Casey Gillaspie is making New York-Penn League pitchers go back to the drawing board lately.
The Rays' first-round pick collected three hits and drove in a career-high five runs on Friday night as Short-Season Hudson Valley edged Auburn, 7-6, at Falcon Park.
Gillaspie put the Renegades on the board early, plating Braxton Lee with a groundout in the first inning. He came through again an inning later, clearing the bases with a two-out double. After popping out in the fourth, Gillaspie doubled again in the sixth to score Jace Conrad. He capped his night with a leadoff single in the ninth.
"It was just one of those games where the guys ahead of me did a good job of getting on base," said Gillaspie, who was drafted 20th overall last month. "I was able to capitalize on some pitches. I wasn't trying to do too much tonight. I was trying to get something early in the count that I could handle. Luckily, it paid off for me.
"I can't say enough about the guys ahead of me and what they've been doing. I've been put in a lot of situations that I like to be in. The guys ahead of me have done a good job of getting on base for me every night."
The 21-year-old first baseman has been a key contributor for the Renegades, who improved to 13-4 in July. He's batting .344 this month with two homers and 17 RBIs in 17 games. Gillaspie said he thinks he's gotten comfortable with the pitchers in the New York-Penn League.
"I'm trying to relax a little bit," the Wichita State product said. "I have an idea of what the pitchers are trying to do to me. Just relaxing and enjoying the process of playing with these guys every day."
After he was drafted, Gillaspie struggled in his first two weeks as a pro, batting .220 in 12 games. It took some time, he said, to adjust to the grind of playing every day.
"Playing every day is more than these guys are used to playing in college," he said. "Coming to the park every day to perform at the highest level you can, that's probably the biggest adjustment for me."
Overall, Gillaspie is batting .285 and ranks fifth in the league with 25 RBIs.
Lee finished with two hits and scored twice out of the leadoff spot for the Renegades, while Conrad singled, was hit by a pitch and also crossed the plate twice.
Reliever Edgar Gomez (4-2) got the win after giving up two runs on one hit over 3 1/3 innings. Kyle McKenzie pitched around a hit in a scoreless ninth for his first New York-Penn League save.
Raudy Read homered and drove in four runs for the Doubledays.