'Super special': Gelof brothers share field as pros for 1st time

February 26th, 2024

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Normally in Spring Training when players with secure roster spots, such as , are substituted out of a game, they head back to the dugout or even pack up and go home to rest. On Sunday, though, the A’s second baseman had a special reason to stick around.

Removed after the fifth inning of a 4-2 loss to the Dodgers at Camelback Ranch, Gelof remained in the A’s dugout waiting to see if his brother, Jake, a 2023 second-round Draft pick and top prospect with Los Angeles, would get a chance to play.

The moment finally came in the bottom of the eighth.

Summoned by Dodgers manager Dave Roberts as a pinch-hitter to lead off the inning, Jake made his way to home plate and dug in for his Cactus League debut. Zack, meanwhile, stood up from his seat on the bench inside the A’s dugout and leaned over the top rail for a clear view.

“I was just being a spectator,” Zack said. “It was a win-win. We either get the out or he gets a hit.”

Jake ended up swinging through a pitch from A’s left-hander Brady Basso for strike three, but for Zack, the thrill of getting to share the same field in a game with his brother was grander than any outcome that could have happened.

“It was awesome,” said Zack, who roped a double with a 104 mph exit velocity in the third inning off Alex Vesia. “Seeing him out there was awesome. Not the result he was looking for, but he was letting it eat. Nothing changes. Just super excited for him.”

It was the first time in their professional careers that the Gelof brothers have played in the same game. The two grew up accustomed to playing together as teammates throughout their youth and even in college at the University of Virginia, but by Zack’s memory, he could not recall a time that they had played against each other at any level.

“I can’t remember the last time I played against him,” Zack said. “Maybe like practicing against each other. But we’ve always been on the same team or different age groups, so this is pretty cool.”

Adding to the specialness of it all: Sunday was Jake’s 22nd birthday.

“It’s a great birthday,” Zack said. “He wouldn’t rather do anything else than play baseball, so it was super special to be there with him on his birthday playing baseball.”

The two brothers are certainly at different stages of their careers.

Zack was drafted 60th overall in the 2021 MLB Draft by the A’s and received his first callup to Oakland last season, enjoying a breakout rookie campaign -- he hit .267 with an .840 OPS, 14 home runs, 20 doubles, 32 RBIs and 14 stolen bases in 69 games -- that has him on the radar to emerge as a young star in 2024.

Jake, who coincidentally was also the 60th overall selection by Los Angeles in last year’s Draft, is a power-hitting third baseman who is ranked the Dodgers’ No. 14 prospect by MLB Pipeline and is set to begin his first full season as a pro after getting his feet wet with 34 Minor League games last year.

Zack fully expects to one day match up with Jake on a big league field. For now, they both can enjoy this significant first.

“Hopefully, I stay up for a while and he makes it up here,” Zack said. “We’ll get to play against each other sometime. … He’s just got to take it day by day and have fun doing it.”