Robbie Grossman: A Hidden Gem in Pittsburgh's Future?

I was reading Keith Law's prospects chat on Thursday afternoon and came across this Q & A:

Chris (Pgh)

Robbie Grossman...Intriguing statistics in High A this year. How has he looked in the AFL this year and what is his potential?

Klaw
  (1:08 PM)

Looks good - great at bats, hard line drives, goes the other way really well. I do wish they'd promoted him to AA midyear, because full-year repeater stats are close to useless, but from a scouting POV he looks strong. I feel like Grossman actually is the player Brett Jackson is supposed to be.

The first thought I had was that Brett Jackson is an outfielder who could hit 20 HRs and steal 20 bases with plenty of strikeouts. So Law's response intrigued me enough to go check out Grossman's stats over at Baseball-Reference.

What I found was that he was drafted in the 6th round of the 2008 MLB draft, so he is a 21 year old outfielder who repeated High A in 2011. And what he did in High A makes you wonder why he was not promoted to AA Altoona, as Law mentions in his response.

More on Grossman's 2011 season after the jump:

 

John did not rank Grossman in his Top 20 Pirates Prospects for 2011, but did include him in his "Others of Note: section, so he did acknowledge Grossman, and probably included him in his 2011 Prospects Book. I can see why John did not rank him, as Grossman hit .245-.344-.345 with 4 HRs, 50 RBI, 84 runs scored, 15 stolen bases in 23 attempts, and a 118-66 K/BB rate in High A last year. He had just 36 extra base hits in 470 at bats last year, so he displayed little power for an outfielder, where he played 70 games in right field, 40 games in left field and 15 games in center field last year. A right fielder with little power sounds like a 4th or 5th outfielder to me.

In 2011, he played 119 games in right field, hitting .294-.418-.451 with 13 HRs, 56 RBI, a league leading 127 runs scored, 24 stolen bases in 34 attempts, and an eye-popping 111-104 K/BB rate in 490 at bats. He flashed a bit more power in 2011, as he increased his extra base hit total from 36 in 2010 to 49 this season. In addition to leading the Florida State League in runs scored, he was 6th in doubles with 34, so maybe he is supplying the power required for a right fielder.

The improvement in plate discipline is what caught my attention, and I am anxious to see how he performs at AA Altoona in 2012. If he can continue to walk at a high clip, cuts his strikeouts a bit, and can carry his power improvement to AA, he could make some noise in the Pirates outfield in 2013. Here are his strikeout/walk/extra base hit totals in his three seasons in the minors:

2009- 164 K/ 75 BB/ 28 XBH

2010- 118 K/ 66 BB/ 36 XBH

2011- 111 K/ 104 BB/ 49 XBH

As you can see, he has shown improvement in his plate discipline and in the power department in each of his 3 years in the minors. 2012 will be a big for Grossman, as he could place himself as a top candidate for a spot in the Pirates outfield in 2013. An outfield of Jose Tabata, Andrew McCutchen and Grossman/Starling Marte looks promising for the Buccos future. Should Grossman continue to perform in AA in 2012, he could quickly move up Pirates prospects lists, and push past Starling Marte on the road to Pittsburgh.

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