In the first round of the 2010 MLB Draft, the Cincinnati Reds selected switch-hitting Yasmani Grandal, a catcher from the University of Miami. Unlike last year, when I was very pleased with the selection of Mike Leake in the first round, I’m underwhelmed by Grandal. I will lay out the reasons for that below, but first I need to acknowledge a few things:

–The Reds know more than I do about all these prospects;
–The Reds have more information at their disposal;
–I have a good bit of faith in Chris Buckley (Cincinnati’s scouting director) and the Reds scouting department;
–I’m just a guy wearing his pajamas in his mother’s basement, so I rarely know what I’m talking about.

Many people are very high on Grandal, and I’m hopeful that he will develop into the star that some expect. Grandal was actually expected to go a bit higher (maybe as high as 4th), but he has “signability” issues, so he dropped a bit. I hope the Reds can get him signed. He’s definitely a talented player.

That said, there are a few red flags in my mind. According to his scouting report:

–“Grandal has put up numbers this year, but his hitting overall does not grade out that well. He doesn’t have great bat speed.”
–“He has a good amount of raw power, though it’s not quite plus.”
–“He is a well below average runner.” (He’s a catcher; I don’t really care about that.)
–Defensively, he “doesn’t always move his feet well” and “he’s not the most agile backstop.”
–“Despite a good reputation, his individual defensive tools, other than his arm, don’t grade out that well. Lack of bat speed has some concerned about hitting ability.”

Finally, in the small sample size department, I’ve seen him play a few times since his University of Miami Hurricanes have been battling my alma mater for supremacy in the ACC for the last couple of years. I haven’t been particularly impressed (though, again, I’m no scout).

Anyway, seems like a lot of issues for a guy that was a possibility for a top-five pick. Let’s just say that I think there are reasons for concern.

I’m not losing sleep over it, however. The Reds scouting department has demonstrated that they have a clue, and I’m going to trust them on this one. Also, some guys I like — like Keith Law over at ESPN — think that the Reds made a particularly good pick. I certainly hope that’s true. I’d like nothing more than to see this guy exceed all expectations.

A recap of some of the Grandal chatter out there:

–Here’s Mark Sheldon’s piece, including this:

“It’s such a hard position to find,” Reds scouting director Chris Buckley said after the pick was made. “There are so few everyday catchers across the Minor Leagues, or even in the Major Leagues, that we just didn’t think we could pass him up.”

–Doug over at RML gives his stamp of approval, with plenty of analysis.
Jamie Ramsey has the Reds press release, and some more quotes from Chris Buckley.
Lance McAlister has pointed us to some good videos of Grandal:

–Finally, here’s a scene I hope we see replayed again and again at Great American Ballpark in the next few years:

14 Responses

  1. Steve Price

    There are typically two types of players that analysts say do not choose in the first round:

    Relief pitchers and catchers

    Since 2000:
    1st round in 2003, Ryan Wagner Relief
    1st round in 2007, Devin Mesoraco, catcher
    1st round in 2010, Yasmani Grandal, catcher

    2000, 3rd round catcher–Dane Sardinha
    2002, 3rd round catcher–Joey Votto
    2004, 3rd round catcher–Craig Tatum

    Mesoraco has played well this year, but most every prospect analyst had pretty much written him off during the spring, or stated that this was a make or break year for him. He’s responded well through High A.

    Since 2000, catchers drafted in 1st round by all clubs; there’s 35 catchers listed below, 25 selected in the regular rounds, 10 selected as supplemental picks. It would appear to me that 1st round catchers are often picked as “risk” supplemental choices while using the regular first round pick as more of a “sure thing.”…unless you’re Joe Mauer, of course.

    2000–Scott Heard, Rangers
    2000–David Parrish, Yankees
    2001–Joe Mauer, Twins
    2001 (supplemental)–Joe Mathis, Angels
    2002 (supplemental)–Jeremy Brown, A’s
    2003–Daric Barton, Cardinals
    2003–Mitch Maier, Royals (now OF)
    2003 (supplemental)–Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Braves
    2004–Neil Walker, Pirates
    2004–Landon Powell, A’s
    2004 (supplemental)–Jonathon P0terson, Yankees
    2005–Jeff Clement, Mariners
    2005–Brandon Snyder, Orioles
    2006–Maxwell Sapp, Astros
    2006–Hyon Choi Conger, Angels
    2007–Matt Wieters, Orioles
    2007–Devin Mesoraco, Reds
    2007–J.P. Arencibia, Blue Jays
    2007 (supplemental)–Travis d’Arnauld, Phillies
    2007 (supplemental)–Jackson Williams, Giants
    2007 (supplemental)–Josh Donaldson, Cubs
    2007 (supplemental)–Mitch Canham, Padres
    2007 (supplemental)–Ed Easley, Diamondbacks
    2008–Buster Posey, Giants
    2008–Kyle Skipworth, Marlins
    2008–Jason Castro, Astros
    2009–Jorge Sanchez, Pirates
    2009–Steven Baron, Mariners
    2009–Joshua Phegley, White Sox
    2010–Bryce Harper, Nationals
    2010–Yasmani Grandal, Reds
    2010–Kellin Deglan, Rangers
    2010–Justin O’Conner, Rays
    2010 (supplemental)–Michael Kvasnicka, Twins

  2. Brien Jackson

    It looks like a strong pick to me. He was probably the best talent on the board at the time, he’s a strong arm catcher who projects to have some power, and catchers aren’t easy to find. He’s got problems with his swing, but nothing professional coaches shouldn’t be able to fix. And even in the worst case scenario, if he can give you good defense with a strong arm behind the plate, he ought to be able to stick in the majors as a useful player/starter, or be a useful trade piece at some point. Add in the upside, and it seems like a very good pick to me.

  3. Sultan of Swaff

    Seems to run fine for a catcher. Yeah, the swing is long and the bat speed is average, but I don’t have many qualms about it given the weak draft class. Just don’t go over slot and keep pumping the $$ into our foreign scouting.

  4. Furniture City Red

    The second video – The one with the homer down each line – Both of those HR’s looked ‘aluminum bat aided’. But I don’t really have a problem with the pick, although there were still some good pitchers available and two good 3B prospects on the board …Hope Grandal does well.

    Am I the only guy that absolutely hates the sound of an aluminum bat hitting a baseball?

  5. beroader

    PING! I really wish they would switch to wooden bats at the college level. At least in D1. I understand in lower leagues where you have a limited budget, but come on. PING!

  6. Dave Lowenthal

    @Brien Jackson: I agree, catchers are not easy to find. So one solution is to not try. Seriously—I haven’t studied it, but if the variance between catchers is not that high (i.e., they all suck at the plate), then I’d be tempted to go pick something else.

    • Matt WI

      @Brien Jackson: I agree, catchers are not easy to find. So one solution is to not try. Seriously—I haven’t studied it, but if the variance between catchers is not that high (i.e., they all suck at the plate), then I’d be tempted to go pick something else.

      I agree there. Kind of like picking Kickers in fantasy football. Just wait till later and se what shakes out.

  7. preach

    As big of a baseball fan as I am, the ‘ping’ sound is why I cannot watch a college game that I am not vested in somehow.

  8. TC

    If you watch the second video, who’s swing does that look like to you? Looks VERY familiar. VERY, very familiar. I think you’ll see it right away. (Tell you who I think later.)