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Twins Daily 2019 Top Prospects: #3 Brusdar Graterol

The triple-digit fastball isn't as rare as it once was. By Baseball America's count, 63 minor-league pitchers were members of the 'Century Club' in 2018 alone. Not all of them will turn into quality MLB players, but Brusdar Graterol combines his premium heat with enough complementary strengths to convince many that he's destined for stardom in the majors.
Position: RHP
Age: 20 (DOB: 8/26/1998)
2018 Stats (A/A+): 102 IP, 2.74 ERA, 107 K, 28 BB, 1.15 WHIP
ETA: 2020
2018 Ranking: 9

National Top 100 Rankings
BA: 55 | MLB: 68 | ESPN: NA | BP: 33

What's To Like

His fastball gets the headlines. It's not just the velocity – reaching as high as 101 MPH and maintaining in the upper-90s throughout his starts – that makes Brusdar Graterol's heater such a lethal weapon. It's also the movement and command. The right-hander hurls fear-inducing two-seamers that sink and run in on same-sided hitters, while tailing away from lefties. He can place them all over the zone and he likes to throw inside, which is good news for grouchy old-school seamheads and bad news for hitters that have to sweat out ABs in the box.

Often lost in the shuffle is Graterol's slider, which many scouts label as a potential plus or plus-plus pitch. Tightly spun and fiercely sharp, his hard slider buzzes in around 87-89 MPH (per MLB Pipeline) and is almost unhittable when executed well.

For reference, only eight qualified MLB starters averaged 87+ MPH with their sliders in 2018, according to FanGraphs: Jacob deGrom, Zack Wheeler, Jameson Taillon, Gerrit Cole, Luis Severino, Miles Mikolas, Blake Snell and Jon Gray. It's no coincidence that all are dominant, rotation-fronting studs. The combination of a premium fastball with a hard, late-breaking slider gives batters fits at every level.

Graterol saw it for himself last year at the Low-A and High-A levels. He first decimated the Midwest League, piling up 51 strikeouts in 41 innings with a 2.18 ERA and 0.94 WHIP over eight starts. His final start with Cedar Rapids, on June 24th, was an overpowering display – he faced 20 batters over five shutout innings, striking out nine of them while generating 18 swinging strikes on 79 total pitches (23%).

In July he moved up to the Florida State League, struggling a bit in his first start by allowing five earned runs on nine hits in three innings for the Miracle. From that point forward, Graterol went 5-1 with a 2.50 ERA and 53-to-18 K/BB ratio in 58 FSL innings, holding opponents to a .237/.300/.294 slash line with zero home runs. Not much of a learning curve for a 19-year-old facing older and vastly more experienced competition.

What's Left to Work On

There are three points of caution to keep in mind with Graterol, all of which help suppress his ranking on national lists.

1: Workload. He threw only 102 official innings last year, pushing his career total to 153 since signing in 2014. He needs to prove that he can hold up over a starter's regimen. Graterol's mechanics are solid but there's definitely some effort in his delivery, and further questions arise because of the next item.

2: Build. At 6'1" and about 220 lbs, Graterol has been described as a "fire hydrant" and certainly doesn't match the workhorse starting pitcher prototype. Of course, some scouts also critiqued the size of Jose Berrios (whom Graterol openly models himself after) as a prospect, and we've seen the All-Star overcome it.

3: Depth of repertoire. His fastball/slider combo is unassailable, giving a Graterol the practical floor of an impact reliever, but he lacks a standout third pitch. His curveball is more of a get-me-over type offering and his changeup (like most at this stage) remains a work in progress. Developing the latter might prove decisive if the righty is to stick in a starting role.

“The changeup is going to be really good for me,” Graterol told the Star Tribune's Patrick Reusse. “A starter wants three good pitches. And I’m a starter.”

For what it's worth, Keith Law – who placed the 20-year-old outside of his top 100 at ESPN – said, "To a man, every scout or exec I asked about Graterol used some declension of the word 'reliever' in his response."

Graterol as an intimidating late-inning weapon doesn't sound like such a bad thing, but needless to say we're all hoping he can reach his ceiling as an ace-caliber starter joining Berrios atop the rotation.

What's Next

The hard-throwing Venezuelan will likely report back to Fort Myers, where he'll still be younger than most of his peers. Presuming he continues to conquer the competition there, a midseason promotion to Double-A could be in order. At that point, he'll be primed for a potential MLB debut in 2020.

