Gillaspie moving up among dearth of college bats
It has not exactly been a secret that the pool of college bats come Draft time in recent years has been less deep than an episode of "Real Housewives." Every year, the expectation has been that the college hitters who perform will move up Draft boards.
Last year, Colin Moran, Hunter Dozier, D.J. Peterson and Hunter Renfroe all went in the top half of the first round. Moran was an expected top-of-the-Draft guy, but the others hit their way up to the first 15 picks.
The 2014 amateur season began once again with a relative dearth in advanced hitters. Those who were thought to be the top guys have had mixed results. North Carolina State's Trea Turner has been OK, but not great. San Francisco's Bradley Zimmer (brother of Royals pitching prospect Kyle Zimmer) has been outstanding and could very well be the top college bat in the class now. Virgnia's Derek Fisher broke the hamate bone in his right hand, forcing him out of action for more than a month. Indiana catcher Kyle Schwarber was one spot ahead of Fisher on MLB.com's Draft Top 50 back in the fall, and he's hit well.
But just like the lack of elite hitters at this level is almost a given, so is the appearance of college bats popping up because of performance. Some aren't overwhelmingly surprising, such as Oregon State's Michael Conforto. No. 28 on that preseason Top 50, Conforto has hit .383/.531/.551 over his first 31 games, living up to the billing of one scout who said before the season began that the OSU outfielder would be the first college hitter taken.
Then there's Casey Gillaspie, the Wichita State first baseman. It's not that Gillaspie was completely unheralded coming into the season. The younger brother of Conor Gillaspie, currently playing third base for the Chicago White Sox, Casey had a solid Cape Cod League season over the summer. But he's exploded onto the scene in 2014. The switch-hitter is hitting .393/.497/.697 with nine homers in 32 games so far this spring.
"He's probably the best hitter in the country," one cross-checker said. "He's a switch-hitter with power, more power than Conforto."
Gillaspie is making a steady climb up Draft boards into the first round. If he continues at this pace, something he'll try to do this weekend at Evansville, he could be this year's version of Peterson, who hit his way up to the Mariners at pick No. 12.