Age: 21 (DOB 8/26/1998)
2019 Stats (AA/MLB/AAA/A-): 70.2 IP, 2.29 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 25.7 K%, 9.1 BB%
ETA: Debuted in 2019
2019 Ranking: 3
National Top 100 Rankings
I was very slow to come around on Graterol as a top prospect. Two years ago, I had him 17th on my list, eight spots lower than anyone else at Twins Daily. Seth called that out in the comments, I responded by saying “I try not to rank relief pitchers inside my top 10.”
So here’s where I take my victory lap, right? Nope.
Brusdar Graterol can be a starter. Well, as long as the organization who controls him has enough patience to see that path through. The triple-digit fastball obviously is the headliner, but Graterol’s slider is also a true plus pitch and his changeup shows enough potential.
One of the things I find most amusing about prospect rankings is what I like to call the Proximity Penalty. Generally, the closer a guy is to the big leagues, the more pessimistic his overall outlook becomes. It’s easier to dream on an 18-year-old in rookie ball than a guy who’s moved up a bit and has been exposed to advanced hitters.
Graterol is only 21-years-old, eight months younger than Matt Canterino, the Twins’ top pitching selection in last year’s draft. He’s also younger than Dustin May, the Dodgers’ top pitching prospect, Jhoan Duran and he’s about the same age as Jordan Balazovic.
Painting Brusdar into a corner seems extremely shortsighted at this point. He has time to develop pitches, adjust his mechanics and stretch out his arm. He just needs to be afforded that time.
Prior to being shut down in late May, Graterol pitched to a 1.89 ERA and held opponents to a .188/.282/.279 (.561 OPS) batting line in 47 2/3 innings as a 20-year-old starting pitcher in Double A. That’s not a failed starter. Well, at least in terms of performance.
The gorilla in the room is, of course, his health. Graterol has a lengthy injury history, but it seems strange to me a guy as young as him could be written off as not being able to shoulder (literally) a starter’s workload.
We’re not sure exactly what Boston saw on the medicals that scared them off, but I’m confident of this: If Graterol had a significant injury, the Twins would have completely shut him down last season. I find it hard to believe they’d risk further injury by having him pitch a bunch of low-leverage innings out of the bullpen at the end of the year. There’s also the fact that he was sitting triple-digits at Yankee Stadium in early October. Seemed fine to me.
Graterol was going to be in the bullpen for the Twins, and I’d assume that’s also where he’ll be with the Dodgers. But what if Los Angeles flips him to a non-contender willing take the time to develop him as a starter? Does he magically become a better prospect?
I don’t know, maybe I was right back in 2018. In my writeup, I went out of my way to point out that a lot of people believe in the mantra “there’s no such thing as a pitching prospect” and called Graterol one of the highest ceiling/lowest floor prospects in all of baseball.
I also said he definitely has true ace potential, and still believe that (pending medicals).
Twins Daily 2020 Top 20 Prospects
4. Brusdar Graterol, RHP
Check back Monday for #3!
Graterol may be gone, but you can learn more about 170 Twins minor leaguers in the 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook.
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