Gilbert Goes No. 14
Last winter before the Hatters big season in baseball, in an article for Stetson University Magazine, Logan Gilbert was asked about becoming Stetson’s “next.” He hesitated, not quite sure how to respond, then said, “I try to not even think about it. You don’t want to get caught up in all of it.”
On June 4, during the first round of the Major League Baseball Draft, Hatters everywhere began to get the answer.
Gilbert, a junior right-hander, was selected No. 14 overall by the Seattle Mariners — indeed, putting him in position to be “next.”
Logan could soon join former Hatters Corey Kluber ’07 and Jacob deGrom ’10 as a pitcher in the Big Leagues. Each wowed while pitching at Stetson and then was selected in the MLB Draft following his junior season.
Experts lauded the choice of Gilbert. Here was immediate analysis from MLB.com: “Gilbert excels at missing bats. His velocity was down early in the season, and he still racked up strikeouts — then he was back in the mid-90s and touching 97 mph by the end of the year after making a mechanical adjustment. Both his slider and changeup are solid offerings that make it difficult to sit on his fastball.”
In an interview following the selection, Seattle General Manager Scott Hunter gushed about his new prospect: “He has four pitches and throws a ton of strikes. … He misses bats. … This kid fits every checkpoint of a pitcher that we would want to select. … We’re catching the guy on the uptick. He just turned 21, so he’s a young college performer. We have time on our side.”
By the way, the Mariners’ predetermined salary-slot value for that pick No. 14 is $3,883,800 — potentially going to Gilbert.
From the Spring 2018 issue of Stetson University Magazine, here is Gilbert’s look at what turned out to be a great season for both star pitcher and his team.
TRENDING TO THE TOP
Logan Gilbert takes the mound this spring with the past on his side and a future of promise riding on his considerable right arm.
In the classroom, junior Logan Gilbert majors in business systems and analytics, where he learns how to predict the future based on patterns of the past. On the baseball mound this spring, Gilbert is living his own trend line: Will he become Stetson’s next?
The Hatters have two dominating right-handed pitchers in Major League Baseball, Corey Kluber ’07 of the Cleveland Indians and the New York Mets’ Jacob deGrom ’10. Each wowed while pitching at Stetson and then was selected in the MLB Draft following his junior season.
Now in the big leagues, the two are all-stars. In 2014, Kluber won the American League Cy Young Award as the league’s best pitcher. That year, deGrom won National League Rookie of the Year.
Gilbert could be right behind them.
To be sure, the Hatters have enjoyed excellent pitching prospects in their recent past. For example, Mitchell Jordan ’16 is in the minor leagues after being selected by the Oakland Athletics. In June 2017, Brooks Wilson was a late-round draftee as a junior — but instead opted to return to school this year. Also, Jack Perkins is on scouts’ radar this season. Last spring, Wilson and Perkins each struck out more than 100 batters. (Note: In college baseball, players completing their junior season become eligible for the MLB Draft. Even if selected, they can return to their college team if they don’t sign a pro contract.)
Then there is Gilbert. Something appears different about this fire-baller from nearby Apopka, who measures a lean 6 feet, 6 inches. At least that’s what scouts say.
Here’s how one scouting report begins: “Tall, lanky frame with long arms and room for growth; loose, live arm and throws free and easy; ball explodes out of his hand … .”
The report is typical in its assessment of Gilbert; most others don’t differ much. At the same time, it’s extraordinary.
“He’s considered a superstar; I’ll tell you that,” comments Hatters head coach Steve Trimper, adding that Gilbert has “a rocket for an arm.”
Last season, Gilbert was named Pitcher of the Year in the ASUN Conference along with being selected a Collegiate Baseball All-American.
For the record, he won 10 games and lost none. In a game against Florida Gulf Coast, he struck out the first 10 batters he faced. And, like Wilson and Perkins, he struck out more than 100 batters for the season, putting the trio in historic college-baseball company.
So, that brings Gilbert to this spring, where in a few months many in the know predict he will be chosen in the first round of the baseball draft. In fact, No. 30 in Hatter green could go No. 1 overall.
Will Gilbert follow Kluber and deGrom to the Major Leagues? His response is casual, easy and characteristic.
“I try to not even think about it,” says Gilbert with a smile. “You don’t want to get caught up in all of it.”
Only when further prodded about the future and patterns of the past does Gilbert offer more insight. “Of course, that’s the goal; that’s what I’m shooting for,” he says. “Maybe one day down the road I’ll get to answer that question. … It’s nice to have those guys to look up to and hopefully follow in their footsteps.”
For now, Gilbert is decidedly even-keeled. That’s the word used by Trimper, who arrived a year ago just as Gilbert was beginning his ascent. Trimper says he’s seen nothing but down-to-earth.
“Human nature is to kind of get a little big for your britches. I will tell you, of all the guys I’ve had, Logan is one of the most humble individuals I’ve ever been around,” says Trimper, who has coached approximately three dozen players who advanced to the professional level.
“He’s so even-keeled. He doesn’t get too high, and he doesn’t get too low. That’s something hard to teach.”
Gilbert says he’s learned a lot at Stetson, like handling his emotions.
“With baseball being such a tough sport, there’s going to be extreme highs and extreme lows. I found that out,” he explains. “I thought I would be able to handle myself better if I wasn’t on a roller coaster [emotionally].”
The lessons have paid off. Coming out of Apopka High Gilbert was considered good, not great, ranked among the top 500 prospects nationally and No. 75 in Florida. While he received interest from other schools, it wasn’t overwhelming. Meanwhile, Stetson had “everything I was looking for” in terms of academics and athletics, and legendary former coach Pete Dunn made recruiting Gilbert a priority at a time when the young player felt somewhat overlooked.
“Coach Dunn saw something in me and gave me a chance. I will always be grateful to him for letting me play here,” says Gilbert.
In turn, thanks to steady improvement, Stetson could say the same about Gilbert. He has played with a bit of a chip on his shoulder from perceived past neglect. Among Apopka High’s alumni is Zack Greinke, who was the sixth overall choice in the 2002 draft and continues to shine as one of the MLB’s best hurlers. Gilbert didn’t get nearly the same early attention. It’s happening now, though.
Trimper believes Gilbert has all the tools needed to reach baseball’s pinnacle, plus three other attributes the coach describes as “hidden”: demeanor, personality and work ethic. “He’s a guy that you like to have a lot of people emulate,” Trimper says. “Phenomenal baseball player. He’s going to have a long professional career.”
Gilbert insists that he’s not quite there yet — because he’s still learning and has more to prove, and to improve.
“I’ve gotten sharper and more in tune over the past year,” he says. “The mental side really helped me shape what I could do, and being consistent on the mound.”
Working with pitching coach Dave Therneau, a former pitcher in the Cincinnati Reds organization, Gilbert is studying the fine arts of a different form, such as pitch placement, new grips on the ball, using both sides of the plate and enhancing his “secondary” pitches.
“It might look like I have it together at least somewhat on the mound,” Gilbert describes, “but I feel like I’m not where I need to be.”
While pitching is complex, Gilbert seeks to keep things simple.
“Once you’re on the mound, it’s not thinking. It’s shutting that off; you want to be complete instincts out there,” he says.
“You should know what you want to do and just go out there and do it.”
Mostly, Gilbert wants to finish big. Not big leagues for now, but big winner. At Stetson.
“It’s first and foremost Hatter baseball. That’s all I’m focused on,” Gilbert concludes. “If I’m helping the team, I’m helping myself.”