Yasmani Grandal knows what it’s like to be a top minor league prospect, and he knows all about the pressure that comes with it.
The Cincinnati Reds’ first-round pick in 2010, Grandal signed a major league contract in August of that year and was placed on the 40-man roster, a rarity for a draft pick. With the high draft standing came hype. Some called Grandal “a steal” as the No. 12 pick, and the Reds said the “very polished” player would be on the fast track to the majors.
But when Grandal got to camp it was an eye-opening experience. It was a veteran clubhouse manned by the likes of Scott Rolen, Edgar Renteria, Bronson Arroyo and Brandon Phillips. The 22-year-old Grandal suddenly realized he didn’t have any idea what it took to be a major league baseball player.
“It was kind of nerve-racking because one year I’m watching all these guys play in the big leagues, the next year I’m with them in big league camp,” says Grandal. “I was more starstruck than anything, you know?”
Grandal found the pace of camp overwhelming, even though he only caught bullpens and rarely got to hit in games.
“It seemed like I was getting there at six in the morning and all of a sudden I was coming back home,” he recalls. “It was just one big blur.”
Grandal would recover, rising all the way to Triple-A in his first full season, hitting .305 with a .901 OPS in the process. He says he learned a lesson in that first big league camp, a lesson he can pass on to a group of talented young Dodgers prospects that includes Corey Seager, Julio Urias and Joc Pederson.
“Don’t rush, believe in the process,” says Grandal, now entering his fourth major league season at 26. “I came up pretty quick, and I had to learn a lot of things in the big leagues. It’s a process for a reason. There’s a reason why there’s a (farm) system, so don’t worry about it. If they’re good enough they’re going to be there.”