Randal Grichuk and Jose Rondon: 2012 Minor League Breakout Candidates

Randal Grichuk, 8/13/91 - RF, A, High A

.256/.292/.432 with 3 HR's and 0 SB.

The Dream: Currently a forgotten man, Grichuk may have the best pure bat speed on the farm. With long levers and a good feel for hitting, the 20-year old could put up Trumbo-esqe slash lines while playing an average right field in the major leagues.

Live In The Now! Despite the injuries that dismembered his past two campaigns, Grichuk has compiled a .294/.328/.522 slash line with 21 HRs, 23 triples, and 47 doubles through 170 pro games. He put up a 118 OPS+ through his age 18 and 19 seasons in the tough Midwest League while playing against older competition, which is a good deal better than many of the more hyped teens have done in recent years.

The catch is that he's K'd in 23% of his pro PA's while walking less than 4% of the time. Few prospects are able to smooth out that kind of raw aggression as they move up the latter. Guys with similar profiles in the Midwest League who still made it to the majors include the likes of Bill Hall and Wily Mo Pena. Grichuk has a long ways to go if he's going to surpass their contributions in the big leagues.

Here's what he looked like in fall instructs:


While his swing is more fluid and a bit shorter now than when I saw him last in the Midwest League, it still gets long because he separates his hands out behind his body as he loads in order to build up bat speed. Grichuk looks to pull the ball most of the time, which could decrease his plate coverage. More advanced pitchers might expose holes in his swing, ala Brandon Wood. He can struggle to lay off of breaking stuff and high heat, but that applies to most every teenager.

Again though, he has that talent for making solid contact that you just can't teach.

Grichuk has become a good defensive outfielder, which speaks more to his work ethic than his athleticism. The 23 triples look flukey, but also point to good base running instincts and usable speed once he's underway. Most sources rate his arm as average to a touch above.

2012 Forecast: Grichuk should head to High A Inland Empire in April. There's no telling what kind of slugging numbers he could put up in the California League, but pay attention to developments in his K/BB ratio.

Jose Rondon, 3/3/94 - SS/3B, DSL

.315/.378/.406 with 0 HR's and 9 SB's.

Jeez, I teach high school sophomores older than this.

The Dream: Rondon is just numbers on a screen at this point, but those numbers are promising. As a seventeen year old, he walked more than he struck out while making consistent hard contact in the DSL. Don't worry about the lack of distance power - the DSL is a notoriously tough place to hit for power, and the DSL Angels' park even more so. At 6'1", 160 lbs, and with the athleticism and arm to at least begin his career at shortstop, he's an intriguing, highly projectable prospect.

Live in the Now! He's a good parsec or two away from the majors. As of Saturday, he can legally purchase his own lottery tickets.

2012 Outlook: It's unclear whether he'll play stateside in his age 18 season like Segura did, or if he'll give the DSL another go. Either way, he's one of the best breakout bets in the system.

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