Brusdar Graterol: Prospect Highlight

Brusdar Graterol. Know the name. We traded away Kenta Maeda, at his request, for this young gun after the Red Sox backed out. At 6’1”, 265 Lbs, he makes his 100MPH sinker look effortless. And with Kenley hitting UFA in 22 it’s easy to see Graterol becoming the new Dodger closer for the upcoming decade.

Highlights

  • Breaking Down His Stuff In 2019
  • Comparable Players
  • What He Needs To Improve
  • Peaking Into His Future

Breaking Down The Small Sample Of 2019

Graterol made his debut last year 6 days after turning 21. He’s currently the Dodger’s #5th ranked prospect and MLB’s #83rd overall. His fastball was graded an 80. The highest grade possible. His slider was also graded above average at 60. His changeup and overall control was about average at 45 and 50 respectively. He’s thrived after every promotion.

His career minor league ERA in 51 games (he started 41 of those) is 2.48. He’s struck out 230 compared to 65 BBs in 214 IP. However, he has never pitched more than 102 innings in a year. Interesting enough he was lights out as a starter in the minors last year. He put up a 1.78 ERA in 50.2 IP, vs a 3.60 ERA as a reliever in 20 IP.

He played in 10 games for 9.2 IP in the 2019 MLB season for the Twins. They were playoff bound so he actually pitched meaningful innings. He did not pitch well in the warm Target Field in Minnesota. It is considered in the top 10 of most hitter friendly parks. He had an 8.31 ERA in Minnesota and a 1.69 ERA away so hopefully that will reflect with the move the pitcher friendly LA.

Comparable Players

  • Kenley Jansen, Alrodis Chapman, Jordan Hicks, and Gerrit Cole.

Much like younger Jansen, Graterol relies on one elite pitch, his sinker. He mixes in his slider a good amount, and 4-seam. However they get hit hard and as of now the expected stats support that.

https://baseballsavant.mlb.com/savant-player/brusdar-graterol-660813?stats=statcast-r-pitching-mlb

But at 21 he has plenty of years to work on those extra pitches. He already pounds the zone 57% of the time. He challenges every batter he faces. That kind of confidence only comes when you throw 100+.

He has the a similar pitch arsenal as Aroldis Chapman, the only difference is Chapman has turned the other pitches into plus weapons as well (he’s 32).

As for flamethrower Jordan Hicks, he almost relies entirely on his sinker slider combo. He even has about the same spin rates as Graterol. In fact most of their peripheral stats mirror each other. Their biggest difference is that Hicks throws a little harder, but Graterol has better control.

Finally, if he were to be a starter, he actually resembles Gerrit Cole minus the spin on his pitches. If he could model himself after Cole, he could have been the steal of the decade.

Where He Can Improve

Low spin rates and improving his other pitches. Gerrit Cole did not come out of no where. He had the stuff with the Pirates but evolved in one specific way with the Astros. He upped his spin rate in 2018 by 215 rpm. His ERA went from 4.26 in the NL to 2.88 in the AL. In 2019 he upped his spin rate another 151 rpm to 2,530 on his 4-seam and read what happened then.

https://www.mlb.com/news/best-fastballs-in-baseball-2020

It’s not a coincidence that the best pitchers in the game rank highly in spin rate on almost all their pitches. And right now Brusdar is low in spin rate in everything but his slider which is at best average in spin rate. It also was his worst primary pitch as far as BAA.

His sinker was Top 5 in xBA and is clearly as elite as they predicted. However his slider and 4-seam have room for improvement. We still think improving RPM would help here though.

Graterol’s Hopeful Future

We see 3 main possibilities for Graterol who is currently the Dodger’s 3rd most valuable pitcher in the simulated season going on. He becomes the next closer, he becomes a high leverage reliever, or he does become a starter.

It’s pretty crazy that this kid’s floor is most likely as a future closer sooner or later. It’s where the front office sees him as of now and is the reason the Red Sox reportedly pulled out of the trade for him. Still he has the potential to be one of the top closers in the league. If he were to focus completely on pitching out of the pen and add one more plus pitch, he will be deadly.

He could also become a high leverage reliever like we’ve seen Hader do. He pitches well to RHB and LHB which is more important than ever, and he has the conditioning to pitch multiple innings in relief when needed. It’s not the flashy position, but it would be way more valuable to the team. The closer position and the save stat has recently been put into question by a lot of MLB fans. It seems ridiculous to save your best pitcher for a 3-run lead in the 9th when most MLB pitchers could do that. Whereas using them in tight games, against the meat of the lineup during the 7th and the 8th could lead to more wins throughout the year.

Finally, Brusdar is currently a starter. He has started more games than he has pitcher in relief throughout his career. He has done better as a starter than a reliever throughout his career. The big worry is if he can handle a full season workload of 150+ IP. But it wasn’t long ago we were wondering the same thing about Walker Buehler after his TJ surgery. He isn’t especially tall but he does an excellent job using his weight to his advantage. And this is where it’s important to remember he is still only 21. His body is still growing and maturing. Who knows the strength of his prime? If he can transition to starting his ceiling very well could be 2019 Gerrit Cole. These athletes are too often judged on their bodies when the fact is they are still incredible athletes with the body they have.

Summary: Brusdar= really really good oh my god we’re so excited for this kid.

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