The imperative for Graterol is simple: stay healthy and stay the course. He's got some things to overcome, but is on track to become one of the youngest pitchers to ever debut for the Twins.

Twins Daily 2019 Top 20 Prospects

Honorable Mentions

20. Jose Miranda, 2B/3B
19. Jorge Alcala, RHP
18. LaMonte Wade, OF
17. Zack Littell, RHP
16. Gilberto Celestino, OF
15. Yunior Severino, 2B
14. Ben Rortvedt, C
13. Ryan Jeffers, C
12. Stephen Gonsalves, LHP
11. Nick Gordon, SS
10. Akil Baddoo, OF
9. Blayne Enlow, RHP
8. Lewis Thorpe, LHP
7. Jhoan Duran, RHP
6. Brent Rooker, 1B/LF
5. Wander Javier, SS
4. Trevor Larnach, OF
3. Brusdar Graterol, RHP
2. Coming tomorrow!

Get to know more about these five Minnesota Twins prospects and much more in the 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook. It’s available in paperback or as an eBook.

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47 Comments

6'1" 220 lbs? That body type screams workload. With proper leg push a Nolan Ryan physique.
    • 70charger, DocBauer, SF Twins Fan and 2 others like this

He is 20 years old.

 

You can teach a change up (over a few years in fact and... if needed... perhaps in the show when he is effectively shortening games).

 

I'm not sure that you can teach a 100 mph fastball or a 89 mph slider with a tight spin.

 

Totally in on... and fired up for.... GAS-ER-OL,...

 

    • nicksaviking, beckmt, Tibs and 9 others like this

After further thought...

 

I think they should shoot for the MLB in the bullpen in the near future.

 

I think we waste too much some pitchers arms in the MiLB. The future is not promised.

 

Why not have the MLB pitching coaches hone his change up while he helps the team as a shut down reliever?

 

 

    • TL, tarheeltwinsfan and howieramone2 like this

He is 20 years old.

You can teach a change up (over a few years in fact and... if needed... perhaps in the show when he is effectively shortening games).

I'm not sure that you can teach a 100 mph fastball or a 89 mph slider with a tight spin.

Totally in on... and fired up for.... GAS-ER-OL,...


If it's so easy to teach, why doesn't everyone have one?

That said, if you aren't excited about this prospect, I don't know if you will ever will be.
    • Seth Stohs, Twins33, beckmt and 6 others like this

 

6'1" 220 lbs? That body type screams workload. With proper leg push a Nolan Ryan physique.

 

According to the Twins Prospect Handbook, Graterol is 6-2 and 247 pounds... at least that is what he weighed at the end of the season. He gained about 50-60 pounds while he was out with Tommy John surgery.

 

And, when I met him and saw him in Cedar Rapids last year, he was that big, and he is strong. Toby Gardenhire said that he is incredible in the weight room, very strong, very strong lower half. 

    • birdwatcher, Tibs, highlander and 8 others like this

 

After further thought...

 

I think they should shoot for the MLB in the bullpen in the near future.

 

I think we waste too much some pitchers arms in the MiLB. The future is not promised.

 

Why not have the MLB pitching coaches hone his change up while he helps the team as a shut down reliever?

 

Again, talking to people in the organization there were already talks going into last year about what to do with him and how quickly to move him. But, coming back from Tommy John and in his first full year, they are going to prioritize taking care of such a potentially valuable arm, and that's just smart. But there's also a reason that last summer, after seeing him (and Kirilloff and Lewis) in Cedar Rapids, I came away thinking that it wasn't entirely impossible to think that Graterol will be the first of the three to reach the big leagues...

 

Of course then Kirilloff did what he did in Ft. Myers, so I am back to believing he'll be the first one up, maybe even by July, but Graterol may not be far behind. 

    • Monkeypaws, mikelink45, DocBauer and 7 others like this

 

If it's so easy to teach, why doesn't everyone have one?

That said, if you aren't excited about this prospect, I don't know if you will ever will be.

 

I've said that Alex Kirilloff is the best pure hitting that I've watched in the last decade of going to Ft. Myers and Cedar Rapids (and previously Beloit)... But I have no doubt that Graterol is the best pitching prospect I've seen in that time too.I didn't see Berrios in Cedar Rapids in 2013, admittedly, though I'm sure he wouldn't have been as impressive at that time as Graterol was last year. 

