By: Mikael Mogues
Granite Named Twins Minor League Player of the Year
In college baseball, there is only one situation when people will support your decision to drop out of college. Friends and Family alike would want to you to finish what you’ve started. Welcome to reason number one. There are seven former Pirates playing professional baseball currently. Two are signed to independent team contracts. Three of them left as juniors. That meant they didn’t graduate from Seton Hall. Allowed to pursue the ultimate goal of playing professional baseball, Zach Granite did so and has also managed to come back to finish what he began freshman fall in 2010.
Zach Granite has flourished at Seton Hall statistically and as a leader, taken minor league baseball for a trip, and has plans of seeing minor league baseball in the rear view mirror.
Before he stepped foot on campus this fall however, he received a call from Brad Steil, Director of Minor League Operations for the Minnesota Twins. “He told me I had a great year, and decided to name me Minor League Player of the Year,” Granite said. “I’m sitting on the phone with a big smile on my face, because it’s a big deal, it’s a huge deal when you see all the names of all the big leaguers who have been on that list. David Ortiz won that award, Byron Buxton, Max Keppler, almost every single one has been to the big leagues.”
The path to the minors however, wasn’t how Granite expected it to be.
“College ball has never really been my dream,” Granite said. “I never thought about it. I’ve always wanted to play professional baseball.” Although never getting looked at by professional scouts out of Tottenville High school, in Staten Island, NY, Granite decided this was how he was going to make it to pro ball. “I was this little scrawny kid who was just fast, I got here I didn’t even know how to squat,” Granite said. “When I got here I was a kid, and I left here more of a man. I was able to take care of myself. I got strong and that really helped my game.”
His ability skyrocketed. His first season as a pirate he helped led them to a Big East Championship. He hit a career .299 playing 156 games with a total of 67 total bases. As Kevin Costner playing “Crash” Davis in Bull Durham would say, “That’s a Career Man!”
Understanding that the value of youth and stock during your junior year is when you have the highest possibility of getting a bigger signing bonus, If you get the opportunity, it must be grabbed. Being a junior and having one year left of eligibility is used as a negotiating device to lobby for more money. Once you’re a senior, you have nothing stopping you from signing your contract. Many would ask Granite, “Why wouldn’t he just wait one more year to finish his education? You’re so close, why cut college short when you can just go next year?” Both valid questions that Granite tackled.
“Here I learned so much, I felt like I was ready to take on professional baseball,” Granite said. “I thought I had a decent resume with winning a championship, and first team all big east. Hit everything in college, now it was time to follow my dream.” That he did, Getting drafted in the 14th round by the Minnesota Twins as a junior. He bypassed his senior year and signed a minor league contract. But this would mean he doesn’t have enough credits to graduate. Finishing up his junior year, he needed 20 more credits to receive his degree in Criminal Justice. “My mom is the assistant principal at Tottenville, and my dad is a G.E.D. teacher,” Granite said. “You know obviously I don’t plan on using (my degree) because my goal is to play in the big leagues, but I come from a family of teachers, so this was something my mother really wanted me to do.” Now, in his second semester, he will graduate at the end of this fall.
“Him and a few others are a perfect example of what we preach here, to finish what you started,” Head Coach Rob Sheppard said. “These guys come back and set the example for the younger guys to get their degree.”
Any person is eligible to sign out of high school, when you’re 21 and or you’re junior year (which ever comes first). He jumped on the opportunity to become a major leaguer when he decided to commit to losing his amateur status. Three years later, He earned Minor League Player of the Year finishing his 2016 season in AA Chattanooga. Granite will find out this November if he will make Big league spring training camp and be on the 40-man roster. The timetable of Granite making his debut in the major leagues for the Minnesota Twins could be as early as a July call up. Granite continues to workout, getting ready for the 2017 season.
“You just got to keep playing your game, stay level headed, and can’t worry about those the rumors about being called up,” Granite said. “You can’t worry about those types of things because you know man, the cream always rises to the top.”