As Orioles executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias rattled off the names of shortstop prospects in the system during a recent Zoom conference call, the topic born from a question relating to how the club might fill the position next summer, he made sure to include the 37th overall selection in the 2018 draft.
The former teammate of catcher Adley Rutschman at Oregon State University.
A product of the final draft under the previous front office and head of scouting.
Cadyn Grenier has fallen out of the organization’s Top 30 prospects list compiled by MLBPipeline.com. Five shortstops reside within the first 20 - Gunnar Henderson (No. 6), Jordan Westburg (No. 7), Terrin Vavra (No. 13), Adam Hall (No. 16) and Anthony Servideo (No. 20).
Richie Martin missed the 2020 season with a fractured bone in his right wrist and will get a late start this year due to a broken left hamate bone, but he’s still viewed as a possible starter at shortstop down the road. Perhaps later this summer if Freddy Galvis is traded and collects his extra $250,000. Perhaps at the onset of next season.
Grenier almost feels forgotten, though Elias’ mention can be viewed as a positive sign.
“We’ve got some interesting young infielders advancing through the levels,” Elias said. “The cancellation of the minor league season didn’t help, but Gunnar Henderson, Jordan Westburg are doing well so far. Terrin Vavra is in the system, Mason McCoy, Rylan Bannon, who we might see this year, Cadyn Grenier. So we’ve got guys. We’ll just see how they do.”
The Orioles keep focusing on the middle infield in their drafts and their haul in the international market included shortstop Maikol Hernández, who received a $1.2 million bonus. Grenier is 24 and hasn’t played above the high Single-A level, where he slashed .208/.337/.325 in 24 games with Frederick in 2019. He hit .253/.360/.399 with 18 doubles, three triples, seven home runs and 39 RBIs in 82 games with low Single-A Delmarva.
Grenier’s glove attracted the Orioles - he was voted the Pac 12’s Defensive Player of the Year and won the Brooks Wallace Award, given to the nation’s top defensive shortstop - and that prompted his selection and a $1.8 million bonus. It also didn’t hurt that he batted .319/.408/.462 in 335 plate appearances as a junior for the NCAA champions.
Losing a minor league season was a setback for Grenier, who likely will be assigned to the Aberdeen IronBirds, the affiliate that’s moved up from short-season status to advanced Single-A. But he’s still a prospect and still green-lighted to climb the system if his bat perks up.
Some talent evaluators believe Henderson could shift to third base as he continues to fill out his 6-for-3 frame. Director of player development Matt Blood told me in October that Henderson is going to “stay at shortstop for a while.”
“And unless somebody else moves him off ... we’re not going to move him off. At least not anytime soon,” Blood said.
“I mean, he’s been great at shortstop and he’s 19 years old, right? I don’t see any reason why he shouldn’t be left at shortstop for a while. But he can play everywhere. He can legitimately play six positions on the field if you wanted him to. Or he could play seven positions, really. He can play all the outfield spots and he can play all the infield spots if you wanted him to, but right now shortstop is the best spot.”
Hall has made 43 starts at second base since the Orioles selected him in the second round in 2017 out of A.B. Lucas Secondary School in Ontario. Grenier made 53 starts at shortstop and 26 at second base in 2019. Vavra has started 81 games at shortstop and 56 at second base in two seasons after the Rockies chose him in the third round in 2018 out of the University of Minnesota.
The Orioles like the versatility and athleticism that these shortstops provide.
“At instructional league, we had Gunnar Henderson playing all over the field,” Blood told MASNsports.com’s Steve Melewski in December. “We had Vavra playing all over. Joey Ortiz played a lot of positions on the infield. Hernaiz got some time on the infield and the outfield.”