2020 Preseason Dirty Thirty-Five: Prospect #22

PROSPECT PREFACE

I present to you my list of the top 35 prospects within the Cardinals organization!! The list is both exhausting and ever-evolving.

I am aggressive with who I deem to be a "Graduate." You can read the post that I wrote on The Graduates by following this link. As a heads up, you won't find Lane Thomas, Ryan Helsley, Genesis Cabrera, Andrew Knizner, Rangel Ravelo, or Edmundo Sosa on The Dirty Thirty-Five (R.I.Cardinals Prospect.P to Tampa Bay Ray Randy Arozarena and Texas Ranger Adolis "JAG" Garcia).

There is also another group of about 15 prospects that I could have written about. They are on the outside looking in, currently. I did write in-depth about five of them, and I presented those fellas in this article. I also briefly touch on a bunch of other prospects in that article.

Finally, I totally cheated and basically just copied and pasted the individual write-ups from the "Position Rankings" articles that I wrote after Black Friday. I hadn't realized how thorough those write-ups were until I started to redoing the D35. I have added additional gifs and thoughts to each post, and I've done some light to medium editing within each write-up, as well.


Please enjoy! Please have fun! Please let me know what you think!


RHP Logan Gragg

Age 21

State College & Peoria

8th Round, 2019


Over the last couple of years, I've come to find that I somewhat overvalue pitchers that speed into the full-season levels of the minor leagues during the season in which they are drafted. I'm not talking about the early-round picks. Guys like Wacha, Hudson, Weaver etc. I'm talking about the guys drafted outside of the top 100. Guys that rack up starter's innings right off of the bat, and not just sparse bullpen innings. Entering 2018, it was Evan Kruczynski (although you know now that I am not giving up on him). The year prior, it was another lefty named John Kilichowski.


This season, it's Logan Gragg.


At least I'm deciding to spice it up this season and go right-handed!! I feel like I am betraying my fellow lefties, but it's all in the name of something new!!!

Initially, when we did the position rankings, I had Gragg as more of an honorable mention among the pitchers drafted during the 2019 draft. But I had only spent a little time keying in on Gragg. Before I did that write-up and ranking, I decided to dedicate as much time as possible to him. After watching every inning that Gragg pitched as a member of the organization, my perception of him changed considerably. He's better than I thought, and by miles.


Gragg is just a couple of years removed from Tommy John surgery (2017), and the consensus is that he's making significant progress in his recovery. Just a handful of months after being drafted, Gragg seems like an eighth round steal. I have to believe that he is currently being undervalued as a prospect because he pitched mostly out of the Oklahoma State bullpen in his first season back from TJ surgery. Also, he struggled greatly with his command (as many coming off of TJ do) while pitching out of that bullpen. From doing the video research, I can tell you that he is pitching more confidently than he was when he first returned. By the time he was pitching in the Cardinals organization after the draft, he was downright aggressive and kinda mean to hitters. I loved every second of it!

I'm impressed with that slider. You'll see that pitch throughout all of these gifs. I've been debating on labeling the pitch for each gif, but I kinda like that you usually don't know what's coming. Each gif in this article (and every article about a pitcher) displays multiple pitches. Usually, no less than two pitches per gif. I do that so that you can see how everything is working. You'll notice that the slider always seems to work. While it's a called a slider, it's shape and timing is more of a traditional cutter. It fades hard when he throws it low in the zone, and it's sharper when he throws it up in the zone. Generally, he stays away from hitters of all types when he throws it, and I'd like to see him use it more on the inner-half to both lefties and righties.

Gragg's changeup is the pitch to watch. It's had success so far, but it needs sharpening. From what I've seen, he's very smart with how he uses it, which is infrequently and mostly to left-handers. I do love when a righty has success throwing the changeup to lefties. That's a good sign in my book. It does seem like it's the kind of pitch that might get sat on or beat around at the upper levels if he doesn't continue to improve his consistency of it, but we are just going to have to wait and see.


I like the gif below for a couple of different reasons. First, you get an idea of what his plan is with the sinker, as well as how lively it can be as it dives away from the lefty. Then, you get to see the good version of his changeup. As I mentioned, it's not a strikeout pitch, but it is good enough to get lefties out on the ground when he's low in the zone with it. Then, you get to see him field his position!! He's taller than Luke Weaver was, but he has a body-type projected over a larger frame and a running style similar to Weaver. It's the small stuff that I love, ya know?

Gragg hasn't nearly displayed the same velocity while pitching out of the rotation as he has out of the bullpen. Now, this can be said of every pitcher to have ever pitched in the history of pitching. Unless I'm being misinformed, Gragg lived about 92-94 MPH while starting, but he can get that thing 96+ MPH out of the pen. This makes me speculate that part of the reason why he might have been struggling with command out of the Oklahoma State bullpen might have been a result of trying to over-throw. I will say, upon watching the tape, that he did a better job of keeping his velocity late into starts than I was led to believe. His velocity is going to be interesting to watch as he continues to build up command and strength with more distance from when he had TJ surgery. And I hate to keep bringing up Tommy John Surgery, but the timing of when it happened really does make Gragg even more of a wild card.


The good news is, this is the type of arm that I trust to maximize his abilities. Gragg has a big frame to build upon at 6'5", too. He strong but relatively slender now, and I'd love to see him add a bit of weight to that frame. I'm not sure what the Cardinals' plan is for Gragg moving forward, but I'm willing to bet that this young man has a bullpen future at the very least, if he can stay healthy. With added strength and a continued emphasis on refining, Gragg could become a legitimate bullpen or rotation option for the Cardinals in the coming years. 22nd is aggressive ranking for him, but I think that he's up to both the challenge and the hype. Now, I just need him to not go all John Kilichowski on me (which isn't really fair because Kilichowski dealt with injuries that derailed his career).



THE DEAL

The Cardinals deserve a ton of credit for drafting this young man in the eight round of the 2019 draft. He really seems like a great, late-day two draft pick. With a pitcher's frame and a strong arm, Gragg has a pitchability that is intriguing to along with a fastball (sinker) and a slider (cutter) that look like they're good enough to carry him to the upper levels of the minors at the very least.


The right-handed throwing Gragg won't turn 22 until August, and I'm very anxious to see where the Cardinals are going to start him out at. I'd love to see them be aggressive and place him at Palm Beach because I think that he is ready for that challenge, but I'm willing to bet that he'll get there sooner rather than later if he does start in Peoria. I'm the high-person on Gragg, no doubt about that. Here's to hoping that I don't jinx him!!

The biggest of shout outs should be given to @Cardinalsgifs, FanGraphs, Twitter, and MiLB. TV for all of the work that they do that eventually gets put into these articles.

Look at that beautiful pic by @Cardinalsgifs. I'm so thankful.


Thanks For Reading!!

Kyle Reis