02/04/10 12:12 PM ET
Gillies excited to join Phillies' system
Center-field prospect came over in trade with Mariners
By Todd Zolecki / MLB.com
Gillies, who hails from Vancouver, British Columbia, estimated there were five Canadians in Seattle's system, which meant he likely would be traded.
"But then I heard only Phillippe [Aumont] would be traded to Toronto," Gillies said last week. "I was like, 'My best friend is leaving.' Then I heard I would be going with him to Toronto, so I was like, 'OK.' Then I heard it was the Phillies. I didn't sleep for a couple nights. People were calling me with progress reports. It definitely felt like it went on a lot longer than two and a half days, that's for sure."
Aumont, Gillies and J.C. Ramirez ultimately were traded to the Phillies for Lee in a separate December deal than the one that brought Halladay to the Phillies for prospects Kyle Drabek, Michael Taylor and Travis d'Arnaud.
Aumont immediately became the organization's top pitching prospect.
Gillies joined Domonic Brown and Anthony Gose as a talented trio of outfield prospects. Gillies, 21, hit .341 with nine home runs, 42 RBIs and 44 stolen bases in 124 games last year for Class A High Desert in the California League. He led the league in stolen bases. He finished second in runs (104), hits (170) and on-base percentage (.430) and finished third in batting average.
Gillies is expected to open the season at Double-A Reading, with Gose expected to open the season at Class A Clearwater. Both play center field.
"It's so hard to find players who can play in the middle of the field," Phillies assistant general manager Chuck LaMar said. "I would think we would keep both of them playing center field. We like to have as many players that can stay in the middle of the field as possible. You can't get enough catching, second basemen, shortstops and center fielders. They're just that hard to find -- guys that can play the middle -- and both Gillies and Gose can."
|"I was so surprised that my name was even being involved in trade talks. At the same time, it's exciting and overwhelming. It's been a great experience."|
|-- Tyson Gillies|
Gillies is a unique player, and not only because of his baseball talents. He is legally deaf. He has only 50 percent hearing in his right ear and 30 percent hearing in his left ear, which requires him to wear hearing aids.
"I have to have my hearing aids on," Gillies said. "If I don't [have them on], then ... I wouldn't spend too much time trying to talk to me. When I put them on it's not bad, but it's not even close to being perfect."
Gillies said his hearing poses some challenges when he plays, but he has become accustomed to it.
It seemingly has not affected his play.
"I don't know any different," Gillies said. "I just take it as I need to be more aware. I have to really use my eyes. I say plays back to myself all the time to know what's going to happen in this situation or that situation. Basically, just be more prepared than everybody else.
"I'm hoping later on, if I create a good name for myself, that I'll be able to talk to a lot of kids about this. I know growing up how frustrating it was. I know how tough and down kids get on each other. It's definitely something I hope to be able to help people out with, tell them my life story and experiences, and hopefully they can take good things out of it and turn their lives around."
But for now, Gillies is in Clearwater, Fla., preparing himself for Spring Training. He's excited to be joining a new organization that has high expectations for him.
"I was so surprised that my name was even being involved in trade talks," Gillies said. "At the same time, it's exciting and overwhelming. It's been a great experience."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.