Height: 6’2″ Weight: 205
Yasmani Grandal was originally drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 27th round of the 2007 draft. He went unsigned that year and went on to play baseball for the Miami Hurricanes. His successful college career improved his prospect status. In 2010 the Cincinnati Reds drafted him in the 1st round as the 12th overall pick, netting him a $2.99 million dollar deal. Coming out of college the scouting reports indicated an offense first type catcher. He projected as an average defensive catcher that struggled to throw out base runners. Offensively he exhibited power and patience, but there was some question about his pure hitting skills. Coming into the 2011 season we rated him as number 54 on our top 100 Prospect List. Here is what we said:
Grandal hit at The U in Miami and has continued that in his first season. He’s going hit for average power and has an average bat with above average tools defensively. The Reds have some real depth at catcher but Grandal is probably the best defensively.
So let’s see if he justified our preseason ranking.
Grandal seems to have answered the concerns about his pure hitting skills by hitting for a solid .305 average in 374 at-bats over the 2011 season. This is an important consideration because he lacks elite bat speed, and there was a sense that he might not maintain high contact rates. Additionally, he has a propensity to transfer his weight forward a little early during the swing. This could leave him vulnerable to off-speed pitches, because he could get too far out in front of slower velocity pitches. However, neither concern has been evident in his time spent playing professional ball. What was especially positive in this area, is that his batting average actually improved with each promotion. Obviously the improved quality of pitches (including off-speed stuff) did not cause him any problems. His well-known penchant for patience at the plate manifested itself in an on-base percentage of .401. While his strikeout rate is a little high at 97 k’s in 374 at-bats; it was mitigated by the 63 free passes that he drew. He is a switch hitter that doesn’t carry a large split, though he is a little stronger from the left side of the plate. His stride is fairly compact and allows coverage over the entire strike zone and this allows him to swing with the power for which he has become so well known. Sporting a .500 slugging percentage, 14hr’s and 69rbi’s there is nothing to complain about here.
His defense is getting high marks so far. Standing 6’2” and weighing 205 pounds, he has the build of a catcher. This makes him a solid receiving target. His strong frame and adequate footwork has made his receiving skills slightly above average. Additionally, he has vastly improved his “catch and throw skills” and threw out would be base stealers at a clip of 34% this last season. Scouting reports indicate that he takes the role of in-game manager very seriously and has strong on the field leadership skills. For an offense first catcher, the progress he has made defensively is quite promising.
There are many things to like about the development path of Yasmani Grandal. Especially encouraging is how he answered the criticisms and perceived weaknesses in his game. He made vast improvements in his defense by achieving throwing out 34% the attempted steals against him. And by maintaining that .305 batting average, it shows that he has legit hitting skills and isn’t simply a power-hitter only. His hit tools translate to a major league middle-of-the-order bat, which is outstanding coming from a premium defensive position. Lastly, I like the fact that he was promoted from A to AAA ball in one year and improved his numbers with each change. The rapid ascension through the organization indicates that he doesn’t need a lot of development time and is very close to major league ready.
However, his path to the majors is far from clear. Unfortunately for Grandal, there is another excellent catching prospect in Devin Mesoraco ahead of him in the system. Because of this, it is hard to know exactly where Grandal fits at Cincinnati at the major league level. This situation seems similar to teammate Yonder Alonso. Yonder seemed to be in the minor leagues well after he was major league ready because there was no room for him with the big club. One could see Grandal getting used as trade bait by the Reds and likely it would be beneficial to Grandal’s path to the majors. But if the Yonder situation is any indication, Grandal may end up in the minors throughout the 2012 season. Setting aside the question of Grandals path to the bigs, the makings are there for a successful major league career. Current progress leads me to believe he has the potential to eventually become one of the higher echelon catchers in the game.
Check back soon as we profile many more Top MLB Prospects and also get our baseball geek on and take a look at some of the later draft picks from the 2011 draft that we think could be big names on the prospect radars in the near future. While you’re here, take a look at our recent article: Prospect Instinct | Jaff Decker, OF San Diego Padres and be a step ahead of the game. Thanks for checking Baseball Instinct. We’re working hard to bring you the best of the minor leagues and make the site the best experience it can be. So don’t hesitate to tell us what you would like to read about. Email us now at firstname.lastname@example.org.