Jake Gatewood headlines Mudcats six Carolina League All-Stars

Loaded with top 25 prospects from the Brewers system, Carolina places a half-dozen players on mid-season All-Star roster

Madeline Gray—0
The Mudcat's Jake Gatewood (7) high fives his teammates after scoring a run against the Down East Wood Ducks at the Five County Stadium on Thursday

Throughout his brief career, Jake Gatewood struggled with consistency prior to the 2017 season. Despite being the No. 41 pick in the 2014 MLB Draft — the final pick in the first compensatory round — Gatewood had never hit better than .244 over his first three seasons at the minor league level.He’s changing that perception with the Carolina Mudcats.On Sunday, Gatewood was one of six players from Zebulon selected to the Carolina League All-Star Game after starting the season at .295/.366/.500 with nine home runs. Gatewood joins Corey Ray, Isan Diaz, Nate Griep, Freddy Peralta and Cody Ponce on the All-Star roster.”I’m very thankful,” Gatewood said of the All-Star nod. “That was one of my goals before the season was to make the All-Star Game. I’m very blessed to have made that. Now it’s just keep working and keep making more All-Star rosters from here on out. I’m very fortunate to make that team with the players we have.”For Carolina manager Joe Ayrault, it wasn’t about developing the tools for Gatewood, but rather fine tuning them to help Gatewood find that consistency at the plate.”We knew coming in, even when he was drafted, that the tools were in place for him,” Ayrault said. “Now he’s really starting to command the [strike] zone and learning the pitches that he can drive. We’re not preaching that he has to get his walks up, but that’s a sign of a quality at-bat.”He’s using the whole field and driving the ball to every part of the ballpark. He’s really been fun to watch.”Just how consistent has Gatewood been this season? He put together a 23-game hitting streak that saw him hit .372/.443/.628 (32-for-86) with 18 runs, four homers, 14 RBI, 11 walks and a 1.071 OPS. It also helped catapult him to the Brewers Minor Player of the Month honor in April.That hitting streak was not only the longest of Gatewood’s career, but also tied the franchise record for Carolina, matching Bryson Myles of the 2013 Mudcats. Suffice to say, that wasn’t exactly on his to-do list prior to the start of the year, so not snapping the streak was far from disappointing.”Actually I had no idea that was going to happen,” Gatewood said with a laugh. “I didn’t have a hitting streak of any kind as part of my goals prior to the season. It was kind of random, but it was awesome. I tried to keep it out of my head, but you hear it from everywhere.”If you would have told me I was going to have a 23-game hitting streak and tie the record, I’d be pretty happy. So I wasn’t upset about not breaking it at all.”While some players might begin to press or get anxious at the plate, Ayrault noted there was no such added pressure that Gatewood put on himself.”The greatest part about that hitting streak was that he was the exact same every day he came in,” Ayrault said. “He was on fire, but he didn’t let it change him as a player or his approach. The day he didn’t have a hit, he just said, ‘Hey, time to start a new one tomorrow.'”In the Brewers long history, only 11 shortstops have ever been selected in the first round. With names like Robin Yount, Gary Sheffield, B.J. Surhoff and current Twins manager Paul Molitor on that list, Gatewood is hoping to be the newest name on that list to make his way to the major leagues.At 21 years old, Gatewood might still have a lot of developing to do to reach that next level, but he’s confident that he’s turning a corner through an old adage in every sport.”I know it’s cliche, but I’m just taking it one day at a time, one at-bat at a time and even one pitch at a time,” Gatewood said. “Whether it’s the 15th inning or we’re up by a lot, I can’t afford to give away at-bats. I’m not even thinking about the All-Star Game right now. I’m just concerned with the first pitch of tonight’s game.”If I can just keep that approach, I know I can accomplish any goals I set for myself.”