Minor League Prospect Report: Justin Grimm, RHP, Texas Rangers
A reader asked me for my take on Texas Rangers pitching prospect Justin Grimm, who made two major league starts and a relief outing back in June for the big-league team. Grimm threw 10 innings for the Rangers, allowing 17 hits and 12 runs (10.80 ERA) with a 10/3 K/BB ratio, but that was somewhat deceptive: he pitched well in his first start against the Astros on June 16th (six innings, three runs, seven strikeouts), but was crushed by the Detroit Tigers in a subsequent start, then by the White Sox in a relief outing.
He has had a good year in the minors, posting a 1.80 ERA with a 68/14 K/BB in 80 innings for Double-A Frisco, and a 4.59 ERA with a 30/16 K/BB in 51 innings for Triple-A Round Rock. Overall, he's 10-6, 2.89 ERA with a 98/30 K/BB in 131 minor league innings this year, with 120 hits and just five homers allowed.
Grimm is a 6-3, 195 pound right-hander, born August 16th, 1988. Drafted in the fifth round in 2010 from the University of Georgia, he was inconsistent and often ineffective in college, but the Rangers liked his stuff and felt his problems were fixable. He performed quite well in '11 (3.39 ERA, 127/48 K/BB in 141 innings in A-ball, 129 hits, just seven homers) and has maintained that this year. The improvement from college is attributed to more consistent mechanics and a better changeup.
Stuff has never been the issue: Grimm's fastball can hit 96 MPH and averages 92. Scouts also like his curveball, rating it a plus pitch, and his changeup, while still inconsistent, is much better than it used to be. He is very athletic, an attribute which should help him stay healthy, especially with his improved mechanics.
Grimm's three-pitch mix and ability to throw strikes could make him a nice number three starter. He could also thrive in a relief role if the Rangers choose to go that route. I had him as a Grade B- pre-season and that still seems reasonable, with some chance for a straight B.