When the Los Angeles Dodgers traded longtime fan favorite Matt Kemp to the San Diego Padres the centerpiece they got in return was catcher Yasmani Grandal. The 26-year-old switch-hitter played parts of three seasons in San Diego, but was limited because of injuries and a PED suspension in November of 2012 that went into effect during the 2013 season.
The main reason the new Dodgers front office was willing to give up Kemp for Grandal is because Dodger catchers combined to bat .181 last season. Grandal is a lifetime .245 hitter, but his talent and upside projects him to be a much better hitter than that.
While Grandal is only batting .218 (12-for-55) this spring, he’s happy with the contact he’s made, according to Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times:
I know the numbers don’t show, but I think my spring training has been hitting line drives right at guys,” he said. “All those line drives end up turning into base hits once the season starts. For me, it’s been a great spring. I’ve been able to work on a lot of little things I wanted to work on to become a better hitter, a better catcher.”
A knee injury in 2013 affected Grandal’s 2014 stats, as he struggled from the right side of the plate. He hit just .162/.323/.189 when bating right-handed, compared to .241/.329/.452 as a lefty; furthermore, all 15 of his home runs came when batting left-handed.
On the defensive side, Grandal is believed to be one of the best pitch-framers in the game. While manager Don Mattingly hasn’t given an indication as to how he’ll split time between Grandal and A.J. Ellis, it’s not beyond reason to believe the younger backstop will get the lion’s share of starts.
Yasmani Grandal Learning From A.J. Ellis