The Editor’s Desk with Billy Brost: Is 2015 The Year Of Yasmani Grandal?


Recently, Dennis Lin of the UT-San Diego recently opined about something that had been on my mind since the middle of this past season. For some reason, since I began covering the San Diego Padres, I’ve been enamored with catcher/first baseman Yasmani Grandal. I’m not sure why. When I look at players, I look at raw talent and potential. I’ve always believed that if a guy possesses that ability, at some point, we are going to see it come through. Perhaps not enough to establish oneself as a long-term big league star, but perhaps a flash of it in a handful or a couple of seasons. 

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Grandal is so hellbent on proving that his 50-game PED suspension was a mistake, and that he truly does have the talent to succeed at the big league level with the Padres, he’s playing Winter League Baseball in the Dominican Republic. He’s also trying to get as many at-bats under his belt as he can, to try and get back to feeling as close to 100 percent as possible. Grandal recently hit the league’s first home run of the season.

Along with missing time because of his suspension, Grandal also suffered a knee injury that ended his 2013 season, and lingered through much of 2014, as he attempted to play and recover at the same time. Many Padres’ fans have given up on the one-time can’t miss prospect, who came over along with Yonder Alonso from the Cincinnati Reds for then-ace Mat Latos.

His 2014 was a head scratcher, and many Padres fans have simply given up and moved on from believing Grandal can ever be “the guy” behind the dish or in the middle of the order. He had a triple slash line of .225/.327/.401 this season. He lost playing time to career backup Rene Rivera, who in his own right, had a career year at the plate. Grandal may have only hit .225 on the season but there are two items to note: he played in a career high 128 games in 2014, and he led the Padres in home runs with 15.

As his knee became healthier, his ability began to shine through. During the second half of the season, he was sixth among all qualified big league hitters in walk rate at just under 15 percent. There are two options for Grandal moving forward. He’s proving he is willing to work not only to get his stroke back (career .291 BABIP, .277 in ’14), but he doesn’t intend to hand over his catching job anytime soon.

With prospect Austin Hedges a couple of years away, and the Friars’ need behind the dish and at first base, the team could keep him as a catcher until either Hedges is ready, or replaced by a better option, and if he can hit, the team can save his surgically-repaired knee and move him to first base full time. Grandal spent quite a bit of time over there on days he wasn’t catching, but when Bud Black wanted to keep his power bat in the lineup. Being in his mid-20s, he is now entering the prime of his career, and if he, along with several other young Padres’ hitters, most notably Yonder Alonso, Jedd Gyorko, and Everth Cabrera can bounce back from their collective nightmare at the plate last season, and A.J. Preller can acquire another big bat such as Yasmany Tomas to play right field, things could look up in San Diego faster than anyone might realize.