June 1, 2012
Yasmani Grandal, C, Padres
The situation: The Padres are firmly in rebuilding mode, and while they signed Nick Hundley to a three-year extension in the offseason, his .169/.234/.282 averages became too much to bear. So they've called up Grandal, one of the top catching prospects in the game.
Background: Grandal was one of the top catchers available in the 2007 draft, but he made it clear that he was going to attend the University of Miami. While the Red Sox did make a run at him with a 27th-round selection, he went on to have a fantastic college career and was the 12th overall pick in 2010. All Grandal has done since signing is hit, and he arrives from Triple-A Tucson with a .317/.421/.500 line in 34 games.
What he can do: Grandal is the rare catcher who can provide offensive firepower. He's an above-average hitter from both sides of the plate and has an excellent feel for the strike zone. That combination should lead to a .270-.280 batting average with plenty of walks and an on-base percentage in the .360-.370 range. He's not loaded with power, but he should develop into the type of hitter who hits 12-15 home runs per season. He runs like a catcher, so he'll never be a base-stealing threat, and while his defense is solid, it's far from spectacular.
Immediate big league future: Grandal was not called up to ride the pine. He'll get everyday at-bats, and even just a modest performance would represent an upgrade from what Hundley is doing. Grandal's outstanding approach should allow him to adjust more quickly to big league pitching, but he's not exactly a fantasy stud just yet. While he could hit for average, there won't be much power right away, and the Padres' weak lineup could limit his chances of racking up runs and RBIs.
Long-term: Grandal was seen as San Diego's catcher of the future the day he was acquired from the Reds in the Mat Latos deal, and> that future is now. He's a decent play for 2012, but an even better one long-term.
A version of this story originally appeared on ESPN Insider .