2013 Cubs Prospects in Review: Justin Grimm

In Commentary And Analysis, Minor Leagues by Sitrick11 Comments

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

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  1. J

    If the Cubs believe this is basically what Lake’s peak is, they should look pretty hard at trading him this offseason while his value is high. Maybe they can get a pitching prospect or two. This FO has shown it’s not that hard to go out and find rather productive OFs if you platoon them heavily. You can get a Reed Johnson or Jeff Baker to mash lefties while the Sweeneys and Schierholtzes take the righties on. Until a true difference-making bat like Bryant or Almora comes, might as well fill in on the cheap.

    I’d also like to actually see Lake play some infield. If he can play 6 positions competently, that’s probably a valuable enough commodity to hold on to, since his floor with the bat is probably higher than Darwin Barney’s ceiling. That Lake slash line would play well at 2B/SS. As just a RH 4th OF, I’m less excited, though I think he has the tools to grow into a strong defender, even if it’s not all there yet.

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  2. dmick89

    @ Myles:
    That fits in with what I’ve read. Once you include sample size with his numbers and draft pick (that still matters), I think we have gotten way too excited way too quickly. I think his ceiling is that of a number 4 or number 5 starter and I think he has little chance of reaching it. To me, best case scenario for him is a lockdown reliever and I even think that’s unlikely. How many times do we hear that given to a prospect and how many times is it accurate? It might even be less accurate than a top of the rotation projection for a prospect. It’s just easier to spot the guys with that talent and your better relievers tend to come out of nowhere. And they’re usually not good for very long.

    Among pitching prospects in the Cubs oganization, I’d put Edwards behind Johnson, Hendricks, Vizcaino and Underwood. Might even be a strong case still to put him below Blackburn (Blackburn’s potential is still higher than Edwards IMO).

    Ivan Pineyro. IMO, that’s a pretty good comparison in terms of where I’d put him among the Cubs starting pitchers.

    I just don’t think Edwards has a realistic shot at being a starting pitcher at the MLB level.

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  3. dmick89

    As down as I have been on Ben Wells, I could even be talked into putting Wells above Edwards. I don’t think Wells can cut it as a starter. He just can’t strikeout enough batters even in the low minor leagues to get by at the upper levels. However, that rate would go up some if he was moved to the bullpen and his walk rate, which is already fairly decent, would drop. Considering his groundball tendencies, I do think there’s a better chance we see Ben Wells put on a Chicago Cubs uniform, but their ceilings are probably about equal.

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