Drayer: Logan Gilbert, M’s top pitching prospect, impresses in spring debut
While spring training games don’t count, they sometimes have big meaning for certain players. For Logan Gilbert, the Mariners’ game against the Giants on Thursday was a do-over of sorts.
A hiccup in his only previous Cactus League appearance, allowing five runs while recording just two outs in a 2019 outing, doesn’t appear to be anything that he particularly needed to get past. Gilbert’s first and only pro season that followed cannot be deemed as anything other than a success, and as such has him poised to join the Mariners’ big league rotation at some point this season. More than a do-over, Thursday’s outing represented the start of the season that should end in the big leagues. The jitters of last year are well behind him.
“It felt like it took forever to get out there,” Gilbert said following his two scoreless innings in a start against San Francisco. “I was so ready. I was counting down the days. I think it was big last season playing a full pro season under my belt. Playing in stadiums, crowds, all that stuff. It’s just another game. I felt comfortable out there.”
According to Gilbert, the stuff felt good. Not perfect in his first outing but his pitches were there – all four of them. The fastball sat around 94 mph and he was able to throw his curveball a couple times for strike one. In his day of work, he gave up one hit, struck out one and recorded a 1-2-3 first inning.
“Logan Gilbert was really good,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said following his team’s 5-4 loss. “You can see how he has come along. A lot of confidence. Very, very different then what it was last year. I was glad for him. He was able to get his season off to a good start, he looked really comfortable out there and I think that’s what our guys saw all season last year in the minor leagues (from Gilbert).”
On Thursday, they got to see it against a handful of major leaguers in the Giants lineup. These experiences are invaluable for the 22-year-old Gilbert, or any young pitcher. If they control what they can control, what does that look like against more advanced competition? Granted it’s not the same as in-season – hitters are still getting their legs under them – but Gilbert was ready to take whatever he could from the experience.
“There are some good hitters over there like any team we are going to face,” Gilbert said. “I feel like I have the stuff to compete with them. I’m really confident in my stuff and I feel that I can go toe to toe with anybody. That’s how I feel.”
That might read a little cocky coming from someone who hasn’t pitched above Double-A and has played all of one full pro year, but spend any time around him and you know it’s not. That’s just not his personality. Gilbert is, however, very studied in everything he does on the mound. He knows his stuff and now he is seeing how it plays at another level.
Gilbert will most likely start the season at Double-A but the Mariners will not sit on him. When he is ready to move up the ranks, he will be moved, and it appears the hurdles are few. Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto has pointed out that with all of the technology they have, a big league pitch can be measured – and a big league pitch is is a big league pitch regardless of what field it is thrown on. Gilbert should be able to easily check those boxes.
Servais pointed out Thursday morning that the Mariners are not making decisions solely off of Rapsodo and Trackman. They also incorporate how pitches are used, how pitchers respond in situations and how a pitcher controls his innings. In that regard, Gilbert showed a little something by being undaunted by the new environment and bigger stage.
It was without a doubt a good first showing.
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