ST. PETERSBURG, FL-The Tampa Bay Rays have signed first baseman Casey Gillaspie (guh-LESS-pee), their first round selection from the 2014 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft and the No. 20 pick overall.
Gillaspie, 21, was the third college hitter taken by the Rays with their first overall selection, joining third baseman Richie Shaffer (Clemson University, 2012) and third baseman Evan Longoria (Long Beach State University, 2006).
During his just-completed junior season at Wichita State University, the switch-hitter batted .389 (82-for-211) with 15 home runs, 50 RBI, a .520 on-base percentage and .682 slugging percentage in 59 games. He tied for fifth among all Division I players in home runs and led the nation with 58 walks. He led the Missouri Valley Conference in homers, batting avg., on-base pct., slugging pct. and hits, tied for first in RBI, tied for second with 50 runs scored and tied for sixth with 15 doubles.
Gillaspie was rated the No. 1 first baseman in the draft, college or high school, by Baseball America. This season he was named a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award and the Dick Howser Trophy. He was also named a first-team All-American by Collegiate Baseball, the first Shocker to earn the honor since Mike Pelfrey in 2005. Last summer he led the Cape Cod League with eight home runs while playing for the Falmouth (Mass.) Commodores and was named to the Cape Cod League All-Star Team.
Gillaspie is the younger brother of Chicago White Sox third baseman Conor Gillaspie, who was selected by the San Francisco Giants with the 37th overall pick of the 2008 June Draft and three months later became the first member of his draft class to reach the majors. He became the fifth Wichita State position player drafted in the first round, joining his brother in 2008, Russ Morman in 1983 (White Sox), Joe Carter in 1981 (Chicago Cubs) and Joe Krsnich in 1972 (Yankees).
Their father, Mark Gillaspie, was an All-American outfielder at Mississippi State University and an 11th-round selection by the San Diego Padres in the 1981 June Draft. He went on to play eight seasons in the minor leagues.