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A’s new faces: Kendall Graveman

Kendall Graveman came to Oakland as part of the monster package Toronto put together to acquire third baseman Josh Donaldson.

The 24-year-old righty is known for one thing, his high-velocity sinkerball. The sinker is hard enough to master, but one in the mid 90s that Graveman throws is as rare as finding a $20 bill at the bus stop.

The Good

Graveman has been lights-out this spring. In fact, during a March 22 game against the Reds, Graveman went 5-1/3 innings without allowing a ball to be hit in the air.

That’s incredible.

His sinker is the pitch that will get him work, and while it’s a very good pitch, he’s going to need more to succeed in the majors.

Luckily, Graveman has been developing a cutter, a pitch that’s only one year old for him. Graveman has credited it as being a major part of his rapid ascent, and catcher Stephen Vogt believes it will only get better.

The Bad

Graveman has virtually no major league experience — less than five innings, all of which came last September. Not totally a bad thing, yet something that makes expectations difficult to quantify.

The fact that Graveman has only one pitch, despite his great upside, is troubling. Sure, the sinker has made the likes of Tim Hudson a career ballplayer, but it’s not often that something like that happens. And Hudson had a number of horrific seasons.

The Verdict

The Hudson comparison brings up the final point, which revolves around the Oakland Coliseum.

Hudson pitched his best baseball for the A’s. He did it with his sinker.

Considering Oakland’s new and youthful infield, which generally translates to solid range and athleticism, Graveman could have one very good rookie season.

Like any rookie, and any pitcher, Graveman will likely have some days where he walks his way to the showers. But he seems as though he could be the best pitcher Oakland has under contract by season’s end.

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