Oakland outfield prospect Grant Desme announced his retirement this afternoon so that he can pursue a life as a priest. Some have questioned the timing of this announcement but I for one think it’s perfect.
Desme, a 2nd round selection from Cal Poly in 2007, battled injuries late in his college career and those injuries limited him to just 49 professional ABs from 2007-2008. Healthy for the first time as a professional in 2009, Desme had an outstanding season. He totaled 31 2B, 31 HR and slugged .568 between the Low A Midwest League and the High A California League while stealing 40 bases. For an encore he was the MVP of the Arizona Fall League posting a 1.080 OPS and leading the league with 11 HR. A year like that will garner a prospect a lot of attention.
Sometimes there is a downside to all of that extra attention. It casts a spotlight on some of the things you do wrong. Things like Desme’s 30% K rate. His strikeout problems come from a deficiency in pitch recognition and in hitting curveballs. He also puts too much effort in his swing and he opens up too early.
Don’t get me wrong, Desme is a good prospect and with his combination of speed and power I think he would have eventually advanced to the Major Leagues. However I don’t think he would have become a regular and he wouldn’t have been in my top 100 prospect list. While the California League can make a good hitter look great, he was about to head to the AA Texas League where prospects either solidify their premium status or they fall back to earth. It’s my belief that Desme would have done the latter. He’s walking away while his value is at it’s peak and not many people do that. He’s James Dean. He’s John Elway. He’s Grant Desme.