Friday, Aug. 6, 2010
By Kevin T. Czerwinski
Jon Gilmore admits that 2009 was a bit of a tumultuous season for him. It was his first year with the White Sox and he was pushing just a bit too hard in an effort to impress his new team, the one that had traded for him in December 2008.
Gilmore, whom Atlanta made the 33rd overall pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, was just beginning to feel as if he fit in with the Braves, that he belonged at the time of the deal. He had spent a year and a half in Atlantas system, hit .291 over that stretch and rose out of the Gulf Coast League to the South Atlantic League in just over a season, offering glimpses of the hitter the Braves figured he would become after they expended such a lofty pick to get him.
Then came that early December day in 2008 when he learned that he had been traded to the White Sox, along with Tyler Flowers, Brent Lillibridge and Santos Rodriguez. The Braves, seeking to recapture some of the glory they experienced through much of the 90s, picked up Javier Vazquez and Boone Logan in the deal.
It really surprised me, Gilmore, 21, said of the deal. I know that it is part of the game. My brother-in-law Ben Zobrist got traded, too. So it means that someone wants you. But it was a surprise.
And last year, after I got traded, I wanted to make a good impression on the team that I got traded, too. That was a big part of last year. I had just gotten comfortable with the Braves and had just gotten comfortable with their staff. It was a huge change and I was starting the process over. So I put a lot of pressure on myself early on to show them who I was.
Gilmore began the season by going 0-for-18 and 5-for-48 before leveling off. The third baseman ended up hitting .274 with 67 RBIs for Kannapolis, solid numbers for the South Atlantic League but not the type of numbers expected of a top draft pick.
This season, well, lets just say things have been a little different. Gilmore is leading or close to leading the Carolina League in several categories at Winston-Salem. Hes leading the league in hits (151), at-bats (450) and games played (106). Gilmore is second on the circuit in hitting (.336) -- hes one of three WS players in the top five in that category -- and is third in runs scored 68 and fourth in total bases 190.
Heading into Fridays action, Gilmore was also riding a six-game hitting streak during which he was hitting .375 9-for-24.
Im just confident in myself this season, Gilmore said. I did a lot of work and I found a comfortable swing and I have been able to repeat it during the course of the season. It helps when youre doing well and you have that consistent swing. Ive tweaked a little bit and it has helped a lot. Ive had a good swing all year.
Ive had three or four different swings the last few years and this year Ive stayed with the same approach on my swing all year and it has helped. I have pregame stuff that I work on and I take a lot of pride in that, having the same approach every day. It really helps over the course of the season.
Gilmore added that having former big-leaguer Joe McEwing as his manager has made a big difference as well. Super Joe was a scrapper during his playing days and earned his nickname as a result of his hard work, approach and determination to show up at the park every day ready to contribute.
McEwing has imparted some of that approach on Gilmore over the last four-plus months.
When he talks, you want to listen and learn from a guy like that, Gilmore said.
Folks should be listening to Gilmore before long. Theyre already watching him and they are impressed. Dont be too surprised if he gets a taste of life in Birmingham before the season is over if for no other reason that to spice up what has been a miserable season for the Barons.
The management of the White Sox has a plan for everyone, Gilmore said. Im just going to do what they tell me. The only thing I can do is keep playing well and to the best of my ability and let them make the decision for me.
Kevin Czerwinski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.