Tigers Prospect Profile #49: Gabriel Purroy

While still very young and very raw, Gabriel Purroy has plenty of tools that makes him an exciting prospect to watch down the road.

Gabriel Purroy
Position: Catcher
Height: 5-9
Weight: 165
Born: 4/16/1992
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Background
The Tigers pounced on Purroy when the international signing period opened in 2008, signing him on July 4th for a bonus rumored to have been in the lower six figures range. The organization considered him one of the top prizes in their 2008 international class.

Purroy made his professional debut in the Venezuelan Summer League in 2009, where he showed plenty of ability at age 17, posting a final line of .267/.315/.417. That line includes eleven doubles and seven home runs, while driving in 39 in 65 games. Playing 39 of his games behind the plate (while also DHing), Purroy gunned down 47% of base stealers attempting to run against him.

After a successful debut season, the Tigers were quick to bring him stateside for the 2010 season, where he spent the bulk of the summer playing on the back fields in Lakeland with the GCL Tigers. Purroy popped two home runs in GCL play, finishing with a .258 average, though he only walked two times in 26 games. Just 18-years old at the time, Purroy was clearly over-matched in his six games with High-A Lakeland, picking up just two singles and a double in 19 plate appearances.

Scouting Report
Purroy's skills are packed into a small, stout frame that leaves some scouts wondering if he has the physicality to be an everyday catcher. He is a below-average runner, and as his frame continues to mature, he could slow down even more, and it will take some work to avoid becoming a liability on the base paths.

The calling card to Purroy's game is his defense and leadership. He has very advanced defensive skills for a teenager, with good receiving ability, a strong arm, and good footwork on his throws to second base. His transfer can get a little slow and the accuracy on his throws suffers when he tries to pick up the pace, but he has the raw arm strength to be above-average at controlling the running game.

He has a lot of work do to improve his blocking behind the plate, as he sometimes struggles to read balls in the dirt and get down and/or over to them. Purroy's leadership abilities are outstanding, particularly for someone this young. He has done well to develop his English speaking skills, but he will need to continue his improvement in order to be able to handle a pitching staff that is not primarily Latin American.

At the plate, he has some power potential in his swing, but it is generated more out of raw strength than bat speed and leverage. His swing can get long at times and his power largely manifests itself as pull power at this time. He can get jammed inside pretty easily and will need to learn to use the entire field to become a more well-rounded hitter. There is a long way to go before Purroy profiles as a viable offensive player, but he has some potential to have some punch in his bat.

Performance

Level

Team

AB

AVG

2B

HR

RBI

SO

BB

OBP%

SLG%

R

GCL Tigers

93

.258

2

2

15

17

2

.281

.366

A+

Lakeland

18

.167

1

0

0

4

0

.211

.222


Health Record
There haven't been any significant injury problems in Purroy's brief professional career. As mentioned above, he has a stout frame that will need to be watched closely as he continues growing and maturing. If he maintains his body well, he shouldn't see much deterioration in his speed, and he should be able to maintain his defensive abilities.

The Future
Purroy is still pretty raw, and it would be a very aggressive assignment to do anything other than leave him with a return engagement with Extended Spring Training in Lakeland. Depending how the Tigers draft falls out in 2011, Purroy will be in a position to head to either Connecticut, or be the lead catcher in the GCL again next year. Either assignment should be a positive learning experience for him.

Looking at Purroy's present skills and his projection, his current ceiling profiles as a backup catcher with some pop in his bat. If he continues to improve on his defensive skills and becomes a more consistent hitter, he could improve that projection to a second division starter. Regardless of his ultimate projection, Purroy is a long ways from what he could eventually become, and he will likely need time at each minor league level as part of his development.

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