== 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
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|
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).
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.