Detroit Tigers 2nd Base Prospect Devon Travis - Bruce Thorson-US PRESSWIRE
In this 5 part series, I will take a look at the Tigers' 2012 draft class, how they fared statistically in their first professional seasons, and shortly preview what to look for from them in 2013. 33 of the Tigers 39 selections signed with the team, so I'll do this in increments of 6-7, starting with the 1st 6 selections, and so on and so forth from there
Pick No. 7: OF Jeff McVaney-8th Round (274th Overall)-Texas State
Stats (Combined Class A-Short Season Connecticut and Class A-West Michigan): .257/.322/.390/.712/71 Games. 272 AB, 70 H, 16 2B, 4 3B, 4 HR, 34 RBI, 39 R, 17 BB, 47 K, 1 SB
Thoughts: These "thoughts" blurbs are going to get shorter as we move along down the draft list, partly because there's less to talk about with guys drafted later, and partly because I just don't know as much about some of these guys. McVaney is a guy that I was able to see at West Michigan a couple times, and I was actually pretty impressed. He's a pretty big guy, listed at 6'2" 210, but he has some pretty good athleticism. He fits the mold of a corner OF, in that he doesn't have the speed or athleticism to play CF, and has some legitimate pop in his bat. It's still developing a bit, even though he's already 22, but from what I could gather, he has a decent feel for hitting, and can barrel the ball pretty well regardless of where it's pitched. He put up 24 XBH in 272 AB's, which is a good percentage, and I believe that as he adjusts to professional pitching and wood bats, some more HR power will come. Not a very fast runner, but solid baserunning instincts. I see a bat-first 4th OF ceiling, but his power will have to develop more for him to reach that.
2013 Projection: He put up some pretty decent numbers at West Michigan in 2012, while starting and hitting in the middle of the lineup, so I would assume that he'll be in Lakeland to start 2013.
MLB ETA: McVaney doesn't seem like he'd be a quick mover, but I also don't see him struggling mightily enough at one level to warrant repeating it, so late 2015/mid 2016 seems reasonable
No. 8: OF Jake Stewart-9th Round (304th Overall)-Stanford
Stats (Class A-Short Season Connecticut): .218/.268/.347/.615/63 Games. 262 AB. 57 H, 11 2B, 1 3B, 7 HR, 21 RBI, 43 R, 19 BB, 66 K, 11 SB
Thoughts: If you're a tools hound, then Stewart is a guy you should like. It's all there. Plus defender with plus speed, good arm from CF, and legitimate power potential. The only thing lacking right now is his feel for hitting. I'm probably higher on him than I should be, but I love toolsy OF's. His hitting obviously needs to develop, as there is currently a ton of swing and miss in his game. When he does make contact, he barrels the ball very well and has power to all fields. But obviously, as we see with guys like Brennan Boesch, the power won't play unless the hit tool is there. With Stewart, unlike Boesch, I think the hitting will come. Very fluid in the OF, can really go and get it out there. Honestly, I hope he, Schotts, and Vasquez make up the West Michigan OF in 2013 so I can watch them all in action.
2013 Projection: West Michigan
MLB ETA: If the hit tool develops, Stewart could move really quickly. If it doesn't, then he's probably destined for a career minor leaguer ceiling. I'll say 2015 here to be safe
No. 9: RHP Charles Gillies-10th Round (334th Overall)-The Master's College (CA)
Stats (Class A Short Season-Connecticut): 0-4, 3.40 ERA, 42 1/3 IP, 31 H, 17 BB, 42 K, 1.13 WHIP, .195 BAA
Thoughts: I don't know all that much about Gillies, but he's one of the guys I'm excited to see in 2013. I've heard rave reviews about his sinker that sits in the 88-90 MPH range, just a tick off his fastball that sits maybe 1-2 MPH higher, but his stats from 2012 are what have me most intrigued. As seen above, he posted just about a K:IP ratio, but he also posted a 4.73 GO/AO number, which is a massive number of ground balls. What this tells me is a couple things: 1) The reports on Gillies have a very good sinker are true, and 2) He's able to pitch down in the zone effectively with all of his pitches. The intriguing part is that sinkerball pitchers generally don't rack up a lot of strikeouts (Rick Porcello waves hello), but Gillies is obviously capable of doing that. Sure, he was pitching in short season ball as a 21 year old, but they are still very good numbers. As I said, I'm excited to watch him.
2013 Projection: Gillies started for the entirety of 2012, so as far as I know, he's viewed as a starter by the Tigers (unlike some guys who I'm not sure on, like Rogers or John). So I'd assume he starts 2013 in the West Michigan rotation, which should be a fun one to watch, with guys like Thompson, De La Rosa, Gillies, Ehlers, etc, making it up.
