Minor League Prospect Note: Drew Granier, RHP, Oakland Athletics
Oakland Athletics pitching prospect Drew Granier is one of the best performers in the Low-A Midwest League in 2012. Pitching for the Burlington Bees, he stands 11-8 with a 3.11 ERA, with a 146/51 K/BB ratio in 151 innings with 136 hits allowed. He leads the league in strikeouts.
Granier got knocked around a bit in his start last night against the Clinton Lumberkings, allowing six hits and five runs in 5.1 innings, but he also fanned seven. I saw the game in person and here are my impressions. It was just one game of course, and apparently one of his weakest outings of the season.
First, the background. Granier is listed at 6-0, 180, but looks just a bit bigger than that. Born November 24, 1988, he is a bit older than ideal for the Midwest League at age 23, although he's a real prospect. He was a 32nd round draft pick in 2011 from the University of Louisiana-Monroe. I'm not sure why he lasted so long in the draft: he has a good arm, running his fastball at 91-94 MPH last night. There aren't any mechanical red flags I could see to scare off scouts, so you'd think a nice fastball like that would go higher.
In any event, Granier throws hard. He likes to throw his fastball high in the strike zone, and he has enough movement on the pitch to get away with it, at least in the Midwest League. His secondary stuff was, well, terrible in the first inning. It looked like he was having problems gripping his breaking ball correctly, and the breaking ball either did too much (breaking wildly), or not enough (and hanging). In the second inning and especially the third and fourth, the breaking ball was much more effective, looking at times like a hard curve and at other times like a slider/cutter hybrid. It was effective both ways.
He also showed another pitch with some changeupy action, but it was too firm and didn't have enough velocity separation from his fastball. I don't think it would work at higher levels.
Overall, Granier showed me a major league fastball and a slider that has a chance to be a solid big league pitch with more consistency. He needs command refinements and, if he wants to start at higher levels, a better changeup. I could see him becoming a useful bullpen guy. He also has a great beard. All told, a very nice find in the 32nd round.