Logan Gilbert has all the makings of a quality big-league starter. Drafted 14th overall by the Seattle Mariners in 2018, the 22-year-old right-hander pairs plus stuff with a classic pitcher’s build. Moreover, he’s studious about his craft. The Stetson University product has embraced technology since signing — this per a Mariners executive I spoke to — and he’s using it to better understand, and help fine-tune, his arsenal.
Gilbert debuted professionally last season and went on to excel at three levels. Topping out at Double-A Arkansas, the 6-foot-6, 225-pound hurler logged a 2.13 ERA with 165 strikeouts in 135 innings. Displaying good command, he issued just 33 free passes.
Gilbert — No. 45 on our 2020 Top 100 Prospects list — discussed his four-pitch mix, as well as the extension and ride that help his heater play up, late last week.
David Laurila: To start, can you give a self-scouting report?
Logan Gilbert: “I try to get ahead with the fastball. Everything for me is getting into good counts, because of how that plays better. I’ve seen the averages — how they change based on the counts — so I go right at guys. But I can also land a curveball, which for me is a big, slow curveball. I also have a harder slider that I used for strikeouts a lot last year; I used it for put-aways. I’ll also mix in a changeup. That’s kind of a fourth pitch, kind of a weak-contact pitch to give lefties a different look.”
Laurila: I understand that your velocity was down for a period of time at Stetson.
Gilbert: “It went down a little my junior year , but last year it was pretty good for the most part. This spring it’s been pretty good again. Last game I was sitting around 94 [mph] for my two innings. In college, I was around 90, so it’s come back up.”
Laurila: Is velocity important to you?
Gilbert: “For sure. It gives hitters less time to react. Even breaking pitches. If I can throw those a little harder, with sharper action, it gives the hitters less time.”
Laurila: What is the velocity on your secondaries?
Gilbert: “My slider is usually around 80, sometimes low-80s. I’ll throw a curveball in the mid-70s. There’s actually quite a bit of separation between my breaking pitches and my fastball.”
Laurila: How well do you tunnel your pitches?
Gilbert: “Tunneling is important, and I think my slider works really well off my fastball. My curveball doesn’t really tunnel well, but it’s so different that… it comes out of the hand really high, so hitters give up on it a lot. That’s why it’s better early in the count. I can bury it, too — that will come off a better sight line — but if I’m trying to land it for a strike, it comes out so high that hitters tend to kind of lean back a little bit.
“You’re taught that having your curveball popping out isn’t great, but in my mind it works well because I have a slider that does tunnel with my fastball. Every time the ball pops out of my hand, they know it’s going to be a breaking pitch — but then I’ll throw the slider and they’ll think, ‘Well, that can’t be the curveball; it must be the fastball.’ It’s not, so I’ll get a swing-and-miss.”
Laurila: You said you’re also able to bury the curveball for a swing-and-miss…
Gilbert: “Yes. For me, the curveball is a lot about sight lines. When I’m landing it, maybe on 0-0, it’s more of a ‘hello strike’ where it pops out a little bit. Like I said, guys give up on that a lot. And then once I’ve showed it to them, I can lower the sight line and get that short hop, or at the catcher’s feet. That one is tunneling out of the hand a little more.”
Laurila: What kind of shape do get on your curveball?
Gilbert: “I try to make it as 12-6 as possible. It’s pretty close, and at this point the shape is natural. At first it wasn’t at all. I was more of a sweep-slurve kind of guy, and I had to work to create two breaking pitches — one that’s 12-6, and the slider that’s more horizontal.”
Laurila: I assume the curveball came first?
Gilbert: “I learned the curveball that I have now first. I thought I threw a slider, but I kind of had to recreate what it was. It wasn’t until I got [to pro ball] that I learned the slider I have now. Early on in college is when I learned this curveball. The pitching coach at Stetson [Dave Therneau] taught it to me. It’s kind of a weird grip. It’s a spiked curve, and I tuck my finger all the way under. It works with big hands.”
Laurila: How does it come out of your hand?
Gilbert: “Like you want to do with a 12-6, I kind of lead with the side of the pinky coming through, and then pull down with the middle finger. And I’ve actually learned that my thumb pops off of the ball. It’s really deep in my palm, and the only thing on the ball is my middle finger pulling down. I think it’s the singular point of pressure that helps it have only downward movement. I didn’t even know about that until I saw it on the Edgertronic. It made sense.”
Laurila: What about your slider?
Gilbert: “There’s nothing crazy about my slider. It’s about what you’d think it would be. I try to make it a horizontal pitch, and pull across the ball as much as possible. I’m trying to get big sweep action. That’s about it.”
Laurila: Any plans to add a cutter?
Gilbert: “A cutter is something I could eventually play around with, but I like the slider — especially off the fastball and low in the zone. And again, I’m really just looking for horizontal action. There is some depth, but… it’s kind of a weird thing. I put the depth on it with trajectory, almost. It’s kind of like a fooling of the eyes. Because of the tilt I get on it, with my release, there’s that little bit of depth. But what I want is to put it under the zone as a sweepy pitch, coming in sideways.”
Laurila: And your changeup?
Gilbert: “My change is a circle. There’s not much to it. It’s more of a location-based pitch that I try to keep low and away. The action is what it is. It’s not going to be a swing-and-miss pitch for me. At least not now.”
Laurila: One last thing: You’re 6-foot-6, and my understanding is that you get very good extension.
Gilbert: “It’s usually around seven-and-a-half feet, and it can get close to eight feet. When I can get anywhere around 20 inches of ride on my fastball, that’s really good for me. The ball gets on the hitter really quick with the extension and looks like it stays up with the ride that I create. It’s a big pitch for me.”