When you take all things into consideration, Deivy Grullon is having perhaps the best season of his pro career. Grullon is batting .306 with 11 home runs and 45 RBI this season, his first at Triple-A. Defensively, he’s committed just four errors and can boast a .992 fielding percentage.
In less than two weeks, Grullon will play in the Triple-A All-Star Game. He confirmed today that he will also compete in the home run derby, hoping to repeat his performance from last season when he not only participated in the Double-A Eastern League home run derby, but won the event in somewhat of a surprise outcome.
“My goal was to do it again, to play in the all-star game. I play hard everyday and work hard everyday and I feel good,” said Grullon. “I’m competing again this year and it’s good. I will work hard to win it again.”
The 23-year old is on a pace to surpass his career-high 21 home runs that he hit last season, and he has never finished the season with an average of .273 which he accomplished in his first professional season in the Gulf Coast League and matched last season with Reading. While Grullon’s defensive improvement has been noted, there is still some work to do defensively, particularly in the area of blocking pitches in the dirt. So far this season, Grullon has been charged with 11 passed balls, which has hurt the pitching staff and the team as a whole at times. For Grullon, there’s also the mental side of defense and being a catcher that he needs to improve upon.
“Yeah, this is the best season because my defense is better, but my hitting is the same. It’s important to work on defense for a catcher and now, my defense is different, but I’ve kept my hitting the same,” said Grullon. “I’m getting better as a catcher everyday. For me, I need more understanding about how to call the game. That’s what I need to work on and I do that everyday. I need to do better at understanding mentally, how to call a game.
“I keep working everyday to work on what the pitcher throws and what they like. I always meet with the pitchers and talk about what they want to throw.”
After a breakout offensive season last year at Reading, there was some discussion about how Grullon would continue to progress offensively. FirstEnergy Stadium in Reading is known for being hitter friendly, especially when it comes to power numbers. The fact that Grullon has kept his offensive skills going at the Triple-A level is a good sign since he’s now facing better pitching and doing it in a park that plays much fairer for pitchers than where he was last season and he’s still able to hit for both average and power.
“This year there are a lot more questions than last year. There’s a lot more information that they have on how you hit and what you do, so they are better against you and harder to hit,” Grullon said of the pitching at the Triple-A level.
Not every prospect is perfected by the time they reach the majors. Ask Scott Kingery if he was truly ready for what he faced last season. There are any number of prospects who appear ready to play at the major league level and when they get there, they aren’t. Truth is that teams aren’t looking for a player to be 100-percent ready and prepared for the majors before they’ll bring him up. After all, it’s almost impossible to tell if a player is truly ready to play major league baseball.
For Grullon, a major league job right now would require an injury or a trade and it’s possible that if either happened, he wouldn’t be the guy to get the call. When J.T. Realmuto was hit in the groin a couple weeks ago, the Phillies needed some insurance in the form of having another catcher ready to be put on the roster and play at almost a moment’s notice. With just two catchers on the roster, they needed to be sure that if Realmuto was going to be placed on the IL, there was somebody right there. The insurance arrived in Atlanta in the form of veteran Rob Brantly, who left the IronPigs to be in Atlanta in case Realmuto was heading to the IL; it wasn’t Grullon.
While there are admittedly things for Grullon to work on at the Triple-A level, his play over the past season and a half has put him in the mix even though he might not be the go-to-guy if anything were to happen in Philadelphia. For his part, Grullon stands ready to be called a major leaguer and he believes he’s been ready for a while now.
“For me, I’m ready,” Grullon noted about the potential for a call-up. “For two years now I’ve felt ready, but I don’t control that situation. I feel ready for when they let me go to the big leagues.”