Appy notes: Granite 'scrappy' at the top

E-Twins center fielder flashing speed, patience in leadoff spot

Zach Granite has three triples, 13 stolen bases and a .368 on-base percentage. (Danny Davis)

By Bob Sutton / Special to | August 15, 2013 6:00 AM ET

Some of center fielder Zach Granite's comfort went away about midway through the Appalachian League season, but he's finding his way around just fine anyway.

By nature, Granite tries to be a pest on the baseball field, and that's been the case as he's one of the sparkplugs for the Elizabethton Twins in his first professional season.

Granite and reliever Brian Gilbert, also from Seton Hall, arrived in the rookie league and roomed together -- just like in college.

"We've been roommates since sophomore year and best friends," Granite said. "It was cool to come here with him."

Then Gilbert was given another assignment within the Minnesota system, promoted to Class A Cedar Rapids after tossing six scoreless innings to open his career. Granite, meanwhile, keeps on doing his thing for the E-Twins.

"We needed a leadoff guy," veteran Elizabethton manager Ray Smith said. "He has been a solid, prototypical type of guy."

Smith said Granite's tendency to go deep into counts is a positive trait. But there's one thing that stands out on the bases and in the outfield.

"He can fly," Smith said, "and that's going to be his thing."

Granite said maintaining a role he held throughout college -- batting in the leadoff spot and playing center field -- has been a benefit as he gains his footing in a new environment.

"It has been nice for me, just leading off and trying to do my thing," he said. "They stress it with me. It puts pressure on the defense. I'm a contact guy and put the ball in play.

"That's the type of player I am. I'm the scrappy player who no one wants to play against."

The Draft, though, put Granite in an element of unknown. He said it was one of the most agonizing periods but turned into one of the best.

Gilbert was picked a day earlier, going in the seventh round. Granite, a left-handed batter who was tabbed in the 14th round, said he benefited from being around when scouts came to watch Gilbert.

"Might as well look at me, too," he said. "I'm glad where I went and with the Twins."

Granite was a member of Seton Hall's Big East Conference championship team as a freshman in 2011.

For a player from Staten Island, N.Y., who dealt with all sorts of playing conditions during his college years, he knows how to deal with the altered schedules created by the rainy summer around the Appalachian League. He said that experience has been a plus as he makes his way through this summer's schedule.

In brief

Slammed again: Rory Rhodes of Elizabethton hit a seventh-inning grand slam to help beat the Burlington Royals on Sunday. It was Elizabethton's first grand slam since D.J. Hicks' championship-winning blast in the 12th inning of the deciding game of the 2012 Appalachian League Finals, also against Burlington.

Another hitman: Danville Braves infielder Johan Camargo became the team's second batter in a matter of days to reach a double-digit hitting streak when he was good for 14 games through Tuesday. Second baseman Mikey Reynolds' streak reached 12 games, though he walked three times in the game the streak ended.

Peculiar production patterns: The Princeton Rays scored in double figures twice in the first 10 days of August after rarely scoring more than six runs in a game all season. In Saturday's 13-12 victory at Pulaski, the Rays managed only five RBIs, which equaled the total put up by Pulaski right fielder Jesus Ugueto. He produced 12 RBIs in a six-game span.

Bob Sutton is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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