ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — First-round pick Casey Gillaspie wanted to enter the Tampa Bay Rays’ system as soon as possible, and he received his wish.
The Rays announced the first baseman’s signing Tuesday, before the opener of their two-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals at Tropicana Field. The Wichita State product, taken 20th overall last Thursday, received a $2,035,500 bonus, equal to the slot’s assigned value.
"I knew R.J. (Harrison), the (Rays’) scouting director, wanted to get this out of the way quickly so I could get up there and start playing baseball," Gillaspie said. "I knew it was going to get done quickly, and I’m glad it did."
Gillaspie, 21, completed his junior season with the Shockers. As a switch-hitter, he batted .389 with 15 home runs, 50 RBI and a .520 on-base percentage in 59 games.
A semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award and the Dick Howser Trophy this season, he’s the younger brother of Chicago White Sox third baseman Conor Gillaspie. His father, Mark, became an All-American outfielder at Mississippi State and the San Diego Padres’ 11th-round selection in 1981.
Gillaspie is the Rays’ third college hitter taken with their first pick, joining third basemen Evan Longoria (Long Beach State, 2006) and Richie Shaffer (Clemson, 2012).
Gillaspie said he’ll leave Wednesday to begin his career with the Hudson Valley Renegades, the Rays’ Single-A short-season affiliate.
"It’s really nice," Harrison said. "It says a lot about the player. This is not the end game for him being a first-round pick. … He wants to be a big leaguer.
"I don’t want to compare him, because I don’t want to set standards too high or anything like that. But in ’06, the first time I was ever around Evan (Longoria), I felt like I had known him for a long time. I kind of get the same sense from Casey."