Marshall Gilbert celebrates at home plate for Division 1 Mississippi State University last season. Gilbert, who graduated from Westosha Central, was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates and plays for the organization’s rookie ball affiliate (Submitted/The Report).

Former Westosha standout drafted by Pittsburgh Pirates

By Mike Ramczyk

Life is good for Marshall Gilbert.

The former Westosha Central star catcher, who also played for the Burlington Barons, recently stood out in the College World Series for the Mississippi State Bulldogs. And just last month, the Pittsburgh Pirates drafted him into Major League Baseball (you can read more here about how you could get your hands on tickets for the games).

It’s a dream come true for the former slugging Falcon, and Gilbert’s story shows that even the most grandiose dreams are possible for young baseball lovers.

With only one offer to play baseball from a junior college, Gilbert was determined after high school to make it big despite the odds.

From humble beginnings, he persevered to reach NCAA Division 1 college baseball, and he even recorded a walk-off hit to help his Bulldogs win on national television during the College World Series.

Currently, he is playing minor league baseball in Virginia with hopes of one day making a major league roster.

With Gilbert’s work ethic and determination, anything is possible.

He said he garnered his work ethic through watching Pete Rose and receiving inspiration from his family, which consists of parents Denise and Phil along with brother Garrett.

Southern Lakes Newspapers Correspondent Mike Ramczyk caught up with Gilbert to discuss his magical summer and see what’s ahead.

SLN: 1. Congrats on being drafted to the big leagues. What was your reaction to the news, and what is the next step?
MG: I was speechless when I got the phone call. Now it’s getting to work in rookie ball and looking forward to making some jumps through the system.

SLN: Growing up, did you dream of making the major leagues? Where did you find your love for baseball? Who were your biggest inspirations?
MG: Yes, it has always been my dream to make it to the big leagues.
I found my love for baseball by watching Pete Rose when I was younger because of my dad. My whole family is my inspiration because we all value work ethic.

SLN: What do you remember about playing ball at Westosha Central? How did it help shape you as a player today?
MG: I remember the relationships and playing with my boys. Also playing with my brother. Not many people move on from there as far as baseball goes, and I wanted to prove that point wrong.
Along with setting an example for my younger brother and those to follow. It helped shape me into the player I am today because it showed me how to work with what you have and be who I am.

SLN: You had an exciting walk-off hit to win a College World Series game. What was playing in the World Series like?
MG: Playing in the CWS always has been a dream of mine as well. Just being on the field felt like an unreal experience. It is something I will never forget.

SLN: You started out at a community college in Illinois. How was that experience, and why did you transfer to Mississippi State? What was it like being so far away from home?
MG: The experience of being in a junior college has helped prepare me for pro ball because you get out of it what you put into it. Seeing that I wanted to move on, I needed to push myself and that helped mold me into who I am.
Mississippi State is a second home to me. The people there are what make it what it is, and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. They helped me deal with being away from my family, as I only was able to see them a few times in the year. I love that place and I will always go back when I can.

SLN: What are you up to this summer? Where are you living and working? Are you playing baseball?
MG: This summer I am playing rookie ball with the Bristol Pirates in Bristol, Virginia.

SLN: What has been the biggest adversity you have faced in your baseball career? How did you overcome it?
MG: The biggest adversity I dealt with was only having one offer to play baseball coming out of Central. It gave me the edge I needed and helped show me how hard I need to work to get to where I am today. I want to make some jumps in the Pirates’ farm system, improve myself as a player and play in the next MLB Futures games.

SLN: Your brother Garrett also plays baseball. Talk a little bit about your family and relationship with siblings and parents.
MG: My family could not be closer than what it is now. I push my brother every day. We don’t get to talk as much as we did, but that’s just because we’re so busy and that’s a good thing.
I am able to talk with my parents every day, and they tell my brother and I that we inspire them just as much as they inspire us to be the best we can be. It has helped our love for each other grow along with us all bettering ourselves.

SLN: If you could give any advice to a kid who loves baseball, what would it be?
MG: There is going to be a time when it feels like you’re in a deep hole you can’t get out of, and you have to make a choice to give up and stay there or work your way out.
My advice is don’t quit. Work harder and push through the pain. Always remember where you come from and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. Let that fuel your fire.


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