The New York Mets greatly improved their farm system at the trade deadline last year, making deals to flip their aging aces Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander into top prospects.
Scherzer was dealt first for Luisangel Acuña, then Verlander was traded for both Drew Gilbert and Ryan Clifford. While all three of these prospects have quickly found themselves among the Mets top 10 prospects, it is Gilbert who may prove to be the greatest prize of the sale.
The 28th overall pick by the Houston Astros in 2022, Gilbert came with the reputation of “playing with his hair on fire” dating back to his days patrolling center field for the Tennessee Volunteers.
Gilbert has continued to play with that same energy in his minor league career, but has rounded out his game to the point where he looks to be a consensus top-100 prospect heading into the 2024 season.
The 23-year-old played 95 games in Double-A, with his first 60 coming with the Astros prior to the trade. Gilbert joined the Binghamton Rumble Ponies (Mets Double-A affiliate) for the final 35 games of the season and helped them make a push to a playoff berth.
Across 154 plate appearances, Gilbert hit .325/.423/.561, with six home runs and a 161 wRC+.
Between both stops in Double-A, Gilbert kept his walk rate just over 12%, and kept his strikeout rate under 20%. With the ability to put together good at-bats and get on base at a strong clip, Gilbert has one of the safer profiles you are going to find in a prospect.
Especially when you consider his elite defense in the outfield.
In our latest Top 100 update, Gilbert checked in at No. 52, making him the highest-ranking prospect in the Mets system, just ahead of Jett Williams (No. 55) and Luisangel Acuña (No. 71).
Considering his great success to close out last season, it was apparent that Gilbert could be knocking on the door of a big league promotion as soon as the 2024 season.
That suspicion was all but confirmed on Wednesday, when president of baseball operations David Stearns announced that Gilbert would start the season in Triple-A.
Stearns was on the New York Post’s, “The Show” podcast, which is hosted by MLB insiders Joel Sherman and Jon Heyman. When referencing the Mets top prospects like Jett Williams, Luisangel Acuña and Gilbert, Stearns said that Gilbert will open the season in Triple-A.
Now a lot could change in spring training, but the assumption is that Gilbert will open the 2024 MLB campaign just one stop away from joining the Mets big league roster.
By placing Gilbert in Triple-A, that could free up playing time in center field for Williams in Double-A, while Acuña still holds down shortstop. Meanwhile Gilbert will get the chance to prove himself at the highest level of the minor leagues, where he could be the first man called up if the Mets ever need to add a starting outfielder midseason.
For a full scouting report on Gilbert in the meantime, here is what Aram Leighton wrote about him in his October update of the top 100.
52. Drew Gilbert – OF – New York Mets
Height/Weight: 5’9″, 195 | Bat/Throw: L/R | 1st Round (28), 2022 (HOU) | ETA: 2025
Above average tools across the board and a fiery competitor, Gilbert has the makings of a really balanced, yet productive ballplayer.
Gilbert starts with a slightly wide stance and his weight shifted on his back side before using a toe tap for timing. He has above average bat speed with a knack for barreling baseballs. Despite his smaller frame, Gilbert uses his lower half well to produce average power with flashes of above average pop to his pull side.
The athleticism is evident in the box for Gilbert showcasing plenty of adjustability both with the barrel and his body. His 90th percentile exit velocity of 103.5 MPH is a notch above average, but there might be a bit more impact in the tank as Gilbert gets his best swings off more consistently.
He was challenged with a quick bump to Double-A where he started a tad slow before gaining his footing. Gilbert posts above average contact rates and a patient approach.
A borderline-plus runner, Gilbert’s speed is better used in the outfield than on the base paths. He covers ground quickly in center with direct routes and good reads. With a plus arm as well, Gilbert should not only stick in centerfield, but be an above average defender there.
His speed has not quite made its way to the base paths in the form of stolen bases yet, but Gilbert is still valuable when on base.
Traded to the Mets at the 2023 Deadline for Justin Verlander, Gilbert instantly became the team’s best outfield prospect. It’s extremely difficult to poke a hole in Gilbert’s game with above average tools everywhere you look and a motor that teams love.