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Casey Gillaspie Deals With Ups And Downs



Casey Gillaspie (Photo by Mike Janes) Casey Gillaspie (Photo by Mike Janes)

ST. PETERSBURG—First baseman Casey Gillaspie has an inside track to experiencing the ups and downs of the game. His brother Conor has experienced plenty, capped by an unexpected star turn as the Giants’ third baseman during their postseason run this year.

But Casey, the 2014 first-round pick from Wichita State, also knows there are some things he has to learn himself.

Mental growth was a big reason for the success he had this season, which included a midseason all-star nod at Double-A Montgomery, a promotion to Triple-A Durham and the organization’s minor league player-of-the-year award. "Something (the Rays) always preach is trusting the process, and as a young player you kind of don’t want to hear that,” said Gillaspie, 23. "You want it all to happen right away.

"But until you go through some of those down moments and are able to claw back in the right direction, you just have to go through it, in my opinion.”

Gillaspie has already had several.

After a hot start at low Class A Bowling Green in 2015 led to a promotion to high Class A Charlotte, he was sidelined for much of the second half with a broken hand. He also hit just .191 in the Arizona Fall League.

Gillaspie enjoyed a strong start at Montgomery this season, but that was offset by a slump that carried over to his first couple of weeks at Durham. But the experience he gained, and the "bad weight” he lost, all factored into making 2016 a success.

"This year there were a lot of ups, but I also went through some down time in the middle of the season,” Gillaspie said. "Going through some struggles last year in the (AFL) really helped me get through those lows to get going back in the right direction again.”

Gillaspie finished the season with strong overall numbers, hitting .284/.388/.479 with 18 home runs and 64 RBIs in 132 games.

But as he learned from watching Conor, "you’ve got to tell yourself not to look that far ahead,” he said.

COOL RAYS

• The Rays selected righthander Brent Honeywell as their minor league pitcher of the year after he went 7-3, 2.34 in 20 starts with 9.1 strikeouts per nine innings between Charlotte and Montgomery.

2017RaysMidseason

2017 Tampa Bay Rays Midseason Top 10 Prospects

Pitching has allowed the Rays to remain in contention.

• Righthander Joe Serrapica, who didn’t allow a run in 22.1 innings at short-season Hudson Valley, won the top reliever honors and Charlotte catcher Nick Ciuffo was top defensive player.

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