Giants bring up 2008 Draft pick Gillaspie
Third baseman gets quick taste of Majors after 24 pro games
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants accelerated their youth movement toward warp speed Saturday by purchasing the contract of third baseman Conor Gillaspie, who completed the fastest ascent to the Major Leagues in club history since being drafted.Gillaspie, 21, not only became the first player from this past June's First-Year Player Draft to reach the Majors, but also eclipsed right-hander Jeff Robinson, who made his Giants debut on April 7, 1984 -- 306 days after he was drafted. As of Saturday, Gillaspie had been drafted 92 days previously. Bobby Evans, the Giants' director of player personnel, explained Gillaspie's promotion by citing the left-handed batter's offensive potential and the team's void at third base, where no certain regular is penciled in for 2009. Moreover, the list of potential free-agent third basemen is headed by injury-plagued veterans such as Joe Crede and Hank Blalock and 35-year-old Casey Blake. "We have some decisions to make this offseason," Evans said. "Having a chance to evaluate [Gillaspie] at this level is very important." Gillaspie, the 37th overall selection in the Draft, hit a combined .269 with no home runs and 15 RBIs in 24 games for the Giants' Rookie-level Arizona League affiliate and short-season Salem-Keizer. But Evans indicated that Gillaspie's potential transcended those statistics. "I think [with] the bat ... every staff person who has seen him come through Arizona and Salem has been very impressed," Evans said. "And he plays a key position for us right now. He's in the right place at the right time." Said Gillaspie, who'll report to the Giants' instructional-league camp in Arizona after the regular season ends, "It's more of a learning experience for me to be up here." Asked about comparisons made between Gillaspie and former Giants third baseman Bill Mueller, Evans said that Gillaspie is more offensively advanced than Mueller was at the same stage, although Mueller was more polished defensively. Gillaspie, who hit 11 homers in 60 games this season for Wichita State, said that it's "too hard to tell" whether he can develop into the legitimate power hitter the Giants lack at either infield corner. "I would probably say I just went through puberty a year or two ago," Gillaspie said. "A lot of guys turn into men when they're 24, 26. It just depends on the person. Obviously, the park we play at, a left-handed hitter doesn't have much of an advantage, anyway. To sit here and try to hit home runs would be ridiculous. It would be completely not me. A lot of good hitters started out as base-hit hitters. [Barry] Bonds was that way. Eventually he turned into what he was." Giants manager Bruce Bochy said that Gillaspie, an All-America selection this year at Wichita State, won't immediately start at third base, although the Omaha, Neb., native might pinch-hit.
"We want him to get settled in and give our staff a chance to work with him," Bochy said.Said Evans, "We know it's a big adjustment. Just getting his feet wet is a big help for us, especially as we see him as a guy who needs to be on the fast track." Gillaspie seemed relatively unfazed by the whirlwind he had experienced.
"When my name's called, I'm going to do it the way I've done it my whole life," he said.Evans didn't rule out a similar promotion for catcher Buster Posey, the Giants' No. 1 Draft choice who has played at three different Minor League classifications in a week. But Evans pointed out that third base is a more unsettled position than catcher, referring to Bengie Molina's signed status for next year. To make room for Gillaspie on the 40-man roster, the Giants outrighted outfielder Clay Timpner to Triple-A Fresno.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.