MIAMI -- Cole Gillespie is forcing the Marlins to consider giving him a roster spot in 2016. Currently riding a ten-game hitting streak and thriving since being promoted, Gillespie has been a bright spot in an outfield that has not been able to remain healthy this season.
Gillespie, 31, signed a minor league deal with the Marlins before the start of spring training. However, after a slow spring, the Marlins opted to send him to Triple-A. Gillespie's hot streak is not going unnoticed, though. Manager Dan Jennings continues to be impressed.
"He's earned every bit of the playing time he's getting," Jennings said of Gillespie. "Right now, I’m kind of using a four man rotation with that outfield because there’s been no sign of slowing down or letting up with any of these guys. They’re swinging the bat. Cole has been that guy who has been searching for that opportunity. Now, it’s showed up and he’s making the most of it."
Before being called upon by Miami, Gillespie was batting .291/.356/.360 to complement 23 RBIs with New Orleans. He extended his hitting streak to ten games on Wednesday in Milwaukee and is batting .328/.378/.474 with one home run and 13 RBIs through 41 games with the Marlins.
Gillespie has not received many opportunities in the past, appearing in 35 major league games last season and only 28 in 2013. With Christian Yelich and Giancarlo Stanton spending time on the disabled list with injuries this season and Marcell Ozuna spending time in the minors after initially struggling, Gillespie has received starting time. But if he continues to contribute offensively, the Marlins be in a position to make room for Gillespie on the 25-man roster next season.
Barring a trade or major injury, Yelich, Ozuna, and Stanton are expected to round out the Marlins' starting outfield in 2016. The Marlins have reportedly discussed the possibility of re-signing Ichiro Suzuki this winter and by doing so would add a left-handed bat and fourth outfielder to the mix. But keeping Gillespie in the mix would add another veteran right-handed bat to the bench. Gillespie has also proven to be versatile throughout the course of his career, spending time in left, center, and right field.
The Marlins might add another outfielder this offseason but retaining Gillespie would likely prove to be beneficial moving forward.