Dusty Ryan Scouting Report

The San Diego Padres acquired catcher Dusty Ryan from the Detroit Tigers on Monday. "Above average to plus raw power, below average hit tool with a long swing and holes, solid idea of the strike zone and will work counts," managing editor Mark Anderson of TigsTown.com said.

The Padres lack of catching depth prompted the move. They don't have a whole lot of excitement within their minor league system. The top ranked catcher was Emmanuel Quiles, who came in ranked 47th by MadFriars.com and has not played above short-season Eugene. Mitch Canham ranked 49th overall and played in Double-A last season. Canham is a natural leader but his defense behind the plate is questionable. He is more of a doubles hitter whose swing can get long.

"Below average runner, even for a catcher, but he is smart and not a base clogger," Anderson said of Dusty Ryan. "Arm strength is plus to plus-plus, with a quick tranfer and good footwork. Solid receiver and game caller, struggles getting down to block balls. Good leader that works well with pitchers.

"Ultimately, he won't hit enough to be a regular, but maybe a solid backup."

Here is a scouting report via TigsTown.com's Mark Anderson entering the 2009 season:

The Tigers selected Ryan in the 48th round of the 2003 draft, choosing to follow him through his sophomore season at Merced College. As a freshman, the 18-year old backstop managed a .256 average and eleven doubles heading into the draft. During his sophomore season, Dusty gave the Tigers every reason to try signing him away from his commitment to Oklahoma State; posting a .398/.477/.617 line with a conference leasing six home runs and 41 RBI. These lofty totals earned him All-Central Valley Conference honors, and pushed the Tigers to sign him right before the June deadline in 2004.

As a rookie with Oneonta in the New York-Penn League, Ryan kept right on hitting and even ranking as high as 20th in TigsTown's 2004 prospect rankings. Dusty's .274/.369/.433 line at the age of nineteen earned him TigsTown's Oneonta Player of the Year award.

Though Ryan got off to a hot start in 2005 at West Michigan, he quickly faded and finished with a very disappointing .183 average and only four home runs in 75 games. Though he saw improvement with a return to the ‘Caps in 2006, there was still disappointment surrounding his lackluster .245/.344/.354 line in 98 games. Dusty missed much of the early part of the 2007 season as he recovered from surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his knee, and returned to pop seven home runs in 46 games while hitting .214 for Lakeland in High-A.

The 2008 season was a breakout of monstrous proportions for Dusty, as he made his Double-A debut with the Erie Seawolves on Opening Day. In 82 games for the Seawolves, Ryan smashed a career high 15 home runs, 17 doubles, and drove in 50 runs. The Tigers promoted him to Triple-A late in August, and he continued to hit the cover off the ball with a .315/.363/.648 line in 20 games with the ‘Hens. His performance the final month of the minor league season not only earned him TigsTown's Toledo Player of the Month award, but also a trip to Detroit for his Major League debut. Ryan carried his 2008 success to Detroit as he hit .318 with two bombs and seven runs driven in in just 15 games.

Scouting Report
Ryan is capable of being an elite level defender behind the plate. He moves well behind the plate, and has excellent footwork on his throws. Dusty's arm is one of the strongest catcher's arms in the system – if not baseball, and he has improved the accuracy on his throws since turning pro. Ryan is a natural leader and as he has begun to become more vocal on the field, his importance to the team's performance has increased steadily. Though he is a solid blocker and receiver, Ryan must work to maintain consistency in these areas. He can stay too high trying to block balls, and can be prone to strings of passed balls. If he can refine his ability to keep pitches in front of him and receive more quietly, he could be a Gold Glove defender.

At the plate, Dusty's largest asset is his above-average raw power. He has the ability to drive balls out to any part of any park, with very strong arms and a sturdy torso and legs. His swing mechanics have become more consistent, though he still has a tendency to extend his arms too much, slowing his bat speed and sapping some of his power. He struggles with pitch recognition, leaving him vulnerable to breaking balls out of his zone, but he has demonstrated an ability to mash any fastball he sees. Ryan is a slightly below average runner with decent instincts on the bases.

The ceiling here could be as high as that of a starting big league catcher, but without progress in his pitch recognition and strikeout rates, he may not get quite to that level. With his power and defensive prowess, there is a strong likelihood that Ryan crafts a lengthy career as a platoon or backup catcher, at a bare minimum.














































Health Record
After making it 100+ games in 2008, there are few lingering concerns over the repairs to his knee. Some scouts still question the health record of big catchers like Dusty, but his defensive abilities and a strong 2008 season behind the plate, will quiet many of those questions.

The Future

Questions still surround his ultimate ability to be a full-time Major League catcher. He has to begin making more contact and demonstrate consistency at the plate if his raw power is to be a tool he can utilize at the major league level. He has enough defense and strength to contribute to big league roster, but enough questions about his hit tool to leave him lingering in Triple-A. Catchers tend to develop a little slower than other prospects, and despite entering his seventh minor league season, he is still just 25 years old, and has time to further refine his game.

The Padres don't have a backup catcher and Ryan, with a strong arm, could fill the role admirably. He has upside with the bat, despite the knock on his overall expected average. Ryan could prove to be a valuable asset in San Diego.

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