Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Welcome to the Blue, Brusdar Graterol!

The trade with the Twins is finally official. The Dodgers get a prospect reliever known for throwing 100 mph, while sending the much loved hurler Kenta Maeda to Minnesota -- effectively allowing him to become a regular starter on a competitive team. A win / win, no doubt... but sad since most Dodger fans will miss Maeda's professionalism and guile. Per a Dodgers tweet:
So, who is Brusdar Graterol?

Graterol is a 21-year old right-hander, standing 6' 1", with a blazing fastball. You can follow him on twitter here: @BrusdarGraterol. He is also recently engaged. Congrats! Per his twitter:

As for what he can do on the mound, here's what MLB Prospect Watch has to say about him:
Scouting grades: Fastball: 70 | Curveball: 50 | Slider: 60 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 50 | Overall: 55
After signing with the Twins in the summer of 2014 for just $150,000, Graterol pitched sparingly in the Dominican Summer League the following year and missed all of 2016 because of Tommy John surgery. He eased back in 2017 before bursting into prominence the following season as one of the hardest-throwing starters in the Minors, then missed two months with shoulder issues in 2019 but recovered to make his big league debut as a reliever in September. Originally slated to go to the Red Sox as part of a three-team Mookie Betts/David Price trade, he instead went to the Dodgers along with catching prospect Jair Camargo and a supplemental second-round 2020 Draft pick in exchange for Kenta Maeda, outfield prospect Luke Raley and $10 million toward Maeda's contract in February. 
Graterol's stuff continues to get better the more he matures and the further removed from surgery he gets. His fastball touches triple digits and will often sit in the 96-98 mph range, with an ability to maintain velocity deep into starts. Throwing with plenty of sink, Graterol misses bats and gets a ton of ground-ball outs off of his fastball. When he committed to throw the harder version of his slider, in the 87-89 mph range, it trended toward plus, but he would back off of it at times. Continued separation between that and his slower curve will help, as will further refinement of his changeup. 
The right-hander filled up the strike zone in the Midwest League and was still pretty consistent up a level as a teenager, pointing to perhaps better-than-average control in the future. His stuff, command and strength all add to a big up arrow next to his name, with a future as a frontline starter a distinct possibility.
So, he clearly has elite velocity and appears to be over the injury hump. Although he isn't salary arbitration eligible until 2023 I suspect he'll be competing for a bullpen job this spring. BTW, he currently ranks as the Dodgers fourth best prospect in the system, per MLB Prospect Watch.

In celebration of him becoming a Dodger I made a couple of custom fantasy baseball cards of him. Check thos out at the very top of this post. Below are links to some stories About Graterol that I thought pertinent:
“The Buffalo” as he has been nicknamed, hasn’t been a wild pitcher by any means. His career walk rate of 2.7 is lower than the MLB average of 3.3, so the free pass hasn’t been a big issue for him so far in his career. However, he will need to keep that area sharp in the big leagues, as his elite velocity won’t be enough to blow mistake pitches past batters quite as often in the major leagues. With only a handful of innings with the juiced ball in AAA, Graterol hasn’t experienced much of the homer-happy big league baseball to this point.
His fastball gets the headlines. It's not just the velocity – reaching as high as 101 MPH and maintaining in the upper-90s throughout his starts – that makes Brusdar Graterol's heater such a lethal weapon. It's also the movement and command. The right-hander hurls fear-inducing two-seamers that sink and run in on same-sided hitters, while tailing away from lefties. He can place them all over the zone and he likes to throw inside, which is good news for grouchy old-school seamheads and bad news for hitters that have to sweat out ABs in the box.
In a word, Brusdar Graterol is a pitcher. In many words, he’s a pitching prospect that many are torn on, with the crux of the disagreement coming down to his future as either a starter or reliever. Both sides agree he has a nasty sinker (albeit, one that doesn’t miss many bats) that goes into the triple digits. That’s pretty exciting. He also has a pretty good slider. If you want to draw a comparison, think of Darwinzon Hernandez or Bryan Mata, except with one key difference. He has really good control of his pitches so far.
While Hernandez (5.5 BB/9 rate in the minor leagues) and Mata (4.3 BB/9) both have had long-discussed issues with controlling and commanding their pitches, Graterol has already advanced beyond them (2.7 BB/9 in the minors, 1.9 in the majors in a small sample) which is why he’s a top 100 MLB prospect, and the former two are/were not.

* Please follow on twitter @ernestreyes *
* Dodgers Blue Heaven home page *

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