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Cole Gillespie Also Speaks

[editor's note, by battlekow] Like the Inman interview, this is from late March.

Cole Gillespie had a pretty good year last year. First, he lead the Oregon State Beavers to their first College World Series title. In the midst of the Beavers' national championship run, Gillespie was drafted by the Brewers in the third round and signed for $418K. His professional debut was a memorable one, as he torched the Pioneer League to the tune of .344/.464/.548. He's off to a bit of a slow start this year, but his plate discipline portends well for his future. He took some out of his busy spring to answer some of my questions:

How's Spring Training going?

It's going good. We haven't started up games on the minor league side, but I've played with the big league team a few times already.

Brewers fans are pretty excited about you after your performance at Helena last year. What have you got in store for us this year?

I expect myself to have a solid season. Last year went well, and it was great to start my professional career on that note, but I want to have productive seasons year in and year out and focus on getting better every year.

At Helena, you teamed up with another Pac-10 slugger, Chris Errecart of Cal. Did you know him at all from college?

I didn't know him personally, but I knew of him. I remember reading an article on him and another Cal teammate in Baseball America. After playing with him all summer and living with him here in Arizona for winter camp and Spring Training, I've got to know him pretty well though.

He out-homered you, but you had the higher slugging percentage. Who would win a home run derby?

That's a good question. Chris has plenty of power, so I would have to have a good day to edge him in a home run derby.

What is there to do in Helena, anyway?

Um, nothing. Well, I guess if you're into hunting and that type of stuff you could have a good time there. I did get a chance to try some fly fishing, so I'll give Montana some props for having good rivers.

As a polished college hitter, has the team told you they're going to promote you aggressively?

They haven't mentioned what they're going to do exactly, but I have heard and read I'll probably skip low-A and begin the season in Brevard. All that stuff takes care of itself on the field, so if you keep producing then you obviously have a better shot to keep moving up.

How do you change your approach at the plate against pitchers of different styles and handedness? Are you more aggressive with pitchers who throw more strikes?

My approach at the plate stays pretty consistent. When I'm in a hitters count I'm looking to get a pitch that I handle well. If the count's 0-0, 2-0, or 3-1, I'm looking for either one pitch or one location. If I don't get that, then the worst that can happen is I have a strike on me. Not very often will I try and hit a pitcher's pitch when I'm in a hitter's count. I'm not afraid to hit deep in the count or with two strikes on me.

Oregon State has risen to national prominence in college baseball over the last couple years. How great was it for you to be a part of that success?

It was an amazing feeling to be part of a national championship team like that. I still think about it quite often and still get chills each time I watch the highlight video the team made. It's one of those things you're never going to forget and it will always be one of the great athletic accomplishments in the state of Oregon. To see the reactions of people back home once we got off the plane from Omaha is something I wouldn't even be able to explain.

Do you keep in touch with Jacoby Ellsbury, your former teammate at Oregon State? Who's the better hitter?

Yeah, I talk to Jacoby quite often. He's a real good friend of mine and was my roommate for three years in college. We're both really competitive, so I don't know if either one of us would say the other's a better hitter. I know he's faster than me, so I think throughout the season you're going to see him leg out a few more base hits than me.

It looks like you were a pretty good pitcher in high school: 5-2 record, 0.76 ERA, 46 innings, 36 hits, 52 strikeouts, 5 walks according to your OSU bio. Do you ever miss being on the mound?

Yeah, I think most position players who used to pitch miss being on the mound to some degree. I had a lot of fun pitching in high school, but after a couple shoulder surgeries I'm pretty sure my days on the mound are behind me. Either way, if I had to pick, I'd go the position player route any day.

The Catcher in the Rye is one of your favorite books. What do you like about it?

It was one of the first books I read cover to cover without any footnotes. There was just something about that book that made me want to keep reading. Besides that, I remember getting one of the higher scores in class on the test.

What's the one thing you'd like baseball fans to know about you that they probably don't?

I was originally recruited by Oregon State as a shortstop and pitcher.