Yasmani Grandal is a junior at the University of Miami, where he bides his time donning the tools of ignorance for the Hurricanes. He stands 6-3 and tips the scales at 210 lbs. He's a switch hitter who, obviously as a catcher, throws right. After two solid, but not spectacular seasons for the Hurricanes, Yasmani took a big step forward as a junior in 2010.
This year, Grandal has a stellar slash line of .417/.543/.743 in 206 ABs with a 34/55 K/BB ratio, 23 doubles, and 14 homeruns. Obviously, he's had a very strong, breakout season as a junior, which has vaulted him into the top half of the first round of the 2010 draft. As of late, he's been linked to the Reds at #12 and the Royals at #4.
Grandal has made a few adjustments to his swing, which has driven the improvement in his production. He has tightened up his swing and taken some length out, which gives him a quicker swing path to the ball, but questions about his bat speed persist.
At the plate, Grandal hits from a widespread stance with a very high back elbow. He takes a short stride to transfer his weight and throws the head of the bat at the ball effectively. Obviously, getting good extension isn't a problem with his longer type swing. However, he has a tendency to extend too early in the swing and also gets out on the front foot too early, especially on good offspeed pitches.
Grandal has solid power and controls the strikezone effectively, but his overall "hit tool" is questionable. He struggled in his stint with Team USA last year and has struggled with consistency in his switch hitting. I love the walk rate and ability to control the zone, which allows him to select a pitch he can handle, but I'm not convinced that he can effectively drive the pitch when he gets it.
Here is a look at him in action, granted one that is a year old and not quite reflective of his typical 2010 swing:
On the defensive side, questions remain about Grandal's arm strength and accuracy. Additionally, he doesn't have the best lateral movement and needs to polish his footwork, as it impacts his ability to quickly get into throwing position to nab would be basestealers. Grandal has solid receiving skills, but needs to continue working on his skills to become better than league average defensively. Overall, Grandal is solid-average behind the plate and should have no trouble remaining there at the professional level, which gives his total prospect value a boost due to positional value.
Overall, I'm not in favor of the Reds drafting Grandal. For me, just too much of his total value as a prospect is made up of positional value. Grandal falls short of total value provided by the top tier of catchers of recent drafts, including Matt Weiters, Buster Posey, and Tony Sanchez, and to me his rumored draft position speaks more to the lack of impact talent in the draft class than his true value. I'm just not convinced that he projects as an above average MLB catcher, as I have questions as to whether his swing will translate to wood bats and the professional ranks. Additionally, his defensive skill set is questionable and his arm strength and accuracy is average at best.
Catcher is a challenging position to fill, as in the NL without the DH catchers can only contribute in 130 games. As a result, the differential between league average and the top tier of catchers is smaller than for other positions. To me, if you are burning a first round pick on a catcher, it needs to be one of the Buster Posey or Matt Wieters vintage. There are too many wrong turns on the catcher development path to burn a 1st rounder on a prospect with significant question marks.
To me, the Reds should be draft the "best player available" and I just don't see Grandal as being that guy. I'd love to get him with any pick other than our 1st, but that's not a possibility. For me, there are simply too many other prospect who offer a better combination of risk/reward to justify grabbing Grandal.