Gilbert is still projected to make his major-league debut in 2021, but the Mariners plan on him logging the bulk of his innings in the second half of the campaign despite the rotation vacancy created by James Paxton's season-ending elbow injury, Daniel Kramer of MLB.com reports. Manager Scott Servais noted Wednesday that the organization will be careful with all of its minor-league arms, especially those on the cusp of the majors, after many went without pitching in official games all of 2020. The Mariners would prefer to have the 23-year-old Gilbert finish out the season at the big-league level as opposed to deploying him at the front end of the campaign and then shutting him down early once he reaches his innings limit.
Gilbert was reassigned to minor-league camp Monday, Ryan Divish of The Seattle Times reports. Gilbert only threw two official innings this spring as the team seeks to manage his workload. However, he pitched well at Double-A Arkansas in 2019 and also impressed at the alternate site last season. As a result, he's nearly major-league ready and should join the team's rotation sometime relatively early on in the campaign.
Gilbert won't pitch in any more Cactus League games this spring as the Mariners seek to manage his innings, Ryan Divish of The Seattle Times reports. It's possible Gilbert is already one of the Mariners' top six starters, as he posted a 2.13 ERA and a 31.7 percent strikeout rate in 26 starts across three levels of the minors in 2019, topping out at Double-A. He could make his big-league debut fairly early in the season, but the Mariners have no incentive to give him credit for a full year of service time in 2021, so a promotion likely won't happen until late April at the earliest.
Gilbert allowed an earned run on two hits and no walks while recording four strikeouts across two innings in a Cactus League loss to the Angels on Sunday. The 23-year-old provided plenty of reason for optimism with his outing against an Angels lineup replete with regulars, and one of his four strikeouts on the afternoon notably came against Mike Trout. Daniel Kramer of MLB.com reports Gilbert featured his fastball, slider and curveball during his start and overcame a bit of adversity by working out of a second-inning jam. "He's pretty close," manager Scott Servais said. "Certainly last year did him no favors and the fact that he wasn't able to pitch in a competitive game. ... But super, super high ceiling for this kid, and I love the way he goes about his business and what his future holds."
Gilbert will start Sunday's Cactus League game against the Angels, Daniel Kramer of MLB.com reports. The highly touted prospect will get his chance to face a formidable lineup that should include the likes of Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon, which should serve as a good litmus test for where he is in his development. Gilbert's last time on a mound in a live game also came against the Angels on March 10 of last year before spring training was shut down due to COVID-19, and the right-hander projects to get at least a couple more starting opportunities before likely beginning the season at Triple-A Tacoma.
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