Filling Oakland’s 3B Hole: Conor Gillaspie

Oakland was dealt a moderate blow this month when third baseman Scott Sizemore went down with a season-ending ACL injury. Our very own Jack Moore looked at some of the implications yesterday. With limited depth at the position, as noted by Jack, the A’s now are scrambling to find a replacement and the obvious options are not that enticing. The search may not be all that difficult or hopeless, though, since a cost-effective option can be found in nearby San Francisco.

Conor Gillaspie, 24, was a supplemental first round draft pick (37th overall) in 2008 — the same draft that saw the club acquire catcher Buster Posey with the fifth-overall selection. With 25-year-old Pablo Sandoval, already manning the Giants’ hot corner, Gillaspie is an afterthought who’s set to spend a second straight season at triple-A.

The former Wichita State University infielder could make a solid bridge until Scott Sizemore returns — or perhaps when in-house candidate Stephen Parker is ready. Gillaspie is by no means a star-in-the-making, but he could be a solid contributor. He has a nice left-handed, line-drive stroke — though he displays below average power (.157 ISO rate in ’11 in the potent Pacific Coast League) for the position.  Using traditional expectations, he likely would top out somewhere between eight and 10 home runs.

On the plus side, Gillaspie should hit for a decent average and he  a nice job of getting on base last year with with a 13.1% walk rate. Gillaspie also has good barrel awareness and he doesn’t strike out much, which makes him a potential No. 2 hitter. When he was drafted, his defense was a big question. Some folks thought that he might have to move off the position. But Gillaspie worked hard and he has improved significantly in the past three seasons and he should make all the routine plays.

Outside of the depth he gives the Giants, Gillaspie won’t play a significant role in San Francisco. The club also has another third base prospect, Chris Dominguez, who is a much different player but has similar prospect value (although he’s not quite as advanced). He played 78 games at double-A in 2011 — he opened the year in high-A — but posted a wRC+ of just 75.

Perhaps the A’s front office could tempt the Giants with an offer of a near-big-league-ready arm, such as reliever Andrew Carignan. Sizemore was by no means an irreplaceable part of the A’s offense. He was more of a placeholder until a better option came along. Gillaspie offers a low-risk, low-cost option with a dash of upside for the 2012 season.

Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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10 years ago

His BB rate should read 13.1%.