Monday, May 30, 2016

Contemplating Robbie Grossman

The bat died gloriously: Robbie Grossman splintered his
bat on this two-run double Friday in Seattle.
Robbie Grossman got called up to the Twins while I was taking my San Francisco hiatus, and I haven't commented about him in any real detail, just a dismissive aside on my return to the blog about there being no real upside to him:

Grossman is not going to be a regular on a quality team. Not now, not four years from now, not ever.
I still think that, by the way. I still think that eventually, maybe even by the end of this season, the Twins will have a regular outfield of Max Kepler, Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano. Eddie Rosario and Oswaldo Arcia are a bit younger than Grossman and have higher ceilings than Grossman.

But after a week of watching Grossman take one quality at-bat after another, I have to say that I agree that he's a better player right here right now than Rosario and Arcia. Grossman has drawn six walks in 34 plate appearances; Rosario drew three in 121 before his demotion. Grossman has played considerable center field in the minors; nobody ever did that with Arcia.

Realistically, Grossman isn't a .357 hitter with a 1.150 OPS (his numbers after Sunday's game). If he were, he wouldn't have been released twice in the last six months, first by Houston and then by Cleveland.

He's 26 years old, a switch hitter, with a minor league record heavier on on-base percentage than on power. Once led the minors in walks drawn (he was repeating high A ball), which led Baseball Prospectus to list him among their top 100 prospects, which was frankly the kind of silly ranking one gets sometimes when scouting the stat lines. Drafted in the sixth round by Pittsburgh, traded to the Astros in 2012 in a deal that sent Wandy Rodriguez to the Pirates, released by Houston last November, signed by Cleveland, released by Cleveland earlier this month, signed by the Twins. He's not had a stable season since 2012; he's been switching levels and organizations constantly.

Paul Molitor's going to keep feeding Grossman playing time until he demonstrates that he shouldn't get that playing time, and I can't argue against that; Rosario and Arcia have already demonstrated that they shouldn't get that time, and Danny Santana is more ripe to be displaced from the outfield anyway. Somebody has to play in the outfield while Buxton and Kepler marinate in Triple A. But if Grossman has a big league career in front of him, it's more likely as a fourth outfielder than as a regular.

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