KANSAS CITY - It all started in late June.
Making his professional debut with the Burlington Royals, Michael Gigliotti hit two home runs and drove in three RBI. From that moment on, he never looked back.
On Tuesday, the former Bison standout was announced as the Kansas City Royals rookie league Player of the Year.
“I am more grateful than anything for this honor,” Gigliotti said. “I have put a lot of hard work into becoming the best player possible. Baseball is the one thing I love most in this world, so to be out here playing professionally is a dream come true.”
The fourth-round selection in the 2017 MLB Draft hit .329 with 51 hits and 30 RBI in 42 games as a rookie. He ranked among league leaders in multiple categories. His .442 on-base percentage, 15 stolen bases and 32 walks all ranked third, while his batting average was the sixth best clip.
Gigliotti was named to the Appalachian League All-Star team after being promoted to Lexington in early August. The move to Class A did not slow his production as the table setter, in 22 games, batted .302 with 26 hits, 14 runs scored, eight RBI and seven stolen bases.
“With this being my first season in the Royals organization I tried to just take in everything I possibly could, while also doing everything in my power to help us win games,” Gigliotti said. “I stuck with my game, what I know best.
“We had such a great group of guys and our coaching staff was awesome. They let us rookies just go out and play. They wanted to see what we could do and let us get our feet wet, while also scouting the areas we needed help in. They let us play care free baseball.”
The news of his award came from one of his Burlington teammates.
“I found out in a weird way,” Gigliotti said. “Sal Biasi, who won the Pitcher of the Year in my league, called me at random around 10 p.m. and just said, ‘congrats. Are you going to Kansas City?’ I had no idea what he was talking about and then he informed me that I won one of their Players of the Year.
“The next day when I get to the field, some of the front office guys came up and gave me the official word and congratulated me.”
Even with the early success as a professional, Gigliotti has never forgotten those who helped him get to where he is today.
“So much of my success I owe to Lipscomb and the baseball staff there,” Gigliotti. “They all believed in me, even at the lowest points in my career, and that is was kept me going. I learned so much from Coach (Brad) Coon. He really tapped into my best skills – bunting and base running. They taught me how to grind and I love them all. I definitely would not be in this position without them. “
Gigliotti is currently ranked as the 21st-best prospect in the Royals organization.
Kansas City awarded eight position players and eight pitchers throughout its minor league system as the top performers at their respective affiliates.
All 16 prospects will be recognized on the field during Futures Night at Kauffman Stadium on Friday, September 29 as the Royals take on the Arizona Diamondbacks.