Tyler Graham was originally drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 14th round of the 2005 entry draft, but chose to return to Oregon State University for his senior season. After his 2006 season at Oregon State, where he hit .323, he was taken by the Giants in the 16th round of the entry draft.
Graham played in 50 rookie league games in 2006, hitting only .240. He slowly worked his way through the minor leagues, eventually reaching triple-A in 2009. Graham played just 17 games in Fresno that year, hitting only .217.
But 2010 was a breakout year for Graham.
He hit a career-high .343 in 109 games for Fresno, swiping 35 stolen bases. In 2011, he set a Grizzlies team record with 60 steals on the season. However, his batting average fell to .273.
By far, Graham’s biggest asset is his speed. He has notched at least 29 steals in each of his five full minor league seasons. However, Graham does not offer much more than that offensively. While he hit 10 home runs during the 2009 season, he has hit only 17 career home runs in 539 professional games. He also doesn’t have much extra-base power. Graham has never had more than 23 doubles or four triples in a season, and the .433 slugging percentage he posted in 2010 was a career high.
However, his speed allows him to be a strong defensive player. Graham tracks balls well in left field, and has above average range.
At 28 years old, Graham has passed the stage of his career where he would still be considered a prospect. He is a one-dimensional player, not offering much more than speed and strong defense. Also, because he is not overly patient at the plate -- his career-high in walks is only 31 -- Graham does not fit the mold of a top-of-the-order hitter. At this stage in his career, his major league value appears to be as a fourth outfielder, specializing as a defensive replacement and a pinch runner.
Graham’s skill set reminds us of Juan Pierre. He has very good speed, both on the base paths and in the field, but has little power, a decent batting average and a questionable throwing arm.