After being drafted in 2009 and spending his first two years split between short-season Vancouver and Low-A Kane County, Michael Gilmartin's development has been on a steady incline while with the High-A Stockton Ports in 2011. He has made dramatic improvements at the plate, and has become one of the most consistent players on the Ports, leading the team with a .297 average through Wednesday. Gilmartin hit only .232 in 2009 and .245 in 2010.
As the Ports' sole representative in the California League-Carolina League All-Star game, Gilmartin has proven himself to be a high-caliber player both offensively and defensively. Playing all over the infield and hitting near the top of the order, Gilmartin's versatility and dependability have been key for the Ports this year. Gilmartin is among the team leaders in HRs (10), RBIs (51), OBP (.353), and SLG (.507). His 880 OPS ranks 18th in the Cal League.
Gilmartin isn't the only baseball player in his family. His younger brother Sean was selected in the first round by the Atlanta Braves in the 2011 MLB Draft and reportedly signed with Atlanta this week. The younger Gilmartin is a pitcher, setting up the possibility that the two brothers could square-off against each other one day.
We caught-up with Michael, who turned 24 on Thursday, this past weekend for a Q&A.
Gabby Micek: After spending last year in the Midwest League with Kane County, what has the biggest difference been between the two leagues?
Michael Gilmartin: Definitely the weather. It's a lot different here than in Chicago. Especially at the start of the year, because the first two months in Chicago are pretty cold, and it's hard to hit when it's cold like that. It's also nice being in California where my family is because it gives them a chance to come to a lot of the games and it's nice to have some familiar faces.
GM: You've played pretty much all over the infield. What would you say your favorite position is?
MG: Anywhere really, though I've never played outfield, so probably shortstop or second base. Either one of those. I played second in high school, and shortstop all last year. So either one of those positions works well for me.
GM: You've also hit at the top and bottom of the order, which spot is your favorite place to bat?
MG: I definitely like batting at the top. Anywhere between one and six, really. You get your first at-bat out of the way pretty quickly and it's easier to get into the rhythm and groove of the game.
GM: Do you have a pre-game routine that you tend to stick to?
MG: No not really. Just take solid BP everyday and try to do all the little things that help me to get prepared for the game.
GM: Do you have anything you think you need to work on?
MG: Yeah, of course. There are always things I need to work on to get a little bit better at: fielding, hitting, throwing, and base running. Just really going out there every day and having a solid approach.
GM: Your brother, Sean, was just drafted by the Braves in the first round. Do you have any aspirations of playing with him?
MG: Yeah definitely. It would be pretty cool and special to one-day play with him, especially in the big leagues. If that opportunity were to come I would really cherish and relish that for a long time. We both work hard and it would be cool for not only us but for my mom and my dad and my whole family as well. I just wish him the best of luck.