    • Blackjack, bluechipper, mikelink45 and 13 others like this
Photo
The Mask of Zoilo
Feb 12 2019 11:45 PM
Starters who consistently hit 100mph: Syndergaard ... ... ... Eovaldi Who am I missing? They don't hold up. Do you encourage him to max it out as a starter? Turn him into a closer? Take something off his max because he has good movement and get him a third pitch? He has good control, do you move him up quick in a bullpen role? It will be fascinating to see which direction they push him. This year theres nothing to lose by pitching him 125 innings between a+ and aa and see if he holds up, but the decision point is ticking faster for him than any other pitcher in the system.
    • birdwatcher, caninatl04 and SomeGuy like this

I read this and it sounds like he should be in the bigs right now. What's the hold up? 

I think they should start him at least in Penscola or maybe even like some here, in the Twins bullpen like St. Louis does with a lot of young pitchers.Would like to give him part of the year in the minors to see if he can develop the third pitch.

Most pitchers do a at least one bullpen session inbetween starts, so to me it is possible they could use him every other day in the bullpen, or use him to start in less stressful roles where he could work the third pitch in (changeup) without worring too much about the results.Then move him to higher leverage situations depending on his results with 2 - 3 pitches. 

Just do not know how much time one pitching coach can spend in the minors with an elite prospect vs in Minnesota where you have 2 - 3 coaches that can work with pitchers.

Sounds like I made a poor decision not bidding on his PAW Patrol jersey last spring.
    • bluechipper, blindeke and dbminn like this

Starter!Every starter who has an upside like Graterol needs to stay a starter.We have a lot of pitchers a rung or two down and they are the ones to make a reliever out of.  

    • diehardtwinsfan, SF Twins Fan, gman and 2 others like this

This is kind of a fun article to look at with respect to this thread, a review of the 2014 international signings class. Huascar Ynoa was the big fish, signed for 800K. The only thing exceptional about Graterol was that he barely made the age cut-off at 16.

 

Seth asked the question whether it was better to go all in on one player for 3 million or get a bunch of players at 100K. Well, Graterol cost 150K. 

 

I think your question is answered sir:)

 

http://twinsdaily.co...ings-ba-review/

    • Nick Nelson, DocBauer and rdehring like this

Our rankings:

 

Seth (3), Nick (3), Tom (3), Cody (3)

    • mikelink45 likes this
Photo
Parker Hageman
Feb 13 2019 09:18 AM

aslWOee.gif

 

A lot of people who look at Graterol's mechanics like to suggest he's not using his legs or lower half, putting stress on his arm. I submit he uses his hips extremely well. if you watch his back hip, watch as it fires forward on the firm front side. That's where the power comes from. -- the lightning-quick rotation. 

 

In regards to Nick's comment about movement, I present Graterol's two-seam movement. 

 

ZUx2ZHh.gif

[Source]

 

What makes this pitch so sexy, besides that movement that resists running to the left-handed batter's box, is that it was set-up by two previous sliders away. Out of his hand, the pitch looks like it's going to be another on the outer-half and then redirects back to the inner third.

    • ashbury, Nick Nelson, birdwatcher and 14 others like this

When I read your description of his slider, I kept thinking Liriano...you know the guy pitching for the Twins before his surgery.And Frankie didn't have a 100mph fastball.That combination blows my mind, but yes, he does need at least an average change up.

 

Although we all assume #2 will be Kirilloff, I have been wondering if it could be Lewis.Those two are so close in my mind that I see a case for either as #1.

    • PseudoSABR, SF Twins Fan, MN_ExPat and 1 other like this

Yes, there is some effort in the delivery, but I've seen lots of pitchers with higher effort and less "stuff". Absolutely needs to given every chance to be a starter, even f it takes longer.

    • DocBauer, howieramone2, gagu and 2 others like this
Photo
Parker Hageman
Feb 13 2019 10:05 AM

 

When I read your description of his slider, I kept thinking Liriano...you know the guy pitching for the Twins before his surgery...

 

I'm curious about the metadata on Graterol's slider. From that outing in Ft Myers, he rarely got a swing-and-miss off his slider but it did get plenty of awkward contact and it set up some other pitches nicely, Check out this strikeout sequence (SL in-2S out):

 

hTc7E81.gif

 

 

    • Tibs, DocBauer, dbminn and 2 others like this

Luis Severino ("short-ish", right-handed, power starter), pitched 44 innings as a 19 year-old, 113 as a 20 year-old, then 162, 151, 193, 191 through his age 24 year.

 

His delivery is smoother than is Graterol's. But we can dream, can't we?

