Rays Top 50 Prospects includes a tremendous number of high-quality prospects. We at RCG are bringing you an in-depth look at those we consider to be the Top 50.
While gathering as much information as possible from various sources, we’re going to put it all together for your enjoyment and raise the bar on what you expect from a prospect knowledgable site. Stay tuned, check-in often, and please let us know how we’re doing. Being such a lengthy process, some encouragement will go a very long way. We hope you’ll enjoy reading this series as much as we enjoy putting it together. If anything, all of us will know that much more about the quality of the Rays system.
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We’ll go through this exercise in an odd way, to make things more interesting. The first one to be looked at will be #40, then #30, then #20, and #10. Then we’ll go through 41, 31, 21, and 11. We’ll go through each ranking until we are all done 11-50, all aside from the Top 10. Then we’ll have a regular countdown for the top 10.
The rankings will be based on all aspects of each prospect, but will focus first on how likely the player is to make an impact in MLB, and ceiling next. Mikie Mahtook and Enny Romero have been graduated to the majors and will not be included in these rankings.
Once completed, the Top 50 will be updated mid-season with an explanation to why they’re moving up or down, and the entire process will be repeated each season.
The next player to be examined in detail is …
#12: Casey Harold Gillaspie, 1B, 22 years old
- Bats: Both Ht/Wt: 6’4″ 240 lbs
- Drafted: by the Rays in the 1st round (20th overall) of the 2014 draft
- Signed: for $2.035m
- 2015 Affiliate: Bowling Green, LoA/Charlotte, HiA
- MLB: from 2018+
Gillaspie’s Fielding Stats
Gillaspie’s 2015 Splits
- Follow him on Twitter: @BigCaseDawg16 (over 4688 tweets, very active)
- Older brother Conor Gillaspie plays for LAA
- Father, Mark, was drafted by the Padres (11th rd) in 1981 after being an All-American OF
- Drafted out of Wichita State University (.389/.520/.682, 15 HR, in 59 GP as Junior)
- Has been switch-hitting since he was 8 years old, still a natural RHB
- Led the NYP in BB in 2014
- Bats well on both sides of the plate and showed a lot of power to all fields from the left side
- Was promoted to HiA after hitting 7 HR in his last 17 LoA GP
- When promoted, he led in HR (16), was 3rd in SLG (.530), 4th in RBI (44), and 2nd in TB (124)
- Broke a finger 5 games into his HiA career, which could have impacted the rest of his season
- Managed hits in 3 of his 8 games in HiA
- Finished his AFL season on a 5 game hit streak
Really, and I mean really, loves his Packers:
But to get to know him better, here’s a little about what he’s done with his $2m+ bonus:
Hey, nerds are in, so have at it, and I’m sure he’ll be first in line for The Force Awakens!
Best Tools & Abilities
- Great Defender at 1B (tops in LoA per Baseball America)
- Developing hitting ability
- Raw Power, exists most when pitches left high
We wanted to have Gillaspie ranked within the top 10, we truly did. However, another pair of 1B had such great performances – and at higher levels despite being younger or of similar age – that it made doing so impossible. Sure, he’s likely the best defender of the bunch, and he likely has the highest overall ceiling, but he still has a lot of work to do with the bat before he can overcome of few of the prospects ahead of him.
Where we find comfort in Gillaspie’s potential is in some of his peripheral statistics. His wOBA was .403, his BABIP was low at .275, while both his ISO of 252 and wRC+ of 155 were well above-average when hitting in LoA. His low K% of 16% was also encouraging when paired with a nice 10.4% BB%. In short, his time in LoA was well spent, he showed that he had average overall power potential while managing 27 extra base hits in 274 PA, and played well-above average defensively.
The issue for Gillaspie’s potential came with a promotion to HiA and eventual exposure to the AFL. Both of those experiences showed us holes in his hitting approach that caused Fangraphs to rate his bat at 20 on the 20/80 scouting scale. They still give him a 50 as a likely ceiling, but it’s worrisome that he struggled so much after being generally sharp and comfortable in LoA. As a hitter with College experience, I did not expect to see him hit well below the Mendoza line through 144 AB combined in HiA/AFL.
If Gillaspie can come out swinging in 2016 and prove that he was tired, sore from the finger injury, and/or just needed to adjust his approach after the promotion – and that he’s made the necessary changes, he’ll jump well ahead of where he sits on this list today.
He’ll be 23 years old playing hi HiA, which isn’t exactly young for the level. In fact, it’s really around the average age or slightly higher. Therefore, he’ll need to play at a slightly above-average level at the plate in order to make his start to the season one that gets him prepared for AA near the end of the season.
With Gillaspie’s makeup and attitude, his willingness to do whatever the coaches want from him, and his baseball pedigree, we know it’s not time to panic and that he will likely find a way to bring out a better HiA performance in 2016. The question everyone has right now is whether the step up to AA will be even more painful than the one to HiA, and how much that will slow down Gillaspie’s progress towards the big leagues.
With Richie Shaffer, Patrick Leonard, and Jake Bauers ahead of him on the Rays depth chart, chances are Gillaspie gets all of the time he needs to adjust. It’s expected that of all 3, he will be the long-term answer at first base so long as he can find a way to hit and continues hitting through HiA and AA over the next few seasons.
All we know is that it won’t get any easier for Gillaspie, and there are no guarantees. With the likes of Justin Williams possibly shifting to 1B down the road and Devin Davis adding pressure behind him, Gillaspie has plenty of competition to work through to earn a shot at 1B in Tampa Bay. The fact that he’s an effective switch-hitting 1B with power and outstanding defensive abilities still gives him a leg up on all of the competition. We wish him all of the best in that pursuit and hope to see his bat catch fire in 2016.