Drew Gilbert was once seen as a hot two-way player coming out of Stillwater High School in Minnesota. His hometown Twins selected him in the 35th round of the 2019 MLB Draft due mainly to his commitment to Tennessee. He was used as a reliever sparingly in 2020 and 2021, but Gilbert did not get on the mound this season. Instead, he concentrated on his hitting and defense in centerfield. It certainly paid off. Let’s take a look at the 21-year-old outfielder.
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Drew Gilbert, Outfielder, Tennessee
Weight: 185 lbs.
2021 Stats: 68 G, .274/.341/.437, 41 R, 62 RBI, 10 HR, 10 SB
2022 Stats: 58 G, .362/.455/.673, 60 R, 70 RBI. 11 HR, 4 SB
Despite the disappointment that Gilbert and his teammates did not make it to Omaha this season, he had an excellent season. The Volunteers were the best team in the country, and the centerfielder was a large part of their success. He improved immensely from 2021 to 2022 and showcased an overall aptitude for the game, including walking more than he struck out this season.
Gilbert’s plate discipline stands out among his offensive characteristics. He has a quick, compact swing and allows the ball to get deep in the zone before attacking it. Gilbert also has a knack for barreling the ball as his exit velocity was in the 99th percentile. While the Tennessee outfielder’s power is just a tick below average right now, he has a chance to bring that up and could see 15-20 homers a year at the higher levels with a bit more strength.
He is a plus runner with an aggressive approach that allows him to not just steal bases but also go first to third or second to home consistently. That speed also helps him in centerfield where he will likely stay. Gilbert runs gap to gap very well and has excellent instincts on his routes. His arm a true weapon as he regularly threw 93 mph off the mound in High School and as a reliever here and there for the Volunteers.
Gilbert plays at one speed, and that is full speed. While it is nice to see a player go 100 percent all the time, sometimes that can get the best of him. The left-hander has to stay within himself at the plate. He can get a little long with his swing when he sells out for power or tries to get pull happy.
Pro Comparison: Brett Gardner
The long-time Yankee mixed some power and speed over his career. He averaged 13 home runs and 26 stolen bases per 162 games over the course of his 14 years in the majors. Gilbert could see similar production at the plate and also with the glove. Gardner was an excellent defensive outfielder especially early on, and the possible first-round pick this year should also excel with the leather.
Draft Prediction: Oakland Athletics, Round 1, Pick 19
The A’s like their hitters to have good plate discipline. They also like overall athletes. While Oakland has Ramon Laureano and Cristian Pache in the outfield currently, they have been using 30-year-old Chad Pinder in left and have only one outfielder among their top 10 prospects. That is Brayan Buelvas, who just turned 20 and has a similar profile to Gilbert without the arm. The former Tennessee Volunteer could be interesting as he moves up as well. Along with throwing in the low-90s, he also showed a good feel for a curveball and changeup.
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