Jedd Gyorko is the best player to ever wear a WVU baseball uniform.
The Morgantown native stayed home for his college career and he set personal highs for the Mountaineers under former head coach Greg Van Zant. Gyorko was the team’s shortstop from 2008-2010 when West Virginia was still in the Big East Conference. The Mountaineers also still played their games at Hawley Field.
The Shell building beyond the left-centerfield fence at Hawley Field served as Gyorko’s personal launching pad for home run balls. It seemed that each time the Mountaineers needed a clutch it, or a power stroke, he was up at the plate to change the game in his team’s favor.
He wrapped up a three-year career with his hometown Mountaineers hitting .404. He entered the MLB First-Year Player Draft following his junior season where he batted .381 with 19 home runs and 57 RBI.
He was selected by the Padres early in the second round of the 2010 Draft and played his way through four levels of minor league ball before cracking a major league lineup in 2013.
Three years and a $35 million contract later, Gyorko finds himself in a St. Louis Cardinals jersey.
Gyorko is adjusting well to his new home in the National League Central Division hitting .242 with three home runs and seven RBI through 18 games. In the past seven games, Gyorko had eight hits and six RBI with only two strikeouts.
If diehard Cardinal fans haven’t warmed up to him by now, they certainly found reason to like the new shortstop in town on Sunday. Gyro came a double away from hitting for the cycle in St. Louis’ 8-5 win over San Diego.
Yes, Gyorko played one of his best games in front of his former fans.
“It was surprising,” Gyorko said on Friday. “Obviously, things hadn’t worked out. I think, as an organization, they’re headed in a different direction than where they wanted me to be a part of it. That’s baseball. You look around the game, how many guys are staying in one spot or even two places — it doesn’t happen anymore.”
The Padres traded Gyorko for outfielder Jon Jay in the offseason. San Diego also gave the Cardinals $7.5 million to accommodate the remaining money on his large contract.
Gyorko made them pay this series.
The Cardinals took 2 of 3 from the hapless Padres and scored 19 runs in a pair of victories. Before his near-cycle performance, Gyorko went 3 for 5 with three RBI on Saturday. He wasn’t in the starting lineup on Friday, but pinch hit late in the game and stayed in to play second base.
Gyorko started in the Cardinals’ first game of the season, an Opening Day afternoon game in Pittsburgh. He grew up rooting for the Pirates, so it was pretty special for him and his family to begin the new season, and a new chapter in his playing career, close to home.
It’s unclear what Gyorko’s role will be this season. He has been starting in the infield early in the season due to the injury of Jhonny Peralta. Gyorko may start about half the games this season, or until Peralta comes back. But for manager Mike Matheny and the brass of the organization, Gyorko is showing he can provide the same consistency he did as a Mountaineer, right now.