Drafted in the 32nd-round of 2011, right-handed Drew Granier came to the Oakland A's with low expectations relative to his draft position. But in his first full season as a pro last year in the Midwest League, the Louisiana-Monroe alum fanned more hitters than anyone else in the league while posting a 3.21 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP.
Granier didn't have great velocity in college, but he can bring his fastball to 92 on occasion with good command. His evolution as a true four-pitch pitcher has aided his accelerating development and should bode well for a promotion to High-A Stockton to start 2013. A major challenge, however, will be dealing with the scoring-heavy California League that contrasts with the pitching-friendly environment he had at Burlington.
Granier has been in Phoenix for the past few weeks, participating in the A's minor league spring training mini-camp. Biderman caught-up with Granier to discuss his spring, his first pro season and more...
Chris Biderman: How's camp going so far?
Drew Granier: It's going good. I'm throwing a few bullpens here and there and throwing in some games. Just getting back in the swing of things. Everything's going pretty good.
CB: How far along in your throwing program are you at this point?
DG: I threw two innings in a [simulated] game at 20 pitches an inning. Not too far along but getting there.
CB: You've had a very good first two seasons as a pro so far. Do you have a different sense of confidence now that you've experienced your first full season after playing short-season ball after getting drafted?
DG: Yeah, I feel a little better about it. I know what to expect, how the hitters are and how to work with your catcher. It's a little different going into this season because I know a little more about what's going on, how the game goes and how you have to prepare for a full season. Right now I'm just getting everything in shape.
CB: As a 32nd-round pick, it's pretty obvious you've outperformed expectations in regards to where you were drafted. Have you improved a lot since getting drafted, or do you think going that late in the draft undervalued you?
DG: I think I improved a good bit. All I had in college was a fastball and curveball. Once I got here, the main thing they stressed was changeups. So now I have a changeup to go with and I've developed a slider. So I have about four pitches and they all work pretty well so that's definitely helped me a lot.
CB: You worked on your changeup pretty extensively last year. How is it coming along?
DG: I feel much better about it. I worked on it a lot in the offseason and when I first got drafted in instructs, that's all I got to do was throw changeups day after day after day. I just kept working on it. It's a big pitch and they stress it a lot. I have it to where I can throw it at any time.
CB: How important is the ability to throw that pitch in any count?
DG: It makes it so much easier. You get down 1-0 or 2-0 and you just throw a changeup and you get them to hit a little ground ball or pop up. It's definitely been a big pitch for me so far.
CB: With your two-pitch repertoire in high school and college, did you still consider yourself a volume strikeout guy?
DG: I would say I've always been that. I can say I love striking out guys. It's pretty much what I pitch for. It's the biggest joy I can get. I'd say I've always been a pretty high strikeout guy.
CB: What are some physical goals you have coming into the season? What pitches would you like to improve and what areas are working on specifically?
DG: I'm still working on the changeup. I'm working on a two-seam fastball and trying to get a little more sink on that. I'm really working on my slider – getting it tight and sharp. I think those are the main two that I'm really working on.
CB: The California League is a lot different than the Midwest League in regards to hitting environments. Is that something you think about going into the season and has anyone on the coaching staff given any advice as to that transition? Do you have different expectations as far as numbers go?
DG: I've had different guys tell me different things. The hitters are basically the same, you just really have to focus on keeping the ball down. Obviously, you always want to keep the ball down. But if you leave it up it's pretty much guaranteed a home run. As far as approach, the hitters are about the same you just can't make as many mistakes to hitters up in the zone.