The New Balance Baseball Future Stars Series powered by Program 15 Sports was proud to help send four players to the big leagues over the last two seasons, starting with Bo Naylor debuting late in the 2022 season, who was joined by Tyler Soderstrom, Grayson Rodriguez and Kyren Paris last year.
The ball is rolling, and the next wave of FSS alumni set to make their major-league debuts are making their case.
After starting off by taking a look at Tink Hence, Zac Veen, Anthony Solometo, Dylan Crews and Robby Snelling here’s another player who might just be next, as well as the path they took through the Future Stars Series to get there.
OF Drew Gilbert, New York Mets (Highest Level: AA)
Gilbert’s journey with the New Balance Baseball Future Stars Series began with the 2017 National Tournaments, back when he was a member of the Minnesota Blizzard. Considered to be the ninth best prospect at the event at the time, he had a lot of eyes on him even back then as a legitimate two-way player.
At the time, FSS scouts — as many others did — liked Gilbert better on the mound than at the plate, but that’s not to say the future wasn’t expected to be bright at either spot. As a hitter, Gilbert was seen as having a D1/Pro type of future at that event with a “55 arm that is accurate and has a quick release..offensively short to the ball swing with fast bottom hand. Stays inside the ball and gets downhill plane to flat plane swing, hits ball where it is pitched and doesn’t miss his pitch. High average hitter that will play into power.”
On the mound, however, Gilbert was seen as having a potential second or third-round pick upside, with a physical comparison to Jarrod Washburn that came with a fastball/curveball/changeup mix. At the time, Gilbert was just 16 years old, and there was a lot of development still to do, so getting another look at him was imperative.
That just so happened to come at the second-ever International Week event, which was held at Camelback Ranch and featured a strong crop of prospects at the time like Paris, Daniel Espino, Brock Jones and many others.
At the time a commit to Oregon State, Gilbert shined on both sides of the ball; he had an RBI single at the plate in Game 2, and allowed only run batter to reach base against him on the mound over two innings of work in Game 3.
He was up to 91 on the mound by then, and was seen as a potential back end of the rotation starter in pro ball, but his work at the plate couldn’t be ignored; FSS scouts noted his “open stance, high leg kick, smooth stride, explosive swing with good extension. Drives the ball to all fields with 45/55 raw pull power with loft.”
The path after that, however, was an intriguing one. Following a coaching change prior to the start of his freshman year, Gilbert instead flipped his commitment to The University of Tennessee, where he ultimately found a path as the team’s every day center fielder after some occasional time on the mound. He emerged as one of the most feared hitters in the SEC, and ended up going with the No. 28 overall pick in the 2022 MLB Draft to the Houston Astros for a reported $2.5 million signing bonus.
His first professional season came to a quick end after an injury in Low-A, but he excelled right away in 2023 and was invited to the prestigious Futures Game. He was the key part of the trade that netted the Astros the return of Justin Verlander, one that sent both Gilbert and Clifford to the New York Mets organization.
Gilbert ultimately put up a .289/.381/.487 line in 2023, smacking 18 homers and 59 RBI along the way between the two organizations, and has firmly established himself as one of the next in line to earn an everyday outfield spot in Queens. Ticketed either to return to Double-A Binghamton or perhaps an ambitious start to the upcoming 2024 season in Triple-A Syracuse, the 23-year-old could set foot in Citi Field as soon as this season depending on how things play out, but is inarguably a big part of the Mets plans moving forward as their youth movement continues around a strong, veteran core.
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