With today’s trade, the David Freese era in St. Louis has officially come to a close. In return for Freese and Fernando Salas, the Cardinals have received speedy centerfielder, Peter Bourjos, and outfield prospect, Randal Grichuk.
As hundreds of people have already noted all across social media, Grichuk was selected by the Los Angeles Angels one pick before the team drafted Mike Trout back in 2009. Thus, he has to have some tools, right? This is a logical assumption, so I decided to take a look at some of his numbers to see what I could find out.
Grichuk, listed at 6′, 195 pounds, is a 22-year-old right-handed hitting (and throwing) corner outfielder. He has played a little bit of center in the minors, but he projects as a right or left fielder. Since a lot of you are probably wondering about his professional statistics, the table below documents his numbers in the minors over the past two seasons–2012 in High-A and 2013 in AA:
As you can see, he has solid power numbers–averaging 28.5 doubles, 8.5 triples, and 20 home runs per season in 2012 and 2013. One thing you definitely cannot teach is hitting power, and this is obviously not a problem for Grichuk. However, his batting average and on-base percentage are lagging behind somewhat. His batting average in High-A was partially inflated due to his unusually high BABIP (the league average falls into the .290 to .310 range), and when it came down to earth in AA (.272), his batting average suffered–falling to just .256.
His on-base percentage in AA was just .306. For perspective, the Cardinals had nine players with higher regular season OBPs than Grichuk on their post-season roster. The only regular with a lower OBP than Grichuk’s? Pete Kozma, but no one can really be surprised about that.
Though he has improved on his strikeout rate (down to 17% in 2013 when he was at 22.8% in 2011), he needs to take more walks. In 1,117 plate appearances over the past two seasons, he has taken just 51 walks–or one walk per every 22 plate appearances. This will likely improve with the Cardinals minor league coaching staff helping him further develop his approach at the plate.
His defense, one of his biggest flaws coming into the draft, has vastly improved in his time in the minor leagues. He had 11 outfield assists last season, and his range factor per game was a respectable 2.41 (Range factor/game = (assists + putouts)/games played). His defense has improved to the point where he won the 2013 MiLB Rawlings Gold Glove for outfielders Overall, he has average to slightly above-average speed giving him the ability to steal bases on occasion and patrol the corner outfield spots with ease.
In conclusion, I consider this a terrific trade for the Cardinals. They not only acquired a center fielder that can stir up some competition with the incumbent, Jon Jay, but also a solid, power-hitting outfield prospect with significant upside. They were able to get both of these players for essentially Freese since I consider Salas just a throw-in player in the deal.
Grichuk will likely start 2014 in newly-purchased, Triple-A Memphis. However, the outfield will be crowded there with Oscar Taveras, James Ramsey, Tommy Pham, and Mike O’Neill all vying for playing time. Because of this, and the fact that I do not see Allen Craig as an outfielder long-term, I would not be surprised if the Cardinals made another deal very soon–one that likely includes slugging first baseman, Matt Adams, a fringe pitcher prospect, and one or two of the excess outfield prospects down on the farm.
Will this trade be for the shortstop of the future? I sure hope so.
In the meantime, let’s extend a warm welcome to the newest members of the St. Louis Cardinals. You can find Grichuk on Twitter: @RGrich15, but I have not found an official account of Bourjos just yet. If Grichuk reads this, maybe he can help us out! 🙂
Until next time…
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