The Road to The Show™: A’s infielder Gelof
Each week, MiLB.com profiles an elite prospect by chronicling the steps he's taken toward achieving his Major League dream. Here's a look at A’s No. 4 prospect Zack Gelof. For more stories about players on The Road to The Show, click here. It’s really difficult to slow down Zack Gelof.
Each week, MiLB.com profiles an elite prospect by chronicling the steps he's taken toward achieving his Major League dream. Here's a look at A’s No. 4 prospect Zack Gelof. For more stories about players on The Road to The Show, click here.
It’s really difficult to slow down Zack Gelof.
Even a torn labrum that kept him out for six weeks in the middle of this, his first full season, could hardly contain the fourth-ranked A’s prospect. Gelof, who suffered an injury in his left shoulder while diving for a grounder at second in May, bashed a grand slam in his second game back with Double-A Midland on July 17.
The labrum injury has basically been Gelof’s only speed bump since he was selected by Oakland with the No. 60 overall pick in last year’s Draft. Having bypassed the High-A level and already making a legitimate impression at Triple-A, Gelof’s impressive combination of power and speed have made him one of the fastest risers in the Minor Leagues.
“He’s got an advanced approach,” Ed Sprague, the club’s director of player development, told MLB.com in March. “He knows his strike zone and his swing. He’s super athletic. He can run. He’s got some power in there that is going to come. Good defender. I think he’s a guy that can play a few spots if we wanted him to. Very competitive hitter. He’s fun to watch.”
The 22-year-old was an intriguing two-way prospect out of Rehoboth Beach, Delaware in 2018 and was drafted by Cleveland in the 38th round. But he opted to attend the University of Virginia, where he started all of the 137 games for which he was on the roster, almost exclusively at third base.
MLB Pipeline’s No. 79 overall prospect showed a good feel for the strike zone and was an All-ACC selection while playing with his brother, Jake, and the Cavaliers. He finished his junior season with nearly as many walks (32) as strikeouts (40) while hitting .312/.393/.485 with nine homers and 41 RBIs in a pitcher-friendly environment at Disharoon Park.
Now listed at 6-foot-3, 205 pounds, Gelof drew comparisons to Austin Riley and Adam Duvall entering the Draft and was believed to be a first-round talent. He slid to Oakland at No. 60 and signed a slot value deal for $1.16 million.
“He’s very athletic for how physical he is,” A’s scouting director Eric Kubota told MLB.com after the signing. “We think he’s got a chance to be a really good hitter. He performed decently at Virginia, but we think there’s a lot of upside with the bat. We think the power is untapped, and he’s just kind of freakishly athletic for how big he is.”
Kubota wasn’t alone in thinking there was more power than what appeared for Gelof in college. And the strong right-handed hitter proved it almost immediately with Single-A Stockton.
Gelof played in one game in the Rookie-level Arizona Complex League before being assigned to the Ports. In his first 32 games in full-season ball, Gelof swatted seven homers and drove in 22 runs while drawing 19 walks.
He also stole 11 bases and was caught twice, which fit the profile he built in college as a wily baserunner with fringy to average speed. But since then, Gelof has gotten much faster with his 6.5-second, 60-yard dash time nearly a half second quicker than in college. He also ran the fastest 30-yard sprint in the A’s farm system this spring.
Gelof reported back to the A’s facility in Mesa, Arizona, at the end of Stockton’s season. But he wouldn’t be there long. Gelof received a call from Sprague and was told he’d finish the season with Triple-A Las Vegas.
Over the final three games of the season, Gelof racked up seven hits, six RBIs and three runs.
“I have big-time goals,” Gelof told MLB.com in March. “A lot of people talk about the power and everything. What I want to do is be a complete hitter. Power will come if you’re consistently on the barrel hitting it hard to all fields.
“The big thing for me is that I truly believe I can hit at the big league level. Now it’s about finding my role at third base or wherever else they want me and be the best I can at that position. I’m just going to try to keep getting better, focus on what I can control and let them choose where I go.”
The A’s deprived the kind folks in Lansing of Gelof’s efforts. But he proved to be ready for the aggressive assignment to Midland to start the year. Prior to the injury, he compiled a .316 batting average with an .830 OPS, four homers, 10 doubles and a triple. He was also successful on eight out of 10 stolen base attempts.
While Gelof played exclusively at third base in his first professional stint after the Draft last year, his versatility has been tested a little more with the RockHounds. He’s played more games at second base (23) than his natural spot at the hot corner (19) and even got in one game in center field this season.
Gelof already has experience at the Minors’ highest level, and could very well have made his return to the desert if not for the labrum injury. His power and speed has made him one of the quickest moving prospects in the Minors. In an organization that’s in the process of another rebuild, Gelof could prove to be an important figure in Oakland sooner than later.
Gerard Gilberto is a reporter for MiLB.com.