ST. PETERSBURG — The comparison is unfair, scouting director R.J. Harrison warned, but he went ahead and made it, anyway.
The first time he met Evan Longoria, Harrison felt like he had known him for a long time. When he ate lunch with first-round pick Casey Gillaspie on Tuesday, Harrison felt the same way.
"This is not the end game for him, being a first-round pick," Harrison said. "He wants to be a big-leaguer."
Gillaspie took the next step to try to get there Tuesday when the No. 20 overall pick of last week's draft signed with the Rays. The first baseman's deal is for the slot value of $2,035,500.
"It's a dream come true," Gillaspie said in front of the dugout before Tuesday's game. "It's awesome being in this ballpark. It's truly special."
The Rays hope Gillaspie, one of the draft's top collegiate power hitters, will be a special player on a fast track to the majors. At Wichita State this season, he hit 15 home runs — fifth most in Division I — and last summer, he led the wood bat Cape Cod League in homers.
Gillaspie didn't want to put a time line on returning to Tropicana Field for his major-league debut. But he said he'd like to do it while his brother, White Sox third baseman Conor, is still in the big leagues.
"That would be cool," Gillaspie said.
Gillaspie leaves today to join Class A short-season Hudson Valley but might not play for at least a week.