Brusdar Graterol made his Major League debut on Sept. 1, just enough time to get 10 games under his belt before the Twins advanced to the postseason. The 21-year-old right-hander threw one inning out of the bullpen in the American League Division Series against the Yankees. Get to know the Twins’ No. 3 prospect, per MLB Pipeline, as he prepares for what could be his first full season in the big leagues.
For the love of the game
Some Major League players grew up idolizing specific athletes that came before them. Graterol, though, was simply a fan of the game. In fact, the one player Graterol looked up to the most as he neared his own professional career turned out to be his teammate.
“I didn’t have [a favorite player],” Graterol said. “You know, José Berríos is my favorite player [since] three years ago. I watched baseball, but I didn’t see one player and I say, “Hey, that’s my favorite player now.” [Berríos became my favorite because] he’s a good person, a good player. He’s very humble all the time. He’s working hard, too. I like that.”
Among baseball moments and highlights posted on Graterol’s social media is a small, fluffy dog. Her name is Shakira, and she lives in Fort Myers, Fla., with his girlfriend. Graterol grew up around dogs, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that he was as comfortable with them.
“Before I didn’t like dogs because there was a dog that bit me in my bottom when I was younger,” he said. “Three years ago, I started to like them.”
It's hard to imagine Graterol, who is listed at 6-foot-1, 265 pounds, being worried about a smaller dog.
“At the time,” Graterol said with a smile, “He was bigger than me.”
Nice to meet you
Graterol got to know his teammates after being called up to the Twins for the final month of the regular season. Some he knew from his years in the organization, and others he was meeting for the first time. How does he think they would describe him?
“They would say I’m a quiet, nice person,” Graterol ventured.
Luis Arraez, who has known him from growing up in Venezuela, played with Graterol in Minor League ball and saw the commitment he put into returning from a shoulder injury.
“He’s a really good guy,” Arraez said. “He worked every day really hard. He’s an amazing guy.”
All about the beat
Before Graterol pitches in a game, he likes to get hyped up with some of his favorite musical artists.
“A lot of reggaeton. A lot, a lot of reggaeton -- Azuna, Anuel from Puerto Rico and Nacho from Venezuela,” Graterol said. “I like it because of the rhythm it has. I like to dance a lot.”
Building a support system
Graterol is very close with his mother, but he has not been able to see her because she lives in Venezuela. They communicate daily, and he has leaned on others nearby for help, too.
“My mother always helps me in everything,” Graterol said. “She always gives me advice. Today, here, it has been my girlfriend with her dog Shakira, and my girlfriend's family, also. They help me a lot, and a lot of my teammates here, too.”
He said of his mother, “It’s a little sad because I can’t see her. But I’m happy at the same time because I’m fulfilling my dreams. I’m OK that she’s OK.”
Five years down the road
If Graterol were to look into his future, he would still like to be playing big league baseball and also traveling the world. With a successful career could come an admiration from fans, a thought that left Graterol momentarily speechless.
“Wow,” he said, pausing. “I don’t have words, really. I think it will feel good. If somebody tells me, ‘You are my favorite player,’ I will say, ‘Thank you, thank you. I appreciate it all the time and thank you for your support.’”