manager Sal Fasano said. "His stolen base ratio (79 percent) has improved since last season, and, defensively, the choices he makes are pretty good and there are no lapses in judgement."

Managers tend to cringe when asked to compare young players with major leaguers, but Fasano dared to mention Gose in the same sentence with Johnny Damon, Jacoby Ellsbury and others, too.

"He's got a chance to be like Johnny Damon but have a better arm and be faster. And he's got all the skills of Devon White, who always knew when to run," Fasano said.

During batting practice Wednesday, Gose sent a missile off the top half of the video board beyond right-center field. It was eye-opening.

"A lot of times in development, people get caught thinking, 'That's a fast guy. He's got to slap and run.' That's the farthest thing from the truth. Those guys never develop into hitters," Fasano said.

During the game, he singled off Tyler Cloyd in the third, raising his average to .253. Like most young hitters, Gose needs to work on pitch recognition and plate discipline - he leads the Fisher Cats with 96 strikeouts - but there's not a more exciting player in uniform.

"I like to be on the field every day. I always want to be the star in the limelight, the guy making the crowd go crazy," Gose said earlier this season.

Two years ago, Gose set a Single-A Lakewood team record with 76 stolen bases. Back then, he was property of the Phillies before being traded in exchange for Brett Wallace.

Seventy stolen bases in Double-A would be remarkable.

"Here, you have pitchers who'll use a slide step and catchers who can throw. Seventy stolen bases in Double-A is a whole lot different than 70 stolen bases in A-ball," Fasano said.

Reading Phillies catcher Tuffy Gosewisch, one of the best defensive catchers in the Eastern League, prevented Gose from stolen base No. 46 on Wednesday night at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium. Gosewisch fired to second baseman Fidel Hernandez, who applied a tag for a rare caught stealing against Gose.

"It's hard. The pitcher has to do a lot to keep the runner in check," Gosewisch said. "All you can do is hope the pitcher is quick to the plate to give you an opportunity to throw him out."

- - - - - - -

FUTURES LEAGUE: College students will receive free admission to a game between the Nashua Silver Knights and Seacoast Mavericks at Holman Stadium on July 29. The promotion is being made possible by the New Hampshire Division of Economic Development, Stay Work Play, Public Service of New Hampshire and the Futures Collegiate Baseball League.

Next season, the league will add an expansion team as the Wachusett Dirt Dawgs of Leominster, Mass., join the FCBL. Silver Knights infielder Logan Gillis of Merrimack, who plays for Bentley University, leads the wooden-bat league with a .370 average.

Staff writer Kevin Gray covers pro baseball for the New Hampshire Union Leader and New Hampshire Sunday News. His email address is Twitter: @graymatter11

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