(Photo Credit: milb.com)
Chosen by the Dodgers in the first round of the 2014 MLB draft, 20-year-old pitching sensation Grant Holmes continues to climb the ranks, and hopes to impress scouts and coaches after being promoted to High-A Rancho Cucamonga to begin the 2016 campaign.
In his second start of the season on Tuesday against Lake Elsinore, Holmes was able to keep the Storm at bay, throwing six strong innings of shutout ball. He surrendered only five hits and two walks while striking out seven as the Quakes came out on top, 4-1.
Holmes’ California League debut was just five days earlier against the same Storm squad. He struck out five batters in five solid innings of work, but didn’t factor into the decision. The 6’1″ righty gave up just one unearned run, while allowing two hits and two walks in the Quakes’ 3-2 defeat.
Once known for his ability to touch up to 98 MPH on the radar gun, Holmes has been letting off the gas as of late, prioritizing his focus on the command of his sometimes erratic fastball. Through his first two starts this season, his heater has been sitting right around the 92 MPH range, while occasionally topping out at 95 MPH.
“I think one of the big challenges at this level is reading the hitters, reading their swings,” Holmes told Curt Rallo of milb.com. “When I was in high school, I just tried to throw hard and strike everybody out. Out here, you can’t do that. You’re facing a lot better hitters. You have to be mentally tough and go after them.”
Realizing that he needed to develop his secondary pitches rather than depending on sheer power alone, Holmes has been finding success recently as a result of mixing speeds.
“My off-speed has been pretty good, changeup and slider,” Holmes added. “My sinker, you could call it a fastball, but it’s a little bit slower. Having learned that sinker over the past couple of years, when my command is a little off, that sinker comes in really handy.”
Following in the footsteps of his older brother Colby, who once pitched in the Atlanta Braves organization, Holmes attended Conway High School in Conway, SC. He committed to attend the University of Florida, but chose professional baseball and a $2.5 million signing bonus instead after being picked 22nd overall by the Dodgers just two years ago.
In 2014, he zipped through Rookie League at both Arizona and Ogden, then spent the entirety of last season at Low-A Great Lakes. While with the Loons, Holmes posted a 6-4 record with a 3.14 ERA, having struck out 117 batters over 103 innings of work. His early season dominance of the Midwest League in 2015 earned him a selection to the mid-season All-Star squad.
Holmes is currently ranked as the Dodgers’ third best prospect by MLB Pipeline. He’s known prominently for his ability to miss bats, as indicated by his career 10.3 K/9 in the minors. Besides his four-seamer and sinker, he also features a slider that breaks heavily, in addition to a changeup that continues to blossom. Once criticized by scouts for his shorter stature, he has filled out his frame nicely to the tune of 215 lbs., and should have no problem enduring a starter’s workload over the long haul.
As mentioned previously, Holmes’ biggest weakness is certainly his fastball command, revealed by his career 3.9 BB/9. Many pundits who follow him closely project him to eventually have a ceiling of a number three or number four starter at the big league level.
If Holmes is able to recapture his control, the brain trust here at TBPC believes that he may scamper through the High-A rankings, and conceivably make an appearance or two for Double-A Tulsa by season’s end. If all goes well, Holmes could possibly earn a non-roster invite to the Dodgers’ spring camp in 2017, where he would benefit exponentially from the guidance and advice of both big league players and coaches.
In the meantime, in addition to focusing his efforts on pinpointing his pitch location, Holmes continues to acclimate himself to the daily grind of being a professional baseball player.
“You mostly have to figure things out by yourself,” Holmes said. “You have to figure out how to grow up on your own and do things on your own. It was a little tough at first, but I got a feeling for it last year. This year, I got a little bit more confidence.”