Strasburg Alternative No. 1: Grant Green
Stephen Strasburg is the consensus No. 1 pick in next year’s draft. Now, as Dave mentioned in the comments here, history shows that the top guy heading into the season rarely ends up being drafted first overall. Still, the Nationals face a PR nightmare if they don’t draft the player *perceived* to be the best after failing to sign the ninth-overall pick this year, Aaron Crow. So, let’s begin to take a look at some of the alternatives to Strasburg that could be an option for the Mariners with the second-overall pick. In part one of this series, we’ll start with Grant Green…
Southern California shortstop Grant Green has been on the prospect radar for a long time.Â
He grew up in Anaheim Hills, Calif. and went to Canyon High School. In the fall of 2004, he beganÂ playing in wood-bat showcases and the summer after his junior year of high school he played for Team USA’s Junior National Team that also included Clayton Kershaw, Brett Anderson, Lars Anderson and Adrian Cardenas, among others. During his senior season, he was one of the top high school prospects in the countryÂ and Baseball America projected him to be a third-round pick in 2006. However, signability concerns caused him to slip and the Padres took a chance on him in the 14th round. He reportedly wanted $1.4 million to sign, which the Padres wouldn’t give him, so he headed to USC where he became the Trojans’ first true freshman to start at shortstop since Seth Davidson in 1998.
The 6-foot-3, 180-pound Green didn’t disappoint. He started every game for the team and hit .316 while setting school record with 10 triples. He was a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American, Pac-10 Co-Freshman of the YearÂ and was a second-team Freshman All-American for Baseball America. He was invited to play in the Cape Cod League that summer and helped the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox win a championship by playing all four infieldÂ positions and hitting .291 with four home runs and 11 stolen bases. He ended up being ranked the 18th-best prospect in the league by Jim Callis at Baseball America.
Green built upon his freshman season this year and improved in all facets. Last year as a sophomore, he hit .390/.438/.690 with 15 doubles, five triples and a team-leading nine home runs. His batting average ranked third in the Pac-10 last year, ahead of three first-round picks (Jason Castro, David Cooper and Ike Davis) and his slugging percentage ranked 10th, earning him third-team All-American honors from Baseball America. He doesn’t walk a lot, drawing just 15 free passes over 228 trips to the plate, but he doesn’tÂ strike out a lot ether, whiffing just 35 times.Â Green has above-average speed and stole 10 bases in 14 attempts. He headed back out to the Cape for the summer and put another exclamation point onto a stellar regular season. This time, Green played for the Chatham A’s where he hit .348/.451/.547 with 12 doubles, six home runs and 10 stolen bases. Green won CCBL All-Star game MVP honors after blasting a two-run home run, won the league’sÂ Robert A. McNeece Outstanding Pro Prospect Award and, this year, Callis named the number one Cape Cod prospect, drawing comparisons to Evan Longoria and Troy Tulowitzki.
Scott Pickler, who coached Green on the Cape two years ago and coached against his team last year, was impressed with what he saw.
“I thought he was the best player on the Cape this year,” Pickler said. “He’s going to drive the ball. I think he’s going to be a big-time guy. He’s got to get a little more consistent defensivelyâ€”he loses focus out there sometimesâ€”but he’s got enough range to stay at shortstop. He profiles right with the guys that I’ve seen that have made the jump. He’s one of the better ones I’ve seen out there, tools-wise.”
Pickler is not alone with those beliefs.
â€œI thought he was the best player in conference last year, and there were a lot of first-round guys there,â€ a Pac-10 coach said. â€œUnfortunately, heâ€™s still in our league.â€
The coach agreed with Pickler, saying that Green has the range to stay at shortstop but added that, if he needs to move off the position, he has the bat and the arm strength to play third base.
â€œI think the one thing that I like about him is that he doesnâ€™t seem to have a ton of weaknesses,â€ the coach said. â€œHe has all the tools in the world. He just has to be consistent and show up every day. I think the more he plays, the better heâ€™ll get. I have every reason to believe heâ€™ll be in the big leagues someday.â€
He won’t come cheaply, however. Like Strasburg, Green is advised by Scott Boras, but if he puts together an impressive junior season, he’ll be worth the price. Five-tool shortstops don’t grow on trees and there’s a part of me that believes Green could actually end up being better than Strasburg.
Mark your calendars for May 1-3, as USC willÂ be in townÂ to play the Huskies.
Grant Green links