Red-hot Gillespie powering Z’s attack

Cole Gillespie ranks among the Pacific Coast League's leading hitters in May. Photo by: Parker Waters / New Orleans Zephyrs

Cole Gillespie ranks among the Pacific Coast League’s leading hitters in May. Photo by: Parker Waters / New Orleans Zephyrs

In 2014, Cole Gillespie reached the big leagues with both Seattle and Toronto, but managed just 74 at-bats between the two stops and spent time on the disabled list for nearly a month. In all, he suited up for six different teams in two different organizations, with a pair of rehab stops in Florida.

But this year, Gillespie has found his groove while comfortably being slotted into manager Andy Haines’ lineup nearly every day and the Zephyrs are reaping the benefits of a healthy and productive player.

In 17 games since May 1, Gillespie has the eighth-highest batting average in the Pacific Coast League at .379 and his 13-game hitting streak from May 2-16 was the sixth-longest streak in the league this season.

Since the calendar turned to May, Gillespie’s average has risen from .270 to .326, coinciding with a recent run of success for New Orleans, whose 11 wins in the month has already eclipsed its total in April.

In the midst of his hitting streak, Gillespie went 9-for-17 in a four-game series in Memphis, including a 4-for-6 game in which he scored three runs.

“I think every hitter will contest that there will be parts of the season where things are starting to roll a little bit and I think it started for me in Memphis,” Gillespie said. “The first game in town over there, it was a hit-parade for the whole team and I was able to get four that night. And that series parlayed into some good at-bats and some hits and things were just falling in place and finding some holes and that’s how baseball works.”

The team returned home and Gillespie remained red-hot, collecting five hits in three games against Oklahoma City before the streak ended with an 0-for-4 night in the second game of the series in Nashville last weekend.

A professional hitter with 243 big league at-bats on his resume, Gillespie said he didn’t put a ton of thought into his streak, instead just trying to “put a good swing on the ball and let the rest take care of itself.” Over the length of his streak, Gillespie struck out only six times and scored nine runs.

“It’s a long season, there’s going to be some ups and downs and you just don’t want to bury yourself when things aren’t going well or you’re not quite feeling well at the plate. You just have to find a way to grind out some at-bats and get some hits,” he said. “I’ve been able to do that for the most part this season.”

Despite the success throughout the season’s first seven weeks, Gillespie is not completely satisfied with what he’s done.

“I wish on a personal level I was driving the ball a little more and hitting for some more power, which I’m capable of, but that park at home might be giving my head a little fits. All I’ve known as a hitter is a friendly yard, but you can’t let that affect you,” he said.

Gillespie leads the Zephyrs with 11 doubles but is yet to hit a home run and has only eight RBI in 129 at-bats. Nevertheless, he ranks in the top-5 in on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS and his 53 total bases rank third on the club.

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