The Mariners’ player-personnel tradition, moving up top young talents quickly in a desperate bid for relevancy (except when hoarding MLB service time), appears to be kicking in.
Per the Seattle Times, RHP Logan Gilbert, 24, the club’s top pitching prospect taken 14th overall in the 2018 MLB draft, will start Thursday’s home game against Cleveland, which is also when Jarred Kelenic, 21, is scheduled to make his big league debut.
The rush for Gilbert, who in 2019 was a cumulative 10-5 with a 2.13 ERA on three teams in AAA and AA, striking out 165 and walking 33, has taken on urgency because the Mariners have lost several pitchers to injury. James Paxton (Tommy John surgery) is done for the season, and Marco Gonzales, Nick Margevicius, Casey Sadler, Keynan Middleton and Ljay Newsome have developed arm problems in varying degrees.
After missing out on the 2020 season denied by the covid-induced shutdown of the minor leagues, Gilbert made just a single appearance for the AAA Tacoma Rainiers, allowing a run and striking out four in five innings Friday.
After giving up a 4-1 lead and losing to the Dodgers 6-4 in Los Angeles Tuesday, the strain on the bullpen staff was apparent. The Mariners were to play the Dodgers Wednesday before returning home for the four-game Indians series.
The 6-6, 225-pound Gilbert, from Apopka, FL., has just 27 minor league starts. His four-pitch menu has a 97 mph fastball and two breaking pitches. He’s ranked 28th on the list of MLB Pipeline’s top 100 prospects.
Gilbert starred for three seasons at Stetson University in DeLands, FL., a mid-major program known for producing later-round talent such as Corey Kluber and Jacob deGrom, multiple Cy Young award winners. Gilbert became the first pitcher from the school to be taken in the first round.
“Logan is the closest to major league preparedness, just where he is emotionally, what he does physically,” GM Jerry Dipoto said in January, speaking about the top-tier prospects. “He was outstanding at the alternate site during the summer last year.”
After he was shut down March 20 in the Cactus League, manager Scott Servais was cognizant of how little time Gilbert has pitched in the past two seasons.
“We want to be very cognizant and really in-tune to the fact that we want him to have gas in the tank throughout the entire season,” he told reporters. “The fact that he didn’t pitch last year, we have to be pretty cautious. I just think it’s so important how he finishes the season versus on how he starts the season. So you probably won’t see him in another Cactus League game.”