What about Brusdar?

nvalvo

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It's not every day that you trade away a "Mookie Betts" and end up with a player who might have an even better name.

Like many here, I am not happy about the decision to trade Mookie, but unlike some of you, it seems to me that this was a very solid return under the circumstances. In particular, we got a lot of upside. I'll leave it to someone else to start a thread on Verdugo's potential between the foul lines, but I think Brusdar Graterol is exactly the kind of player we need to be collecting, because he has the ceiling of a legitimate number one starter. I like Mata, Houck and Thad Ward as much as anyone, but those guys have back-end rotation potential. I like Song and Groome as well, and they do have very high upside, but it's unclear if health or the US Navy will allow them to reach their potential. So I think it's safe to say that we don't have much of that kind of upside in the system. After this trade, we have a lot more.

I wrote in the other thread that I thought Graterol might be the centerpiece of our return for the trade. This isn't to slight Verdugo. Verdugo is a year removed from being a consensus top prospect (BA #35, MLB #35, BP #19) who put up 3.1 rWAR/2.2 fWAR in 377 PA as a rookie (over 650 PA, that would be 5.1/3.8). That's an All Star caliber level of play. (He might also be an immature jerk, or worse.) Trading one year of an MVP-type player for a young player who only needs to maintain a level he's already demonstrated to be an above-average regular and isn't a FA until after the 2025 season is a good return by itself — if he's actually healthy. (I assume they're confident about the medicals.) Perhaps I should revise my claim for Graterol to "co-centerpiece."

But I do honestly think Graterol has a chance to be more valuable, which is saying I think he has a real chance to be a legit SP#1 type. While I'm not alone in that belief, it is not a universal opinion, which his pre-'19 prospect rankings reflect (BA #55, MLB #68, BP #33). In particular, there is a sense that he may only be a late-inning reliever, which is how the Twins used him late in the season as they made their AL Central push, and there is also a sense that they felt that the health of his shoulder limited him to that role. After 9.2 IP as a September call up, he threw a scoreless 1-2-3 inning in the playoffs against NY, with two strikeouts.

But I imagine the Red Sox will try him again as a starter. He has a good starter's build — he's just a huuuuge, sturdy dude, 6'1", 265 — and the makings of a starter's repertoire. He throws two fastballs, both at 99: a two-seam sinker with some real movement and a straighter four-seamer. He also throws a slider at 89 that is well-regarded, and an acceptable change up with two-seam movement at 91. Out of the pen, he mostly threw the sinker and the slider, with a few changeups to keep lefties honest. I've also read that there's a curveball, but he didn't throw it in the majors.

The sinker breaks eight-plus inches to the arm side; the slider breaks eleven-plus to the glove side. His stuff is just fantastic.

In the minors, he did a good job keeping the ball on the ground (48.8%-64% in all of the meaningful samples) and avoiding walks, while racking up a not-crazy-but-good number of strikeouts.

But here's the bottom line, as I see it. Graterol is going to be 21. He's pitched in the majors, but I would likely want him to do half a season as a starter in Worcester uhh, Pawtucket. He throws 99, touching 101. He has two good and maybe another viable secondary pitches. He can hold his velocity deep into games. His walk rate is good. In his 10 MLB innings, he lived in the zone but didn't get killed. That's rare. Prospects who are that young, with that kind of stuff, and that kind of command...

Maybe he should lose ten pounds; maybe his shoulder impingement is a concern. But if he had no question marks, he wouldn't be available for Kenta Maeda. Prospects with ace upside don't generally change hands. He can't become a FA until after 2026 at the earliest.

What do you guys see here? What do you think? What should we do with Brusdar? Keep him in the 'pen? Start him in AAA? Slot him into the Red Sox rotation?
 
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BaseballJones

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I'm extremely excited about this guy. The video I saw...man he's electric. Obviously a high level of success at such a very young age gives me hope that he could be a top of the rotation starter for a WS-winning team. Not just a guy who survives as a marginal starter. At worst, I see a shutdown bullpen arm, which is less than a top of the rotation guy but which wouldn't be bad.

I say let him start in AA, build up his workload, and see if he's really truly ready for the majors. And if he is, bring him up and just let him go. Don't worry if he experiences a ton of growing pains.

Or...let him spend the year in the minors as a starter, and if by some miracle the Red Sox are in the pennant race, bring him up for the last month or month and a half and use him out of the bullpen, where he'd probably be a great addition. Him and Hernandez might be a very nasty 1-2 punch.
 

Savin Hillbilly

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The wrong side of the bridge....
Ease him in as an opener and build him up. He’s the bet Bloom made in this deal.
I agree that with his filthy but limited repertoire, he's a perfect candidate to inaugurate the opener concept in Boston if we don't sign somebody like Taijuan Walker. We have the bullpen depth to do a committee start every fifth day, especially with a 26-man roster.
 

