We've talked a lot on TPR about the 2012 draft and how the Tigers did in it. Brian wrote a breakdown of the picks a couple weeks ago, and one late round pick we were excited about was Will Clinard, who I profiled last week. This week, I'll take a closer look at 20th round pick Logan Ehlers.
Logan Ehlers is a fascinating prospect. The lefty has been highly regarded by scouts for a couple years now. The Blue Jays took him in the eighth round in 2010 but he went unsigned. His signability and personality (a couple sources during his time at Nebraska referred to him as lazy and self-absorbed, but the veracity of these sources is questionable) along with late-season shoulder fatigue undoubtedly contributed to his falling to the 20th round, where the Tigers scooped him up with the 634th pick. He was placed in the Gulf Coast League and was outstanding, posting a 1.10 ERA in 16 1/3 innings pitched. He struck out 16 and walked only three.
Ehlers fills out well, standing 6'2'' and weighing in at 220 pounds. He has an advantage in the lower levels in that he has three potentially-plus pitches to work with. First, he's got a fastball that usually sits around 92 mph, a little below-average for these days, sure. But he can reach back and hit 95 with it and control it. Ehlers has also shown off a plus slider and an improving changeup. His effectiveness changing speeds and controlling his pitches will allow him to move through the minors quickly; he's expected to start next season as a member of the Class A-West Michigan Whitecaps' rotation.
Now speaking of his role, would he be more effective as a starter or a reliever? Ehlers' shoulder fatigue from the end of last season doesn't concern me too much because he's not a guy who relies on overpowering velocity; he's more finesse than power at this point. I can safely assume West Michigan will be using him as a starter and I'm not against that. If he gets hurt or fatigued a couple of times next season, then I would consider a move to the bullpen...sort of what I was suggesting with Brenny Paulino a few weeks ago, if you recall. I can picture Ehlers becoming either a starter or a better-than-situational lefty; his versatility is also what makes him a name to keep tabs on.
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