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Thursday, August 11, 2022

Astros first-round draft pick Stillwater’s Drew Gilbert says he’s ‘ready to play’

LOS ANGELES – After a two-year hiatus from the first round, the Astros returned to one of college baseball’s most prominent events to hold the swaggy center fielder.

Houston picked Tennessee outfielder Drew Gilbert on Sunday night as the 28th overall pick in the 2022 MLB Draft. The slot price for their selection is $2,620,400 and most of the time, teams draft players with an agreement in advance.

In a brief Zoom call with reporters Sunday night, Gilbert did not say whether he had already agreed to the terms, but reiterated on several occasions that he was “ready to play.” Gilbert said he met Astros last week via a Zoom call and had some pre-draft conversations with them.

Gilbert is the franchise’s first first-round pick since Corey Lee in 2019. As part of the team’s punishment for stealing signals electronically during the 2017 and 2018 seasons, Major League Baseball stripped the Astros of their first- and second-round picks in both 2020. and 2021.

A highly successful pitcher at Stillwater High School who led the Ponies to a state championship, Gilbert played both ways when he arrived in Tennessee, but transitioned to a sophomore as a full-time player. Gilbert bats and throws with the left hand. He led the Volunteers last season with a .362 batting average and 1.128 ops. Thirty-six of his 72 hits went for additional bases.

“Long-term perspective, we see him as a plus defensive center fielder, a table-setter type,” said Astros amateur scouting director Chris Gross. “He had a year in Tennessee. He’s shown power, made a lot of contact, understated attitude and a lot of running. There’s a lot to like with the bat, instinct and leadership. The last three years In the performance, we felt quite special.”

In 199 at-bats last season, Gilbert made 33 walks and was dismissed just 32 times. He earned nationwide fame for some of his in-game works. He was kicked out in the middle of an at-bat during Tennessee’s NCAA regional tournament for arguing with an umpire and unbuttoning some big bat flips that made their way onto a T-shirt. An opposing coach described Gilbert as an “emotional, max-effort player”.

Tennessee coach Tony Vitello said on MLB Network’s draft broadcast, “Obviously a loud personality on the field because he wants to win so much, but I can’t tell people how much he changed my life after being on our program.” Changed.”

“He does things in the locker room and the dugout that are hard to describe in a short amount of time, but he really changed how the program operates, competes and works. I think he does at the big league level as well. He’s going to do that, even if he has to set himself up as a phenomenal kid.”

Gilbert primarily played center field in Tennessee, which last year put together one of the best seasons in modern college baseball history. The Volunteers finished 56–7 and won the Southeast Conference regular season and tournament titles before losing in a Super Regional to Notre Dame.

Gilbert won SEC Tournament Most Valuable Player honors, collecting seven hits and driving in nine runs to win a title during the volunteer race. Baseball America ranked him as the No. 24 overall prospect in the draft, while MLB Pipeline placed him at No. 32.

“For me the only thing I care about is winning,” Gilbert said. “I could crap about personal stats, personal awards. That stuff honestly doesn’t matter to me. The only thing I care about is winning and my teammates. Those are the things that matter most to me.” “

An opposing coach who played against Gilbert this season called him “a high-level competitor with a big motor”.

“The elite athlete who can last long in center field with a plus arm,” said the coach. “Missed some swing and plate that he improved on this year. Power to all areas.”

The Astros will make Gilbert the first of 21 selections over the next three days. The team gained a large bonus pool after making their first and second rounds after being punished for sign-stealing. Houston has a bonus pool of $6,837,000 to spend on its first 11 selections.

The draft could be crucial to improving the farming system, widely considered one of the five worst in the game. FanGraphs ranks Astro’s system 27th out of 30 organizations. Baseball America ranks it at number 28. The team has a consensus Top 100 prospect – righthander Hunter Brown – and one without high-end talent.

Based on his age, track record, and college competition ability, Gilbert profiles him as a player who can quickly move through a farm system without a ton of fast risers.

“Very excited,” Gilbert said of his selection. “I’m as happy as ever, but I’m ready to play. It’s been a year.”

World Nation News Desk
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