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Future Redbirds Top 25 Prospects for 2015: #4 - Randal Grichuk

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Matheny's "Ferrari" has graduated to the "prospect fatigue" portion of his minor league career. While he's still developing as a player, he's been forced into action based on his tools and potential in each of the last two seasons.

Randal Grichuk, Rated Rookie picture edition
Randal Grichuk, Rated Rookie picture edition
Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

Acquired: Trade, 2013 (Sent from Angels to Cardinals with Peter Bourjos for David Freese and Fernando Salas)

Birthday: 8/13/1991

Age: 23

Minor League Stops in 2014: Memphis (AAA), St. Louis (MLB)

2014 Totals:

PA

AVG

OBP

SLG

ISO

K%

BB%

wOBA

472 .259 .311 .493 .234 22.9 5.9 .340


F-R Grades:

(You can find the primer on the 20-80 grading scale here)

Hit

Run

Arm

Field

Power

45/50 50 55 50 65

I find it confounding how many fans of the Cardinal organization want to marginalize Randal Grichuk as some kind of AAAA player when he won't turn 24 until August, finished back-to-back .200+ ISO seasons in the high minors before turning 23 and has the ability to play at least average defense in CF and probably slightly above average in either corner.

This is especially concerning when the entire rest of the farm system cupboard is pretty much empty when it comes to hitters with plus raw and usable power.

Certainly the issues related to approach and pitch recognition (particularly breaking balls from right handed pitchers) are a concern, but even if he never makes enough contact to hit .260 or walks enough to post a better than league average OBP, the ability to run into a home run every 30 PA's and play average or better defense in all three outfield positions is enough to make Grichuk a fairly valuable player to have in your organization:

That's Grichuk's first MLB homer and the fact that it came off a left handed pitcher is not that surprising either: Grichuk slashed .325/.376/.724 with a .399 ISO against left handed pitching in AAA last year. In his minor league career against left handed pitchers Grichuk has a .314/.356/.598 slash line and a .284 ISO in 464 PA's.  I wrote a couple of months ago that if Xavier Scruggs could play in the corner outfield he would have some value to a team looking for a right handed bopper to platoon with a comparable left handed slugger who crushes righties (like, say, Andre Ethier). Grichuk is, at the very least, comparable to Scruggs against lefties and he can play center field. Can he hit lefties in the big leagues?  Let's ask Clayton Kershaw:

I think what I like most about Grichuk is that he strikes me as a guy who has full confidence in his ability, no matter who he is facing, whether that be 200 game winner Mark Buehrle or the best pitcher in the current known universe: If Randal Grichuk puts a good swing on the ball and squares it up, it's going to go a long way.

2015 Outlook:

Should he be on the major league roster right now?  No -- mostly because Grichuk should be getting regular PA's in Memphis rather than playing sparingly with the big league club. Until the team decides what Peter Bourjos actual role is on this club, I don't see much reason for Grichuk to be fighting for the same PA's when he's just 23, has options, and can be getting regular playing time in AAA.

Given that both Jay and Bourjos are likely to be around next year, the path to playing time for Grichuk is in the right field corner (should the team let Heyward walk at the end of the year and fail to bring in a FA), hopefully battling Stephen Piscotty for the everyday role. I like Piscotty more, mainly because I like guys with advanced approach, great contact skills, and some power potential (like Kolten Wong, for instance) more than light tower power but considerable questions among the other skills. Both will have to be on the 40 man roster at the end of the year, however, and given how crammed it is with outfielders currently something has to give at some point (to me, that would seem to be moving Peter Bourjos in July for something of value for the stretch run)

Overall Grade: B