PROSPECT SPOTLIGHT: ZACK GELOF, SECOND BASE, OAKLAND ATHLETICS
In our 2022 rankings, Zack Gelof was our 64th-ranked third baseman and didn’t merit a mention in the top 30 prospects for third base. In fact, the only comment in the Dynasty Guru archives is when our fearless leader Taylor Case projected Gelof to be the 2027 all-star third baseman. Jump to the 2023 ranking season and we have Gelof as our number ten prospect and 40th ranked overall at a new position, second base. If that movement doesn’t call for a prospect spotlight, I don’t know what does.
Zack Gelof has always been a high achiever with a drive to succeed in his baseball career. In addition to playing four years of high school baseball, culminating in being named the Delaware Gatorade Player of the Year, he was a four-year member of the soccer team, a four-year class president, and a straight-A student. After his senior season, he was drafted in the 38th round by Cleveland but opted to attend and play baseball at the University of Virginia.
At UVA, Gelof started all three seasons he attended, and in 2021 led the Cavaliers to the College World Series where he was named to the All Tournament Team. After his junior year, he was drafted in the second round by the Oakland Athletics. Leading up to the draft, he was thought by some scouts to be among those with the best raw power in the draft. That may be a bit overstated as his power grades out at 55, but as we’ll see, he uses the power he has to his best advantage.
Minor league stats
In 2021, Gelof appeared in one game in the rookie complex before moving on to Low-A Stockton, where he spent most of the year. In 145 plate appearances in Low A, he put up a .298/.393/.548 slash line with seven home runs and 11 stolen bases. He also showed off his trademark plate discipline with a 13.1% walk rate. At the end of the season, he appeared in three games for Triple-A Las Vegas where he had seven hits in twelve at-bats.
Gelof spent the most part of 2022 in Double-A Midland where he hit .271/.356/.438 with 13 home runs and nine stolen bases and had an 11.7% walk rate over 402 plate appearances. Early in the season, he missed six weeks with a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder suffered while diving for a ground ball. The injury did not affect his power; he was able to resume hitting home runs immediately upon his return. At the end of 2022, he again finished the season in Triple-A, where over 38 plate appearances he hit .257 with five home runs and a stolen base.
Gelof played third base in college, but the Athletics have him playing primarily at second base. It appears he’ll stay there. He is described as a good defender with the athletic ability to continue improving at the position.
When he was drafted, the Athletics Scouting Director said they saw a lot of upside in his bat and that he is “just kind of freakishly athletic for his size.” Other personnel has commented on his knowledge of the strike zone and his compact swing that allows him to spray the ball all over the field.
Tale of the (Video) Tape
There’s some video of Gelof online and there are three things that I couldn’t help but notice. The first is the three wiggles of the bat as he sets himself, an interesting timing mechanism that I hope coaches don’t mess too much with. The second is that he has good opposite-field power. Several of the home runs I saw were hit to right field and they left the field with authority, exhibiting his ability to barrel the ball to all fields. The third is his patience at the plate. There are actually two videos of him in the Arizona Fall League taking four pitches for a walk. I’m not sure why anyone posted a video of a four-pitch walk, but it’s up there twice from two different angles…
At this point in his career, I don’t think we need to question his power. Twenty home runs are not out of the question, and his total approach to hitting will bring healthy batting averages and on-base percentages. He’s described as being smart, some say crafty, base runner who makes the most out of his speed. I think that in the major leagues, he will provide some stolen bases, but I would stop short of projecting a 20/20 season until we see more this year.
If he continues to barrel the ball to all fields and show patience at the plate, I would be surprised if he rose to the level of an elite second baseman, but I am projecting him in the top ten within three years.
Let’s give Zack the last word.
“I have big-time goals,” Gelof told MLB.com in March. “A lot of people talk about 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.” This encouraging attitude encapsulates why I’ll be keeping an eye on his progression this year.