Yasmani Grandal

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Yasmani Grandal
(Yaz)

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Biographcal Information[edit]

Yasmani Grandal was a first-round pick in the 2010 amateur draft.

Grandal was born in Cuba and moved to the USA at age 10. He hit .433 as a high school sophomore at Miami Springs High School, .461 as a junior and .447 with 13 homers and 48 RBI as a senior. That year, he was named an AFLAC High School All-American. Baseball America also picked him as the All-American catcher, ahead of Devin Mesoraco (second team) and Travis D'Arnaud (3rd team). The other players picked as first-teamers, including Madison Bumgarner, Rick Porcello and Jason Heyward, all would be first-round draft picks. The Boston Red Sox chose him in the 27th round of the 2007 amateur draft; he went low due to a strong college commitment.

As a freshman at the University of Miami, Yasmani batted .234/.358/.452 for the lowest average of any Miami regular. His sophomore year, he improved to .299/.410/.599 with a team-high 16 homers in 59 contests. He was All-Atlantic Coast Conference second team at catcher behind Tony Sanchez. He played for Team USA's college edition that summer, but they did not go to any major international tournaments.

Grandal was hitting .422/.545/.754 as of June 3rd, leading the ACC in average, slugging and OBP while being second in walks(52) and doubles (22). He was also fielding .994 at catcher. He made the Collegiate Baseball All-American team. The Cincinnati Reds took him 12th in the 2010 amateur draft; Bryce Harper was the only catcher to go higher, but was immediately converted to an outfielder. Grandal was signed by scout Miguel Machado and made his pro debut that summer.

In his pro debut, Grandal was 8 for 28 with a double and four walks for the AZL Reds. In 2011, he played with three different teams, hitting .305 in 105 games. He started with the Bakersfield Blaze for 56 games in the California League where he hit .296 with 10 homers. He then moved to the AA Carolina Mudcats for 45 games, then ended the season in AAA with 4 games with the Louisville Bats. However, he was behind Devin Mesoraco, another first-rounder who had made his major league debut that season, on the Reds' depth chart, making him a possible trading chip. On December 17th, he was sent to the San Diego Padres along with Yonder Alonso, Brad Boxberger and Edinson Volquez in return for pitcher Mat Latos. He started the 2012 season in the minor leagues, hitting .335 in 56 games for the AAA Tucson Padres.

He was called up for a single game on June 2, 2012, when he made an out in his only plate appearance, and then returned for a more serious look on June 30th, with the view of taking over for a struggling Nick Hundley. In his first start behind the plate for the Padres, he hit two homers against the Colorado Rockies, leading San Diego to an 8-4 victory. The long balls were his first two major league hits; the first was hit righthanded off Christian Friedrich in the 4th, and the second lefthanded off Jeremy Guthrie in the 6th. The Elias Sports Bureau indicated that no player in baseball history had ever hit homers from both sides of the plate in the same game for his first two hits. He ended with a very solid first season for the Padres, playing 60 games with a batting line of .297/.394/.469, with 7 doubles and 8 homers. However, after the season, he tested positive for testosterone, a banned PED and was issued a 50-game suspension by Major League Baseball, to be served at the start of the 2013 season. He was cleared to return to action on May 28th. He was hitting only .216 with one homer and 9 RBI in 28 games when he suffered a serious knee injury on July 6th. The injury occurred when Anthony Rendon of the Washington Nationals slid into his leg while trying to score in the 3rd inning, twisting his knee. He managed to tag out Rendon, but had to leave the game and was placed on the 60-day DL the next day. The injury was a torn anterior cruciate ligament which required season-ending surgery. His name had come up in the Biogenesis Laboratories investigation, but he did not receive any additional suspension, as his earlier suspension had already covered offenses committed during the relevant period.

Grandal was back with the Padres for the start of the 2014 season. While Rene Rivera was the starting catcher against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Opening Day on March 30th, he came in as a pinch-hitter with the score tied at 1 in the 8th. He drew a walk against Brian Wilson, advanced to second on a sacrifice hit then surprised everyone by stealing third base, taking advantage of 3B Juan Uribe charging towards home to field a possible bunt. It was the first stolen base of his entire professional career, after 268 games. Chris Denorfia then drove him in with a single, the winning run in a 3-1 Padres victory. Grandal played 128 games for the Padres, hitting .225 with 15 homers and 49 RBIs. Given the very difficult hitting context of Petco Park, this was actually good for an OPS+ of 112.

