Gil reflects on how time with Future Stars Series helped prepare him for pro ball

There has never been a shortage of interest in Mateo Gil.

Not in travel ball, where he was one of the more talked about players at the New Balance Baseball Future Stars Series inaugural International Week event in Sugar Land, Texas back in 2017.

And certainly not in pro ball, where he’s already been a key piece in a major trade and claimed as a priority in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 Draft.

But how did the former help prepare him to deal with the latter?

“I think it more so simulated playing every day,” Gil told

“In high school, I’d only play Tuesday, Friday and sometimes Saturday, so the summer circuit helped me playing every single weekend or in those week-long tournaments, and it really emulates how it is in pro ball. I didn’t really realize that until I got there, but it helps a lot. I think it’s important for any young player who is interested in playing professional baseball or thinks they have the ability to, to play in the summer circuits and those type of things.”

Having just turned 17 years old prior to the start of the event, Gil got to face premium arms like Mick Abel and Grayson Rodriguez at an early age, but also had another opportunity to play for his father, Benji, a World Series champion who was Program 15’s National Infield Coordinator at the time and one of the coaches on hand.

“It wasn’t my first time, but in that atmosphere, it was a bunch of guys that I hadn’t played with yet necessarily, so he gave them a lot of attention, which I completely understood,” Mateo Gil said. “It was kind of cool seeing him work with guys that were considered Draft prospects at that time, and then obviously for him, it’s been just more and more, so it’s been cool watching him.”

Perhaps at no point has that been more true than when his father, currently the Los Angeles Angels infield coach, got to manage Team Mexico at the most recent World Baseball Classic and led them to within a one-run loss of advancing to the title game.

There was an immense level of pride for Mateo, not only watching his father make international headlines for what he was able to do with his club at the WBC, but also start to shift the narrative from him being long overlooked for affiliated ball jobs he was overqualified for to being on the cusp of earning a job as a big-league manager.

“I knew some of the guys on that roster, and they’d played for him before,” Mateo Gil said. “But, the majority of them had never played for him and probably never even knew him as a coach. The way they came together — I don’t think they were expected to do what they did, and they were really one inning away from the championship, which I believe they would have won if they got there — and the job that he did, having that clubhouse come together and how it happened so quickly, that’s a reflection on the guys, but it’s also on the manager. He does a really good job with that. I’ve worked with him in winter ball, and it’s the same thing; they play for him, and it’s really cool for me to see…I think he should definitely get an opportunity. Everybody that’s played for him agrees, so hopefully he gets that opportunity. I think he will, and I think he’ll run with it.”

It would really be no different than what Mateo himself has done after finding himself selected with the No. 95 overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft by the St. Louis Cardinals, an organization with whom he seemed to be quickly climbing the ranks before being one of the key parts sent to the Colorado Rockies in the Nolan Arenado trade prior to the start of the 2021 season.

That deal ultimately set off a bit of a circuitous path for Gil, although it didn’t necessarily seem it would be that way in the moment.

“The trade itself was just kind of a weird situation,” he said. “I think the thing that made it the most odd is basically everyone that made the trade quit; the GM while I was in spring training, the farm director quit a month into my season. It was a weird dynamic, but I learned a lot from my time there, and I made a lot of friends that I still talk to, so I don’t think I’d change it.”

With GM Jeff Bridich and and farm director Zach Wilson both having stepped down as Gil says, the fear would be a simple one for a player just acquired by the organization. In short, that he wouldn’t be one of “the guys” of the new regime and would ultimately become an afterthought not long after having been a key part of the biggest trade the organization had ever made.

“That was my initial thought, but I feel like the guys that worked with me still stuck with me,” he said. “But, I did get a little sense of that — whether it was or wasn’t, I felt that a little bit, but I could be totally wrong and overthinking it — so, it is what it is.”

Gil performed well in the Rockies system, advancing a level in each of his two years there, but says ultimately being taken by the New York Mets in the minor league phase of the most recent Rule 5 Draft was a welcome change of scenery.

“I’ve enjoyed my time here a lot, and they communicate with me very well,” he said. “I’m disappointed that I haven’t gotten off to a good start with them, but they’ve still showed confidence in me and still reassure me that they trust me and really think that I can be a good player for them. I’m trying to keep my confidence up, and they’re giving me the opportunity to play every day, so that’s the only thing I can ask for.”

Still only 22 years old, Gil began the season at Double-A Binghamton and had some good moments, including producing a walk-off single in late April for the Rumble Ponies. However, off to a slow start statistically, he was sent down to High-A Brooklyn in early May. With his first true taste of adversity still close in the rear view mirror, Gil has already delivered big for his new club, smashing two doubles on Friday night.

“I’d never had the experience of being demoted,” he said. “They said big league stuff was happening and it was out of their control, but it’s a good thing, because they said they still want me to play every day and they were sending me here.  If I just play to the best of my ability, everything will take care of itself. But, they’ve been completely transparent with everything, and it’s been great…I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed because I think I only played 13 games up there. My numbers were bad, but I don’t think that reflected how I actually did; I felt like I was hitting balls hard, I was just getting a little unlucky. But they told me they believe in me, so I’ve got to take care of business, play how I play, and everything else will take care of itself…I don’t like hearing it, but they tell me I’m still young. I’ve been young at level I go to according to all my coaches, so I have to remain present and focus on today instead of getting ahead of myself and wanting to do well so I can move up.”

Mike Ashmore
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