Tigers prospect Curtis Granderson
The Tigers' outfield prospect has improved at every level and is one of the best all-around hitters in the minors.
Position: OF Height: 6-1 Weight: 180 Born: 3/16/81 Bats: Left Throws: Right
Curtis Granderson was an excellent college player for the University of Illinois-Chicago. He finished second in the NCAA Division I batting race in 2002, hitting .483. Scouts liked his ability to make contact, but concerns about his power development dropped him to the third round of the 2002 draft class. Granderson clobbered the New York-Penn League after signing, then put up decent numbers in the Florida State League in '03. He has been tremendous in 2004, continuing to hit for average while adding more home run power. Granderson hasn't received a lot of attention yet, but he is one of the better hitters in the minor leagues.
Granderson has hit for average in both college and pro ball, due to his short swing. He controls the strike zone very well, seldom swinging at bad pitches. He works with what the pitcher gives him, content to go to the opposite field when necessary, but able to pull the ball for some power in the right situation. He has no major weaknesses as a hitter, and can hit fastballs or breaking balls. His power was mainly to the gaps before this year, but in '04 he's driven the ball over the fences more often. His running speed is a notch above average. Fundamentally sound, he has good instincts on the bases, and should be able to steal 10-14 bases annually if he gets the green light often enough. Granderson's range is good enough for center field in my opinion, but others disagree. His arm is accurate, though only average in strength, making him best suited for left in the long run. He has a good measure of athleticism, but overall scouts rate his physical tools as just slightly above average. He plays better than his pure tools due to a strong work ethic, intelligence, and a smart approach.
Granderson's 2003 numbers in the Florida State League don't look super-impressive on the surface, but his OPS was still +25 percent compared to league average, a strong number. Moving up to Double-A this year, he's increased both his walk rate and his power production. It is always a good sign when a player improves his numbers while making the transition to higher levels. There are still some questions about how much home run power Granderson will show at the major-league level, but at the least he should hit lots of doubles.
Granderson has had no serious health problems.
What to expect
The rap on Granderson heading into '04 was that he didn't have quite enough power to play a corner slot, unless he emerged as a .300+ hitter. This year he's proven the doubters wrong, and if he maintains this sort of production at higher levels, he'll make a fine regular left fielder. Even if he backslides a bit, he should be a .270-.285 hitter with double-digit home run and steal production, enough to hold a job as a fourth outfielder certainly. His work ethic endears him to coaches and managers, which will also help him get a job. Overall, Curtis Granderson has solid all-around baseball skills. He could see Detroit this September, and definitely sometime in 2005.
John Sickels is the author of The Baseball Prospect Book 2004, which can be ordered through his Web site, Johnsickels.com. His other book, "Bob Feller: Ace of the Greatest Generation," is also out, and can be ordered through online book outlets or your local bookstore. He lives in Lawrence, Kan., with his wife, Jeri; son, Nicholas; and feline friends Toonces and Spot.