On December 11, 2014, the Padres traded Grandal with pitchers Joe Wieland and Zach Eflin to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Matt Kemp and Tim Federowicz. In his first season with Los Angeles, in 2015, he hit .234 with 16 doubles and 47 RBIs in 115 games, but was named to the All-Star team for the first time. He then went 1 for 10 in the Division Series in what was his first taste of the postseason. On July 8, 2016, he had the first three-homer game of his career. It came against his former team, the Padres, in a 10-6 Dodgers win in the first game of a doubleheader. He went 5-for-5 and drove in 6 runs in the game. On September 22nd, he hit a home run from both sides of the plate in a 7-4 win over the Colorado Rockies. That was another brilliant game, as this time he was 4-for-4 with 5 RBIs. he ended up with excellent power numbers in 126 games: 27 homers and 72 RBIs, both career highs by a long shot, although he batted only .228. He continued to struggle in the postseason, though, going a combined 3 for 28 in the NLDS and NLCS, although he did hit one home run.

Grandal started off the 2017 season by connecting from both sides of the plate in a 14-3 beatdown of the San Diego Padres on opening day, April 3rd. He hit 22 homers that season, to go along with a .247 average in 129 games. However, he saw only sporadic action in the postseason, as manager Dave Roberts gave more starts to his back-up Austin Barnes as the Dodgers made it all the way to Game 7 of the 2017 World Series. He only had 8 at-bats in total during the postseason, with no hits but 3 walks. It seemed like Barnes was about to take over as the regular catcher in 2018 as well, but Grandal re-claimed his spot and had another productive season, playing 140 games, and hitting .241 with 24 homers and 68 RBIs. This was combined with an ability to draw walks (72 that season) resulting in an excellent OPS+ of 121. Indeed, his OPS+ had been above 100 in all seven of his seasons to that point. This time, he was the undisputed starter in the Division Series, even though he went just 1 for 13 (his one hit was a homer though). But in Game 1 of the NLCS against the Milwaukee Brewers on October 12th, he had a nightmarish game on defence. Catching ace Clayton Kershaw, he allowed a passed ball in the 1st, then a second one in the 3rd. After that, he committed catcher's interference against Jesus Aguilar, negating a beautiful catch of a line drive by 1B David Freese, and finally dropped a throw from CF Cody Bellinger on a sacrifice fly, allowing two baserunners to advance an extra 90 feet. Kershaw was chased early and the Dodgers lost the game, 6-5, in last part because of his uncharacteristic miscues. Back-up Austin Barnes started the next few games but failed to hit, while Grandal was just 2 for 11 for the series. He was again mostly on the sidelines in the World Series, which the Dodgers lost in 5 games to the Boston Red Sox, going 1 for 5. He only started Game 3 - the only one the Dodgers won, but played just te first 9 innings of the 18-inning marathon and was long gone by the time the game was decided.

Grandal became a free agent after the 2018 season. The Dodgers had a tough decision, as while they were disappointed with Grandal's postseason performance the last two years, he had been a solid contributor in the regular season, and they had no obvious replacement for him. So they made him a qualifying offer worth $17.9 million, which he turned down and on January 9, 2019, he was reported to have signed a one-year contract with the Milwaukee Brewers - the beneficiaries of his defensive meltdown - for $18.25 million, pending a physical. He had an excellent season with Milwaukee, hitting .246 with 26 homers and 77 RBIs while making the All-Star team for the second time. He played again in the postseason, going 1 for 3 with a homer, a walk and a pair of RBIs in Milwaukee's loss to the Washington Nationals in the Wild Card Game. Thanks to this solid year, he was able to sign a four-year deal with the Chicago White Sox on November 21st.

In his first season with the White Sox in 2020, he split time behind the plate with James McCann, with whichever of the two was not starting on a particular day usually being the team's DH. He thus appeared in 46 of his team's 60 games during the pandemic-shortened season and hit .230 with 8 homers and 27 RBIs. In spite of the low batting average, his OPS+ was 112, thanks to a high number of walks and good power. He appeared in the postseason for the third different team in three years, going 2 for 10 with both hits being homers, in Chicago's loss to the Oakland Athletics in the Wild Card Series. In early May of 2021, he tied a record when he went 0 for 3 with 13 walks in a four-game span. In American League history, only Babe Ruth in 1930 had walked that many times in four games, while Bryce Harper had been the only one to do so in the National League. But for all the walks, he was hitting just .121 in his first 21 games - but with an OBP of .388. He went on the injured list with a torn tendon in his right knee on July 6th, and only returned on August 27th. That day, he had a huge game, tying a White Sox team record by driving in 8 runs in a wild 17-13 win over the Chicago Cubs.

Source: Miami bio

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 2-time NL All-Star (2015 & 2019)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 4 (2016-2019)

Further Reading[edit]

  • Tom Haudricourt: "A unique opportunity arose with Yasmani Grandal and the Brewers paid price to seize it", Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, January 12, 2019. [1]

Related Sites[edit]