The Yankees were dealt a blow last night when they learned that Gerrit Cole had tested positive for COVID-19, and that third baseman Gio Urshela would be heading to the injured list with a hamstring strain. It is not known at this time how long the Yankees will be without their ace (Nestor Cortes Jr. will start in Cole’s place tonight), but in the meantime, they’ve brought up perhaps the ace of the future: right-hander Luis Gil. The club has not announced anything, but the news has been confirmed by minor league writer Mike Ashmore.
Gil has gradually ascended in the Yankees’ system since he joined the organization from the Twins in March of 2018, turning into a surprising steal in exchange for outfielder Jake Cave. The 23-year-old was ranked by Baseball America as the fourth-best prospect in the Yankees’ system prior to 2021, and he has held firmly onto that spot while fellow pitchers Deivi García and Clarke Schmidt stumbled behind him.
In their midseason update, BA had Gil as the top pitching prospect in the system, taking particular note of his high-90s fastball, which was also considered the best such pitch in the system. It has some wicked late life, and he’s also added an effective slider to his arsenal. Thanks to these steps forward, Gil had a 2.64 ERA and 2.38 FIP in seven starts at Double-A Somerset, striking out 50 batters in just 30.2 innings (14.7 K/9).
Gil hasn’t pitched as well at Triple-A Scranton with a 5.64 ERA and 5.90 FIP in eight starts, though his stint has been more up-and-down than the overall numbers would indicate. He was hit hard in both his first and most recent starts, but also participated in Scranton’s combined no-hitter on July 21st, fanning nine batters across six hitless innings, walking just a pair:
Sit back, relax and enjoy every out from last night's combined no-hitter. pic.twitter.com/d5wz7QbD6m— SWB RailRiders (@swbrailriders) July 22, 2021
Gil likely still needs some development, and as García’s 2021 disaster has reminded fans, nothing is guaranteed even after some initial success. (Hell, García would probably be receiving this call-up if he didn’t look like such a mess.) But still, whenever a top prospect gets the call to The Show, it’s exciting, even if it’s for only a little bit.
Congratulations to Luis Gil, who was so thrilled on the promotion that he spoiled the news a little bit by sharing multiple stories to his Instagram of people applauding him for his call-up. It happens!
Luis Gil will start tonight's game against the Orioles, the #Yankees announce.— Max Goodman (@MaxTGoodman) August 3, 2021
Well, so much for the Cortes plan. Gil is starting tonight! Theoretically, the Orioles should represent a soft landing for the 23-year-old, but we’ll see.