What to make of Jacob Gatewood
Is there any Draft prospect in this year’s class tougher to figure out than Jacob Gatewood (Michael Gettys fans, you’ll just have to wait)?
It’s been tough to figure out where the NoCal high school shortstop will go when considering mock drafts (I had him going No. 22 overall in my first projection of the opening round). While it’s still very unclear if that’s the right spot for him, I have been getting more and more feedback that Gatewood belongs in that neck of the woods, with interest coming from the mid-first round on down.
“I think you would have to consider him [in that area],” one cross-checker said. “I think he’s right around there. I think he’s still going to go towards the end of the first round. I’d feel comfortable taking him in that area.”
There are a couple of things to consider about Gatewood before trying to pass any kind of final judgement about his future. The first is that people were probably a little too over-zealous in their praise and that expectations were too high after the summer. If he had been thought of as a mid-to-late first round pick all along, there wouldn’t be talk about him sliding, etc. (Call it a market adjustment).
Gatewood has a playoff game on Tuesday, giving scouts another look in a pressure situation as the Draft rapidly approaches. And there are sure to be private workouts, which can really help a player like Gatewood.
It’s also important to recall other hitters who had similar concerns, i.e., the swing and miss in their game and what it meant in terms of them reaching their power potential. Some examples:
Joey Gallo. Gallo and Gatewood aren’t great comps, because Gatewood is more athletic, but there were the same issues being voiced by scouts when the now-Rangers prospect was a high school Draft prospect in 2012. He ended up going in the supplemental first round (No. 39 overall) as a result. Sure he struck out 172 times in 2013, his first full season, but he also topped the Minors with 40 homers. He’s doing it again this year (18 homers) and he’s also hitting .342 in the Class A Advanced Carolina League. He’s, that’s right, making adjustments at the plate.
Kris Bryant. Yup, that Kris Bryant. When he was coming out of high school, there were all sorts of questions asked about his hit tool. He was an all-or-nothing type with tremendous pop, but holes in his swing. The question was: Would he be the Kris Bryant we all see now? Teams weren’t sure enough to really go after him. Three years later, he’s one of the top offensive prospects in the game.
Giancarlo Stanton. He was Mike back in 2007, a multi-sport athlete who every team in the first round overlooked. What it came down to was the work a scout with the Marlins did to really know what Stanton was all about.
“Stanton wasn’t really anything out of high school. That Marlins scout was on that one and was relentless. He did not relent since Area Codes. Everyone who tried to catch on to that late, he knew the makeup, that he wanted to play. Someone will have to know that about this kid.”
That’s what the key will be for Gatewood, for one team to know him well enough and feel comfortable that he’ll be able to make adjustments. Baseball has been full of guys like this who have become superstars. And a fair share have gone the other way.
But could Gatewood be Stanton? Absolutely. And the team that thinks he will be — and has done the exhaustive homework about his makeup, his approach, his process — is the one that will take him before the first round is over.