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April 29, 2014

The Call-Up

Randal Grichuk

by Mark Anderson and Craig Goldstein


The Situation: With the Cardinals offense continuing to struggle, posting just a .242 batting average to date, the club made some moves looking for a spark. Calling up Greg Garcia and Randal Grichuk could give the Cardinals the boost they need to get their offense rolling in support of a pitching staff that has posted a cumulative 2.76 ERA through the season’s first 26 games.

Background: Possibly known better for being the player the Angels took one pick before popping Mike Trout, Grichuk was a legitimate first-round selection in his own right. After raking in the Arizona League in 2009 and 2010, Grichuk kept right on hitting after a promotion to Low-A Cedar Rapids, posting a .292 average in 52 games during his first full-season experience. Grichuk battled injuries in 2011, and then put up a California League-bolstered .298/.335/.488 line in 135 games, as he regained his prospect stock in 2012. The 2013 season saw Grichuk struggle at times, as he garnered his first exposure to higher-level pitching. In the end, Grichuk managed to pop 22 home runs and rip 27 doubles en route to a .780 OPS with Double-A Arkansas. An off-season trade sent Grichuk to the Cardinals in exchange for third baseman David Freese, and in his first 21 Triple-A games, Grichuk has hit .310 with eight doubles and three home runs.

Scouting Report: Grichuk is an intense player who plays with a reckless abandon that many managers and scouts love to see in a young prospect. He is a quality athlete with the tools to be a good player even without that aggressiveness, but his game plays up a touch because of the approach.

At the plate, Grichuk’s aggressiveness can get the better of him, as he swings early and often, and frequently chases breaking stuff out of the strike zone. When he remains patient, Grichuk can drive the ball to all fields and has the ability to hit the ball out of the park. He has enough bat speed to handle quality velocity and, over the last two years, his ability to hit breaking balls in the zone has improved. All told, his hit tool projects below-average, but it may still be enough for him to pop 10-12 home runs with regular playing time.

Though Grichuk has been playing mostly center field in Triple-A, he does not profile well at the position long term. His speed doesn’t play to an average level, even once underway, and while his instincts and effort can overcome some of that, he fits much better in right field than up the middle. His arm is above-average and accurate, and he can help prevent runners from taking an extra base.

Overall, Grichuk profiles as more of a second-division whose defense is inadequate for center field and who lacks the overall offensive profile to be a regular in a corner. He has the attitude, intensity, and tools to succeed in a part-time role, particularly one in which most of his at-bats come against left-handed pitching.

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article Minor League Update: G... (04/29)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article The Call-Up: Luis Sard... (04/22)
Next Column >>
Premium Article The Call-Up: Robbie Ra... (05/01)
Next Article >>
Painting the Black: Si... (04/29)

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