Greyson Jenista is confusing. He’s big and strong. He hits the ball hard. But he doesn’t hit it over the fence as often as you’d think. He profiles as a right fielder or first baseman who doesn’t hit for much power. He’s a classic case of big guy with a little guy swing. And this is why he’s been falling down draft boards all spring. The only way Jenista is going to make it as a big leaguer is as a power hitter, and though his body suggests he should be one, his swing and results aren’t so sure.
At 6’4”, 220 pounds, Jenista looks like the prototypical left handed, power bat. But once he starts swinging the balls don’t leave the yard. In fact, in the batters box, he looks much more like a line-drive hitter. He put up decent power numbers this year at Wichita State, .309/.446/.475, with nine home runs and seven doubles, and obviously, that’s an exceptional on-base percentage. But that’s only a .164 ISO, which is nothing to write home about, especially considering most of his value is tied up in his ability to hit for power.
His power numbers look even worse in the small sample haven of the Cape Cod League where Jenista was inexplicably named MVP in 2017 (there were many more deserving players). He had an ok summer hitting .310/.391/.401, but a .091 ISO isn’t encouraging and may lead scouts to question whether or not his power issues will get even worse when he switches to wood full time.
Jenista’s bat path is the source of his inability to hit for significant power. It’s pretty flat leading to high line drive and ground ball rates. Even in his batting practice sessions, he’ll hit his fair share of ground balls. He also seems to look for contact in ways that modern power hitters typically don’t. He’ll adjust his swing to ensure he makes contact, even if that contact is weak (though he still struck out 16 percent of the time this season).
I like some of the adjustments Jenista has made to his swing this spring. He’s cut down his stride a little bit (though he could cut more), which should help him stay balanced and square up off speed pitches more. It also looks like he’s tried to add a little loft to his swing, but again, he needs more.
Jenista is a surprisingly good athlete for his size. No one will mistake him for Billy Hamilton, but he can get down the line a little. And he should have enough quickness to stick in right field. By all accounts, he’s got a good enough arm to play right, and should be adequate as a defender there.
In my mind, Jenista isn’t a first round pick. But a team should nab him in the second round, and if they can unlock his power, they may have someone who could anchor a lineup for a while. If not, he looks like he might be a high floor guy who will hit just enough to be major league average.
Gif credit: Fangraphs; Video and Photo credit: Baseball America