Continuing with the trend of pieces acquired via the Texas Rangers, today I'll look at Justin Grimm. Taken in the 5th round of the 2010 draft after a successful college career at the Univeristy of Georgia, Justin debuted at Class A and pitched the majority of the season at A+ ball (in 2011). It didn't take him long to break into the majors, as he dominated AA Frisco in 2012 en route to being called up on June 16, 2002. He had two starts (one of which was horrendous – 1IP, 6 ER) and was sent back down to AAA, where he toiled relatively unsuccessfully until a September call-up. He'd eventually win the #5 starter job in Texas going into 2013.
He was terrible in the majors this year. He had 17 starts for Texas, and he reached the 7th inning twice (and one of those he allowed 7 runs). He pitched 5 or less innings 9 of the 17 starts; his ERA was 6.37. He was eventually shipped to Chicago, where he was sent to Iowa to start. While there, he had a 2.77 FIP, but a 4.68 ERA due to a really low strand rate and a relatively high BABIP. Perhaps most frustrating at the major league level was the 16.5% K percentage this year; it's really difficult when you can't strike players out, and any spike in BABIP is going to be really painful. He doesn't walk a ton of batters, but he walks about league average, so his proclivity to get balls in play led to a 1.62 WHIP this year, a sure recipe for disaster
Grimm features 5 pitches. His primary offerings are a 4-seamer and a curve, which he throws at 92 and 78 mph respectively. He also has a change at 83 and a sinker at 91, but he throws those each around 10 percent of the time.
Grimm is 6'3", with a high release point, so his fastball planes really pretty well. Unfortunately, it's not all that fast, and it doesn't move all that much. Average-ish velocity can play if you have great movement (some reports say Grimm can reach 96, and as a Cub he's averaged around 94.1 mph on the 4-seam), but he doesn't have great movement. On the other hand, is curveball is really active. It's 10 to 6 with considerable break to it. It's a better-than-average offering. His changeup needs work too but is probably playable when it's all said and done.
Grimm needs to work on his fastball, and it's what is separating him from being either at the back of a rotation or the front of a bullpen. Grimm has the size and secondary offerings to definitely start (above-average curveball, average potential change), but his fastball is a 40, and you can't start with a 40 fastball unless you never throw it, and Grimm throws his 50 percent of the time. He should probably start the year in AAA and work it out, but it's an open question as to whether or not it gets solved. If it doesn't, he's probably going to end up as a swingman that will struggle to find anything more than a string of league-minimum contracts. If he can get the fastball just to average, though, he'll make for a fine middle-to-back rotation piece.
2013 Cubs Prospect Reviews