BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Athletes can find inspiration from a number of different places. For some, it's awards. As for Jake Gatewood? He appreciates his recent accolades, but finds initiative through other sources.
"After my first month, that was enough for me to keep grinding," Gatewood said with a smile.
The Shuckers first baseman struggled out of the gate, going just 4/44 at the plate to start the year, and batting just .163 by April 28th. However, the 22-year-old has quickly turned things around. Entering Thursday's game against the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, Gatewood had upped his batting average to .244, boasting the fourth-most RBI in the Southern League with 38, and leading the pack in homeruns with 11.
"It really taught me that every pitch is a battle," Gatewood said of his early-season slump. "It's not just every game or every at-bat. To me, I'm trying to win every single pitch."
He's finding his groove in the field as well. Gatewood is settling in nicely at first base, but having played shortstop, third base and even in the outfield, he also brings a defensive versatility to the Shuckers clubhouse.
"I've made huge strides at first base," Gatewood said. "I still think the other positions are there too. I really think I've grown a lot as a third baseman too, and playing first has helped me play all the other ones a lot better."
His steady improvement earned him Southern League Player of the Week honors for May 21-27 and a selection to the South Division All-Star team. But despite the accolades, the Brewers' 17th-ranked prospect is taking everything in stride.
"I'm just thankful for blessings like that," Gatewood said. "They come along the way, but this is a process and you've got 35 at-bats coming again for the next week. It's a grind, you'll take your compliments when you get them, but most of the time you just keep your head down and keep working."