Name: Yasmani Grandal
Notable 2011 Stats: .296/.410/.510 with 14 2B, 0 3B, 10 HR, 57/41 K/BB, and 0-for-0 SB in 56 games with Bakersfield (High-A);
.301/.360/.474 with 15 2B, 0 3B, 4 HR, 39/13 K/BB, and 0-for-1 SB in 45 games with Carolina (AA);
.500/.667/.667 with 2 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 1/5 K/BB, and 0-for-0 SB in 4 games with Louisville (AAA);
.305/.401/.500 with 31 2B, 0 3B, 14 HR, 97/59 K/BB, and 0-for-1 SB in 105 games total
Why He’s This High: Impressively, Grandal worked his way through Double-A after just 109 games in his professional career. The switch-hitting catcher’s solid run in High-A could be attributed to the easy California League environment, but he continued to hit well in the more neutral Southern League, most notably cutting down on his strikeout rate.
Like most catchers, Grandal won’t contribute much in the running game, but otherwise, he’s a very complete player. While he will strike out a lot, that’s more because he works deep counts than any sort of contact problems. Thus far, he’s had no trouble hitting for average or getting on base, because his approach leads to a lot of walks and he’s generally swinging at very hittable pitches due to his selectivity.
Grandal is a gap power hitter who could end up approaching the 20-HR mark a few times. Overall, his offensive approach and skillset evokes Victor Martinez.
While he may not end up as good of a hitter as Martinez, Grandal should be a better defensive catcher. He’s got a good arm and threw out 34% of basestealers this year. He struggled with passed balls early on, but only allowed five in his time in the upper minors after allowing 14 with Bakersfield, and his defense shouldn’t be an issue as he gains more experience.
Why He’s This Low: While Grandal’s individual skills are all solid, there’s nothing about his skillset that jumps out as a huge plus. He’s a doubles hitter who takes some walks, but he doesn’t have huge over-the-fence power and he’ll strike out a fair amount. While his defense is solid, he’s likely a middle-of-the-pack defensive catcher in the big leagues.
What it all means is that Grandal has a high likelihood of becoming an above-average player at his position, but it’s difficult to see him as a star. He could snag an All-Star berth or two in career years or down years for the position, but he’s a step below, say, teammate Devin Mesoraco.
Conclusions: Grandal’s a pretty safe bet to contribute solidly in the major leagues, and given that he’s a catcher (and a switch-hitting one, at that!), he’s immensely valuable. However, you don’t become a star on positional scarcity and adequacy alone, and it’s open for debate if Grandal will be more than a league-average hitter (overall, not for a catcher) and an average defensive catcher. He’s already 23, after all, and it’s easy to see his BABIPs (.359 in High-A, .377 in Double-A) regressing a fair bit (between facing better pitchers and seeing his luck revert to normal). I see him fitting comfortably into the Miguel Montero/Ramon Hernandez class of catchers, with his switch-hitting being an added plus.
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