We are less than a week away from June 4th, and that means that the first round, compensitory round, and competitive balance round-A of the 2018 MLB Amateur Draft is just days away! You'll be able to watch the first 43 selections live on The MLB Network.
The St. Louis Cardinals will be selecting 19th overall and 43rd overall. There are seemingly thousands and thousands of names that are draft eligible. It's exhausting. What I've decided to do is comb through the countless mock drafts, as well as some of the names that I've heard through the very limited connections I've made. We will go over these names one by one over the next week. These evaluations will be the "brass-tacks" type. Very concise. Very much to the "bottom line."
I'm only going to touch on the potential targets for the 19th overall pick with this primer. Later on, I'll give you some of the players that I'd like to see the Cardinals target at 43rd overall and beyond in the draft.
This comes with a caution: THE MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL DRAFT IS THE CLOSEST THING THAT YOU'LL FIND IN SPORTS TO A FERAL ANIMAL. I believe that it's the most unpredictable draft in all of professional sports. Hell, it's probably the most unpredictable and malleable "thing" in all of sports. Because of the draft pool, teams often jockey their allotted cash so that they can afford to give larger bonuses to players later in the draft. Sometimes that means not drafting the best available player with their pick. Sometimes that means having to draft over slot. What I'm saying is, the MLB draft is a game of roulette, and one in which the wheel never stops spinning and the ball never stops rolling until all 40 rounds are complete.
Let's get to it! Here's our third potential draftee write up:
Right Handed Pitcher
Age on draft day: 21
I can't imagine a situation in which Gilbert goes without being selected before the Cardinals pick at 19. It'd be borderline thievery on the Cardinals part if this 6'5"-6'6", 195 lbs. right-hander fell to them.
The easiest way to describe Gilbert is "gaudy." His body, pitching style, offspeed offerings, and production numbers are all gaudy. Now, he doesn't play in a league that has the caliber of talent that Jackson Kowar of Florida does, so it isn't exactly apples to apples when comparing the two. But where Kowar is a "K per inning" pitcher, Gilbert is almost a "1.5 K per inning" pitcher.
In 100 innings so far during the 2018 season, Gilbert has struck out 143 while only walking 20. To give you an idea of exactly how dominant he's been, he's struck out 38% of the hitters that he's faced.
It's an unconventional comparison, but I like to think of Dakota Hudson as Logan Gilbert 2.0. That's how devastatingly good Gilbert can be.
So, what does Gilbert do? First, as the gif below will demonstrate, he has a certain pace about his delivery. it's a little more deliberate than your average delivery. Some times he speeds it up, but often he's a little slower especially when compared to Kowar. The next thing that you'll notice is the extension that he gets. He's slow with his lead leg, but that allows him to repeat his mechanics and get that tremendous extension. Here's a two-pitch gif:
You can see how the ball explodes out of his hand. That hitter never stood a chance, especially after the first pitch that was low-and-in set up the elevated fastball for a strike out.
The fastball lives in the 93-97 MPH range and all reports indicate that he is steady 95 MPH as the Stetson season comes to an end. Even from that second rate camera angle you can see the movement on his fastball.
Now, where it gets a little dicey with Gilbert is his secondary pitches. Where as Jackson Kowar has an advanced change up as his go-to secondary offering, Gilbert doesn't have a secondary pitch that's as consistent. His curve, which you can see is a knuckle curve from the headline picture above, is filthy and mean. However, as you might expect from a young ma that was viewed as a position player entering college, Gilbert lacks consistent command with it. It's been good enough to make the Atlantic Sun hitters look ridiculous. Here's what it looks like:
I like this gif because it shows both how much life the curve has as well as the little command that he has of it. He can get away with throwing this pitch dead-red in the middle of the plate in the league he's in, but he's going to need to gain more control of it as he progresses. Good news, though; the command has gotten better as the season has trucked along.
Gilbert also throws a slider that has gotten better as the season has gone on. It's also something that he's come to rely on more. As you'll see here, it's pretty good and probably dastardly against righties:
Gilbert also throws a change up but I honestly don't know much about it. What I do know is that the three pitch combo of the fastball/curve/slider has the potential to be top-shelf by the time he's big lead ready.
Stetson is the University that gave the world Corey Kluber and Jacob deGrom and I believe that it's fair to say that Gilbert's 5% ceiling is right along the lines of those two gentlemen.
Gilbert is a superior talent with potentially elite stuff. If he's there at 19th overall the Cardinals need to take him. However, I can't imagine how he falls that far. I'm anxious to see how his off-speed offerings look at the next level and I'm anxious to see advanced lefties hit off of him, but I wouldn't be surprised if Gilbert is the first player from the 2018 draft to make his major league debut.
One more thing about Gilbert; he's a veteran of the Cape Cod League. If you don't know, the Cardinals are suckers for Cape Cod League players.