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Monday, September 27, 2021

Baseball

Robert Gasser’s professional baseball dreams soon to be a reality


Robert Gasser improved his draft stock in a big way over the course of the 2021 UH baseball season and is projected to go in the second round of the 2021 MLB Draft. | Andy Yanez/The Cougar

Robert Gasser improved his draft stock over the course of the 2021 UH baseball season and is projected to go in the second round of the 2021 MLB Draft. | Andy Yanez/The Cougar

One phrase is used in the Houston baseball program day-after-day to remind student-athletes what it takes to be successful on the diamond — “Winners are workers and workers are winners” — and anyone within the UH program will tell you that no one exemplified this saying more than Robert Gasser.

Gasser quickly made a name for himself during the 2021 season, not only among the Cougar faithful but to college baseball fans nationally. This is because of his worth ethic and preparation that started months before the first pitch of the season was thrown.

“(Gasser) is the ultimate worker and that has led to him winning a lot of games for us this past year,” said UH associate head coach Terry Rooney. “He had an incredible year for us because of a relentless work ethic and a desire to be great.”

At the start of fall workouts, Gasser was not on UH head coach Todd Whitting’s radar to be a weekend starter. But through hard work Gasser climbed his way up the ladder, impressing the UH coaching staff more and more each day.

By the time Opening Day came around, he was a no-brainer to be the Cougars’ Friday night starter.

The first sign Gasser’s junior season would be special was his third start of the year against Texas, a powerhouse in college baseball.

Taking the mound for the Longhorns that Friday night was Ty Madden, a 6-foot-3-inch righty who is ranked one of the top MLB draft prospects in all of college baseball.

While Madden was spectacular, throwing a complete game shutout striking out 14 en route to a Longhorn victory, Gasser was just as good through seven innings.

The 6-foot-1-inch Southpaw sent a message to the scouts in attendance that night that he is a name MLB teams might want to pay attention to, throwing seven shutout innings allowing only four hits while striking out five against an explosive Texas offense.

From that point on, Gasser started garnering more and more attention on a national level and he produced, establishing himself as the one constant on a UH team that had their fair share of struggles both at the plate and on the mound.

Gasser threw six or more innings while allowing two or fewer runs in six of his final 11 starts, ending the year with a 2.63 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 105 strikeouts.

Though he had a few rough starts every once and a while, Gasser believes his overall consistency on the mound always gives the Cougars a fighting chance to win. Over the course of the entire season this is a big selling point for MLB teams who are considering using one of their picks on the UH ace to take into account.

“The whole year I was fairly consistent,” Gasser said. “Over the course of the year, it’s easy to have bad outings and let that carry on. It happens to guys, but I feel like this year when things didn’t go as well for me one outing the following outing I feel like I was right back to where I was before I had the bad outing.”

Gasser’s ability to consistently pound the strike zone in each outing was a direct result of the major improvements to his pitching repertoire, which features a four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball,  slider, curveball and changeup.

Gasser added velocity to his fastball, which sat in the high-80s to low 90s in the shortened 2020 season, consistently throwing in the mid-90s topping out at 96 mph.

His slider was his best off-speed pitch, as Gasser reliably threw it to record punch out after punch out against both right and left-handed hitters.

“The one thing I really saw and I think the professional teams will tell you the same is (Gasser’s) slider and how good it was,” Rooney said. “… One of the many reasons he’s going to be a high draft pick is that slider is an out pitch to both left-handed batters and right-handed batters.”

With an improved pitching toolbox and proven consistency in his command, Gasser has been one of the biggest risers of all the draft prospects and it blows his mind when he looks at how far he has come over the years.

“It’s pretty crazy (when thinking about the possibility of getting drafted). There are days where I didn’t think it would ever come and there are other days where I know I earned it,” Gasser said. “Now that it’s all coming and happening right now it’s great … I’m just super excited for the opportunity hopefully.”

With the draft just over a month away, Gasser is currently ranked No. 23 overall college prospect and No. 12 college pitcher by ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel, who has the lefty going 51 overall in his latest mock draft.

While Gasser could still return to UH for the 2022 season if he chooses, he knows he is one step closer to his dream of playing in The Show and admits it will be a hard opportunity to pass up if his name is called between July 11-13.

“Everybody’s goal is to play professional baseball and if that opportunity arises I think I’ll reach in that direction,” Gasser said.

Rooney, who Gasser credited for playing a big role in his development over the past year, is confident that whoever selects Gasser is getting a major steal.

“I think you’re getting an incredible competitor who has continued to get better and better and I think the sky is the limit,” Rooney said. “(Gasser) has an incredibly bright future in professional baseball.”

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