Manuel Aristides

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No reason to shove him into the bigs; the atmosphere is going to be pretty tense around Fenway for at least a few months. If he struggles, there will be talk about how "this was the/a guy we traded Mookie for??" in the media that can't be helpful for any 21 year old to hear. Personally I'd be inclined to let him spend most, if not all, of the year building up arm strength in Portland or Worcester. If he's so good that he forces your hand, then maybe you use him in the pen in the second half with an eye to a 2021 rotation spot. I think anyone expecting him on the opening day roster needs to recalibrate. But I agree with op, this is a pretty high end lottery ticket to have gotten on top of Verdugo.
 

JimD

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I hope he doesn't spend any time in Worcester in 2020 ... since the AAA team will still be in Pawtucket for one more season.
 

JimD

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I'm rooting for Graterol to become a stud pitcher, so that he will eventually get paid and we get a 'Brusdar's Millions' headline.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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He had TJ surgery in 2016, so he's not exactly made of steel. But it's hard to know how to interpret that fact anymore. He's Venezuelan, which is cool since we have a nice group of compatriots to welcome him to the team, including his catcher.
Which catcher is Venezuelan?
 

joe dokes

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I agree that with his filthy but limited repertoire, he's a perfect candidate to inaugurate the opener concept in Boston if we don't sign somebody like Taijuan Walker. We have the bullpen depth to do a committee start every fifth day, especially with a 26-man roster.
It's the revised Earl Weaver way of getting pitchers acclimated to the majors.
 

CoffeeNerdness

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I posted some YouTubes in the main trade thread and he absolutely dotted the corners with a handful of fastballs, something Joe Kelly basically only ever did by mistake.
 

nvalvo

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Am I the only one that fears Graterol is Joe Kelly? 100 mph fastball that is eminently hittable?
The strikeout rates are merely good rather than great, which I am assuming is what's behind your question, but I think the game plan has been to generate contact. He throws a lot of strikes. That might just be some weird Minnesotan pitching philosophy — not sure if they're still doing that — but he has a very good ground ball rate.

In the Southern League, Brusdar made 9 starts. He was one of two 20 y/o starters in the league, the other being Sixto Sanchez, a consensus top-30 prospect. He was routinely throwing 5 and change innings in 70-80 pitches, which seems to have been the cap they had him on. He allowed 1, 0, 0, 4, 2, 1, 0, 0, and 2 runs in those starts (a 1.89 ERA — again, as the youngest pitcher in the league!), and then he got hurt.

The Twins shelved him for two months, and then put him in the AAA 'pen when he was better.
 

j44thor

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Reminds me a lot of a young Bartolo Colon, very similar build, may slightly bigger than Bartolo and similar arm action.
 

ngruz25

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What makes you think his fastball is “eminently hittable”? The guy has dominated the minors at a very young age. He looks extremely difficult to hit.
His standard 4-seam fastball appears to be very fast but not particularly special. It generated 0 swinging strikes in his massive 9 IP sample size in 2019. Also, the spin rate is pedestrian.

His sinker, though, looks much tougher to hit. And he throws it very hard.
 

Savin Hillbilly

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The wrong side of the bridge....
His standard 4-seam fastball appears to be very fast but not particularly special. It generated 0 swinging strikes in his massive 9 IP sample size in 2019. Also, the spin rate is pedestrian.

His sinker, though, looks much tougher to hit. And he throws it very hard.
Also a lot more often than the four-seamer -- 5 times as much, according to FG. He's basically a sinker/slider pitcher. The four-seamer looks like it's being used just to mix things up a bit.
 

Minneapolis Millers

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Graterol was one of the few Twins pitchers to put up a good showing v the MFY in the division series last year; most got their brains beaten in. Only one inning, in game 1, but he whiffed Gardner swinging, got Encarnacion to line out to RF, and then K'd Maybin for a clean 1-2-3.

A fair number of devoted Twins fans I know, who are otherwise fine with Maeda's addition to the rotation, are annoyed they sacrificed Graterol to do it.
 

Norm Siebern

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Considering that of the two prospects, he is the one who is not suspected of being complicit in a sexual assault case, that automatically makes him the favorite part of the deal.
 

JimBoSox9

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Also a lot more often than the four-seamer -- 5 times as much, according to FG. He's basically a sinker/slider pitcher. The four-seamer looks like it's being used just to mix things up a bit.
I especially like how his mix profiles in a world where MLB really is serious about addressing the ball-fueled HR binge, it'll be a lot harder for launch-angle swings to lift that sinker and take it out of the park.
 

nvalvo

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I especially like how his mix profiles in a world where MLB really is serious about addressing the ball-fueled HR binge, it'll be a lot harder for launch-angle swings to lift that sinker and take it out of the park.
The sinker is hard enough that he throws it at the letters a lot. I’m not sure how easy it would be to catch up to that on plane.
 

CarolinaBeerGuy

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Is there an issue with his Mexicali’s? Carrabis and Red Sox Stats seem to be implying something is up on twitter. Sorry if already covered. I’m on mobile and can’t seem to link.
 

nvalvo

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This is sad. That makes him much less interesting as a piece. I still like him for the pen, but that is obviously so much less valuable than a 1/2 starter.