The Staff of the Detroit Tigers Prospect Report has ranked their Top 50 Tigers Prospects. The rankings are as of 11/25/2012. We will be posting them one by one, every day, beginning with No. 50 and concluding with No. 1. The posts will consist of mini prospect profiles and scouting reports.
No. 8: Austin Schotts, CF
Austin Schotts, as many of you know, was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2012 MLB draft out of high school in Texas. A shortstop in high school, Schotts was immediately converted to center field upon signing, and was assigned to the GCL Tigers of rookie ball, where he spent the vast majority of his 2012 season. He automatically became the GCL Tigers starting CF and leadoff hitter, and performed very well up until a finger injury kept him out of the lineup for a couple weeks. While with the GCL Tigers, Schotts accrued 177 plate appearances, posting a .310/.360/.452/.812 slash line. He hit 11 doubles, 1 triple, and 3 HR's while striking out 41 times (23%) and walking 12 times (6.8%) and stealing 15 bases. He was promoted to Class A Advanced-Lakeland at the very end of the season, where he made a couple of appearances, getting one base hit and stealing a base for the Flying Tigers. Overall, it was an excellent professional debut for Schotts, and while the strikeout rate was high, he showed a lot of promise and certainly proved himself worthy of being selected so high.
Schotts' most impressive tool is that of his speed, for which he earns plus-plus grades frequently. Part of the reason he was moved to CF was because of that speed, and once he learns the intricacies of the CF position, he profiles as a plus defender out there. Another reason for the move to the CF was that his arm does not profile as having the necessary strength to play the left side of the infield, but plays as fringe-average from CF. He's very raw in CF still, but took to the position better than had been expected and shows good promise out there. As I said, his speed often grades out as plus-plus, which makes him one of the few true base stealing threats in the system. At top speed, he can easily be described as a burner, and has the potential to steal 30 bases in the major leagues once he gets his baserunning instincts and technique up to par. With the bat, Schotts is more advanced than the typical 18 year old rookie, but still has some holes in his game. He has a nice swing that's very mechanically sound and simple, combining quick hands, strong wrists, and plus bat speed to get the bat "short to it and long through it" (coach speak for a good swing). He has pretty solid plate discipline for a player of his age and experience, and when combined with his swing, should lead to good OBP's throughout his career. He struggles with pitch recognition to some degree at this point, but that's almost to be expected, and should get better as he plays more. He also has more power than you'd expect, and even though it grades out as average for a CF, when you combine it with his speed he should be able to get plenty of doubles and triples, while being able to hit double-digit homeruns eventually. Overall, Schotts is a helluva prospect that fans should be excited about, even if he's a while away from making an impact in Detroit.
Schotts' ceiling is that of an above-average regular in CF, who plays plus defense (albeit with a below-average arm), hits at the top of the order with a pretty high OBP, steals lot of bases, and overall makes quite an impact on a major league team. He doesn't show any glaring weaknesses to this point, and shows the potential for at least 3 above-average or better tools in time (glove, run, hit). If his bat doesn't develop to it's potential, he could still be a 4th OF at the major league level due to his speed and defensive potential. Schotts should (and probably will) be assigned aggressively to Class A-West Michigan in 2013, where he will be a 19 year old (quite young for the level). He may struggle against the advanced competition at first, but even if he does, fans shouldn't get discouraged. He's still quite raw in almost every facet of the game, so he won't be a particularly fast mover, but an MLB ETA of 2016 isn't out