Detroit Tigers: Could Grayson Greiner take over for James McCann?

LAKELAND, FL - FEBRUARY 28: Grayson Greiner #72 of the Detroit Tigers poses for a photo during the Tigers' photo day on February 28, 2015 at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
LAKELAND, FL - FEBRUARY 28: Grayson Greiner #72 of the Detroit Tigers poses for a photo during the Tigers' photo day on February 28, 2015 at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images) /
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The Detroit Tigers recalled prospect Grayson Greiner to be their backup catcher. Can he ‘catch’ James McCann for the starting role?

The long-awaited debut of Detroit Tigers catching prospect Grayson Greiner is finally upon us. The team announced that Greiner will take the open roster spot vacated after Chad Bell was demoted to Triple-A. The expectation is that Greiner will back up James McCann while John Hicks plays first base full-time in Miguel Cabrera‘s absence.

As of this writing, the Tigers have yet to place Miggy on the DL. If they do, Greiner should get at least a handful of starts to prove his worth at the big league level. It’s possible, however, that Greiner is just up while Miggy gets a day or two of rest and that Greiner will be sent down for a long reliever.

But, if Greiner performs well there’s always a chance he could play himself into a bigger role with the team.

The History of Greiner

Greiner was originally drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the third round of the 2014 draft out of South Carolina. He’s had middling success in the minor leagues, not really showing much with the bat until last season, when he hit 14 home runs at Double-A Erie. Even then, he only slashed .241/.323/.436 with a 108 wRC+. His 10.2% walk rate was very solid and is a skill-set he’s carried over to Triple-A, as he currently boasts a 11.9% rate.

However, his 29.9% strikeout rate in Toledo is a major cause for concern. His .259 batting average isn’t bad, but it’s lifted up by a .368 BABIP. It’s safe to say he’s more in line with a .220 hitter. Even with a good eye, a .220 hitter with average power at Triple-A (he only has one home run this year) is not a recipe for success in the show.

Greiner’s Outlook

It’s great that Greiner will be making his big league debut, but it’s hard to see a career for him in the Motor City. While James McCann hasn’t exactly lit the world on fire, his .258/.306/.404 line is probably better, or at least as good, as anything Greiner could bring to the table offensively. And Greiner’s defense is nothing to write home about, making Greiner unlikely to unseat McCann behind the plate in Detroit.

While McCann may not be in Detroit for much longer, Greiner doesn’t appear to be the long-term solution behind the plate. The team is banking on defensive stud Jake Rogers to someday take over behind the dish. Rogers has not hit well so far in 2018, but is still well-regarded by the Tigers brass. Additionally, the Tigers have a handful of other catching prospects in Sam McMillan and Joey Morgan. While both are young, they are more well-regarded in the farm system.

Next: Week Four Minor League Report

Overall, Greiner’s future is as a backup catcher at best. If he can do well in a bit role with the Tigers this season, perhaps he can find his way into a more favorable situation around the league. He reminds me of Bryan Holaday type, and could have a similar career path.