Milwaukee Brewers prospect Jake Gatewood was drafted 41st overall in 2014, but he’s struggled to establish himself in his first three seasons in professional baseball. Now at High-A, Gatewood owns a .333/.423/.561 slash line and is riding a 21-game hitting streak. Is this the guy that the Brewers drafted, or is this a guy just having a good month?
When you look at the results Gatewood has posted this season, one number in particular jumps out. Jake Gatewood has a 13.4% walk rate so far this season. That’s 10% higher than his 3.4% walk rate in 2016. Given his adjustments, it’s clear that Gatewood has refocused his career, and it may not be long until he’s playing for the Milwaukee Brewers.
Changes in approach = Changes in results
How has Gatewood changed? Over the off-season he rededicated himself to his craft, spent hours watching video, and completely reworked his approach. He still has the long, lean frame, and the quick wrists that he showed before the draft in 2014, but Gatewood now has a solid approach built on patience and discipline.
With an adjusted swing plate and reworked mechanics, Gatewood has improved his average exit velocity by almost 20 MPH, and increased his average launch angle by 20-degrees. Meaning, he’s producing more power and greater distance on the balls he puts in play.
The changes have also resulted in a boost to his line drive rate. Gatewood increased the percentage of line drives hit from 19.6% at Low-A in 2016 to 28.8% at High-A in 2017. More line drives generally leads to a greater production.
The next test for Gatewood will come in a few months when/if he makes the jump to Double-A. It remains to be seen if his new approach will continue on the upper levels of the Minor Leagues, but there is still plenty of time for Gatewood to figure things out.
Gatewood is still in his age-21 season, and there’s plenty of time for him to continue to develop into the star the Milwaukee Brewers thought he was. With his updated approach and attitude, there’s no reason why he can’t make it to the Major League roster. This season was a make or break for Gatewood, and it’s clear that he chose to ‘make’ it instead of ‘break’ it.