Former Red joins OttersJune 14, 2021
By COREY STOLZENBACH
Austin Gossmann dressed, but never appeared in an official game for the Jasper Reds this year. He won't get the chance to because he’ll soon be playing Independent ball for the Evansville Otters.
Gossmann signed with the Frontier League club on Sunday, and will be pitching for them this summer. He was scheduled to start the second game of the Reds' Sunday doubleheader against the Indianapolis Heat, but it didn't materialize.
“We’re really thrilled about that,” Reds business manager Bob Alles said. “We’re happy for him and wish him good luck.”
Despite never competing in an official game for the Reds, Gossmann appreciates what they did for him.
“A.J. Wheeler, who was one of my catchers here at USI, he was playing on the Reds, and got in contact with him,” Gossmann said. “Things kind of took off. He passed my number along to Bob, and Bob gave me a call. We kind of talked things over for about 25-30 minutes, and he was talking to me about the Reds and what they were about.”
“He even offered to play with low seam college balls that the Frontier League plays with rather than the high seam high school balls,” he continued. “And so, even though I didn’t get an opportunity, he was very welcoming, and very open to giving me an opportunity to kind of get some work in.”
The Otters are just the latest in the whirlwind of a journey for Gossmann. He was on the roster at Vincennes University between 2015 and 2017, spent the 2018 season at the NCAA Division I level for the University South Alabama, and was with the University of Southern Indiana from 2019-2021.
It isn’t often that somebody is on a college roster for that long, but injuries got in his way.
“My freshman year down in Vincennes when I was playing junior college ball, we just started the season and I was in the dorm room kind of messing around — got my teammate in a chokehold and was wrestling (him) to the ground,” he said. “Of course, I’m 165 pounds at the time, and he’s about all of 235-240, and he was a big kid. And he fell on me, broke my leg, dislocated my ankle, gave me a redshirt.”
“And then my third year when I was down at Vincennes, this was after I had already committed to South Alabama, I was having shoulder problems that I think stemmed from playing summer ball and throwing too much — not really understanding my limits,” Gossmann continued.
This allowed him extra time to play. Gossmann’s senior year was supposed to happen in 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic shut everything down after he pitched 17.2 innings for them.
Gossmann went home to Avon, and worked at the Target in Plainfield during that time. His coach, Tracy Archuleta, called and asked him if he wanted to return, since he would’ve been eligible again for 2021, and Gossmann agreed to once again pitch for the Screaming Eagles.
He joined the Reds while waiting on the Otters in hopes of getting some work. Gossmann threw a bullpen session for them at his tryout. Their roster was at full capacity at the time, and told Gossmann they’d call him, but he had his doubts.
He posted a 5.34 ERA in 2021, with a total of 5.12 at USI. Opponents batted .233 against him this year, but posted a .289 average against him in his career there.
“I really didn’t think I had much of a shot, and I talked with Coach Archuleta about things, and he got the ball rolling — got in contact with the Otters,” he said.
Gossmann believes the mental aspect of the game is what is key. He told the Herald on Monday that he started off well this season at USI, but then he seemed to let tiny mistakes seem larger than what they were.
He began to doubt his fastball, but then he let it all go and pitched better towards the end.
Gossmann will likely appear as a reliever for the Otters, who haven’t talked about him getting some starts for them. They are currently 11-6 and sit in second place of the Frontier League’s West Division one game behind the 12-5 Florence Yalls. The Otters are due back in action Tuesday at Bosse Field against the Gateway Grizzlies.
They'll be getting somebody whose velocity has previously clocked in around the upper eighties and low nineties. He relied on his four-seam fastball as a starter, and also his slider that he can turn into a curveball. He’s focused on his slider, cutter and looking to throw a changeup with them.
“I want to be able to go in and teach (history) after I’m done playing professionally," Gossmann said. “I know baseball is not going to last forever. If I was a guy that threw 98-99, I’d like, ‘Okay, hey, I have a legitimate shot here.’ But for me, I just want to be able to gain the experience and gain a lot of knowledge and try to be a learner of the game.”
Herald sportswriter Jimmy Lafakis contributed to this story.
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