Going Deep: New Approach, Who Grisham?

When I was first thinking about this piece, I asked the rest of the Pitcher List dynasty team who might be a good player to kick of my weekly prospect Going Deep column. They gave me fantastic options, many of whom you will see in the coming weeks. Then the name Trent Grisham came up and I did a double take.

For those who are just hearing this name, he is a former first rounder of the Milwaukee Brewers. There has been a logjam in the Brewers outfield that has resulted in them getting rid of players like Brett Phillips and Domingo Santana. Between Grisham and Corey Ray on the up and up, decisions are going to be made.

Since being a first round draft pick, the left-handed bat Grisham has found his share of struggles, which has caused him to slide down prospect lists. Right now, the 22-year-old sits 30th in the Brewers organization per MLB Pipeline. Because of his performance so far, he should remain in the top 30 despite the impending draft update.

But anyway, that doesn’t answer why the name Trent Grisham stood out among the crowd. A couple of years ago Grisham led the minors in walks with 98 in a season, but that is but one shining light in what was an underwhelming career until 2019. Now he was just named the Milwaukee Brewers Minor League Player of the Month for the second month in a row.

 

 

This year seems to be a breakout season for Grisham, especially in the power department. Between the Double and Triple-A levels he has 18 homers this year. In his four seasons leading up to 2019, he totaled 19 long balls. Add that in with his ability to draw walks and, man, does that make Grisham interesting.

After years of mediocrity following his first-round draft pick, this is a welcome sight for the Brewers organization. Grisham was drafted out of high school and it takes time to mature as a hitter. But the question is what does that maturity look like?

A quick look at his minors career spray chart on Baseball Savant shows that he has used the whole field during his career.

 

What has changed this year is that he pulling the ball more often than in the past. Per Fangraphs, he is pulling the ball at a 47-percent clip this year, which he has been working on for the past few seasons. Starting in 2016, Grisham’s pull percentage has gone from 32, to 40, to 43, and now to 47.

 

 

Put simply, pulling the ball more often has allowed Grisham to accumulate a slugging percentage of .517 this year—that’s a career high. The next closest? Back in 2015 in rookie ball, he slugged .430. In terms of ISO, he was at .250 in 283 plate appearances in Double-A and is at .315 so far through 62 plate appearances in Triple-A. To find his next best mark, we once again must travel back to 2015, when his ISO was .133.

This is more than just pulling the ball. It is a change in where contact is made. Instead of letting the ball travel deep, Grisham is attacking it more in front. This also means his strikeout rate will drop, which it has. His strikeout rate is below 20 percent for the first time since his draft year.

Things look to be trending upwards for Grisham. This version of Grisham is working. Greeting the ball out front is the biggest difference in his approach and it has made all of the difference. His wOBA: .393/.390 in AA/AAA, and wRC+: 151/126 in AA/AAA, are both elevated along with his power numbers. What is reassuring is that his patience is still right in place. He can be trusted to sit anywhere between 14 and 17-percent walk rate.

It’s okay to think I am crazy, most people do. Luckily for me, you can hear it from Grisham himself. Last April, Patrick Clay with WLOX in Biloxi did a story on Grisham’s change. You can follow that link to hear the Brewers prospect say he worked with hitting instructors on moving his contact point.

By the way, in 2017 Grisham swiped 38 bases, so he is adding pop to some speed. On top of that, he was caught only five times that year, so he is smart on the basepaths.

The burning question on everyone’s mind at this point is defense, right? Well, here is a video of him throwing a runner out.

 

 

The real question is what does this mean? There is not exactly an obvious hole opening up in the Brewers outfield any time soon. Plus there is no lack of competition for any opening that arises. That leaves the question of what does this change in Grisham mean for his future?

If I were David Stearns, Grisham would be in a package heading out for a starting pitcher. But that’s just me.

Even with his new contact point, Grisham will not be hitting for average, if you believe in that kind of stat. He is a consistent mid-.200s hitter. However, his approach and patience has always made him a potential OBP help. Now that he is adding power, it gives him a chance to be a real help if given the opportunity.

With Grisham refining his approach, he might start to climb back up the prospect rankings and back into baseball relevance. At the bare minimum, he is a much more interesting case than he was just a season ago.

Featured Image by Nathan Mills (@NathanMillsPL on Twitter)

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Comments


theKraken

Trent Grisham was drafted as Trent Clark. It is the primary reason that he is unknown. That is a big detail to leave out of his history as an obscure prospect.

Your second to last paragraph makes a strange point. You think some people don’t believe in AVG? You would be a fool not to. Those guys that make a living without AVG are bad hitters that are very streaky – it remains one of the most important stats out there. Lets start calling it xConsistency if that makes it more palatable. Those guys who we regard as the very best in the league don’t pretend that AVG doesn’t exist – a bunch of fringe MLB hitters might enjoy the idea though.

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