- Full name Zachary Thomas Granite
- Born 09/17/1992 in Staten Island, NY
- Profile Ht.: 6'1" / Wt.: 185 / Bats: L / Throws: L
- School Seton Hall
- Debut 07/08/2017
- Drafted in the 14th round (410th overall) by the Minnesota Twins in 2013.
Organization Prospect Rankings
A classic undersized scrapper in the Brett Butler mold, the former 14th-round pick out of Seton Hall is a self-made prospect. A criminal justice major who hails from a family of educators, he is a 60 runner with the basestealing instincts to match. Granite makes up for an average arm in center field with solid routes and jumps, and he showed the ability to play all three spots during a pair of big league callups in 2017. He stepped in ably for Byron Buxton during the latter's injury absence in late July, earning the trust of manager Paul Molitor with his situational hitting and bunting ability. Granite was named Twins minor league player of the year in 2016 after a breakout season at Double-A Chattanooga, where he credits manager Doug Mientkiewicz with teaching him to start his hands earlier and turn on more pitches on the inner half. Granite has well below-average power but shows a good approach, advanced plate discipline, a line-drive swing and enough strength to hit balls in the gaps. Granite did have a couple of odd blips, throwing to an uncovered first base at Dodger Stadium and completely missing first base at Yankee Stadium on a close play in the wild-card game, but those figure to be footnotes to an unlikely big league career.
Drafted in the 14th round in 2013, Granite has made a steady climb through the system before enjoying a breakout 2016 season. The outfielder won the Twins' minor league player of the year award with his .295/.347/.382 season at Double-A Chattanooga in which he led the Southern League with 155 hits and the minors with 56 stolen bases (in 70 attempts). Granite made adjustments to his swing at Chattanooga to start his hands a little sooner, and he drove the ball more than in the past. He hit a career-high four home runs in 2016, but more significantly forced outfielders to play him at normal depth. Granite doesn't project to hit for much power, but he graduated from pure slap hitter in 2016. He is a plus runner and an adept basestealer with a top-of-the-order skill set. He can play all three outfield positions and is a serviceable center fielder with an adequate arm. Granite earned a 40-man roster spot with his loud season and could be in the Twins' major league plans in the near future. Granite appears destined for Triple-A Rochester in 2017, but his versatility and speed give him the chance to be at least a fourth outfielder in the big leagues.
Minor League Top Prospects
Rarely does a prospect emerge from seemingly nowhere at Double-A, but Granite accomplished just that in 2016, when he tied for the overall minor league lead with 56 stolen bases. He also led the SL with 155 hits and ranked second with 86 runs, third with eight triples and fourth with a .295 average. A Staten Island, N.Y., native and 14th-round pick from Seton Hall in 2013, Granite stood out in the Big East Conference for his speed, baserunning acumen and strike-zone judgment, and those traits were on full display at Chattanooga. This season manager Doug Mientkiewicz and hitting coach Tommy Watkins helped the lefthanded-hitting Granite adjust his swing to get his bat started earlier, and he immediately began making more contact and squaring up the ball more frequently. He began to drive the ball on occasion--he hit four homers this season after hitting one as a pro and zero as a collegian--and while his power grades as well below-average, he at least began forcing outfielders to play him honestly. A 70 runner on the 20-80 scouting scale, Granite steals bases at a high success rate and goes about it with the cockiness of a basestealer. He doesn't throw well but is at least a solid-average defender in center field, if not plus. Some see Granite as a starter, while others say fourth outfielder, but all agree he fits the leadoff prototype when he is in the lineup.