2020 Preseason Dirty Thirty-Five: Prospect #27

PROSPECT PREFACE

I present to you my list of the top 35 prospects within the Cardinals organization!! The list is both exhausting and ever-evolving.

I am aggressive with who I deem to be a "Graduate." You can read the post that I wrote on The Graduates by following this link. As a heads up, you won't find Lane Thomas, Ryan Helsley, Genesis Cabrera, Andrew Knizner, Rangel Ravelo, or Edmundo Sosa on The Dirty Thirty-Five (R.I.Cardinals Prospect.P to Tampa Bay Ray Randy Arozarena and Texas Ranger Adolis "JAG" Garcia).

There is also another group of about 15 prospects that I could have written about. They are on the outside looking in, currently. I did write in-depth about five of them, and I presented those fellas in this article. I also briefly touch on a bunch of other prospects in that article.

Finally, I totally cheated and basically just copied and pasted the individual write-ups from the "Position Rankings" articles that I wrote after Black Friday. I hadn't realized how thorough those write-ups were until I started to redoing the D35. I have added additional gifs and thoughts to each post, and I've done some light to medium editing within each write-up, as well.


Please enjoy! Please have fun! Please let me know what you think!


Shortstop Mateo Gil

Age 19

Johnson City

3rd Round, 2018


The truth is, I am very torn with how I want to handle the write-up on Gil. I don't have nearly as good of a feel for him as I do for some of the other teenagers on the list, and I feel like most of the knowledge that I have about him is from what I've heard from other people. There isn't a ton of updated/recent video of Gil out there, and I feel like a lot of the info that I've read about him isn't updated either.


I do have this weird desire to compare Gil to former first round pick Delvin Pérez. Not because they are alike or because it's fun to do, but in an effort to offer a scouting juxtaposition. When Delvin was drafted, it was all about athleticism and natural feel in a baseball frame. He was one of those players that looked like a seed that would grow into a major league player, even if he was relatively scrawny.


This is not the case with Gil. Gil has a more developed skill-set from the get-go.


Gil is a gamer. He's a "ball player." He's built stronger to last longer. Because of his genetic pedigree (his father was former major league catcher Benji Gil), Gil is a more developed version of what Delvin has been. Not just physically, but also as a baseball player. I don't believe that Gil possess nearly the athleticism of Delvin Pérez, but I also don't mean that as a knock on him. Rather, this is a young man that seems to have baseball coursing through his veins. I've been told countless times that he is a WORKER, and I am capitalizing it to over-emphasize how it's been emphasized to me.


I've said this before, but there is a chance that Gil ends up being something similar to the player that we all wanted/hoped/thought that Delvin Pérez had a chance to be. It doesn't mean that it will happen or that the chances of it are likely, but it is to say that Gil seems to have the baseball foundation part down at the very least.


Gil is stronger than Delvin Pérez was/is. Because of this, he's able to leverage his body and his swing into more extra-base hits than Perez ever could. I'm and so sorry that I can only provide batting practice footage of this young man, and my hope is that it gives you some idea of how well-balanced he is. Gil is a pretty good hitter, too, but he is a super-pull hitter. This type of hitter usually has a tendency to fade as the rise through the ranks, but I believe that Gil has a strong enough understanding of hitting that he'll adjust as he rises. He does have a very quick bat and good balance at the plate, to boot. Also, because of his pull-tendency, you can see the raw power worth dreaming on.


All of these positives should leave a delicious taste in your mouth. You should be immensely excited about his potential. At the same time, it's always tough with this kind of kid, ya know? This is why I struggle with how to handle this write-up. You can see all of the raw talent and potential. You can see the tweaks that are needed to help him profile more positively at the next level. But you don't want to try to change that player too much. I'm guessing that Gil will always be a heavy-pull hitter, and I think that's the best thing for him. I don't like the idea of changing his swing or his approach too much because I feel that both have a good enough foundation to build upon. But this is also the type of hitter (taking out the baseball IQ side of it) that is usually in for some rough waters ahead.


