THIS IS THE PROSPECT PREAMBLE.
Each post will feature these words, so feel free to skip accordingly. I offer the same always-standing apologies for the lackluster quality of my writing, as well as the stream of consciousness nature that I write with. I sincerely wish that I was better at writing than I am but, alas, here we are. Also, I'm very good at this as compared to most, but I am still VERY bad at it. Just think about that for a second, for context purposes.
I want to start off by reminding everyone that these posts are aided and enhanced by the works of Baseball Reference, FanGraphs, Baseball America, and Prospects Live. Each embedded link will take you to their subscription pages and you should absolutely do that. Shout out to Geoff Pontes and Matt Thompson from Baseball America and Prospects Live, respectfully, because they're awesome. FanGraphs stats are OBVIOUSLY clutch and awesome, and that's why they are used in nearly every "Dirty" post. LOVE that FanGraphs.
Accordingly, @Cardinalsgifs provides his artistic touch to the pictures in each article, and I wouldn't do this at all if he wasn't a part of it. Special shoutout to @KareemSSN who is a must follow for Cardinals prospects stuff. His partner in crime is @Cardinalsreek and they have their own prospect list coming out soon!! Shoutout to Blake Newberry (@BT_Newberry) and Brian Walton (@B_Walton) for their work on their list over at The Cardinal Nation, too.
I also want to remind everyone that my list is different in that I don't include players with rookie eligibility that have made a Major League debut. So, you'll have to look elsewhere for Matthew Liberatore, Ivan Herrera, Alec Burleson, Nolan Gorman, Juan Yepez, Brendan Donovan, Jake Walsh, Andre Pallante, and ZacK Thompson. Some of these guys have exhausted their prospect status, anyway. I'm just trying to get ahead of this because I will 100% be asked about each. I did almost add 32-year-old Rule 5 draft selection Wilking Rodriguez to the list, but decided against it because he's 32-years-old, entering his age 33 season, and the coverage of him will surely be overly saturated by the time that Spring Training gets going. Also, I didn't add recently acquired Jose Fermín because I just don't care at all. I'm sure he'll make a Major League debut at some point in 2023 which will be cool but I just can't find it in me to care about it at all.
The last thing that I'd like to do is remind everyone that this is just a snap shot of THIS moment. I'm not 100% sure what every player on the list has worked on or has been doing this offseason. So, when I'm a little more conservative with a player like, say, Michael McGreevy, it's without the knowledge of what he's worked on this offseason, along with the gains that he's made in the areas that I'm concerned about. You never know when/if things are going to click for a player, and there's more reason now than ever before - with the advancements in modern baseball technologies - for a prospect to catapult themselves from out of nowhere. Vice versa, it's easier than ever for a prospect to fall off into obscurity.
Finally, I'd like to provide links to other sites that rank Cardinals' prospects. The Cardinal Nation, Prospects Live, and Baseball America all have their 2023 lists published, and MLB and FanGraphs will link to their most recent rankings from 2022:
KAREEM AND CARDINALS REEKS TOP 12
THIS HAS GONE ON TOO LONG. LET'S. GO.
RHRP Andre Granillo
Age 23 Season. Birthday in May.
Drafted in the 14th Round of the 2021 Draft
Listed at 6'4, 245
Oh boi oh boi oh boi oh boi oh boi, does this feel a little like a "FUCK IT LET'S DO IT LIVE" kinda moment.
If you are new to me or Prospects after Dark or Cardinals prospects or The Dirty then you've probably never heard of Andre Granillo. Granillo is a bit of a deep dive that I'm probably being more aggressive with than most, and that I'm also probably being too aggressive with on the list.
Luckily, I don't have to give a shit about that at all because it's my stupid list and because I FREAKING LOVED watching Granillo pitch during the 2022 season. When the Cardinals drafted him in 2021, it really felt like they had stumbled into gold in the 14th round. Well, it kinda turns out that's exactly what they did. Which is, ya know, cool, I guess. Bravo, once again, to the scouting staff.
