The Oakland Athletics promoted infielder Grant Green to the major leagues today. It seems like Green has been around since the days of Steve McCatty and Matt Keough; he has little left to prove in the minors and is ready for a full trial at second base. Let's take a look at him as Tuesday's Prospect of the Day.
Green was a three-year starter for the University of Southern California, opening with a .316/.388/.491 line in his freshman year in 2007. His 2008 sophomore (.390/.438/.644) and 2009 junior (.374/.441/.569) campaigns were also impressive, earning him a spot in the first round of the 2009 draft, 13th overall. Signed for $2,750,000, he got into just five games for High-A Stockton, going 6-for-19 (.316).
He played 131 games for Stockton in 2010 and hit very well, batting .318/.363/.520 with 20 homers and 39 doubles. His plate discipline was a bit shaky (38 walks, 117 strikeouts in 606 plate appearances) but he had unusual pop for a middle infielder. Defense was a question: he played the entire season at shortstop but made 37 errors with questionable range.
Bumped up to Double-A Midland for 2011, he hit .291/.343/.408 with nine homers and 33 doubles, losing some of the power against better pitching but still hitting for average. Plate discipline was still an issue (39 walks, 119 whiffs in 587 PA) and he split the season between shortstop and center field as Oakland tried to find him a defensive home.
He continued his steady rise with an assignment to Triple-A Sacramento in 2012, hitting .296/.338/.458 with 28 doubles and 15 homers. Interestingly, he dramatically cut his strikeout rate, fanning just 75 times in 562 plate appearances, thanks to some adjustments to his batting stance. He played all over the field, seeing action in center, left, shortstop, third base,and second base.
The braintrust finally settled on second base as his long-term position in 2013. He needs some polish after all the switching, but his range, arm strength, and hands all fit well there and in the end he should be above-average as a defender. He's continued hitting the ball, batting .318/.375/.500 this season. Overall, in 206 Triple-A games he's hit .305/.353/.475 with a 113 wRC+.
Green is a 6-3, 180-pound right-handed hitter and thrower, born September 27, 1987. Oakland has always liked his swing, and while he's never drawn a ton of walks, the adjustments to his stance in '12 helped him reduce his strikeouts while still showing good pop for an infielder. He runs decently but isn't a big basestealing threat. He has settled in as a second baseman, and while all the moving around might have slowed his development slightly, having experience at multiple positions only enhances his value in this age of short benches and giant pitching staffs.
I don't think there is anything else that Green can learn from the Pacific Coast League so it is time to let him play. He's 25 now, a bit old for a premium prospect, but if he keeps the strike zone under control he should have a long big league career. He should last longer than Shooty Babitt in any event.