To kind of illustrate this, I guess what I've decided to do is compare Gil to other shortstops in the organization. This time, it's just going to be statistically. When I was researching and asking about Gil, I noticed that he had a wRC+ of 106 in the Appy League during the 2019 season. In his age 18 season there, Gil slashed 270/324/431 with seven home runs, eight doubles, and two triples in 225 plate appearances. He did this while striking out 24.9% of the time and walking 7.6% of the time. While the strikeout rate is high and the walk rate is kind of low, all of the stats that I provided are good for an 18-year-old in the Appy.


This reminded me of Edmundo Sosa's 2015 season in the Appy League. To compare, in his age 19 season, Edmundo Sosa hit 300/369/485 with seven home runs, eight doubles, and four triples in 223 plate appearances. Those stats came with a walk rate of 7.2% and a strikeout rate of 17%. Since then, Sosa has struggled. He underwent an entire swing overhaul while continuing to swing at more than he should. Sosa just never began to demonstrate the batting eye that we all thought he had the chance to develop. He also never grew into his frame like he was capable of (but he does get a ton of credit for filling out the way that he has).


I don't think that any of this is going to be the case with Gil, but it should serve as a bit of a reminder about how hard it is to project teenagers. The 2015 season that Sosa put up was good enough to slide him into the top 15 of Cardinals prospect that following offseason. The focus went heavy towards what he could do and not what he needed to do. I want to learn from this and practice more of a cautiously optimist approach with Gil. I think that Gil has more power in his swing and his body than Sosa had/has. I think that he is a more developed and smart baseball player than Sosa was when Sosa was in the Appy League. However, the stats can tell us that Gil has a lot of work to do with his approach at the plate to reach his ceiling as a hitter.


Defensively, all indications are that Gil has the potential to be an outstanding defensive shortstop. As with any teenage shortstop, it's going to be all about consistency in the field. There are those that project him to move to third in the long term, but I'm not one of those people yet. If you haven't picked up on it yet, I'm not one to give up or invest too heavily into teenagers. Some scouts have concerns about his quickness and his first step, but I am not yet one of those people (either a scout or someone concerned lol). Give him time to work on it and I think those issues will go away.


When he was drafted, some wondered if he'd be a pitcher long term, but this should give you some idea of how quickly this young man takes to a new idea when he can dedicate himself to it. Also, it should give you some indication of how good his arm is. You don't need to look any further than a Twitter search to find scouting video of him throwing his fastball in the low-90's as a 17-year-old. I guess if things don't pan out with this young man then at least he and the Cardinals will have that as a fall back plan!



THE DEAL

Coming from great baseball genetics, Mateo Gil is a well-developed young man with good baseball IQ. As you'd suspect with an 18/19-year-old shortstop, Gil is still a raw talent. From what I've heard from the people that I've talked too, there's no reason to believe that Gil won't stick at short. He might eventually have to move to third, but I don't think that we are remotely near making that decision yet. He flashes good tools with his bat (including good bat speed and an ability to find the barrel with pull-power), but he has work to do with his approach. As he gets more comfortable, I expect to see his walk rate increase, his K rate decrease, and his pull-happy tendencies ease up a bit, while showing some of that power to all-fields.

It's really great to see a shortstop prospect with a high ceiling perform well in the Cardinals system. The Appy League is good for hitters, and Gil took advantage of that. Because I haven't seen much of him in-game yet, I'm deciding to be cautiously optimistic about Gil until he gets to a full-season affiliate because I just don't know what to fully make of him. I'm anxious to get my own eyes on him at Peoria. Hopefully, that happens during the 2020 season.




The biggest of shout outs should be given to @Cardinalsgifs, FanGraphs, Twitter, and MiLB. TV for all of the work that they do that eventually gets put into these articles.

Look at that beautiful pic by @Cardinalsgifs. I'm so thankful.


Thanks For Reading!!

Kyle Reis