Jeff Smith 4 p.m., Dec. 20
Meet Jedd Gyorko, the rookie that doesn't act like a rookie
Jedd Gyorko, like most rookies, could be flustered and overwhelmed by The Show, but he's as cool and as confident as is just about any veteran player
Jedd might or might not have been born to play baseball, but he certainly was groomed to play the game from an early age. Born and raised in Morgantown, West Virginia, he was schooled by his father and his father’s friend, a former player in college, on the fundamentals.
“I might have been three or four when I first started playing,” Jedd said. “My dad has always been a baseball fan and I was his last chance to know he had a ball player so he got me started young.”
After youth leagues, Jedd attended University High School in Mogantown and simultaneously played American Legion baseball, leading his legion teams to two State Championships and earning All-Conference honors in high school all four years. Was University High a large school? “Four or five hundred in graduating class,” Jedd confirmed.
He was courted in high school by a couple of Universities with excellent baseball programs, offered scholarships to St. Johns and to Clemson. Ultimately, he chose to stay close by and attend the University of West Virginia, even though they didn’t feature a renowned baseball program.
“This year they’re doing pretty well, but it was never known for baseball, and if I didn’t live right there and grow up right there, I probably don’t go there,” Jedd explained. “It’s one of those things that has always been local and always been a part of me. I always felt like I wanted to stay close to home.”
At West Virginia, Jedd played shortstop his freshman year, second base his sophomore season, and went back to shortstop for his Junior term. His career batting average there is .404 and in 2010 he won the Brooks Wallace award that goes to the best shortstop in NCAA Division I baseball.
In sticking with West Virginia, Jedd said, “Maybe the baseball was better at other places, but I knew that all I had to do was to get into college baseball, and if my talents were good enough then someone would see me and my name would get out there.”
Word indeed got out, and the Padres drafted Jedd in the 2nd round in 2010 with the 59th overall selection. Not as a shortstop, but to play third base.
Gyorko’s progressing in the minor leagues went quickly. Starting the first season, he played in Eugene and Fort Wayne, two A-ball clubs, then went between High-A Lake Elsinore and AA San Antonio.
In 2012, Jedd started in San Antonio and then went to AAA Tucson, playing some second base as the club decided to get him some time at the position as third base is blocked by Chase Headley. In his minor league career, he has a .319 average with 62 total home runs and 255 runs batted in over three seasons.
Jedd began 2013 in San Diego, his debut in the big leagues. Starting at third base for the then-injured Chase Headley, Gyorko effortlessly went over to second base where he starts every game, and is thus-far error free with range that has surprised many.
His demeanor is that he belongs here. He’s not one to get rattled, not at all like some wide-eyed rookie, Jedd brims with confidence. His three hits in yesterday’s game raised his average to a healthy .260 and it’s still climbing.
Asked about his self-assuredness, Jedd said, “You’ve got to be confident in this game. If you’re not confident, this game will eat you up, try and break you down any way it can.”
At the rate Jedd Gyorko is fitting in with the Padres, it’s Jedd who seems to be eating the game up and breaking it down to suit his abilities. Which is something the Padres could use this season.