On July 2, 2012 the Phillies spend just over a million combined on a pair of Dominican 16 year olds. They were both consensus Top 20 J2 prospects and the latest in a line of increased Latin American budget for signings. The Phillies brought both stateside in 2012 for the Florida Instructional League before they started their professional careers in the GCL for 2013. Both have had struggles at times but the arrow is point upwards for both of them.
Hit: Pujols’s previous swing was not conducive to contact but he now is starting show a more linear swing that allows his strength and bat speed to come through. It shouldn’t have a ton of holes to it. His pitch recognition skills and overall aggressiveness are still under development and will really help it to play up long term. Grullon on the other hand has shown much more bat to ball skills. His swing makes solid contact without much miss to it.
Power: Power is Pujols’s calling card, there is strength and projection but also an extremely quick bat. He has 5 HRs so far in 145 PAs and has shown huge batting practice power. Grullon on the other hand shows more gap to gap power and will likely never get above below average power and may top out around 10 HRs a year but should provide a good amount of doubles and extra bases.
Arm: Pujols has plenty of arm for RF but it is not a big time weapon. At the time he was signed Pujols had a hitch in his throwing motion that extended his release time. Grullon’s arm is a big weapon, it is a clean release with plus to plus plus arm strength. Additionally, the accuracy is good and he can throw to all three bases. Grullon’s main weakness is that his instincts are a bit aggressive and he has a tendency to make high risk throws that he will eventually learn to control.
Glove: Pujols is really raw in the field, the routes could use a ton of work. He should have the range to be out there but he is not going add much defensive value. Grullon’s defense matches his arm as a carrying tool, he still needs a lot of work to polish his receiving but there are all the tools there to be a plus defensive player.
Speed: Neither Grullon or Pujols project to add anything with their legs.
Physical Projection: Pujols is fairly skinny, but with a frame that can add muscle. As he adds muscle he should more consistent power. The worry is that he gets stiffer as he ages and that he keeps his bat speed. Grullon does not have a ton of physical projection left, it is a stocky build that is mostly filled out already. As a catcher you are less worried about the speed, but you are worried about potential strain on the knees. This means even though he is 17 there is not a lot of hidden power potential for Grullon.
Overall there is a lot to like and a lot of risk. If you want to dream on the talent you have a middle of the order masher and an elite defender behind the plate. There is still a lot ahead of them, and given Pujols’s approach and reducing strain on Grullon, it is likely that both go to Williamsport in 2014.