Grant McCray, CF
BATS: L / THROWS: R
ACQUIRED: Drafted 2019, 3rd Round
LAST LEVEL: High-A
VOLATILITY: Very High
GiantFutures 2022 Ranks: #3 Center Fielder
Performance: After a solid, but not awe-inspiring, short-season debut in 2019, McCray got off to a late start in 2021 post-pandemic. An undisclosed injury caused that, as he started off mostly as just a DH when he came back. He was a lot more sensational in Arizona this season, collecting a .309/.400/.455 batting line across 21 games, with three doubles, a triple, and a home run, and getting nine walks to 20 strikeouts. He was pushed to San Jose in late August, debuting with a home run and a 4-game hit streak, but was tempered a bit, ending with a .250/.299/.400 line in San Jose, suffering at the plate with 30 strikeouts to just six walks.
McCray was getting hits at the plate, and had a 12-game hit streak in September, but all but one of those games featured just one hit, raising his average from .212 to just .256. McCray was doing well against left-handed pitchers in San Jose, going 5-for-15 against them (.333), but hitting just .231 against right handed batters helped sink his average.
One thing that McCray could do was play defense, and he pushed Luis Matos to a corner after arriving. He’s not only speedy, but has great instincts to get to fly balls, and he showed off those skills in San Jose. The injury may have slowed him down on the bases, as he stole just seven bases in nine attempts in 45 games this year. By comparison, in 2019 with 48 games, he stole 17 in 30 appearances. With speed as a standout tool, he’ll need to be more effective at stealing, and he’ll need to be allowed to run to get the experience needed.
Strengths and Weaknesses: McCray is athletic as heck, and it shows. His speed grades out as a 60 from some scouts, and his arm and defense also rank as plus tools. His arm would play up stronger than average in center field, and he can handle the most expansive center fields with ease. McCray easily ranks as the best defender in center field in the system.
The questions are more on the basepaths. He’s more of a hitter than a slugger, which works for his profile. He did debut in San Jose with a home run in his first at-bat, but collected just three on the season. He should do better with doubles and triples, though he needs to make more contact to do so. He strikes out far too much at this point, and needs to back up his toolset with more walks to get on base. But his defense will carry him as long as he can improve that OBP.
2022 Outlook: It’s a tough call, but McCray’s most likely to start the season in San Jose, after getting barely a month’s work there in 2021. But if he impresses the organization in the spring, I could see him debuting at Eugene on the artificial turf there.
Future Profile: McCray is a center fielder now and in the future. At his ceiling, he could be a slap-happy speedster, getting on base, using his feet to get extra bases, and torturing pitchers teasing steals. But his floor is still pretty high as a backup defensive specialist and speedster as a pinch runner.