MLB ETA: Gillies is viewed as somewhat of a project, as he was relatively unknown coming out of college. So he does have some significant development to do, most notably with his secondary pitches. I think he'll move at a level per year pace, so 2015-2016 seems reasonable.
No. 10: C Bennett Pickar-11th Round (364th Overall)-Oral Roberts
Stats (Class A Short Season-Connecticut): .205/.298/.263/.561/52 Games. 156 AB, 32 H, 4 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 12 R, 20 BB, 47 K
Thoughts: Pickar could probably play in the MLB right now defensively; he's that good behind the plate. Very athletic with a plus arm and plus overall defense. He blocks very well, has quick feet, quick release, very intelligent, good receiver, good game-caller, etc. You get the point: He's a stud behind the dish. The issue is, as you can see above, with his bat. He has a very long swing, slow hands, he doesn't track very well: He's just not a very good hitter overall. Minimal power potential. If he can rework his mechanics a bit to get the barrel of the bat through the zone faster, he could have a projection grade of 40 as a hitter. Regardless, the D is so good that I think his ceiling is still that of a glove-first backup. Any additional offense will be a bonus.
2013 Projection: I'd assume that Pickar goes to West Michigan and follow the normal progressional route through the minors. The Tigers will assuredly take their time with him, hoping that the bat develops, and that there are a few pretty good catching prospects in front of him.
MLB ETA: If Pickar's bat picks up to the point of where he becomes even average, then he may move pretty quickly, due to his advanced defensive skill set. I'll put the default 2015-1016 projection on him here.
No. 11: RHP Julio Felix-12th Round (394th Overall)-Pima Community College (AZ)
Stats (GCL Tigers-Rookie League): 4-2, 4.11 ERA, 35 IP, 29 H, 8 BB, 29 K, 1.06 WHIP, .225 BAA
Thoughts: Felix is one of those guys who, not unlike Gillies, were relatively unknown coming out of college and are developmental guys, but could pay off down the road. He's a bit smaller at 6'1", but according to scouts, he has excellent arm speed and good mechanics, allowing him to reach back for 95-96 in short bursts, while he'll normally sit 91-93. Also throws a 2 seam, slider, and changeup that all offer at least moderate projection. He pitched in rookie league at the advanced age of 21, but I think a lot of that had to do with the level of competition he faced in college, as opposed to his overall ability. Good, solid reliever profile, ceiling of a 7th inning guy for me.
2013 Projection: I think he'll skip Connecticut and head straight to West Michigan, and could advance to Lakeland as the season progresses. I think he'll be a fast mover
MLB ETA: 2015
No. 12: 2B Devon Travis-13th Round (424th Overall)-Florida State
Stats (Class A Short Season-Connecticut): .280/.352/.441/.793/25 Games. 93 AB, 26 H, 2 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 17 R, 8 BB, 10 K, 3 SB.
Thoughts: I usually hate player comparisons. Despise them. Because if I say prospect A is comparable to major leaguer B, and then prospect A doesn't end up reaching the major league ceiling of major leaguer B, then people come to me saying "BUT BUT BUT YOU SAID!!! YOU LIED!!!!", and I'd generally like to avoid that. But for Travis, I will make an exception. Let me describe him first, and then i want to see if you guys come to the same conclusion that I do. Travis is a steal by the Tigers in my opinion. One of my favorite picks of the 2012 class. Travis is relatively small at only 5'9", but he has a thick frame and very strong lower half. He has an excellent approach at the plate, and doesn't strike out very much at all. Has good hands. and generates good rotation from his lower half, which adds to his power. Has good gap to gap power right now, and decent pull power. His power will never get beyond a 40 grade, but from a 2nd baseman, that's pretty good. I really, really like his approach at the plate. Like, really like it you guys. Anyways, moving on: Travis is pretty slow. He earns consistent 40 grades on his times to first, and there's not any speed projection there. However, his speed doesn't really effect his defensive play. He has pretty good range to each side, and displays an average to above-average arm. He's a bit rough right now in terms of actually fielding the baseball, but I think that will clean up enough to give him a 55 projection grade defensively. Very smart baseball player. Very fundamentally sound. His ceiling, depending on developing his offense, is that of an average MLB 2nd baseman, probably as a 2-hole hitter.
Now: who does that remind you of? Leave your guesses in the comments section below, and I'll give you my answer after a day or so.
2013 Projection: Travis was doing very well at Connecticut before injury shortened his season, but I think that he'll begin 2013 at West Michigan
MLB ETA: 2015-2016