Gil Provides Relief Depth After Years of Work
Matt Travis | On 08, Jul 2013
When you look at a shortstop, it is not often you would think about how well that player could do as a pitcher. Shortstop however was exactly where Jerry Gil started his long and unique journey to this point of being the dominant middle relief pitcher he has become for the Columbus Clippers this season. During his first season as a member of the Clippers, Gil has a 4.24 ERA, while posting 40 strikeouts and only 40 hits and 27 walks in 46.2 innings pitched. During his most recent stretch of five games, Gil has thrown five straight scoreless outings, allowing only two hits and a single walk over nine and a third innings.
“I have felt way better throwing my breaking pitch and feel faster with my fastball during my most recent games,” Gil said. “I have found a great comfort zone on the mound. I can control at bats with my fastball, throw in my breaking balls to balance and have done better with all my pitches.”
Gil has recently become a key piece of the Clippers bullpen but it has been quite a ride for him to reach this point. Gil signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 1999 as a shortstop out of the Dominican Republic. From 1999 through 2006 he played shortstop in the Diamondbacks minor league system, making a brief few starts in the majors during 2004. In 2006 Gil made his first change of position, a shift to becoming a utility player in the outfield, playing all three positions, a spot where he was his strong arm throwing fly balls back to infielders from the outfield. During the 2006 season, Gil was traded to the Cincinnati Reds, where he continued to play outfield. During his time as a position player, Gil was injured fairly often, including an elbow injury that caused him to have Tommy Johns surgery and miss the entire 2007 season
“As much as I loved playing as a position player, the injuries were wearing me down,” Gil said. “I just said to myself, ‘I gotta try something different.’ I knew I could throw and had a strong arm so we decided that I could try and be a pitcher. At the beginning it was really hard, and very different, but now I am used to it and really do love it now.”
Starting in 2008 Gil started to transition over to being a pitcher for the Reds organization. After settling in and feeling comfortable as a pitcher, Gil became a closer in the Reds minor league system in 2011 and kept that role in 2012 when he played with the Toronto Blue Jays minor league teams.
When he signed with the Indians to play for the Clippers in 2013, the changes were not over for Gil. Gil was coming to a team with a very talented closer already in place in Preston Guilmet so he was moved into a middle reliever role. This shift meant a new mindset and new type of pitching that Gil was not accustomed to.
“In the start of the season it was weird as I have been throwing only one inning per game the last two seasons,” Gil said. “This season I am now throwing two or three inning per game. I am getting used to it and feel much more into my role. Now I am okay with more pitches in a game and the results are coming along too.”
Gil’s stats over the season have shown improvement as he settles into his new role. Over his 10 most recent games, Gil has had three games when he was perfect and four more games when he only allowed a single hit, with his worst outing being just four hits over two innings. Gil also has a streak of ten straight games with at least one strikeout dating back to May 29. During that time, Gil has struck out 18 of the 72 batters he has faced (24.3%) while only walking four batters (5.5%).
Overall Gil is a pitcher who is most likely past the age of being declared a true prospect, as he is currently 30 years old, but that does not mean that he could not help the Tribe bullpen this season. As he has shown in the past, Gil is the type of player able to quickly adapt and thrive in whatever situation he is thrown into. He has the velocity to be a major league pitcher, with a fastball reaching as high as 97 mph, along with breaking balls that are in the mid 80 mph range. Most importantly is the fact that Gil has the right attitude moving forward in the Indians organization.
“So far I have felt nothing but support during my time here in the Indians organization and as a Clipper,” Gil said. “All the coaches and staff have been more then helpful and tell you what you need to hear. Their support makes me want to go out and help this team win.”
Overall, Jerry Gil has had quite a unique journey through professional baseball to get to this point with the Clippers. Gil has played shortstop, outfield, closing and relief pitching, while playing for multiple teams in four team’s minor league systems. What has remained constant is Gil’s passion, his strong arm, love of the sport and ability to do whatever is best for the team he is playing for.