For a first-round draft pick, the excitement surrounding Logan Gilbert has really died down. Perhaps that’s because we really don’t know much about Logan Gilbert, Seattle Mariner. Before he could even begin his professional career, he was diagnosed with a nasty case of Mononucleosis, sidelining him for the rest of the 2018 season. All we have to go on are his pre-draft, college scouting reports. And with an influx of young pitching talent into the organization this offseason, Gilbert feels like a forgotten man.
Gilbert was the first pitcher selected in the first round by the Mariners since drafting Danny Hultzen with the second overall pick in 2011. He was widely regarded as one of the better pitchers in the 2018 draft class. A Stetson University product, Gilbert is following in the footsteps of fellow alumni Corey Kluber and Jacob deGrom. While his ceiling might not be as high as those two headliners, Gilbert has the stuff to become a frontline pitcher for the Mariners.
Standing 6’6” with a strong frame, Gilbert uses his athleticism to create pretty clean mechanics. His delivery is simple, repeatable, and looks effortless. That prototypical pitcher’s frame allowed him to be a workhorse for Stetson, pitching over 300 innings in three years during his college career (including his time spent in college summer leagues). That heavy usage introduced a few concerns however. His fastball velocity dipped a bit last summer and continued to be depressed a bit at the beginning of the 2018 season. It ticked back up as the season wore on. To reach his potential ceiling, he’ll need his fastball sitting in the mid-90s like it has before, rather than in the low-90s like it was early on last season.
The rest of Gilbert’s arsenal is fairly advanced, as you’d expect from a college pitcher. All four of his pitches grade out to be above average (50–55 on the scouting scale) with the potential to develop a plus pitch or two. Besides the velocity concerns, his fastball features good arm-side run, looking more like a two-seamer than a four-seamer. His changeup might be the pitch with the most potential. He doesn’t throw it very often, but it’s distinct enough from his fastball with a good velocity differential that it could become plus with a little more work.
Gilbert also throws two different breaking balls. His curveball sits 70-75 and he can use it to get both swinging strikes and ground ball contact. Kiley McDaniel of FanGraphs called it one of the best curveballs in the draft class. Some scouts think Gilbert’s slider is his best secondary offering, but it often blends together with his curveball so it’s hard to get much information on it.
For the Stetson Hatters, Gilbert posted a 2.72 ERA and a 2.08 FIP in his junior year. He’s increased his strikeout-to-walk ratio each year of his college career, topping out at 6.52 K/BB in 2018. After being drafted in June, the Mariners were going to have him join Single-A Everett to make a couple of starts before shutting him down for the season. His illness scrapped those plans and he’ll have to make his professional debut this spring.
With his advanced repertoire, durable frame, and college experience, Gilbert will likely move quickly through the Mariners organization. He’ll be assigned to Low-A West Virginia to start the season but I would be surprised if he ended the season at the same level. Keep your eye on his fastball velocity this spring. If it’s sitting in the mid-90s like it has in the past, his ceiling could be higher than any other starting pitcher in the organization. Along with Justus Sheffield and Justin Dunn, Gilbert forms a new “Big 3,” following in the footsteps of Hultzen, James Paxton, and Taijuan Walker. Let’s hope this rebooted version is a little more successful than the previous group.