Conor Grammes Takes Giant Strides

When he was in college and almost entirely new to pitching, righthander Conor Grammes would have a simple approach on the mound.

“It was basically,” Grammes said, “throw it as hard as I can over the middle and let’s hope my velocity beats them.”

Grammes still might not earn plus grades for his control or command, but the hard-throwing prospect has made big strides in a relatively short amount of time. He has gone from walking more than six batters per nine innings his junior year at Xavier to someone who mostly filled up the zone during instructional league last fall.

Considering the weapons at his disposal—starting with a fastball that sits in the mid-to-upper 90s and touches 100 mph—Grammes’ ceiling is enormous if he learns to further harness his command.

Some see a pitcher with all the raw ingredients of a mid-rotation starter or better. Others see an overpowering reliever.

The Diamondbacks bet on Grammes’ upside when they drafted him in fifth round in 2019. The club liked his athleticism—he was a former position player and a two-time state wrestling champ in high school—and the fact that he was still learning the ropes as a pitcher.

In Grammes’ mind, both attributes have played into his improvements.

“I didn’t really start pitching until my freshman year of college, so I feel like I’m still making those youth strides,” Grammes said. “Part of being green is the ability to make bigger corrections in shorter amounts of time.”

He said repeating his mechanics has been a key. He can recall games in college when he would have five or six different arm slots. Now, he is focusing on using his legs more, driving his front shoulder toward the plate and staying over the top, all of which will ideally help him locate and increase the carry on his fastball.

Grammes said he sat in the low 90s as a freshman in college and has added about 1-2 mph every year since. He considers his curveball his best secondary offering, just ahead of his slider, and said he believes the development of his changeup will be crucial if he hopes to remain a starter.

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