I was just about to post this when Grant Green got his call-up. But since he was recently sent down, I thought I would put it up to see what everyone thinks. I added an update at the end, but everything else was written before he made his debut.
I caught my first River Cats game of this year on June 29th. The game wasn't that inspiring, Tyler Skaggs mowed down the River Cats. But I was able to get some video on Michael Choice, Grant Green, and Hiroyuki Nakajima (and witness Jemile Weeks in Centerfield). Today I am going to focus on Grant Green. He seems to be getting a lot of attention due to both his play and the middle infield situation in Oakland.
Green went 1-3 with a walk. The lone hit was a single he lifted off the end of the bat into left field. Below are some swings I want to focus on.
His best swing of the night was on a fastball Skaggs put by him.
Here is the single to left field.
In the 9th, the Reno RH closer got in on Green's hands with a fastball.
Now I want to focus on a couple particular positions in his swing.
Here we have Green with a finished stride and swing started. Let's point out a few things. First, for someone Green's height, he really has a narrow base. While a lot of stride is style, I would still like to see him get a little wider base and definitely get a bigger bend in his hips so he can use his legs better.
See how another tall, lanky guy started with an upright stance but gets into a much more powerful position at the end of his stride.
Hip bend is very important. If hitters don't get enough bend in the hips, the legs can't function as well and the arms won't have clearance for inside pitches. One more thing on his position here. Though minor, Green does have a slight tilt away from the pitcher. A very small point, but it makes a difference.
Here is the other position I want to point out.
In short, Grant Green has bat drag. Green gets his swing going by getting the rear elbow working forward under his hands. This is bad, really bad. The arms have very little leverage at this point. Bat drag is evident by the rear elbow beating the hands to the rear hip line. Check out Donaldson and Cespedes (2012) at the same point in the swing. Hands in front of the rear elbow.
You don't see bat drag that often, especially at AAA and above. I was actually shocked to see it in his swings. I thought maybe it was a one game thing, so I hit up the internets to find more footage of Green. I found video of him in the 2011 Futures Game and 2012 AFL. I saw the same thing - rear elbow beating the hands to the hip.
How bad is bat drag? Can he be a MLB leaguer with bat drag?
Bat drag is really not good. It makes it difficult to hit inside pitches (which I have seen Green struggle with firsthand). The most successful MLB player I know of with bat drag is Brandon Moss. He actually is a little worse than Green. See below.
But I will take Moss over Green in an arm-wrestling match any day, so I am hesitant to say Green can succeed because Moss has. I think Green would/will struggle against MLB RHP. Not a good thing since unlike Moss, the majority of his at-bats will be on the wrong side of a poor split.
In another swing analysis, I was high on another A's top prospect even though he had less-than-perfect swing. The reasons are a) Addison Russell is 19, b) his swing faults are stride related, which aren't terribly difficult to fix, and c) he plays shortstop. Since Green goes 0-3 in these, I am not recommending he be called up. I am not the general manager (and God willing I will be someday), but given the descent play of Sogard lately, I would try to package Green and Chris Young in a trade for something, anything.
Now, if Green gets called up tomorrow and becomes a complete stud, I will happily eat crow and ask for seconds. There have been plenty of guys with swing faults achieve great careers, like Cal Ripken Jr. and Derek Jeter. But they didn't go 0-3 on my prospect grading system.
7/25/13 Update: So, Green got his callup and went 0-whatever with 6 strikeouts. I think the most telling is his very first game at Pittsburgh. He hit two flyballs to centerfield on fastballs on the inner half. HE HAS TO PULL THOSE PITCHES. He doesn't even have to keep it fair, but he has to show that he can do damage on pitches on the inner half. Unfortunately, I think with his current swing that will be challenge.
Given the Green more than likely hurt his trade value from his lack of offense and defensive "ability," I am not sure what the best course for Oakland is at this point.