Kevin Grendell’s Fresh Start Pays Off

ANAHEIM—A change of scenery appeared to benefit Kevin Grendell, a 23-year-old lefthander who was an 11th-round pick of the Orioles in 2012 but whose career was derailed by a 50-game suspension for performance-enhancing drug use.

The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Grendell failed to advance past short-season Aberdeen in four seasons with the Orioles. He was released on April 7 and signed with the Angels the next day.

Grendell began 2016 at low Class A Burlington in early May. By June, he was at high Class A Inland Empire. By August, he was pitching at Double-A Arkansas.

The reliever went a combined 5-5, 2.64 in 41 games, striking out 92 and walking 35 in 61.1 innings and limiting opponents to a .171 average.

“He missed a lot of bats,” farm director Mike LaCassa said. “We wanted to challenge him and see how he’d do at the next level, and he kept it up. We wanted to challenge him again, and he continued to strike out about 14 per nine (innings).”

The lanky Grendell has a loose, easy arm stroke, a high three-quarters arm slot and a slight across-the-body motion that adds deception, especially to lefthanded hitters. His fastball sits 91-92 mph and touches 93.

Grendell’s curve sits in the mid-70s, and he can drop it into the zone for a strike or bury it in the dirt with two strikes. He will mix in an occasional changeup, but it wasn’t a reliable pitch in 2016.

A graduate of San Pasqual High in Escondido, Calif., Grendell was suspended in September 2012 after testing positive for Dehydroepiandrosterone, known as DHEA.

Grendell moved to the bullpen in 2015 and then seemed to accelerate his development with the Angels in 2016. He pitched well enough at Arkansas, going 2-1, 1.37 in 11 games, that he will probably start 2017 there, with a chance to advance to Triple-A by midseason.


Catcher Taylor Ward slashed .283/.321/.377 with nine RBIs in the Arizona Fall League and was the only Angels prospect selected to play in the Fall Stars Game.

The Angels claimed reliever Abel de los Santos, 23, on waivers from the Reds. The righthander recorded a 2.81 ERA in the minors in 2016.

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