photo: Mateo Gil (Johnson City Cardinals)
The Cardinal Nation’s top 50 prospect countdown for 2020 continues with a teenage shortstop who finished his second professional season strongly with Johnson City. FREE article.
|2019 rank||Pos.||DOB||Ht.||Wt.||Bat||Thw||Signed||Round||R5/Opt||MLB debut|
|NR||SS||7 24 00||6-1||180||R||R||2018||3rd||2022||2023|
Link to Mateo Gil’s player page at The Cardinal Nation, with additional biography and history information.
Selected 2019 stats
TCN Scouting Grade: 4.5, Risk: high (click here to review scales)
Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)
Message board community (25): Gil was drafted out of high school in the third round of the 2018 draft. He did not make the TCN top 50 for that season, but he did squeeze onto the Community’s list at #48.
In this fall’s voting, Gil jumped up 23 spots to #25 this after a fairly good season and his draft reputation. Two message board voters placed him a bit higher: stlcard25 and mudville at #22.
stlcard25 said, “(Gil) put up a bit better than expected .270/.324/.431 line at Johnson City. This was also his age 18 season, as he turned 19 in late July. He did make a whopping 17 errors, but that’s not uncommon for young guys like this. I think he’s a sleeper future starter.”
Mudville added, “It’s hard for me to vote for any player based on early stats. But I just have a good feeling about Mateo Gil. I agree that he could be a sleeper”.
Grenadier1 wrote, “Might be a little early for a guy with a +106 in Rookie league ball, but he was 2.4 years below the league average. Generally considered a good fielder with the skills to remain at shortstop long term and showed a little more pop than I expected. He has a long way to go as a prospect, but certainly has the tools to work with to be a really good value.“ – John Baker
Derek Shore (26): The son of former big leaguer Benji Gil immediately impressed the Cardinals with his athleticism and instincts after they drafted him in the third round in 2018.
After holding his own in his professional debut with the Gulf Coast League in 2018, Gil moved up to (short-season) Johnson City and did the same as a 19 year-old. The shortstop slashed .270/.324/.431 through 51 games while flashing intriguing extra-base pop.
He collected eight doubles, two triples and slugged seven homers while driving in 30 runs over 204 at-bats for Johnson City this past season.
Coming into 2019, Gil said he felt more comfortable after having his draft year under his belt, which helped him slow down the game. He said he struggled during extended spring training, but felt he turned it around after a two-game taste of High-A Palm Beach.
“I felt like I learned a lot from the little time I was there and I think it helped me start off hot at Johnson City,” Gil said. “I rode the hot streak for a while, but then went into a little slump then got hurt for the first time in my career.
“I think I ended really well and did my best to help the team win the (Appy League) championship.”
Gil attributed his offensive improvements, including his power, to feeling more comfortable in the box and committing to an approach while adding strength this past offseason.
From a scouting perspective, Gil is a good all-around player but there is no huge tool that stands out. Evaluators see him mostly as a solid big-leaguer, not an All-Star.
He has a medium frame and is described as “wiry strong” particularly in the lower half. He has above-average bat speed and a longish swing.
His carrying tool right now is the power. One scout thinks he has a chance to hit 20 home runs in the future. His approach is to be patient early in the counts, but he shows a willingness to expand with two strikes.
Gil’s speed is average. Defensively, he is smooth and confident defender at short and features a strong and accurate arm, enabling him to make all the plays he needs to make.
Gil said he worked a lot with Cardinals infield gurus Jose Oquendo and Johnny Rodriguez on his footwork this past summer. He said the focus was being softer and getting around the ball more.
“They’re great coaches,” he added.
Gil should open 2020 at Low-A Peoria. His goals for the upcoming season are simple.
“My goal for next season is basically the same as last year,” Gil said. “I want to make a full-season club and improve in every aspect of my game.”
Brian Walton (25): Again, our voters are of a like mind about where Gil is positioned among Cardinals organization prospects, as well as among middle infielders. Nothing against our no. 26-ranked prospect, Ramon Urias, but it illustrates the importance of potential early in a career vs. a player who is six years older. Of course, there is also a greater risk for Gil to achieve his peak considering how many more levels he has yet to master.
Any high school draft pick is young by definition, but Gil was young for a prep selection. Specifically, he was 17 years of age on his draft day and for the first half of his debut season. That he did not hit at a high level immediately in the Gulf Coast League was not overly concerning.
Though Gil did not place in the overall site top 50 prior to the 2019 season, his 94 Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+) was just six percent below Gulf Coast League average.
It would be impossible for me to evaluate a teenage shortstop prospect taken early in the draft without drawing a comparison to Delvin Perez. Both were top three-round draft picks by the Cardinals as teenagers, two years apart.
In his GCL debut, Perez posted a 123 wRC+, 23 percent above league average. However, in his year two in the Appalachian League, Perez stumbled to a 64 wRC+. Contrast that with Gil’s improvement also at Johnson City, as he reached a 106 wRC+ in 2019.
Coming in above the Appy League offensive average is a step in the right direction and helps to explain why Gil placed here at no. 25 and Perez has slid to no. 33 for 2020. Perez might still have a higher potential ceiling, but his time to achieve it is two years shorter.
Trusted to hit in the top or second spot in manager Roberto Espinoza’s lineup for much of the 2019 season, Gil began and ended solidly (.300 in June and .307 in August) with a dry spell in the middle. As Gil told Derek above, his .190 July was due to a combination of slump and minor injury. (He sat out from July 23-30, though the injured list is rarely used in the Appalachian League.)
It might be easy to overlook major improvements in Gil’s numbers in August without calling it out here. The 10 extra base hits were great, especially given he had just seven in about the same number of plate appearances in June plus July. However, I was even more impressed by the 12 walks he drew in August (after just five prior). That improved his final month on-base percentage to a very good .374. If Gil can carry that overall strong August performance into 2020, it could be the start of a legitimate offensive emergence.
Gil is well positioned to compete for a full-season spot to open 2020 at Peoria. With Perez likely to move up to Palm Beach, Gil should not be blocked. In other words, his immediate advancement should depend on how he performs in spring camp. Even if he doesn’t make it initially, he should get his first chance at the Midwest League by May, as did notable position player prospects Jhon Torres and Malcom Nuñez in 2019.
I currently have Gil’s scouting grade at “4.5 high”, between a spot starter and an average MLB starter, with considerable work yet ahead to achieve it. Given how much play is still ahead in Gil’s career, I would give this grade an incomplete, but one trending in the right direction.
Our 2020 top 50 series continues
To see the entire list of top Cardinals prospects and remaining article schedule, click here. This includes the top 50 countdown and 11 in-depth, follow-up articles coming up at the rate of one article per day into January.
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