When much-anticipated rookie Jedd Gyorko plays his first regular season game, he will become only the fifth player born in the great state of West Virginia to suit up for the Padres. The four who preceded him are a varied group, ranging from a cup-of-coffee catcher to a pair of All-Stars, with an effective reliever thrown in the mix.
Joe Goddard was the first West Virginian to spend time with the Friars. Drafted out of Marshall University in the eighth round in 1971, Goddard got called up the next July and hit .200 with a pair of doubles in 45 plate appearances over 12 games, the extent of his major league career. He is also one of only four Marshall players to spend time in the majors, joined by All-Star pitchers Rick Reed and Jeff Montgomery and, most recently, A's starter Dan Straily. Promising Padres farmhand Joe Church could potentially be the fifth. After Goddard's playing career ended, he returned to his hometown of Beckley, where he served as head coach of Independence High's baseball team from its inception in 1978 until he retired this winter.
Parkersburg native Steve Swisher came to the Padres in the offseason following the 1980 season in a trade that sent Rollie Fingers, Gene Tenace, and others to St. Louis. Far removed from his inexplicable All-Star season of 1976- his only season out of nine total with over a hundred games played, Swisher hit .163 in very limited duty with San Diego in 1981 and '82, his last two years in the league. He's probably best known now for being Nick Swisher's dad.
The third and by far most successful Padre from West Virginia was John Kruk. The current ESPN Sunday Night Baseball mouthpiece was drafted by San Diego in the third round of the 1981 draft and made his debut in 1986. After a disappointing 1988 season- in which he was literally in fear for his life every day- and a slow start in '89, he was sent with his friend Randy Ready to Philadelphia in exchange for the disappointing Chris James. Kruk went on to be a three-time All-Star and somewhat of a pop icon; he now earns his checks by making baseball fans scratch their heads on a daily basis.
After one full season and parts of two others with the White Sox, Huntington-born Jon Adkins signed with the Padres as a free agent before the 2006 season. The Wayne High School alumnus put together a solid season in the bullpen for the division champions, going 2-1 with a 3.98 in 54.1 innings over 55 games. He was sent to the Mets after the season with Ben Johnson for cult hero Royce Ring and future All-Star closer Heath Bell. Adkins pitched one inning for the Mets in 2007 before fulfilling a lifelong dream in 2008 by pitching for the fairly-local Cincinnati Reds. He then spent a year in Korea, where he led the league in saves, and re-signed with the Reds organization, eventually becoming the AAA Louisville Bats' all-time saves leader. Since hanging his glove up in 2010, Adkins has been a scout for the Red Sox organization.
And that brings us to Jedd. Since he will be the fifth West Virginian Padre, it's fitting that he wore number 5 when setting records at West Virginia University. Before that, the younger brother of Mountaineers linebacker Scott Gyorko attended University High in their hometown of Morgantown, where he was also born. After being drafted by the Friars in the second round of the 2010 draft, Jedd has done nothing short of rake at every single level. Gyorko shows the potential to not only be the best West Virginia-born Padre ever but could someday see his name in the same room with fellow West Virginians George Brett and Bill Mazeroski.