Five Gonzaga pitchers have heard their names called in the MLB Draft the past two seasons, and redshirt junior Daniel Bies hopes his name will be added to the list.
It has been an interesting and somewhat bumpy road for the 6-foot-8 starter, who pitches with a replacement tendon in his elbow after Tommy John surgery his junior year in high school.
After getting cut his freshman year at GU, Bies grayshirted – essentially a non-roster redshirt. Team activities were off-limits and he could not use any team facilities. He found himself away from any game action for the first time since his surgery, but this time he wasn’t forced out because of injury. It made him hungry.
“The main thing for me that kind of helped me stay positive is that I really felt that I had a lot more in my body than what I had already unlocked out of it,” Bies said. “My mobility was awful and my functional strength was terrible.”
He worked with GU strength coach Nick Carlone, bought an online workout plan and spent six days a week in the Rudolf Fitness Center, the student gym. A year away from baseball allowed him to work on his body like he never had before.
Bies flashed brilliance during his redshirt freshman season, striking out his first collegiate batter and earning the save against No. 7 TCU. He finished the season with only 7 1/3 innings pitched, but got a taste of the college game.
Last season started so rough that Bies was unsure of his future in the sport he had played since he was 4. It wasn’t until an April start against Washington State when it clicked for Bies.
From then until the end of the season, he went 4-0 with a 2.49 earned-run average in five starts. He has carried that momentum into this season, where he sports a 2.51 ERA in 10 starts, good for fourth-best in the West Coast Conference; his 77 strikeouts (against only 14 walks) place him second.
It wasn’t a mechanical change, or shifting his grip on the baseball. Instead, Bies credits his grandfather and former PGA Tour winner, Don Bies, for his newfound success. Starting with his mind, Bies matured and extracted every bit of knowledge from his grandfather, who has 29 total professional wins to his name. Following a career spanning more than 40 years, he knows how mentally grueling playing a sport at a high level can be.
“I have positive affirmations that I will say between innings that just help me get my mind right,” Bies said. “My main thing when I am out on the mound is just telling myself to focus on the pitch at hand and not overthrowing.”
Bies has parlayed his strong season into a rising draft stock.
A handful of scouts have been on hand to watch the Woodinville, Washington, product, and more than a few have discussed a career in baseball with him.
He downplays his potential, but with a two Rawlings WCC Pitcher of the Week awards this season and another season on the horizon, Bies has the chance to take the next step in the baseball world, one that will fulfill his lifelong dream.
“I want to play professional baseball,” Bies said. “That is absolutely my goal. That’s something I have dreamed since I was a little kid. I want to play in the big leagues someday.”
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