Minor League Prospect Report: Randal Grichuk, OF, Los Angeles Angels
Remember Randal Grichuk? He was drafted one spot ahead of Mike Trout in the 2009 draft, and earned a slightly larger bonus. Trout is the best player in major league baseball now. Grichuk is still making his way through the minors, but he's just 21, is a solid prospect, and was recently named to participate in the 2012 Arizona Fall League.
Grichuk is a 6-1, 195 pound right-handed hitter and thrower, born August 13, 1991. He was drafted out of high school in Rosenberg, Texas, with the 24th overall pick in '09. His best tool is power, and he has a lot of it, thanks to physical strength and impressive bat speed. He's had some issues with breaking balls and his strike zone judgment still needs work, but he's done a good job reducing his strikeout rate, and is hitting the ball to all fields more often this year.
He's hitting .296/.333/.488 with 28 doubles, 18 homers, 23 walks, and 88 strikeouts in 521 at-bats for Inland Empire in the High-A California League. The raw stats don't tell the whole tale though: he was working off injury rust early in the year, hitting .263/.296/.417 in his first 69 games, but turned things on in late June and has hit .333/.375/.568 in his last 62 games. He's been especially devastating against left-handed pitching, hitting .351/.383/.582.
Scouts criticized Grichuk for poor defensive play in high school, but he's made a lot of progress with that part of the game, improving his routes and showing off a more accurate arm. He's played center field at times this year without embarrassing himself, although right field is likely his long-term destination. His running speed is average, but he's become a threat to steal the occasional base.
Grichuk's biggest problem has been health: he missed significant portions of the 2010 and 2011 seasons with thumb, wrist, and knee injuries. All were considered flukey, and he's been healthy and durable this year.
I had him rated as a Grade C+ pre-season and would boost that to B- now. If he looks good in the Arizona Fall League, it is possible he could move up another notch.