Prospect season in review: Blue Jays’ Groshans
MiLB.com's Prospect Season in Review series spotlights players who shined brightest during the 2021 campaign. Here's a look at third-ranked Blue Jays prospect Jordan Groshans. For more player journeys on The Road to The Show, click here. Jordan Groshans is too talented to let his time on the injured list
MiLB.com's Prospect Season in Review series spotlights players who shined brightest during the 2021 campaign. Here's a look at third-ranked Blue Jays prospect Jordan Groshans. For more player journeys on The Road to The Show, click here.
Jordan Groshans is too talented to let his time on the injured list be the defining characteristic of his professional career to date. But the injury bug is tough to shake.
When the third-ranked Blue Jays prospect is on the field, he’s proven to be one of the most consistent hitters in the Minors. Things are moving in the right direction, but he kept to that trend of IL stints following strong stretches at the plate in 2021.
The 21-year-old missed a week and a half with back soreness in May and was restricted to the IL for all of September for undisclosed reasons. Even with that, Groshans played more games this year than he had in his professional career.
Even with the missed time and the gap from the pandemic year, the Blue Jays were aggressive with their assignment for Groshans.
He spent the entire season at Double-A New Hampshire despite having just 23 games of full-season ball under his belt prior to the year. But much like he has at just about every other level of the Minors, Groshans was up to the task offensively.
The No. 55 overall prospect batted .291/.367/.450 with 81 total hits, including seven homers and 23 doubles, while driving in 40 runs and scoring 46. His average ranked fifth and his .817 OPS ranked eighth among all Toronto Minor Leaguers with at least 300 plate appearances.
At face value, those stats are better than what could reasonably be expected of a player that, on Opening Day, was almost two full years removed from their latest Minor League game. His year began with a non-roster invite to big league Spring Training. But he actually set out to prove that he was ready to break camp with the Major League club.
“I know a lot of people think I’m crazy for that, but I’m ready,” Groshans told The Show Before the Show podcast in February “I think I’ve been ready for that and I’m here to show everybody that I’m ready to be in the big leagues.”
Groshans spent more time around big leaguers and front office executives than the average prospect during his rehab from a left foot and ankle injury that limited him to 23 games in 2019. He spent that time at the team’s facility in Dunedin, Florida, and remained in that environment pretty much until he was set to report to New Hampshire.
“Having the higher-up guys, whenever they're walking through the complex, doing their meetings, they check in the weight room, I want to be that guy that, when they're looking, I'm working out,” the No. 12 overall pick in 2018 told MiLB.com last June. “No matter what they're doing, I'm in there, I'm doing what I need to do, what they want me to do. And they know that.”
Groshans said he was ready to return at the end of 2019 -- at least for a fall or instructional league -- but the club decided in August that it would be best to wait until the following spring. He did not play in any Grapefruit League games and was placed on the alternate site roster during the shortened 2020 season.
Without a formal schedule of games, Groshans basically had an extended rehab and, with that foot injury behind him, pretty much no physical limitations. So he used that time to get faster and stronger, and he came into the 2021 season with a different sort of outlook.
“For me, the main goal is to get really big and hit baseballs really hard,” Groshans said on the podcast, noting that he had gained around 20 pounds of muscle since 2019. “I did that, and I’m confident in where I’m at and I’m ready to do some damage.”
It’s tough to tell if the ball did in fact ”[jump] a little bit differently off the bat” like he said on the podcast. There was a noticeable power drought throughout his season. Groshans blasted two homers on June 25 against Bowie, but then didn’t leave the yard again until Aug. 18.
That dry spell shouldn’t be too much of a concern, however. Besides it being a very small sample, Groshans collected 13 doubles while batting .275 during that 35-game stretch.
“I mostly get a lot of feel, but I worked on my bat speed, bat plane, my vertical bat angle, which is hard to explain but the way I was taught from the Blue Jays was like, the angle that my bat, when it made contact, goes through the zone,” he said on the podcast. “More back-foot line drives and homers instead of little dinky hits and ground balls to the middle.”
Defensively, Groshans came into the season pretty blocked at shortstop. Not only is Bo Bichette likely to hold down the position at the Major League level for the foreseeable future, No. 36 overall prospect Austin Martin was still in the organization when the year began. Martin has since been traded to the Twins in the Jose Berrios deal, but Groshans should still expect his future position to be somewhere other than shortstop.
He had been getting reps at both short, third base and left field before the season. Groshans said his defensive training wasn’t being done with the goal of finding a landing spot for the future -- though he had been spending more time at third -- but to get comfortable in multiple places.
“I’ve been doing a little bit of everything,” he said. “I’m here to go wherever they need me and fill that spot.”
Throughout the 2021 regular season, Groshans played more than twice as many games at shortstop (43) as he did at third (21). He committed more errors at the hot corner (seven) despite having 75 fewer chances.
Gerard Gilberto is a reporter for MiLB.com.