Gaub leaves Gophers after signing with Cleveland

Gaub averaged nearly 13 strikeouts per nine innings during his career at Minnesota.

Robert Mews

After a disappointing junior season, Gophers pitcher John Gaub decided July 26 to forgo his final year at Minnesota and sign with the Cleveland Indians organization.

Gaub, who was selected in the 21st round of June’s Major League Baseball draft, will receive guaranteed $155,000 via a signing bonus, along with tuition reimbursements.

“If you asked me probably three weeks ago if I had thought I’d be signing or going back to school, I would have probably told you that I would be going back to school,” Gaub said. “But my agents were able to work out a good deal.”

Gaub’s deal is unusual because late-round draft picks normally don’t receive guaranteed money up front on minor league contracts.

Minnesota pitching coach Todd Oakes said the signing came as bit of a surprise to him because Gaub missed much of the 2006 season because of offseason arm surgery.

“To my knowledge, (Cleveland) did not see him throw in a bullpen, or throw a ball since the end of the season,” Oakes said.

Before a left shoulder injury ended his sophomore season, Gaub was one of the Big Ten’s best closers. His fastball was in the low to mid 90s, and his numbers at Minnesota – 1.99 ERA and 102 strikeouts in 63.1 innings – were among the best in the conference.

Even after the surgery, Gaub was still seen as the Gophers’ best option at closer. He was selected as the Big Ten’s Preseason Pitcher of the Year. But that never materialized.

“Obviously they’re going off the past,” Oakes said. “And scouts saw him, and obviously he’s in the 90 to 94 (mph) range with a competitive breaking ball, and he’s left-handed.”

Gaub said he believes he can once again achieve results similar to his freshman and sophomore performances once his arm completely recovers, which he said never happened during this past season.

“Considering everything that has happened this past spring it worked out well,” Gaub said about the opportunity to sign with Cleveland.

For now, Gaub’s finishing up summer classes, and on Aug. 9, he’ll head to Akron, Ohio, for rehab.

Gaub won’t actually throw for any of the Indians’ minor league affiliates this season, in hopes that his arm will heal.

According to Gaub, the focus for the remainder of the season will be strictly getting his left arm back into top performance for the start of 2007 spring training.

Gaub said he looks forward to spring training in hopes that he can be reunited with

some former Gophers, Matthew Fornasiere and Matthew Loberg, who played for the Indians in the minor leagues last season.

“It’s interesting. Cleveland didn’t really sign anybody around here for a long time,” coach John Anderson said. “But they have scouts that work this area more and obviously they’ve had success with some of our players.”