- Full name Conor Michael Gillaspie
- Born 07/18/1987 in Omaha, NE
- Profile Ht.: 6'1" / Wt.: 195 / Bats: L / Throws: R
- School Wichita State
- Debut 09/09/2008
Drafted in the C-A round (37th overall) by the San Francisco Giants in 2008 (signed for $970,000).
View Draft ReportThough he turned in productive freshman and sophomore seasons at Wichita State, Gillaspie didn't really break out as a prospect until he won the MVP award in the Cape Cod League last summer. He added the batting (.345) and slugging titles (.673) as well. He has posted similar numbers for the Shockers as a junior, consistently squaring up balls on the barrel of his bat and controlling the strike zone. As a pro, he projects to hit for a high average, with much of his power coming in the form of doubles rather than home runs. He gets high marks for his intensity and his work ethic, as he constantly strives to improve his game. He's an underrated athlete and baserunner who used his aggressiveness and instincts to tie for the NCAA Division I lead with eight triples going into the final week of the regular season. Gillaspie has no more than decent range and has been erratic at third base this spring, but he should be able to stick at the hot corner in pro ball. His hands are soft and arm strength is average, and he makes the routine plays. Clubs have varying opinions on Gillaspie, with some viewing him as a late first-round talent and others as more of a second-rounder.
Organization Prospect Rankings
Gillaspie is a hard-nosed competitor who takes the game very seriously. After making some rocky first impressions during a mandated September callup shortly after he signed for $970,000 as the 37th overall pick in 2008, he has endeared himself to many members of the organization. That group includes Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who called him the most improved player in the system when Gillaspie made it back to San Francisco last year, this time on merit. He always has had supreme contact and pitch-recognition skills, along with the ability to turn around quality fastballs. He hits for average with some gap power and a healthy amount of walks, using a short, line-drive stroke that requires little maintenance. At worst, he projected as a valuable lefthanded bat off the bench. But Gillaspie has raised his stock by making huge strides at third base, tirelessly working to clean up his footwork and improve his throwing accuracy. While fielding roughly the same amount of chances in three successive seasons, he has cut his errors from 27 to 17 to 11. Fresno manager Steve Decker estimated that Gillaspie made at least 20 diving plays for him in 2011. In limited looks, Gillaspie has been adequate at first base but has struggled with reads and jumps in left field. He might not be a candidate to take Pablo Sandoval's job, but he should be ready to bring a little fire to the Giants' bench in 2012.
Gillaspie is one of the best contact men in the system whose only plus tool is his ability to hit fastballs. He's a smart hitter with great eye-hand coordination, and he successfully made adjustments after falling into a teamwide slump to start the season in Double-A. Then he continued his momentum in the Arizona Fall League while showing a bit more power, tying with the Blue Jays' Adam Loewen for the league lead with five homers. While Gillaspie doesn't take many walks, he works deep counts and isn't afraid to hit with two strikes. He did a better job fighting off hard stuff inside and learned not to be surprised to see breaking balls in hitters' counts as he boosted his final average to .287. Gillaspie has good gap power and likes to be aggressive when he splits the outfielders, as his eight triples will attest. He's a below-average defender at third base but put in a lot of effort on improving his footwork, and his 17 errors were 10 fewer than the previous year in high Class A. While he's focused on third base, Gillaspie profiles as more of a utility type, so don't be surprised if he's asked to work at second base and left field in the near future. He's an average runner. Gillaspie is on the 40-man roster and was a September callup in 2008--a tradeout benefit because he signed for slot money. Perhaps this is the year Gillaspie gets a legitimate callup.
Gillaspie was the first player from the 2008 draft to reach the majors, getting a September callup that year as a fringe benefit because he accepted a slot $970,000 bonus as the 37th overall pick. He spent all of last season quietly toiling in the hitter-friendly California League, where his .286/.364/.386 line was a disappointment. Gillaspie's advanced knowledge of the strike zone actually might have worked against him. "Unfortunately for him, it was a lot better than the umpires," San Jose manager Andy Skeels said. "The bat was literally taken out of his hands. He easily could've walked 30 more times." Gillaspie has good pitch recognition and plate coverage to go with quick hands, enabling him to make consistent line-drive contact. But some scouts question whether the former Cape Cod League MVP and batting champ ever will hit for the power desired from a third baseman. His biggest challenge is to stay at the position. He led Cal League third basemen with 27 errors, doesn't have good hands and struggles to get in a good throwing position. He has average arm strength and speed. Gillaspie volunteered to go to instructional league to overhaul his footwork, and coaches there praised his progress and attitude. He'll move up to Double-A this season.
The Cape Cod League MVP and batting champ (.345) in 2007, Gillaspie became the first player from the 2008 draft to reach the majors. He negotiated the callup in return for agreeing to MLB's slot recommendation of $970,000 as the 37th overall pick. He singled off Dan Haren for his first major league hit. Gillaspie has a rare blend of supreme hitting skills and patience at the plate. He wasn't overwhelmed in a handful of big league at-bats, showing good pitch recognition and a confident approach. He has a strong frame, solid speed and an average arm. He gets the most out of his ability and plays the game with a no-nonsense attitude. The Giants aren't convinced Gillaspie will stay at third base, but they will give him every opportunity because they're thin at the position. He tends to hurry in the field and doesn't look smooth. He's more of a doubles hitter than a home run threat, so his power might be a tad light for the hot corner. His intensity can come across as arrogance at times, such as when he annoyed some veterans in September when he said, "I think I can play as good as any of these guys up here." Though he's on the 40-man roster and will be in big league camp, Gillaspie isn't a candidate to be the Opening Day third baseman. He could earn his way back in September after opening the season in high Class A or Double-A.
Minor League Top Prospects
Gillaspie became the first player from the 2008 draft to reach the majors, setting a Giants record for quickest rise from the draft to the big leagues. He got a September callup, not as a reward for his performance but rather because San Francisco has a huge hole at third base and wanted to see if he could fill it next year. He wasn't at his best in the NWL, perhaps because of the rust he accumulated while negotiating for two months, but Gillaspie is a quality hitter. He consistently put the barrel on the ball and should hit for average with gap power. His speed and athleticism play up thanks to his instincts and aggressiveness. His so-so range and occasional erratic play at third base have led some scouts to question whether he can stay there. However, Gillaspie has soft hands and solid arm strength, and he has the necessary work ethic to get better defensively.
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Strike-Zone Discipline in the San Francisco Giants in 2012