You know, for as bad as the Giants have been this year, they sure do surprise us now and then. The team has just called up 37th overall 2008 draft pick — yes, you read that right, 2008 — Conor Gillaspie to the major league club. Conor had previously collected a scant 93 AB’s for the AZL Giants and the S-K Volcanoes. He must have mashed at those two levels to get such a quick call-up, right? Not-so-much. His line in a brief 93 AB sample is .269/.352/.344 and not necessarily the line you would expect to see from someone who is getting a call-up.
It’s true that Gillaspie had a “polished bat and approach” coming out of college, but in all honesty, he’s got more development to do in the minors. Rarely do players come straight out of college and drop into the pro-game after such a brief time in the minors. Gillaspie will be the first player from the ’08 draft to reach the majors and the quickest ever in Giants history to reach the majors after being drafted. Gillaspie was in the minors for just 92 days.
Director of player personnel, Bobby Evans, had this to say about the promotion:
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.”
The bold-italics are mine.
The Giants have 20 games left in the season and how much evaluation can you really get done in 20 games? ELM has already hit on this way of reasoning and he adds the possibility of some sneaky backroom contract talks betwee the Giants and Conor.
No. But the front office guys say they want to see how he handles himself at the plate and at third base before they go out and sign Casey Blake to a three-year contract this winter. If that’s really true, it’s a self-delusion, what Joan Didion would call magical thinking — even if they start Gillaspie every game the rest of the way, it’s not enough data to make important decisions in the off-season. There must be some other motive at play, perhaps contractual small print that forced the Giants to add Gillaspie to the 40-man roster, which they’re not willing or able to make public.
The last part of Lefty’s argument makes some sense and it’s the only way I can see CG getting the call so early in his career. It’s possible that the Giants included a wink-wink nudge-nudge agreement, if not written then verbally, with CG after he signed. Rumors were that he wanted a ML-deal and he may have been upset with his draft position. This might have been one way around a ML-deal demand.
Maybe even the bigger question with Gillaspie isn’t so much on how he’ll be able to handle the 8-10 games the Giants get him in to over the rest of the season, but how this affects the teams ability to control him for the remainder of his time on the Giants. Cot’s describes the somewhat confusing nature of option years here. Whether or not he has 3 or 4 option years seems to be of debate, anyone who is more versed in the minor league system and these kinds of small-print things, feel free to add some details.
The Giants might face some tough decisions soon in respect to their 40-man roster spaces, especially with the infield. At the moment, the team has 13 potential spots on the 40-man roster dedicated to INF’s: Rich Aurilia, Brian Bocock, John Bowker, Manny Burriss, Travis Denker, Kevin Frandsen, Conor Gillaspie, Travis Ishikawa, Scott McClain, Ivan Ochoa, Ryan Rohlinger, Eugenio Velez, and Omar Vizquel. Aurilia and Omar should be gone after this season, freeing up 2 spaces. Ochoa could be borderline and McClain isn’t guaranteed a spot either. Kevin Frandsen is still on the DL and will need a 40-man roster spot when he’s activated.
The Giants dropped 10 runs on the Pirates yesterday in an offensive outburst that featured a bases clearing double from Pablo Sandoval. Not to the surprise of anyone, Pablo swung at the very first pitch he saw and hit a slicing linedrive into CF which deflected away from the Pirates CF. In 84 PA’s this year Pablo has just 4 walks. Fangraphs Swing data tells us that he is a free-swinger, going outside of the strike zone nearly half of the time at 49.61% (League Average was 25% in 2007) but he’s making contact outside of the zone at a very good rate of 82.81% (League Average was 60.8% in 2007). Overall, Sandoval makes contact 88.16% of the time (League Average was 80.8% in 2007). He’s been a linedrive machine, hitting them 25% of the time which helps to explain his BABIP of .388.
Still, remember the issues of sample size when you are considering these numbers from Pablo. It’s a drop in the bucket for Mr. Sandoval but it’s been a very nice drop. I’m still hoping that he’s in the process of adjusting to major league pitching and will eventually be more selective down the road. Nothing is more frustrating than watching Bengie Molina swing at three pitches no matter where they are in an AB. But, on the other side, his contact ratios show that his bat doesn’t discriminate and he’s got the ability to make contact all over the zone, which could help compensate for his free-swinging ways. We’ll have to watch him more to see how pitchers counter-adjust to his approach.
Where does Pablo’s 5 RBI’s rank him all-time in the first 21 games (I selected 21, because that’s how many games Pablo has played) of a player’s career with the Giants?
Sandoval is #2 all-time for most RBI’s in a game for a player in his first 21 games with the Giants. Rick Parker owns the top spot with 6 RBI’s in a 1990 game against the Braves in which the Giants scored a whopping 23 runs. Dave Kingman reached the 5 RBI mark in just his 2nd career Giants game, in that game he went 2-3 with a grand slam.
The list does go to show that sometimes players getting their first chance in the majors burn bright then fizzle out. Much of the list is full of players who didn’t last long in baseball. Brian Dallimore, Jay Canizaro, Jim McNamara, and Rich Murray all had very brief careers. Early success doesn’t necesarrily mean sustained success.