Gillaspie sees opportunity with Giants
Recently signed third baseman could be on fast track
SAN FRANCISCO -- Sporting an Iowa football T-shirt and a shaggy head of hair, Conor Gillaspie, the Giants' 2008 supplemental-round Draft pick, entered AT&T Park for the first time Sunday afternoon.
An All-American third baseman last season for Wichita State, Gillaspie signed a deal with a reported $975,000 signing bonus Wednesday, the first of the Giants' top four selections to come to terms with the club. Buster Posey, the Giants' first-round selection, and Roger Kieschnick (third round) and Brandon Crawford (fourth round) have yet to sign.
"It's beautiful; it's about everything you grow up watching on TV," said Gillaspie of the Giants' ballpark. "Being able to walk on the field and see what these guys play on every day, it's an honor."
It'll be awhile, of course, before Gillaspie, 21, actually plays at China Basin. The 37th overall pick, Gillaspie has played in two games in Arizona with the Giants' rookie team (2-for-9, one double) and figures to spend at least the 2009 season in the Minors.
Had he inked a deal earlier, he would have had more time to play with the Giants' affiliates this season. But contract negotiations lasted two months following Gillaspie's appearance in the 2008 NCAA Super Regionals, when he faced Florida State, Posey's team.
"I wish I could have got some stuff done earlier, but that's the way it worked out," Gillaspie said. "Now we're starting up -- this is where everything begins for me."
The dearth of talented third basemen in the Giants' system should benefit Gillaspie, easing his ascent through the Minors. San Francisco hasn't produced a solid position player in years, so Gillaspie -- along with Posey, assuming he signs -- will be nursed at every level.
Gillaspie's .419 batting average with 82 RBIs and 11 home runs in 60 games this year for Wichita State inspire hope in the Giants' front office.
"The only thing I can control is going out and playing hard every day, doing the best I can and helping this organization win," Gillaspie said. "Everybody has to work their way up. You're going to get more chances at my position [third base], but at the same time, if somebody's beating me out, you're going to have to step it up and beat that person out.
"I don't expect favors. I don't expect people to do things for me."
Answering questions for multiple reporters -- with director of player personnel Bobby Evans and John Barr, special assistant to Brian Sabean, alongside him -- Gillaspie was both respectful and confident.
He didn't completely dispel previous reports that he was upset about not being selected in the first round. Had he been chosen fourth overall, he said he probably would've been disappointed that he wasn't chosen first or second.
That competitive nature could serve him well on the field in the future.
"Every team needs something, but as far as a rebuilding, an organization that's trying to rebuild around younger guys and really needs some experienced younger guys, that's important," Gillaspie said. "A lot of guys I knew that were drafted are five or six deep at a position."
Currently in the midst of a rebuilding project, the Giants likely will provide Gillaspie more opportunities to prove himself than other clubs.
"I'm not saying that I'm ahead of anybody in this organization, but it's a good chance to take a speedy process and try to speed it up," he said.
Of his rapidly evolving baseball career, Gillaspie said he's still trying to comprehend everything. He said his goal of playing three years of college baseball came and went quicker than he could have imagined.
"We don't register a lot of what we're seeing until it's already past and over with," Gillaspie said. "I probably won't even register that I'm here right now until probably tomorrow."
David Biderman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.