No. 29: Tyler Gibson, OF
Tyler Gibson is name not many of you may have heard, but one you should be paying attention to. He was drafted in the 15th round by the Tigers in the 2011 draft, out of high school. He had a, reportedly, very firm college commitment to Georgia Tech, so firm in fact that he tumbled down draft boards, despite being considered a for sure top 5 round talent. The Tigers grabbed him in the 15th round, paid him a well-over slot signing bonus, and convinced him to forgo college and begin his professional career. He signed rather late, so he only played a handful of games in the Rookie League during the 2011 season, making 2012 his first "real" professional season. He showed some good and plenty of bad, playing everyday for the GCL Tigers, posting only a .548 OPS over nearly 200 AB's, along with 68 strikeouts--an obscenely high number. However, he also showed that he has speed (18 SB), is willing to take a walk (30 BB), and also has plus defensive projection with a plus arm in the outfield. Overall, Gibson is really, really raw, and his 2012 numbers should not discourage you from following his progress in 2013 and beyond.
Gibson is very solidly built, standing 6'2" and weighing in at about 190lbs, and looking very much the part of the outstanding athlete that he is. He has true 5 tool potential, but obviously hasn't even begun to put all of his tools together yet. He his a plus runner, with some scouts even recording plus-plus times on him, but as he matures he'll probably slow down to the point of consistently being in the 60 area, but still having 25-30 steal potential in the major leagues. He played SS in high school, but, not unlike Austin Schotts, was converted immediately to the OF upon being drafted, where he shows the makings of a future plus defender in the corners, with above-average potential in CF (although I believe he's destined for RF as he fills out a bit more). He also shows a live, loose arm in the OF, where it grades out somewhere between 55 and 60 consistently, but would probably project as legitimate above-average in RF, while perhaps playing closer to 60 if he sticks in CF. The hit tool is where the problem lies. As I stated above, Gibson is very, very raw, and it shows, especially with his swing. He struggles with offspeed pitches, which is somewhat to be expected, but nonetheless is an issue. He has a pretty bad approach at the plate, mostly because of the pitch recognition issues, which have led to his absurdly high strikeout totals. However, his plate discipline isn't as bad as you would think, considering that he did manage to walk 30 times, so that's certainly a positive. He shows plus to a tick above plus power in batting practice, which give him, as it stands, 4 plus or better tools. But, unless the bat comes along, he only profiles as a 4th OF at best. If the bat does come along, we could be looking at a budding star.
Gibson struggled mightily in Rookie Ball, which leads me to believe that he'll almost assuredly be kept in extended spring training, and then probably sent to short season Class A Connecticut in 2013, which is just fine considering he's still only 19 years old. Gibson is truly a boom or bust prospect. If you're into projectability and tools and all that, he's someone that you drool over, because he really does have it all, but needs to learn how to put it together. He has the defensive skills, arm, and speed to be an impact defender at the major league level, even if the bat doesn't come along like it should, but if the bat DOES improve dramatically, he's a true middle of the order guy that contributes to the team in all facets of the game.