Giants Reap Draft Returns

Gillaspie showing signs of progress

SAN FRANCISCO—The first round of the 2008 draft already ranks as an all-time haul for the Giants. They took Buster Posey with the fifth overall pick, and he won the National League rookie of the year award in 2010 while guiding a talented pitching staff to the first World Series in the club's 53-year San Francisco history.

But Posey wasn't the only promising pick in that draft. The Giants also took talented lefthanded hitter Conor Gillaspie with a supplemental first-round pick, and the former Wichita State infielder made noise of his own in October.

Gillaspie led the Arizona Fall League in home runs, hitting five to tie Adam Loewen. He also hit .306/.350/.507, while striking out just five times in 72 at-bats. The 23-year-old Omaha native particularly crushed lefthanded pitchers, going 8-for-16 against them.

The Giants always had faith Gillaspie could hit. His plate coverage and ability to handle quality velocity made him one of the better contact men in his draft class. But he didn't tear through the minor leagues as Posey did, following up a lukewarm 2009 in the high Class A California League with a cold first half at Double-A Richmond last season.

Gillaspie made adjustments and raised his average from the low .240s in May to finish at .287/.335/.420.

"There's a lot of great pitching in that league and Conor was not used to seeing that kind of movement, especially when they threw breaking balls behind in the count," said Andy Skeels, his manager at Richmond. "It took him awhile to get adjusted."

Gillaspie remains a below-average third baseman and likely will need to learn some second base and outfield to increase his chances of sticking in the big leagues. But he doesn't lack for confidence.


• The Giants shuffled their minor league managers, moving Skeels from Richmond to San Jose, where he won a Cal League title in 2009. Dave Machemer, who had managed low Class A Augusta the past two years, was elevated to Richmond. Machemer returns to the Eastern League, where he had been the Giants' Double-A manager from 2005-07.

• The Giants promoted Lipso Nava to replace Machemer at Augusta. Nava had served as Augusta's hitting coach the previous two seasons.