STATE COLLEGE - It's hard not to imagine Deivi Grullon as a middle of the order hitter. That's where the Williamsport catcher was when the Crosscutters' season began two weeks ago. But it wasn't a role he flourished in.
Manager Shawn Williams decided a move to the bottom of the batting order might help the 18-year-old relax a little bit at the plate. It surely has worked. With Grullon's 4 for 4 performance in Thursday night's 3-2 loss to State College, he is now hitting .444 (12 for 27) since Williams moved him to the No. 8 spot in the lineup.
"We just wanted him to relax, do what he did tonight," Williams said Thursday night. "Four hits? That's a really good night. He's relaxed now and he's driving in runs."
Not only has Grullon been picking up hits, but he's been driving in runs. His RBI on Thursday night gives him five consecutive games with an RBI.
He showcased what a relaxed hitter can do Thursday night by hitting the ball where it was pitched. He twice singled the other way to right field, including a leadoff hit in the ninth inning which looked to start a Cutters rally trailing by a run. He singled once back through the middle, and once over the shortstop's head.
It's a big step for a hitter who was very pull happy when he began his professional career last year.
"In just a year, to be able to use that side of the field is big," Williams said. "He was a big time pull hitter, but he's using it all now."
Grullon was ranked as the Phillies' No. 9 prospect by MLB.com coming into the season, but that was mostly for his advanced defensive abilities. Scouts have graded his arm as a 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale, and he has the potential to be an elite defender as he goes through the minors.
The stocky catcher, who has a build similar to that of Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz, has hit three doubles in his seven games in the No. 8 spot in the batting order. He's also driven in eight runs and scored six more. Williams said as Grullon becomes more confident in the box using the whole field, he may begin to show more power.
"The thing I like to see is that you're a hitter first, then you develop into your power," Williams said. "When you do that, then you're able to tell him to let it go and start looking to drive the ball. And I've seen him in BP and even in games, he can put a charge into it."