Q: Is Cole Gillespie Worth Paying Attention To?

IMG_0958_Cole_Gillespie

== A: Yes.  But the odds are not in his favor. ==

Update: Since reports are that Gillespie will be called up to the majors today, I am bumping this February post back up to the top.  I haven’t revised it otherwise.

Commenter Plawsable wants some light shed on Cole Gillespie, a non-roster invitee, with a double dose of connections:

  • drafted in the 3rd round by Milwaukee when Jack Zduriencik was scouting director
  • from Oregon, and was an all-American for Oregon State when the Beavers won their first of their shock-the-world back-to-back national championships in 2006

Gillespie also has eight years of interesting minor league numbers.

So why does no one care?

===

Well, let’s look at those numbers first:

Traditional Hitting Statistics

Year Age Lvl G PA AB H 2b 3b HR BB K BA OBP SLG OPS
2006 22 Rk 51 233 186 64 12 1 8 40 34 0.344 0.464 0.548 1.012
2007 23 A+ 129 522 438 117 25 3 12 72 95 0.267 0.378 0.420 0.798
2008 24 AA 131 550 462 130 38 4 14 75 102 0.281 0.386 0.472 0.858
2009 25 AAA-A+ 129 498 417 114 20 12 13 65 98 0.273 0.372 0.472 0.844
2010 26 AAA 69 312 264 76 14 6 8 44 49 0.288 0.394 0.477 0.872
2011 27 AAA 137 582 484 145 19 16 12 81 91 0.300 0.405 0.479 0.885
2012 28 AAA 126 510 441 136 35 4 13 59 80 0.308 0.390 0.494 0.885
2013 29 AAA 74 269 235 65 11 2 9 32 52 0.277 0.361 0.455 0.816

Spectometer Analysis

Note: I don’t highlight minor-league stats from after age 25 because I don’t think they are very meaningful.  Also, I wasn’t supposed to be highlighting numbers when the “age arc” figure is “+3” or higher, but I haven’t been following that rule very consistently so I won’t “penalize” Gillespie by suddenly invoking it.

Year Age Lvl HR% BB% XBH + BB% ISO K% PSA+ Conv+ Comp
Age Arc Slugger > 4% Goal > 8.5% Goal > 19% Goal > .200 Goal < 20% Strong Prospect > 100
2006 22 “+3” 3.43% 17.17% 26.18% 0.204 14.59% 163 119 183
2007 23 “+2” 2.30% 13.79% 21.46% 0.153 18.20% 120 90 110
2008 24 “+2” 2.55% 13.64% 23.82% 0.191 18.55% 125 108 133
2009 25 “+2” 2.61% 13.05% 22.09% 0.199 19.68% 115 102 117
2010 26 “+3” 2.56% 14.10% 23.08% 0.189 15.71% 134 109 143
2011 27 “+4” 2.06% 13.92% 21.99% 0.179 15.64% 129 102 131
2012 28 “+5” 2.55% 11.57% 21.76% 0.186 15.69% 119 108 127
2013 29 “+6” 3.35% 11.90% 20.07% 0.178 19.33% 110 94 104

So what’s not to like?  And why has he only gotten 189 plate appearances in the bigs?  We’ll take a stab at it:

1) For whatever reason, he was never promoted aggressively by Milwaukee, so his stats are less reliable due to his being old for his levels.  It would be typical, when a guy is playing well at High-A and AA at 23 or 24, to give him a shot at AAA.  But Gillespie never sniffed AAA until his age-25 season.  That would seem to be a tip-off that the development staff was seeing something that didn’t look as good as the results.

2) I’ve found that it’s extremely rare for non-sluggers to have walk rates in the majors higher than 11%.  So when guys put up eye-grabbing minor league numbers that are heavily dependent on high walk rates but without big slugging power, there is reason to be skeptical (even though the Spectometer will show them great love).

This means you, Justin Smoak.  This means you, Dustin Ackley.

So Gillespie goes into that class, though his AA season in 2008 with 38 doubles, 14 homers and 75 walks does show considerable promise.

3) There is a bias that corner-outfield guys should flash at least 20-HR power, and Gillespie was moved out of CF pretty quickly in the lower minors.  So there was probably the perception that he didn’t quite have the bat for a corner and didn’t quite have the glove for center.  Of course, there’s no shortage of guys playing corner positions with fewer than 20 homers, but that’s the perception he’s battling.

4) Then there is the issue that when he did get those 189 PAs, he didn’t do anything worth mentioning.

===

So … is Gillespie the kind of guy who deserved better, and might show MLB talent if ever given a real shot?

Yes, that’s possible, and it’s that 2008 season in AA that says a lot more than his bashing away in AAA in his late 20s (plus, mostly at Reno — a hitter’s haven).

And he is a right-handed OF bat, which is exactly what the Mariners need after Franklin Gutierrez‘ departure (given the general left-handedness of the lineup).  Plus, he has some speed, and he does have 76 games of experience in center.

[Oh, but I feel a “that being said …” coming on … ]

That being said … [yep] he’s got to play his way on to the 40-man roster, and that means exposing someone of value to waivers to get him on.  And, as we noted in yesterday’s post, anticipate one or two 40-man moves to get Scott Baker and possibly Randy Wolf on to the team.  That won’t leave many “excess” players on the 40-man to remove to make way for Gillespie.

And finally, if Nick Franklin is traded (as per the new “buzz”), I strongly expect a right-handed outfielder to be part of the return (and probably one with more HR power).

So Tacoma looks like a good bet for Gillespie, and he ought to continue his strong AAA track record there.  And maybe the world will never know what he would do in an extended MLB chance, which is too bad.

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2 thoughts on “Q: Is Cole Gillespie Worth Paying Attention To?

  1. Thanks for doing this one. I was searching all over for info to expound what scouts might be seeing but couldn’t find anything hard against. The HR%, lack of + CF glove (won MilB GG in RF- 2011) and lack of production in 3 sss that add up to a sss were noticeable but I couldn’t find anything else negative on scouting. The HR may not have been there but XBH in total seem above average to me. Fundamentals in the field and on the bases were strongly acclaimed by multiple sources. He has 1 MLB error in 381 sporadic innings? Sounds like McLendons type of player. Small wonder he was signed the same day as Bloomquist, although news of it lagged for unknown reasons.

    I’m thinking he seems like a close comparable to reasonable expectations we could have had for Guti with potential offensive inneptitude replacing health concerns. Probably not the same ceiling on either side of the pitcher. I don’t think those health concerns could ever really go away. A decent season from Gillespie would seem to make sense next year as his “talent level” going forward, given his MiL track record. I’d rather see Gillespie at the end of the bench than Chavez, anyway. I like Almonte a lot and have seen him play more, just thought Gillespie looked better than some of the names people have suggested trading for. 2 year younger versions with lesser speed and fundamentals.

  2. Yes, I think just being RH would put him ahead of Chavez among the non-roster guys, but obviously they view Almonte as more of a center fielder, and Endy is a known quantity to them. If they pick the extra OF just for a RH bat, then Romero has the advantage of already being on the 40-man.

    So there isn’t really a good angle for Gillespie other than outplay everyone, which he might.

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