Entering 2019, scouting services had been souring on Brewers’ prospect Trent Grisham for years. After a tremendous offensive showing (.309/.424/.430) immediately following his selection in the first round of the 2015 MLB Draft, Grisham had failed to post numbers even close to those up until this year.
With three consecutive disappointing seasons at the plate, this is what MLB Pipeline’s scouting report said about Trent Grisham prior to 2019:
“Grisham is still in search of his comfort zone as a hitter. He looked particularly lost at the plate in 2018, setting up so far off the plate with an open stance that his front foot was borderline out of the batter’s box. Grisham’s stance along with his naturally passive approach opened the door for pitchers to attack him, and he struggled to drive the baseball even when he got a hittable pitch.”
Luckily for Grisham and the Brewers, 2019 has been a different story. Grisham’s first-round talent is shining through… and it’s safe to say that he has found his “comfort zone as a hitter”.
Through 63 games with the Double-A Biloxi Shuckers, Grisham posted a slash line of .254/.371/.504 with 13 home runs. Those 13 home runs are his highest total for an entire season, with his previous high being 8 home runs over 133 games and 569 at bats during 2017. This breakout performance led to Grisham’s promotion to the Triple-A San Antonio Missions.
While most prospects need an adjustment period when arriving to a new level, Grisham started Triple-A right where he left off in Biloxi. So far in 25 games, he is hitting a robust .357/.427/.735 with 10 home runs and a wRC+ of 174, meaning that he is performing 74% better than the league-average at the plate.
Behind Grisham’s offensive breakout is a significant change in his approach at the plate that actually seems to be multiple years in the making. Grisham, who has been regarded as a “passive” hitter that hits for contact and attempts to draw walks, steadily increased his percentage of pulled balls over the last threeseasons. Since 2016, he has increase his pull rate from 32.9%, to 40.1%, to 43.3%, to this year where it sits at a lofty 47.3%. This has allowed him to hit with more power.
In addition, Grisham has combined his increased pull rate transformation with an increase in the amount of fly balls he hits. Since 2016, his fly ball rate has jumped from 30.7% to a hearty 46.5%. With that increase in fly ball rate came a simultaneous rise in his home-run-to-fly-ball rate (HR/FB), as it increased from 6.1% in 2018 to 18.1% in 2019.
Finally, Grisham succeeded in keeping the one area of his offensive game that had kept him relevant as a prospect – his patience and plate discipline. Grisham’s walk and strikeout profiles are next-level good, as in Double-A he walked 15.5% of the time while striking out just 17.7% of the time. Those numbers have decreased to 11.2% and 13.8% in Triple-A, respectively, which is still an outstanding showing.
All of this adds up to Grisham re-establishing himself as a legitimate top prospect in a Brewers’ farm system that currently is thin at the top. Grisham may be the closest thing the Brewers have to a prospect with a combination of performance and tools that screams “potential all-star”.
With no immediate opening for Grisham in the Milwaukee outfield, he will certainly be kept in Triple-A to continue his development and ready him for a future role. However, given his production and potential, Grisham could be used as a trade chip over the next week and a half as the Brewers attempt to bolster their roster for a playoff surge. With the Brewers’ thin farm system, Grisham is one player that teams surely will inquire about in trade talks, and he could be a key piece in any impactful trade getting completed.