Player Review/Preview: Tyson Gillies

Why do all these Spring Training prospect invites look so sad in their pictures? Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Tyson Gillies

Key 2013 Stats:

  • 19 AAA Games: .154/.276/.231; 1 HR; 3 RBI; BAbip: .180
  • 51 AA Games: .267/.312/.477; 7 HR; 21 RBI; BAbip: .305 (Demotion)
  • 43 AAA Games: .248/.291/.349; 2 HR; 5 RBI; BAbip: .330 (…Re(?)-motion)

What happened in 2013:

Like with Justin De Fratus, Tyson Gillies‘ season is more accurately read as a three act play. This reading, however, does NOT lead to additional optimism around Gillies’ season. If you look at a raw summarization of his season, it doesn’t look so bad:

  • 51 AA Games: .267/.312/.477; 7 HR; 21 RBIs; 4 SB
  • 63 AAA Games: .220/.286/.313; 3 HR; 8 RBIs; 13 SB

It’s nothing outstanding, but that perspective makes it look like he started the season in AA, performed decent defense in CF, with a .789 OPS. He’s then promoted and struggles some in AAA as he develops.

However, this is NOT what happened. Gillies is 24, and started 2013 in AAA; he batted to a bad .507 OPS and struggled in every offensive aspect of the game.

So, at the end of April, Gillies was sent back down to AA. He was actually not bad for AA, but then again he’s 24.

Brought back up to AAA for the last third of the year,  Gillies resumed struggling, although not to as strong a degree. In fact, 13 SB in AAA is promising, and he wasn’t that bad in the field either. What deeply concerns me, though, is the fact that he had a .330 BAbip. With a .248 BA. 

That’s pretty unheard of – generally speaking you’ll see a Batting Average on balls in play ~35-40 points higher than a batting average. A big HR hitter will have a smaller margin (HRs are subtracted from the equation) –  so the idea that he had an 80 point margin means batting .248 is unsustainable based on the BAbip reported.

Generally speaking, if you see a margin like that, it’s a guy who’s had an unreal season and is a target for regression (AKA 2013 Chris Johnson: .394 BAbip/.321 BA)*. That’s a crappy version of luck.

*Side note: While finding a good BAbip comp, I noticed Mike Napoli had an INSANE margin in 2013: .367 BAbip/.259 BA. That’s crazy.

What to expect in 2014:

Given that Gillies is still on the 40-man roster, and entering his age 25 season, I’m not sure if he’ll make it to Spring with the Phillies. There are currently 39 players on the roster, and assuming there’s still a couple pitchers left to be signed, he’s probably 2nd/3rd off the roster (after a catcher – presumably Sebastian Valle, and maybe one reliever of the Joe Savery/Jeremy Horst-ilk).

In that event, I don’t doubt that his former prospect status still has value for another team; there’s a decent chance he’d be grabbed on waivers. So there’s a strong possibility he will be another system’s AAA CF. But assuming he’s our AAA CF, what should we expect?

The end of the season didn’t give fans a lot to be excited about, and presumably if he does remain on the roster, he’ll get one more season to live up to his original prospect status. 25 is a little old, but there have been plenty of players to break out at that age.

However, after spending time adjusting in 2014, I project a season that’s slightly under his AA stats from this season. Don’t expect a breakout season – he could easily have another double digit HR/SB combination, but with weak contact rates and an unsustainable SO% for the major league level.

I challenge him to prove me wrong – God knows the Phillies could use OF prospects. He might, (unfortunately,) however, be on the cusp of remaining stuck in AAA for a while.

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