August 7, 2012
Mike Trout is 21 Today. Randal Grichuk is Still Not.
As you are certainly aware, Mike Trout was 20 years old for a while, and as you are probably aware he is 21 as of today. Sweet goodness. I mean, I don't even.
Then there's a guy named Randal Grichuk. Trout was drafted 25th in the 2009 draft. Grichuk was drafted 24th. This has made Grichuk pretty famous for what somebody else has done. It has led to tweets like this:
You probably missed it the first time you read it, but that tweet actually included a celebration of Grichuk's accomplishments. Really! Go back and read it again. The part after the part about Trout. See it now? Yeah, Grichuk. Doing things!
Brad Ankrom compared Grichuk to Ryan Leaf about an hour ago, but there are a few reasons not to turn Mike Trout's success into a Randal Grichuk punchline. One of them is that Grichuk was drafted ahead of Trout but he wasn't drafted at the expense of Trout. The Angels had the 24th and 25th picks. They had Mike Trout ahead of Grichuk on their draft board; they had Trout ahead of everybody except Stephen Strasburg on their draft board. If they are to be believed, they would have drafted Trout if they had had the second pick. They certainly would have drafted him if they had had only the 24th pick. (If they had, there's a pretty good chance Grichuk would have fallen to them for one of their three supplemental first-round picks, in which case the Angels might never had had Tyler Skaggs, or they might not have Garrett Richards, or they might not still be spending so much time trying to salvage Tyler Kehrer.)
According to a Sports Illustrated profile of Trout this summer, scouting director Eddie Bane promised Greg Morhardt, the area scout who had scouted Trout, that the Angels would take Trout with the team's first pick. When the Angels announced Grichuk's name first,
The point here is that this is not some team choosing Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan. Go be a jerk to Bobby Borchering or Grant Green or Donavan Tate if you want to do that. There is nothing that is actually significant about Grichuk going before Trout. It only mattered for the paperwork.
The other thing is that Grichuk, as noted in the headline, is not yet a flop. He might still end up as one, but he's not yet. He, like Trout, was a young draft pick, just 17 on draft day. He's in High-A, which is about where a good 20-year-old should be; there are only two players younger than Grichuk on the Inland Empire 66ers, both of them first-round picks and neither of them more than 10 months younger. His play has kept him on a steady promotion schedule, despite a brutal injury history -- this is the first season he has ever played more than 64 games in a season. The injuries are troubling. They've also been, mostly, traumatic-type things. He hurt his thumb sliding in 2010, and hurt his leg sliding in the outfield in 2011. He has been healthy for the first time this year.
The bad news is that all these injuries have kept him from seeing many pitches, and that's what he needs. The in-game power is already there. The approach is not.
I'm not here to convince you Grichuk is a Trout-level prospect. But he does all right, and in a different history he would have just been drafted out of college this summer. In that scenario, his performance in the California League would be enough to get Angels fans excited. They might point out that he's hitting as well as last year's top pick, C.J. Cron, and he has more to offer with the rest of his game than Cron does, and he's 17 months younger than Cron. And, perhaps most mercifully, nobody would be comparing him to Mike Trout.