Mariners Takeaways: Servais says ‘sky’s the limit’ for rookie Logan Gilbert
The month of May saw two top Mariners prospects make their MLB debuts in outfielder Jarred Kelenic and starting pitcher Logan Gilbert.
While Kelenic struggled at the plate and was optioned back to the minor leagues, Gilbert has steadily improved since making his first career start and is becoming a key part of Seattle’s starting rotation.
After throwing 5 2/3 innings over the weekend against the defending American League champion Tampa Bay Rays, Gilbert has a 2-2 record, 4.50 ERA, 36 strikeouts and eight walks in 34 innings over seven starts. And after pitching four or fewer innings in his first three starts, Gilbert has thrown at least five inning in each of his last four outings.
As you might expect, Mariners manager Scott Servais is very happy with his rookie starter. He shared his thoughts on Gilbert as well as his team’s recent play during The Scott Servais Show, which airs on 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake and Stacy every Tuesday at 1 p.m.
“I love where Logan’s at,” Servais told Jake Heaps, Stacy Rost and Mariners insider Shannon Drayer. “And I think anybody around our team (thinks so, too). I know our pitching coaches are excited about the improvements he’s made.”
Servais’ biggest takeaway with Gilbert is that he’s growing more and more comfortable as an MLB pitcher.
What an outing for @Mariners No. 4 prospect Logan Gilbert. 👏
✴️6.2 IP (career high)
✴️92 pitches pic.twitter.com/WAAceeKz0x
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) June 13, 2021
“Obviously a new team, first time in the big leagues, but I think he’s adapted and adjusted really well,” he said.
And with adjusting and adapting has come a looser version of Gilbert, who Servais describes as “very serious” and dedicated to his craft as a pitcher.
“For me, Logan is an old soul. He’s a young player, but he’s an old soul. I say that as a compliment,” Servais said. “He just takes his craft very serious and his routine very serious. And not much is going to get him off the rails.”
Gilbert’s mindset leads Servais to believe that he has plenty of untapped potential going forward in his MLB career.
“He believes in who he is and he understands who he is as a pitcher, so sky’s the limit for him,” he said. “As you can tell, I’m really excited about what he brings to our team, and every time he takes the ball and goes to the hill I feel pretty good about him getting us five or six innings and just keeping us in the game. And he’s only going to continue to get better, in my opinion.”
One area that Gilbert has gotten better is with his pitch usage, which according to Servais is a very necessary thing to learn.
“He learned really quickly that he needs to get his secondary pitches going or the league was going to hammer his fastball,” he said.
While Gilbert has a special fastball in terms of velocity and movement, MLB hitters hunt for fastballs. Gilbert possesses three secondary pitches in his curveball, slider and changeup, and each of them has gotten better for Gilbert as he’s made more and more starts – especially his changeup, which is a favorite of Servais’.
“For me, the changeup has a chance to be lights-out and eventually I think he’s going to start throwing it to right-handed hitters, as well,” Servais said. “Right now it’s pretty much just against the lefties, but when he starts mixing it against the righties as well, it’s really going to allow his fastball to play up even more.”
Mariners’ offense gets going
After a rough first two months of the season, particularly in May, the Mariners’ offense has performed much better in June. Servais spoke about what he’s seen out of Seattle’s hitters during the strong homestand.
“Our offense has really picked it up. I know we got off to a slow start this year, but… we’re getting more guys on base, our approach – we’re using the whole field much more consistently,” he said. “That’s what excites me because it’s hopefully not just a little flash in the pan where we had a good week. Hopefully we can sustain it.”
He had a long list of guys who were deserving of being highlighted, as well.
“Ty France has really been hot and swinging a great bat. … He’s been a guy that’s really picked it up for us offensively. I think the addition of Jake Bauers… this is a guy that’s young, he fits age-wise with our group, it’s a left-handed bat, of course he can play some outfield along with being a pretty accomplished first baseman. The quality of his at-bats and using the whole field has really lengthened our lineup. Luis Torrens, nice shot in the arm when we called him. Shed Long’s had some nice at-bats. Jake Fraley continues to get on base every night, one way or another he’s on base.
“We’ve got a lot of guys who are contributing right now.”
Servais went into more detail on Shed Long Jr., whose 10th inning walkoff grand slam Sunday off Rays reliever Diego Castillo capped off Seattle’s four-game sweep, speaking about Long’s ceiling as a player and where he is at the plate right now.
“He’s got power in the bat. He’s not a big guy by stature or anything but he can drive the ball. When he’s making good swing decisions – like a lot of our guys but probably even more so with Shed – and he’s swinging at the right pitches, good things are going to happen. And that’s what we’re seeing. I thought his at-bat the other day against a really tough reliever – Castillo’s got as good a slider in the game as anybody – he had a good at-bat. He didn’t get up there and try to do too much, just trying to square a ball up. And when he stays in that mode, he’s going to be a pretty tough out in our lineup.”
You can hear the full Scott Servais Show at this link or in the player below.
710Sports.com’s Brent Stecker contributed to this post.
Jake & Stacy