|Deivy Grullon, image- Jay Floyd|
At the time of his signing with the Phillies at the age of 16, backstop Deivy Grullon was one of the top baseball prospects in the Caribbean. Following a lengthy tenure in the minors, Grullon made his big league debut last season and it could be very difficult to deny him a roster spot at the top level any longer.
Grullon, who signed for a reported $575,000 in July 2012, looked very good upon making his professional debut with the Gulf Coast League Phillies in 2013, posting a .273 batting average with eight doubles, a home run and 14 RBI in 41 games at the Rookie level.
He followed up that campaign with a season in which he saw action at three levels in 2014. Grullon started his season in mid-April with Class A Advanced Clearwater out of extended spring training. He notched two hits in ten at bats in two games there. A move to Class A Lakewood, where he would get more playing time, followed. In 24 games as a member of the BlueClaws, Grullon posted a .237 average with five doubles, a home run and seven RBI. Grullon would be demoted once more to short-season Class A Williamsport when their season began in June. With the Crosscutters, he notched a .225 average with nine doubles, a triple and 18 RBI in 53 games.
In 2015 back with Lakewood, the Dominican Republic native tallied a .221 batting average with eight home runs and 50 RBI in 107 games. He closed out his season on a positive note, posting a .301/.370/.470 slash line in 25 August games after struggling at the plate in the South Atlantic League for much of the summer.
The following year, Grullon repeated Lakewood, posting a .256 batting average with six home runs and 45 RBI in 87 games.
In 2017 he would open his campaign with Clearwater, sporting a .255 average with eight homers and 24 RBI in 71 games there, earning a promotion to Double-A Reading. He did fairly well at the higher level, as Grullon would sport a .229 average with four home runs and 13 RBI in 23 games.
Grullon would spend the 2018 season at Reading, standing out as an All-Star and winning the Eastern League's Home Run Derby, putting some power on display. In 90 games for the Fightin' Phils, the talented backstop boasted a .273 average with a career-high 21 homers and 59 RBI.
He went 0-for-16 in eight Dominican League games in the off-season that followed, before he was removed from the Aguilas' roster.
Last year, Grullon opened the season with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. In 108 games, he tallied a .283 average with 21 home runs and 77 RBI, which earned him another All-Star nod. In September, he graduated to the majors, seeing game action in four contests, going 1-for-9 overall with a double and a single RBI.
A right-handed batter, Grullon had typically performed better against lefties (.969 OPS in 2018) than he does against righties (.778 OPS in 2018), but he made noteworthy improvements in that regard in 2019 with the IronPigs (.856 OPS vs. RHP and .833 OPS vs. LHP), closing the production gap.
Another short stint in the Dominican League was ahead for Grullon this off-season, as he played in four games and went 2-for-14 with the Aguilas.
Coaches view Grullon as an all-around strong leader, one of the key qualities for a catcher in the professional ranks. A player that teammates go to for assistance, Grullon is highly valuable to his club. Additionally, the youngster himself has always had a reputation as a guy that is hungry to learn.
Another plus for Grullon is that he's worked with so many of the Phillies' pitchers throughout their careers in the minor leagues. Having bonds and knowledge of one another
With a frame that is well suited for the position, the six-foot-one 190-pounder has excellent tools on defense, is a great receiver and features an extremely strong arm that keeps opposing runners reserved.
The upside for Grullon at this stage may be a big league back up catcher, but with a talent like J.T. Realmuto in his way with the Phillies, where else is another backstop going to fit in?
It's possible Grullon could open the 2020 season back with Lehigh Valley, but the Phils may be ready to move on from the other main back-up catcher candidate Andrew Knapp, who batted just .213 with two homers last season at the big league level.
You can keep tabs on this year's top 25 Phillies prospect rankings by clicking this link.