Name: Robbie Grossman
Notable 2011 Stats: .294/.418/.451 with 34 2B, 2 3B, 13 HR, 111/104 K/BB, and 24-for-34 SB in 134 games with Bradenton (High-A)
Why He’s This High: Grossman put together a big age-21 season in a tough environment in the Florida State League. Previously a strikeout-challenged player, he’s cut his K rate from 30.7% to 21.0% to 18.0%.
At the same time, the once powerless player has increased his Isolated Power from .089 to .100 to .157, and he’s now a fairly significant power threat. His doubles total indicates that he could be a 20-HR player once he hits a more friendly environment.
An athletic player, Grossman has spent time in all three outfield spots, and he likely will be a plus defender in right field who can spot in center field.
His biggest asset as of now is his plate discipline, as he worked an astonishing 104 walks this season. That means he should be able to post well-above-average OBPs, and since he also has some contact, power, speed, and defense, he projects as a solid all-around outfield.
Why He’s This Low: Grossman’s season came somewhat out of nowhere, and he’ll need to show he can handle upper-level pitchers. Scouts aren’t sold on him just yet, as he doesn’t have a “standout tool” beyond his plate discipline, so he’s still got doubters to convert. In particular, he has to show his power spike of 2011 isn’t a fluke.
As a probable right fielder, Grossman is obviously going to have to keep hitting to become an above-average everyday player. His low steal success rate in 2011 could portend steals becoming less of a part of his game as time goes on, putting more pressure on his power to inch toward .200 ISO rates.
Conclusions: Grossman is an exciting player who looks like he may be able to contribute across the board. He could be a .285/.370/.470 hitter. Basically, imagine a faster Nick Swisher with more contact ability and less power.
In order to reach those heights, he still has to prove that he can drive the ball against upper-level pitching in spite of tools that fail to excite the scouting crowd. Still, one would have to give him pretty good odds of that given his big year in the harsh FSL environment, which has been followed up by a huge Arizona Fall League season.
While he doesn’t get a lot of hype as a top 100 type of guy, Grossman is a bigtime sleeper who is quite polished and could be a well-above-average starting outfielder in the big leagues. He could be a bigtime top-of-the-order presence for future Pirates teams, adding to the organization’s enviable outfield talent.
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