8) Randal Grichuk, 8/13/91 - OF, Rookie Ball
Ranking in a Nutshell: Halos fans have clamored for more power bats in the system for years, and the Angels FO did their best to oblige in the 2009 draft, taking prep masher Randal Grichuk 24th overall in the first round and signing him for $1.225 million. As a seventeen year-old in the ASL, he not only showcased his prodigious power, but also flashed more baseball skills with both the bat and the glove than most anyone outside the Halos' leadership team expected. ESPN's Keith Law may have called Grichuk the "worst pick of the first round," but aside from some plate discipline issues, the early returns all look overwhelmingly positive.
Track Record: Grichuk bookended his amateur career by famously hitting 4 home runs in the little league world series and 21 homeruns over 28 games in his senior year of high school. He impressed scouts in the showcase circuit and in private workouts, which gave him a final push up the rankings in the weeks leading up to the draft, and Eddie Bane has mentioned a few times that they would have selected Grichuk higher than many of guys who went before him. His pro debut, on the whole, was outstanding: he led the ASL in hits and triples, and ranked 2nd in total bases and extra base hits. His 62/10 strikeout to walk ratio indicates that Grichuk has a lot of work to do with his strike zone judgment, but considering that the bulk of his fine work in Arizona happened before he received his draft card, we can cut him some slack for his free-swinging ways.
Win-the-Lottery-Ceiling: I've heard the Ryan Braun comp, but will wait to jump onto that bandwagon until seeing how Grichuk fairs in a full season league. Certainly he has monster raw power and good hitting instincts, but I really want to see how he manages the strike zone against better pitching before projecting a ceiling.
Scouting Report: (beneath the jump)
Grichuk does not match the dead-pull power hitter label he carried into last June's draft, which bodes very well for his development as an all-around contributor. Of his balls in play in Arizona, he went the other way 25% of the time with 2 HR's. He hit 37% of his batted balls to centerfield, also with 2 HR. That leaves 32% of balls in play that he pulled to left, where he knocked 3 HR's. The foul pole to foul pole distribution of his hits and HRs suggests two things to me: first, he's showing good instincts for adjusting to pitch location and type; and second, he's letting the ball get deep into the hitting zone before unleashing his cut, providing a little more time for pitch recognition, which should help him hit for decent average.
You can watch Grichuk's amateur "highlight video" here. Note how upright he stands in the batting box - he still incorporates his lower body with an average stride and a smooth, understated pivot - but almost all of the power comes from bat speed and the leverage he generates with his upper half. If you slow the video down, you'll see that he does a good job creating separation between his hips and torso when he strides, helping him to incorporate more momentum when his upper half shifts forward in his cut. He adds length to his swing by extending his arms out behind him before bringing the bat to the ball, which is something that he'll have to watch out for because that's where the strikeouts will come from. The Halos might try pre-empt contact struggles by bringing his hands down beneath the shoulder, similar to what Brandon Wood experimented with last year. However, it's that extension and bat speed that allows him to achieve the power, so there's going to be trade-offs. Obviously there's good loft in his follow through.
Grichuk acquitted himself well as a pro in right and left field while not giving away the store in center. He doesn't have the arm currently to play right field at the higher levels, but the optimists say more strength and better throwing mechanics will allow him to cover both corners adequately.