Everything Coming Into Focus for Jake Gatewood

ZEBULON, N.C.Jake Gatewood was in a tough place at the end of last season.

The Brewers’ 2014 supplemental first-rounder hit just .240 with a .268 on-base percentage and 141 strikeouts in 126 games at low Class A Wisconsin, a continuation of the same swing-and-miss problems he’d had his entire pro career.

At the suggestion of his agent Ryan Hamill, Gatewood got his eyesight checked after the season was over. It was then it became clear Gatewood’s problems were rooted in something more basic than swing mechanics or strike-zone discipline.

“We found out basically I’m nearsighted and they gave me contacts,” Gatewood said. “It’s not like any crazy prescription, but last year I couldn’t see the scoreboard and I’d always think ‘Ah man, these are some bad scoreboards, no one can read it’ and the next thing you know it was me. They’re not (a) super high (prescription), they’re one of the lowest ones you can get, but it makes a huge difference.”

That certainly appears to be the case for the Brewers’ No. 23 prospect, who went 1-for-4 with a hard-hit single and drew a nine-pitch walk in high Class A Carolina’s 9-7 win over Down East (Rangers) on Thursday afternoon.

Gatewood is now hitting .324/.425/.471. He has 12 walks in 19 games after walking 18 times all of last season.

“Before I couldn’t see any of the red on the ball or anything so it was tough to pick up spin for me,” he said. “Now it’s awesome. It’s nice to come out and see everything on the fence clear. The spin, it’s all crystal clear.”

Gatewood never wore contacts or glasses before this season. When he was a standout at Clovis (Calif.) High and catapulted into the national spotlight by winning the 2013 High School Home Run Derby at Citi Field, he’d tested for 20/20 vision in every exam.

The deterioration was so subtle it went unnoticed until this past offseason.

“I guess it just got worse as time went on,” Gatewood said. “My dad had the same thing. He didn’t realize he needed glasses or contacts until later.”

It’s been a season of change for Gatewood. In addition to his new contacts and newfound offensive success, he has shifted across the diamond from third base to first base and been an eye-opening standout, making impressive scoops, nabbing grounders in every direction and showcasing a strong arm on double plays.

Everything is coming into focus for Gatewood, and he has his contacts to thank for it.

“That was definitely a blessing because I needed them,” Gatewood said. “I’m thankful, really thankful for those contacts.”


• Carolina righthander Freddy Peralta, the Brewers’ No. 21 prospect, pitched five innings, gave up two hits and one run, walked one and struck out six in his latest strong start. The 20-year-old Dominican sat 89-91 mph and touched 93 with his fastball, worked 78-81 mph with his slider and added in an 85-86 mph changeup with cutting action. He now has a 3.00 ERA, 26 strikeouts and six walks in 18 innings this season.

• Outfielder Jairo Beras, the Rangers’ No. 20 prospect, provided Down East’s lone run off of Peralta with a home run to left to lead off the third inning. He finished 3-for-3.

• Carolina righthander Marcos Diplan, the Brewers’ No. 10 prospect, followed Peralta and sat 92-95 mph with his fastball and 87-88 with his slider. His slider repeatedly hung up and got drilled, resulting in Diplan surrendering eight hits and four runs in 2.2 innings.

• Carolina outfielder Corey Ray, the Brewers’ No. 4 prospect, went 1-for-5 with an RBI double and three strikeouts. He is 3-for-18 with nine strikeouts in his last four games.

• Rangers’ No. 6 prospect Josh Morgan started at shortstop for Down East and converted each of his chances. He went 1-for-5 with an RBI single at the plate.

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