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Meet the newest Detroit Tiger, C Grayson Greiner

What does Greiner bring to the table?

MLB: Spring Training-Detroit Tigers at New York Yankees Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The 99th overall selection of the 2014 draft, Grayson Greiner’s career has been a bit of a roller coaster. While his development path has been far from a straight path to the majors, he’s finally getting his shot. In the wake of the injuries to Miguel Cabrera’s biceps and hamstring, he has been placed on the 10-day disabled list, meaning John Hicks will likely take the lion’s share of playing time at first base, leaving the team without a rested backup catcher. That gives Greiner his opening.

Standing at 6'6”, Greiner is practically a behemoth behind the plate. Tall catchers generally aren’t too good with the glove — their large bodies prevent easy, fluid motions and tend to result in elongated arm action. Despite that, Greiner has never let his size get in the way of his craft. “Since I started catching, I’ve always put a lot of emphasis on my defense,” he said to Bless You Boys in 2016. “I want to be perfect.” Scouts agree he is a glove-first player, an above average catcher who blocks well and has a good arm.

While he has consistently been a better defender than batsman, he has had good years at the plate, too. In 2016 he had a spectacular offensive season, hitting .312/.385/.367 with High-A Lakeland. That figures to a 126 wRC+, a substantial amount above average, especially for a catcher. He followed that performance with another extraordinary stint with the Double-A Erie SeaWolves. This one was nearly twice as long and featured much better power numbers.

The theatrics during the 2016 season, unfortunately, appeared to be a result of batted ball-fueled luck. His numbers at High-A were accompanied by a .410 BABIP, which is 136% above the game-wide average of .300. Greiner’s .351 mark at Double-A isn’t quite so ghoulish but were still an alarming sign. A statistical downturn followed in 2017, but his batted ball numbers swung in the opposite direction and he still graded out a little above average, so there is hope that he has made permanent positive changes.

The 2018 season has seen a similar performance from Greiner on the whole, but this time, it’s at the Triple-A level. His offense has been exactly what one would hope from a player on the cusp of the bigs: hitting for power and taking walks at a respectable clip. His average may sag a little as a major leaguer — he’s never been too much of a hitter for average — but he usually adjusts quickly and the power should translate. Add that to his solid defense, and you’ve got a capable backup catcher.

“It’s my goal to get to the big leagues as soon as possible,” Greiner stated resolutely back in 2016. “I’m gonna do whatever I can to put myself in that position as soon as possible.”

It appears he’s finally getting his chance.