Gearhart enjoys successful tryout

LEWISTOWN – Kalen Gearhart’s journey from undrafted free agent, to rookie reliever in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization, to pitching in independent ball has taken its share of wild twists and turns, but the York Revolution may still take a chance on the 29-year-old Lewistown Area High School product.

Gearhart traveled to York’s Santander Stadium for an open tryout with the independent Atlantic League team on Saturday. While Gearhart didn’t get a contract offer, team officials seemed genuinely interested in signing him. York manager Mark Mason told Gearhart to continue to improve his conditioning and contact him in late May or early June.

The eight-team Atlantic League begins its 2014 season on April 24.

“Overall, I did a lot better than I expected to,” says Gearhart, who last pitched professionally in 2011 for the Camden Riversharks, who also play in the Atlantic League. “For my first time pitching off the mound this year, my curveball was good and my control was good.

“I definitely threw well enough to pitch this year,” he adds. “I just need to lose weight. If I can do that then I can add a couple miles an hour (in pitching velocity).”

Gearhart, one of about 50 players who attended the tryout, was clocked at 88 miles per hour. Of his 30 pitches, he threw 24 strikes and 6 balls.

“I know I can do it,” says the 6-foot-2, 270-pound Gearhart of losing 25 to 30 pounds. “I also need to get my arm back in shape. If I can do that then I’ll throw 92 or 93 when I get back down there.”

He hopes a return to the independent ranks would be the first step to realizing his dream of pitching in the Major Leagues. “Even though it’s independent ball, it’s like an (affiliated) double-A or triple-A league. Guys are always getting picked up by big league teams.”

Since the Atlantic League’s inception in 1988, more than 600 players have been signed by Major League Baseball clubs, according to the league’s website. Only time will tell if Gearhart’s comeback story continues.