    • birdwatcher, bluechipper, cmoss84 and 2 others like this
Photo
sweetmusicviola16
Feb 13 2019 10:13 AM

 

aslWOee.gif

 

A lot of people who look at Graterol's mechanics like to suggest he's not using his legs or lower half, putting stress on his arm. I submit he uses his hips extremely well. if you watch his back hip, watch as it fires forward on the firm front side. That's where the power comes from. -- the lightning-quick rotation. 

 

In regards to Nick's comment about movement, I present Graterol's two-seam movement. 

 

ZUx2ZHh.gif

[Source]

 

What makes this pitch so sexy, besides that movement that resists running to the left-handed batter's box, is that it was set-up by two previous sliders away. Out of his hand, the pitch looks like it's going to be another on the outer-half and then redirects back to the inner third.

What made Nolan Ryan Nolan Ryan? What made him Great? It was his tremendous use of his lower half and the amazing strength that he had below the waist.Yes he had a great arm too. But he would have blown his arm out years before retirement had it not been for the strength of his lower body.

 

Keep working on the lower body Brusdar.

    • dbminn, cmoss84 and Original Whizzinator like this
Photo
Parker Hageman
Feb 13 2019 10:36 AM

 

What made Nolan Ryan Nolan Ryan? What made him Great? It was his tremendous use of his lower half and the amazing strength that he had below the waist.Yes he had a great arm too. But he would have blown his arm out years before retirement had it not been for the strength of his lower body.

 

Keep working on the lower body Brusdar.

 

Ryan did blow out his arm years before retirement and used literal snake oil to keep his arm healthy, but also let's not cherrypick an outlier like Ryan who had an abnormally long career (and played through injuries). 

 

Here's the thing: I think people mistake big lower half movements (like Ryan's leg kick) as being a huge factor in absorbing something that takes pressure off the arm. The ol' Bert Blyleven "PUSHING that back leg OFF the rubber" or driving from the back leg. More recent studies involving more high tech equipment have found that the front leg and hip rotation play a bigger role in creating velocity and taking pressure off of the arm. So while Ryan had those big movements. he also had excellent hip rotation. 

 

 

Graterol is using his lower half fairly well. It's not as pronounced as someone like Ryan but he leads with that front hip, creating a drift forward and then fires his rear hip well over his front. Bottom line, us mortals are not going to be able to derive any stress in Gratarol's mechanics -- that's going to need to be done via the available tech the Twins and other outlets have. If that shows added pressure, they will likely try to get him to make some changes. 

 

    • nicksaviking, Tibs, dbminn and 1 other like this

Way too early to give up on him learning a third pitch! A starter is much more valuable than a reliever. Give him a couple years to master a changeup. Only reason to call him up this year is if he's the difference maker in a pennant race, like St. Louis used to do with their phenoms. If that happens, great. But otherwise the next two years should focus on his changeup and curve. Why start his free agent clock before then, and save his best years for the Yankees?

 

    • birdwatcher, DocBauer and gagu like this

Huge potential for this guy. I think it's probably best for him to continue to develop in the minors this year and see how his development on the changeup goes and his stamina in going deeper in games and handling more innings. He's pretty young, and still not that far off his TJ that rushing him up to relieve doesn't seem like the best use of his development

 

By my goodness, if he can get a solid changeup? He's an ace in the making. The fastball and slider are both good enough already that he doesn't need a great change, just a good enough one to keep hitters off balance, something to mess up the timing on guys trying to sit on his fastball or slider.

 

He doesn't seem to drive hard off the mound and use his lower body terribly effectively, so if he's really a 240lb kind of guy maybe that's a refinement area that could help him deliver that superb velocity without straining the arm as much? Parker is absolutely right about the hips, though.

 

Feels like he should start the year in Ft Myers with a midseason promotion to AA if he stays on path. The control is pretty impressive for such a hard thrower at such a young age. Looking forward to see him take on more advanced hitters.

 

The floor seems to be high-leverage reliever. the ceiling is ace starter. love seeing that in the #3 prospect.

    • birdwatcher, DocBauer, cmoss84 and 4 others like this
What do we know about his pitching coach(es) this year? And although I generally agree that starters are much more valuable than relievers, the gap narrows if that reliever is a shut down closer.

 This dates me big time, but he reminds me of a young Bartolo Colon.Not the 40+ year old version we saw in 2017.The young stud from the 90s.Look him up if you're too young to remember him.

    • Oldgoat_MN, DocBauer, cmoss84 and 4 others like this

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