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Dodgers top prospects 2015: Grant Holmes, No. 4

Grant Holmes struck out 29.6 percent of hitters faced in his first professional season.
Grant Holmes struck out 29.6 percent of hitters faced in his first professional season.
Photo: Noall Knighton | Ogden Raptors

Based on talent, 2015 should be the year that Grant Holmes solidifies his name alongside Corey Seager and Julio Urias in the Dodgers' prospect hierarchy (before you become alarmed, 2015 should also be the year Pederson loses the tag "prospect"). Seemingly falling into the Dodgers' lap in the 2014 draft, Holmes didn't take long to display his class in the Arizona Rookie League, and he likewise overmatched the Pioneer League in his short stint, ERA notwithstanding. With a probable assignment to the Midwest League to start the season, we should get a better picture of just where Holmes' present and future ability lie, but as for now, the ceiling is amongst the highest on the farm.

Be it some ambiguous claims of character issues, or a body that could be physically maxed out, the Dodgers were the benefactors of Holmes sliding in the draft. It's impossible for me to speak on Holmes' character, but the physical maturation issue is an overrated one. With Holmes' present day arm strength, he isn't in need of significant growth, and refining his conditioning by pitching a professional workload should be enough to prove his durability. Listed at 6'1, 215 pounds, Holmes looks to carry his weight well and appears athletic enough on the mound. If there's a quibble with him physically, it would be his stocky frame gaining too much weight as he gets older, but that's something for Holmes to monitor rather than being a concern.

While only 6'1, Holmes casts an intimidating presence on the mound with a power frame and pitching profile. Holmes shows a quiet competitiveness on the mound, stalking it with confidence after strikeouts. Similarly, his delivery is controlled aggression, methodical to the point of breaking his hands, then displaying some of the best arm speed and strength in the system through release. Some scouting have written concerns about Holmes' long arm action in the back of his delivery, but this is less obvious in his shorter summer circuit stints than it was in his high school videos, though control, as you'll read below, can be a concern.

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Reports on Grant Holmes' top end velocity are all over the map, but it's consistently stated that Holmes works between 91-94 in starts, with room in the tank for a little higher when needed. While Holmes impressed in summer showcases with his arm strength, it's movement Holmes generates on his pitches that are most impressive. Holmes' fastball has exploding life to the arm side, which helped him produce ridiculous ground ball rates at the short season level. He's actually shown better late life when throwing harder in short stints, rather than the pitch straightening out at the high end.

You could make a solid case for Holmes' curveball being a better pitch than the fastball. The curve features the tight break of a slider but the depth you'd typically associate with a curve. The pitch looked largely unhittable against his high school peers, but at the least, few could square it up. As is typically the norm for high school power pitchers, Holmes also has a rarely thrown change-up that will require development over the next few seasons.

While he's considered to be polished for a high school arm, Holmes' present command and control are no better than average, something the power of his pitches has likely hid at the rookie levels. Holmes did post impressive strikeout and walk rates in his first professional season, but judging by the command shown on film, these numbers may be attributed more to the power of his stuff and willingness to attack hitters more than the placement of said pitches. Holmes appears to have trouble harnessing the movement of his fastball at times and will also miss high when he rushes his delivery. Similarly, Holmes curve features tremendous depth and could pose a problem staying in the strike zone if his release point doesn't stay consistent.

Holmes career is young enough that it can still take several directions. On one hand, players of his body type and arm action are more common in relief, and Holmes has the two plus to plus-plus pitches to become an elite level late inning arm. However, Holmes is more valuable to the Dodgers as a starter, and he’s given no reason to suggest he should be developed otherwise. Additionally, Holmes has yet to face any adversity as a pitcher. He was simply too good for the hitters at the rookie level as one of the best arms in the draft, and his first taste of full season ball will tell us more about what we might expect from his stamina, durability, quality of stuff over multiple frames, etc.

With a new regime overseeing the farm, we don’t quite know the plans yet for Holmes next season. While it’s almost a given that he’ll be sent to Great Lakes this year, the Dodgers could choose to delay the start time of his season a few weeks to allow the temperature to warm up and to limit his innings for the season. He’ll be a teenager in full season ball and there’s little reason to rush him up the ladder with the talent in front of him. Best case scenario would see Holmes make his big league debut within three seasons, but in an organization with a high threshold to make the major league team, Holmes could climb the system one rung at a time. Whether his ultimate future is as a power arm in the pen or a strikeout specialist in the rotation, Holmes ceiling is as high as he wants it to be for the time being.