Mookie Betts has been traded to the Dodgers. I’m sorry.
This is a very sad day for me. F all of us, really. It’s really dumb that we decided we needed to trade Mookie Betts at all. Join me in praying he reaches free agency, and that we see the light and bring him back. Then all of 2020 will be forgiven as a fever dream.
Oh, right, the Red Sox got players back. One of them is Alex Verdugo. He’s pretty good at baseball. This article isn’t about Alex Verdugo though. This one is about the other player the Red Sox brought back: Brusdar Graterol.
Here’s how you pronounce Brusdar Graterol, the Twins #3 overall prospect who is headed to the Red Sox in the Mookie Betts deal— Jordan Moore (@iJordanMoore) February 5, 2020
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.
Graterol instantly becomes the top prospect in the system. And more importantly, he’s a “dude”.
So why are evaluators torn on whether he’s a reliever or a starter?
First, it’s worth noting that Graterol is only 21 years old. I also just realized that Graterol shares a birthday with me. We’re birthday buddies. I’m beginning to like this guy. There are not many pitchers younger than him to have even made the major leagues. In fact, here’s a list of every player with major league service time who is younger than Graterol. Spoiler alert: there are 24 names on the list of players younger than him, and 12 of them are pitchers. 24 is less than four percent of the league. That’s great!
With that said, with his age, there’s the whole “not throwing a lot of innings” thing shackled to him. He’s only exceeded 100 innings in a season once. To add another knock, he’s had Tommy John Surgery already, and had some reported shoulder issues last year. While he may be able to go deep into games, it appears it may be affecting how many games he can appear in. Personally, I also have concerns about whether he is able to perform as a starter for 160 innings, since he’s never shown himself capable of doing just that. FanGraphs prospect coverage also notes the likelihood of being a reliever on their updated top prospects list (spoiler: Graterol is number above Casas).
That’s the negative. The only one I can think of. Let’s talk about the positives.
First of all, the ceiling. It’s so immense that Twinkie Town (who I love and you should also love) said that he “has a limitless future”, when discussing his pros and cons, which you can read here. Remember, he throws a 100 mile per hour sinker. He doesn’t give up home runs. Like at all.
He allowed 4 home runs in 61 innings between the different levels (2 in 15 innings between AAA/MLB). This isn’t new for him. His career HR/9 rate is under 1.0. It’s also below 0.7. And 0.5. His rate is at 0.3. No, that’s not a typo. He gives up a HR every 26.75 innings for his career. That’s what we call 80 grade. Elite. Top tier. And in Fenway Park, that should translate nicely to no long doubles, triples, or other zaniness that can be caused by having the ball in the air. He’s a fantastic fit for this team in that respect.
Second, Graterol hits 100! I know, we already briefly mentioned this, but when a guy can throw a sinker 100 miles per hour, it’s really fun to watch. He gets a lot of movement on his pitches. I’m not going to tell you how to feel, because I too feel pain, but look at this:
Red Sox new flame thrower Brusdar Graterol: pic.twitter.com/Lwy4LO0T2L— Boston Strong (@BostonStrong_34) February 5, 2020
Good lord. I just got really excited. I don’t think you can truly scout something like that out and be prepared for it. The late action is incredible.
Third, he’s a genuinely awesome person that will be really fun to root for. His character seems to be one that will fit in well in Boston.
That's Anna in the Wahoos hat. It was her job to escort Brusdar Graterol back to the clubhouse after our team autograph session. He refused to leave until he signed for every fan waiting.— Pensacola Blue Wahoos (@BlueWahoosBBall) February 5, 2020
This picture was taken 30 minutes after the signing ended.
You got a good one, Boston. pic.twitter.com/o8BJ02aDiZ
One last thing to note is how his former fans feel about him as a pitcher. I got to speak briefly with TJ Gorsegner, the managing editor over at Twinkie Town, and he had this to say regarding our new ace of the future:
“He’s been shooting up our lists for awhile. We voted him our #3 prospect this off season. The big thing to know is that he can hit 100mph with the heater, and is basically ready to be a MLB contributor. The Twins were planning to transition him to the bullpen this offseason, but I think he could still make it as a starter with a little more seasoning. He’ll probably be on an innings limit this season either way. He did pretty well for us in September this year”
He also linked me to their prospect write-up on him for last year. You can read that here. If you want the cliff notes version, basically there’s certainly ace upside in him, if he can develop a quality third pitch to go along with his 75/80 grade sinker, and his 60 grade slider. As he is now, he could be an elite reliever, which has value, especially to Boston.
Whatever role Graterol ends up in, one thing is for sure:
The Red Sox got a hell of a dude, and he’s definitely a player to root for.
We miss you Mookie. Go get paid. The Dude’s Era is now.