Angels trade Peter Bourjos, Randal Grichuk to Cardinals for David Freese, Fernando Salas

Randal Grichuk - USA TODAY Sports

The Angels and the Cardinals pulled off a trade today, with Los Angeles dispatching outfielders Peter Bourjos and Randal Grichuk to St. Louis in exchange for third baseman David Freese and pitcher Fernando Salas. Here's the scoop on Grichuk, the only prospect in the deal.

Randal Grichuk is probably really tired of people pointing out that he was drafted one spot ahead of Mike Trout by the Angels in 2009. But now he has something else to talk about: being traded. The Angels sent Grichuk and center fielder Peter Bourjos to the St. Louis Cardinals today, receiving third baseman David Freese and relief pitcher Fernando Salas in return.

Let's take a look at Grichuk, the only player in the trade who isn't an established big-leaguer.

Randal Grichuk, OF: A power hitter from high school in Rosenberg, Texas, Grichuk was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels in the first round in 2009, 24th overall, one spot ahead of Mike Trout. Signed away from the University of Arizona for $1,242,000, Grichuk crushed rookie ball pitching (.322/.352/.551) although his plate discipline was shaky (nine walks, 64 strikeouts in 236 at-bats) and he needed to show his eye would work at higher levels. There were also concerns about his defense, which was bad enough that some scouts felt he would wind up as a first baseman.

His 2010 and 2011 seasons were plagued with injuries, including wrist, thumb, and knee problems that limited him to 64 and 53 games, respectively. He stayed healthy in 2012 and hit .298/.335/.488 with 18 homers and 30 doubles in the California League, also stealing 16 bases. In 2013 he moved up to Double-A Arkansas in the Texas League, hitting .256/.306/.474 with 22 homers, 28 walks, and 92 strikeouts in 500 at-bats.

Grichuk is a right-handed hitter and thrower, born August 13, 1991. When drafted, he was a doubtful defensive player with a shaky arm, but his glove has really improved. His throws are stronger and more accurate than they were when he was younger; he runs better routes and shows good instincts. He's developed into a very good right fielder and has enough speed that he played some center field at Arkansas without embarrassing himself.

The improved glovework is good to see and testifies to his work ethic, but the bat is the important thing here.

Grichuk has always been respected for his power. Primarily a pull hitter, his swing has some length to it and he didn't hit for a good average against Double-A pitching, although he kept his strikeout rate reasonable, which is a good marker for the future. On the other hand, he is a very aggressive hitter and doesn't draw many walks, making his OBP quite dependent on his batting average. That worked OK when he hit close to .300 in A-ball, but against more advanced pitching the lack of patience caught up with him. He still saw enough hittable pitches to knock 22 homers, but that will be tougher in Triple-A and the majors.

Given his age, work ethic, and the fact that the Cardinals emphasize strike zone judgment, I'd have to assume that working on his approach at the plate will be a primary goal in 2014. Grichuk doesn't have to turn into a walk machine, but even slight improvements with his strike zone judgment will go a long way, getting him better pitches to hit and express his power against. He should begin '14 in Triple-A.

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