Randal Grichuk. Phenom, power hitter extraordinaire, possible future centerfielder for the Cardinals. He's really got all the tools you would want in a player: Good speed, raw power (and plenty of the usable variety), good contact skills but not plus, and can play one of the tougher positions to find good offensive talent.
He does have an obvious flaw, though, and that's the ability to recognize and stay back on breaking and offspeed pitches.
Now, there are lots of hitters who look really, really bad against good breaking stuff from time to time and some of these guys are really good hitters. Matt Holliday is one. Carlos Gonzalez is another. Alfonso Soriano's swings against sliders low and away are historically bad. Yet: All those guys are solid producers against breaking balls.
Grichuk, however, is not. It's his Achilles heel. And when you look at most scouting reports, this is the one flaw that nearly everyone sees. Now, he can hit a fastball a mile and uses the whole field, as you can see in this video highlight from a game against Nashville earlier this season:
Thing is, major league pitchers simply aren't going to give in as much as minor league ones when it comes to throwing fastballs. They aren't developing any more, they're trying to win games and keep earning a paycheck. Someone like Kyle Lohse will read a scouting report on Grichuk, watch some video on him, and then salivate at the chance to use his aggressiveness against him, just like he did last night.
Here's the pitch mix Grichuk has seen in his first big league PA's:
Clearly, Milwaukee has done their homework. He's seeing far more offspeed and breaking pitches. His lone base hit came on a fastball, which was a one hop rocket to left field, but his four strikeouts were a sign of things to come. Lots of breaking balls to start him off and then breaking balls and changeups to put him away. Lohse got him on a beauty of a breaking ball to end an inning and a Cardinal threat last night.
This will be Grichuk's biggest challenge as a hitter in the big leagues: Can he recognize and adjust to good breaking stuff? Because most big leaguers have no issue throwing a curveball in 2-0 and 3-1 counts, hitter's counts where he would likely have gotten a fastball in the minors. If he can't, we're going to see many more uncomfortable swings.