As we continue to wander into the world of relief pitchers in the minor leagues we luckily don't have to get to cute or ask too many questions or make too many statements. Granillo is easy: He misses a ton of bats beyond the 35.7% K rate that he displayed between Low-A, High-A, and AA during the 2022 season. Because of his slider and his heater, he will continue to miss bats moving forward, as well. So, that's cool, too.
Granillo works mostly four-seam/slider, and the combo has the chance to be every bit as good as what we've seen out of Freddy Pacheco if he continues to work on his command and push the fastball into and beyond the 94-95 MPH mark. You'll notice in the gif above how great these two pitches work off of each other (also, YUGE shout out to catcher Wade Stauss for adjusting his plan of attack after Granillo missed his spot with the heater). Granillo's slider in particular is a thing of beauty, as it gets a ton of whiffs (59-ish%) and a ton of swings (46-ish%), both in and out of the zone. Even then, it's a such a good pitch that he doesn't need to venture too far outside of the zone to get swings and misses. It's a potentially special pitch. If you watch the gif below you'll find out how deadly it is. This fucker looks like a heater until it isn't, and late in it's path to the plate. This is a pitch that you can't make contact with but that you have to offer at.
One thing that I've come to love and appreciate over the years is when a pitcher can use his best breaking pitch off of itself. I love it even more when a pitcher can do it against the opposite handed hitter. This is something that Granillo is capable of doing with his near 2400 RPM slider, as you'll see in the gif below. He leaves the first one over the middle that the Low-A hitter can't do anything with, but then he ends the lefty with a show-stopper of a slider.
Granillo is made even more interesting because he has messed with a couple of other pitches, specifically a sinker, changeup, and curve. The very small sample size data on the sinker and curve tell us that he should probably stay away from using those pitches all that often as they are currently designed, but that the change might be a pitch that could be sustainable with proper command and development. I know that I wouldn't want to stand in there knowing that I might see a riding 95 MPH fastball or an 80-ish MPH late-bending slider or a mid-80's changeup that fades out of the zone. In the gif below, Granillo starts the lefty off with the curveball, one of the 35 that he threw on the year. You can tell it has great shape and break, but also that Granillo slows down to throw it. It's a solid pitch in need of refining regardless of some of the data, and I don't need to tell you how good it can be when he commands the fastball off of it.
I say that, but Granillo's work against lefties is probably the only thing that is keeping him outside of the top 20 on the list. And, unfortunately, that's where some of the issues with the sinker and the curve arise, regardless of the gif above. Continued development of his changeup might be enough to help stem the tide of some of his struggles against lefties, but so would continued development and designed shaping of his sinker and/or curve.
One of those three pitches is going to need to take a marked step forward - the changeup with command and the sinker/curve with shape and design - if Granillo is going to minimize damage against lefties. I know for a fact that there isn't a world where he's going to move up the list or make a major league debut if lefties are hitting 301/432/438 every 96 plate appearances like he did during the 2022 season. What I know from watching is that Granillo tries to get too cute with lefties often, deciding to live on the fringes instead of just letting it fire. That's going to have to change, but in a very refined way because he couldn't get away with getting too much of the zone against lefties for Springfield. There's a delicate balance that he's going to need to find. I've made a point to add a lot of gifs against left-handed hitters to this post because I want to show you that he is CERTAINLY capable of making the adjustment against them. Maybe he just needs to keep carving them up with his nasty shit.
Luckily, that's it with Granillo! "It's just that simple!", says the asshole in front of the computer.
It's crazy to think that this relatively "unknown" prospect is one adjustment, a little refining, and continued drive and work away from almost certainly being an injury away from a Major League debut (as absolutely confusing as fuck as that sentence is). Granillo is the type of reliever that usually steps up in the moment or to the challenge, too. There's a "big game" feel to this righty that I can't seem to get enough of. It'll just come down to how he refines his command, really. Seems like a bullpen righty worth betting on, to me.
Thanks For Reading!! Kyle Reis