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Spin for Stars: #29 - Drew Gilbert
Zac Beck debuts a new short series breaking down prospects at the request of Dynasty Dugout members.
No, this isn’t a mini-game for the official Starbucks app nor is it a state lottery knock-off. I’ve tasked (or, more accurately asked politely) the folks in the Dynasty Dugout to pick a random number between 1 and 300 using a spinning wheel – I’ll write up the corresponding player in my prospect ranks. It’s an exercise to dive deeper between updates and bring Dugout subscribers along.
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As I work through this series, the player the wheel selects for us may move in my ranks! Prospecting is a constant, iterative process. You’re never “finished,” and there’s always more to learn about the players and your process. It’s not clear how often I’ll put these short articles out. I’m targeting a couple of times a week but may also choose to provide several in the same article.
Our inaugural Star? Houston Astros (and former Tennessee Volunteers) outfielder Drew Gilbert a name I quite like for points formats.
Drew Gilbert, Outfielder
Team: Houston Astros
Age / Height / Weight: 22, 5’9, 185 lbs
Overall Prospect Rank: 29
Positional Prospect Rank: 9
Gilbert is the kind of player both new-age data-heavy analysts and old-school hard-nosed evaluators love, a weird and rare overlapping of the scouting venn diagram that seems to diverge continuously. He plays with the throttle wide open and was the unquestioned leader of the best college team in the nation in 2022, traits that your high school coach would use to tout make-up and character. Grit, determination, and motor, they’d say. They’d be right – but they’d also be selling him short.
Before opting for collegiate competition, Gilbert was once thought of as a valuable pitching prospect and was selected in the 35th round by the Minnesota Twins in the 2019 draft. He only fell that far because of his strong commitment to Tennessee. Once on campus, his focus shifted to developing as a hitter, though he made 11 appearances for the Vols out of the bullpen, pitching to a 2.76 ERA across 16.1 innings in 2020 and 2021.
In 2022, Gilbert led Tennessee in batting average and was second in OBP and SLG among Vols with 200+ PAs. That in itself is impressive, but it’s even more so when you remember that team also featured Jordan Beck (1st round, #38 overall), Trey Lipscomb (3rd round, #84 overall), and Jared Dickey (MLB Pipeline’s #112 draft prospect for 2023).
Mr. Goobear (his Twitter handle is @gillygoobear, something I feel compelled to mention every time I write about him) is of the same archetype as other points league darlings, the Sal Frelick / Jackson Merrill / Joey Ortiz types. He doesn’t have the same elite bat-to-ball, but he’s similar to Frelick and Ortiz in stature and is demonstrating excellent plate skills in terms of zone control and chase rate. Contact rates have diminishing returns when they aren’t paired with quality, and Gilbert is hitting the ball harder than some evaluators expected with the shift to a wood bat.
He’s hard to get out largely because of his flat bat path. It’s concise, and the barrel stays through the zone longer than most. When he shows off power, it’s primarily to the pull side and down the right field line, but he doesn’t lack the thump to damage the opposite field, too. He profiles as a top-of-the-order spark plug – something the Astros have been looking for among a rotating door of center fielders.
Drew has received a lot of research during my update process. He’ll stick at 29 for now, though I am monitoring his AA numbers closely. His ISO has shrunk from a gaudy .329 at the well-known hitter’s paradise in Asheville to .057 with Corpus Christi, a much more tepid offensive environment. It’s a small sample (136 PAs), and I’m giving him time to adjust to the level.