Building your baseball team from the middle of the diamond out is a common strategy across MLB. The Orioles hope they have two young contenders for that territory climbing through the minor league ranks together currently.
Cadyn Grenier and Adam Hall are two very similar players who actually spent a significant amount of time together at Single-A Delmarva. While one was drafted out of high school and the other out of college, both are known for their defense more than their offense, although Hall gets the edge in the latter category.
Grenier was originally drafted in the 21st round of the 2015 Draft by the Cardinals, but eschewed pro ball for college ball. Over the course of three seasons (182 games) in the Pac 12 Conference with Oregon State, Grenier hit .284/.386/.414 with 11 home runs, 102 RBI, 16 stolen bases and an .800 OPS.
He was selected in the 2018 Draft by the Orioles in Competitive Balance Round A, pick number 37 overall. Upon signing with the O’s, Grenier played 43 games with the Shorebirds in 2018, hitting .216/.297/.333 with 12 doubles, one home run and three stolen bases.
The 22-year-old middle infielder split time between Frederick and Delmarva in 2019, faring much better with the lower affiliate. In 364 plate appearances with the Shorebirds, Grenier slashed .253/.360/.399 with seven home runs, 18 doubles and five stolen bases.
The former Oregon State Beaver was promoted to high Single-A about three and a half months into the season, on July 16. In 92 PA’s with Frederick, Grenier only hit .208/.337/.325 with four doubles, one home run and two steals. Between the two levels, he had a combined .740 OPS in 2019.
On a side note, the right-handed hitting Grenier had reverse splits at the plate this past season, batting .259 with a .794 OPS against right-handed pitchers and .196 with a .566 OPS against lefties.
While together at Delmarva, Hall and Grenier split time between the two middle infield positions. During Grenier’s tenure at low Single-A, he played in 54 games at short and 26 at second. Hall, on the other hand, appeared in 79 games at shortstop and 39 at second while playing the entire season at Delmarva.
In Frederick, Grenier played exclusively at shortstop, appearing in 22 games there.
In his minor league career, Grenier has a .985 fielding percentage at second base and a .959 at shortstop. To date, Hall has put up fielding percentage marks of .987 at second and .942 at short.
It’s clear that the Orioles are have given these players plenty of exposure to both middle infield positions. Defensive ability may be the deciding factor as to who stays at shortstop and who moves to another infield position in the event that both players are starting on the big league club at the same time in the future.
Canadian Adam Hall was selected with the 24th pick of the second round in 2017. When the Orioles drafted him out of A B Lucas Secondary School in London, Ontario, he was 18 years old. In his first exposure to professional baseball, he had six hits in nine at-bats in the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League later that summer.
In 2018, Hall played in 62 games at Aberdeen and showed a good hit tool, albeit with limited power. He put up a .293 AVG and a .368 OBP, but hit only one home run with a .374 SLG. With 22 stolen bases in 27 tries, he also flashed speed on the basepaths.
This past season with Delmarva, Hall hit .298/.385/.395 with four home runs, 22 doubles and 33 steals in 42 attempts. In those 122 games, the middle infielder had a .780 OPS. He feasted on left-handed pitching to the tune of a .340/.421/.406 slash line in 106 at-bats.
Of the Orioles’ top 30 prospects, MLB Pipeline currently lists Adam Hall at 14 and Cadyn Grenier at 21. Position-wise both are listed as 2B/3B, highlighting their versatility in the field. Fangraphs has Hall and Grenier ranked as the 13th and 18th best prospects in Baltimore’s farm system, respectively.
Based on the fact that Grenier reached high Single-A first and is two years older than Hall, it’s reasonable to think he will reach the majors first. In fact, Fangraphs has Grenier’s ETA listed as 2020 and Hall’s ETA as 2022.
With Grenier having only played 24 games above low Single-A, it’s hard to imagine him cracking the Orioles roster next season; his ETA may be closer to Hall’s 2020 Fangraphs estimation if the Birds want him to get more seasoning in the upper levels of the minor leagues.
In terms of position viability, whoever proves themselves the stronger defender has a better chance of sticking at shortstop. But hypothetically, if both of these players are on the Orioles’ squad at the same time, there could be myriad arrangements.
It’s possible that either one could become a utility infielder and could float all over the infield. And since both players can play second and short, their long term position may be dictated by who else the Orioles acquire to fill one of those spots.
It should be an interesting development to watch, with Grenier being the more polished defensive infielder and Hall being the younger player with more offensive upside.
All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference, Fangraphs and MLB.