Baseball is a game played without time constraints or clocks. Of all of his particular talents on the field, Dylan Gilbert has a special ability to capture his own rhythm and speed. “He has the ability to play the game very fast but at the same time let it slow down for him,” St. Ignatius coach Sean Mason said.
“He is never in a hurry.”
The junior Wolfpack centerfielder is one of the prized prospects in the Catholic League. In the Wolfpack’s first 11 games, Gilbert is hitting .400 with a home run, five doubles and two triples in recording a team-best .767 slugging percentage. He is the state’s 25th rated player in the class of 2016, according to Prep Baseball Report.
He is only scratching his potential, Mason said. The 6-1 junior is also a diversified athlete who was good enough to play varsity football at St. Ignatius as a freshman and comes to the baseball team after playing hockey.
“The toughness and the competitiveness carry over from football and hockey,” Mason said. “It’s his mental toughness that carries him and separates him from the pack. He acts as though he belongs. He’s confident without being cocky.”
The paradox Gilbert confronts in playing hockey has improved his athleticism though it has also taken away from his offseason training. “It’s tough at times, a lot of people are playing year-round and to come into training in February or March, after hockey, you have to make up those three or four months,” Gilbert said.
Gilbert, who bats and throws right handed, has made a fluid transition. Blessed with superb speed (timed at 6.89 in the 60-yard dash), he has a strong foundation in aspiring toward the ultimate personal achievement for baseball prospects, the five-tool athlete who hits for power, average and excels at running the bases, fielding and throwing.
The game is his own stage, and every at-bat is a chance to showcase his talent. “Every time I’m on deck and about to go up and hit, that’s the biggest thrill I take from the game,” Gilbert said. When Mason first installed him on varsity during the state tournament, Gilbert was nervous and a bit overwhelmed.
“He was raw and his play was up and down, and he made some mistakes,” Mason said. “You also saw the talent. He’s a playmaker who impacts the game in a lot of different ways, his hitting, a throw he makes from the outfield.”
During his introduction to organized play, Gilbert also experienced different positions, playing shortstop and catcher before making the permanent leap to the outfield. That diversity has only helped his development in the more subtle defense aspects of the game, the intuitive ability to react to balls hit in his direction.
His continued development is marked by his ability to link his natural talents to the particular demands of the game. “I definitely have room to improve,” he said. “I believe I’m blessed with a lot of talent, but I’ve also worked hard to learn about the game, how to train my eye on the curve and see a lot more pitches and have a good at-bat.”
Playing in the Catholic League featuring top-ranked St. Rita, No. 3 Mount Carmel, defending Class 3A state champion Providence and St. Laurence, Gilbert confronts elite competition day after day. “Playing against the best is only going to make me a stronger and better player, as well as the team, and we’re all going to improve.
“It helps me showcase my talent and play up to my abilities.”