Tigers Prospect Profile #41: Mark Sorensen

Virtually nothing about Mark Sorensen, from the numbers he posts to his repertoire when he's on the mound, screams flashy or impressive for a minor league pitcher. Despite that, Sorensen has big league potential - what's the story with him?

Mark Sorensen
Position: Right-handed Pitcher
Height: 6-3
Weight: 205
Born: 2/21/1986
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Background
Sorensen is a local boy, born in Northville, Michigan. He is the son of former big league pitcher Lary Sorensen who pitched parts of eleven seasons in the big leagues with Milwaukee, St. Louis, Cleveland, Oakland, Chicago (N), Montreal, and San Francisco. Unlike his father who was a graduate of the University of Michigan, Mark is a Michigan State product.

The Tigers picked Mark in the 32nd round of the 2008 draft and assigned him to Oneonta of the New York-Penn League to make his professional debut. In 13 games (12 starts), Sorensen posted a 3.66 ERA and 1.52 WHIP for the O-Tigers.

Promoted to West Michigan to start the 2009 season, Sorensen got off to a great start. Through 14 starts prior to his promotion, he posted an 8-2 mark with a 2.44 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP. He squeezed one complete game into that stretch, and fanned 52 in 92 1/3 innings of work.

Once promoted to Lakeland for the latter portion of the 2009 season, Sorensen's luck ran out a bit, as he was knocked around for a 6.88 ERA in seven starts, and gave up 57 hits in just 34 innings.

The Tigers sent Sorensen back to Lakeland for the 2010 season, and he was markedly better, finishing with a 10-12 record to lead the team in both wins and losses. He was a work horse on the High-A pitching staff, logging 147 1/3 innings with a 4.03 ERA and 113 strikeouts against only 29 walks.

Scouting Report
There isn't a lot of flash or high-end tools in Sorensen's game, but there's enough there to envision a place on a big league roster. Though his ceiling is only a fifth starter, he could find a role on a Major League club, similar to that of former Tigers pitcher Eddie Bonine.

As one would expect of a player with a big league pitcher for a father, Sorensen has an excellent feel for his craft. He throws strikes and mixes his pitches well, demonstrating good poise on the mound and an ability to work out of tough situations.

Sorensen is primarily a sinker-slider guy that induces ground balls and can miss some bats as well. His fastball generally sits at 90-91 with plus sink, but some scouts have reported seeing him up to 93 in shorter stints, while maintaining the dive on his ball. He can throw his sinker to both sides of the plate, and has been working to elevate his four seamer more in an effort to change the hitter's eye level.

Though his slider lacks the consistency to be a true plus pitch, it will flash at that level at times, and is generally a solid-average to above-average offering. He has begun to use it as a chase pitch more, throwing it away from right-handers and on the back foot of left-handers with greater frequency.

Though he does have a change-up, it is a below-average pitch that is merely in his arsenal to be used as a show-me pitch. If he were to move to the bullpen full time, the change-up would likely be scrapped.

Sorenen's mechanics are better than they were coming out of college, and his consistency has improved as a result. He is a good athlete that gets off the mound well and knows all the intricacies of his craft, having spent so much time around the game throughout his life.

Performance

Level

Team

W-L

ERA

G

GS

SV

SO

BB

IP

AVG

A+

Lakeland

10-12

4.03

27

25

0

113

29

147.1/font>

.276


Health Record
Sorensen has had no arm trouble at this point in his career, and he looks like a pitcher capable of logging innings as he moves up the ladder. If he is tried in a relief role, it will be interesting to see how he handles the more frequent workload versus the longer outings..

The Future
Sorensen is ready to face the Eastern League, but the rotation may be a bit crowded. If the Tigers are determined to keep him starting for now, he could start the year back in Lakeland and be the first promoted to Double-A when the need arises. In an ideal world he will be in the Erie rotation from Opening Day.

Though Sorensen has big league stuff and makeup, he's not going to be a guy that has a highly anticipated arrival in the big leagues. If he continues on his current path, he could likely be one of those guys you just look up one day and he's pitching in the big leagues in some sort of swingman type role.

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