By VINCE PELUSO
Selected by the Minnesota Twins in the 24th round of this year’s Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, Pymatuning Valley graduate Brandon Easton made his debut in the Gulf Coast League on Thursday.
Coming on in relief in the third inning against the GCL Rays, Easton threw two innings, surrendering one run (earned) on two hits, striking out one and walking none.
“It went very well,” Easton said. “I was a little bit nervous at the beginning, but I went in there and did my job.
“I mean, the first outing, you get those jitters for the first time going out there and you just wanna make the best of it.”
The GCL Twins lost the game, 4-3.
Easton said the plan going into the game was for him to throw the third and fourth innings, although he is being prepped as a starter.
“I’m considered a starter, they do a system where we are paired together,” he said. “Kohl Stewart threw the first two. In the system, he throws a certain amount of innings then I’ll come in. The next time, I’ll start then he’ll come in after me.”
Easton downplayed the significance of it being the his first outing as a professional player.
While he admitted to jitters, he said he approached the game like he would any other.
“People tell you all this stuff about being a professional now, but if you love the game, you just do what you do best and don’t worry about how people say your professional debut or anything like that,” he said. “Just go out there and pitch, there’s nothing else to it. Clear your mind of everything else and do what you need to do for however long you’re in there. Do your part, that’s all there is to it.
“If do your part, then the coaches are happy and you get to play more often.”
Easton admitted it was tough to come out after two innings, per the plan, as he wanted to continue to show his coaches what he can do.
“I wanted to keep going,” he said. “I had that mindset that I just wanted to keep going and prove myself. That’s the whole purpose — show them what I have. Two innings doesn’t show much, but it gives them an idea of how well I can really do.”
After his two innings, Easton said his coaches, “shook my hand and said I did a good job for my first time.”
The 6-foot-6 lefty said his arm feels good and he’ll get a chance to throw longer outings as he continues to progress.
“My arm feels great, I’ve never really had any problems,” he said. “What they ask of you at this level, at the professional level, they ask you to throw a solid six innings. They only have us throwing a couple innings right now, but once we get to that four to five innings, they’re going to have us out there until we give up too many hits or walks.”
Overall, Easton felt it was a successful debut.
“I felt pretty good about how I performed,” he said. “It could’ve been better but it’ll get there in time.”