Since being drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers back in 2014, Jake Gatewood has moved around a lot in the professional ranks. He was not traded, the team was just looking for his defensive home.
Upon signing with the Milwaukee Brewers out of high school, Gatewood has logged significant innings at shortstop, third, and ultimately first base, where plays is now. He also is listed as an outfielder on the 2018 prospect rankings after logging a third of an inning in left field back in 2016.
Gatewood is down three spots from his 2017 standing, but he is expected to debut in the MLB in 2019. If he can become consistent as a first baseman, his 6’5″ frame will give Milwaukee a big bat in their lineup for years to come,
As can be assumed, power is the tool Gatewood is most known for, but it is not his best. His profile lists his arm strength grade at 60, while power is 55. In 2017, the big first baseman brought a more disciplined approach to the plate that started to pull him out of the homer or strikeout category of hitters.
Even without consistency on the defensive side of the ball, Gatewood is still fairly solid. He is picking up first base well, and will probably get a chance to prove that with Colorado Springs at some point in 2018.
It is true that overall, Gatewood is showing more discipline at the plate. In 2017 he put up, by far, his best walk rate. That is good considering he spent the season with Carolina and Biloxi, the highest level he has seen so far. More patience allowed the 22 year old to hit a career high 15 homers on the year as well.
There is no overnight fix to anything. But even with the raised plate discipline he did strike out at a rate of just under 30 percent. Because Gatewood only stepped up to the plate 100 times in a Biloxi uniform, he will likely start there again. The hope is that his obvious improvements will drop the strikeout rate.
How Does He Project?
After 80 games at first base for Carolina, Gatewood showed 14 errors at the position. He will pick it up, and he will pose as a fine glove to pencil in there. Between Ryan Braun moving and Eric Thames, we will see how all of that plays out, especially with his 2019 ETA. But that is a discussion for another time.
With a bat in his hands, well that could go either way. His power is undeniably there, and it is just getting better. But we have seen what a strikeout rate of 30 percent can do to a player thanks to Jonathan Villar last season. If Gatewood continues to lower his strikeouts and work counts, he could be an excellent hitter for the Milwaukee Brewers.
According to the MLB Pipeline, all Gatewood did to be more disciplined at the plate is get contact lenses. So if it was that simple, and he will continue to learn at the plate, I think the Brewers will need to clear the path for him. His bat speed from the right side will be great in Miller Park.