Gaynor was the Tigers second foray into the Western Kentucky baseball program in recent years, having popped catcher Jordan Newton a couple years before taking Gaynor in the third round in 2009. The third round selection was at the upper end of where many analysts thought Gaynor would go, but the Tigers wanted to make sure they got their man.
Debuting in the New York-Penn League, Gaynor had a rough start to his professional career. Though he had showed well with wood bats in the past, the adjustment to the grind and the new level of competition held him down to a lowly .192/.281/.282 line.
With little in the way of expectations from fans entering the 2010 season, Gaynor exploded in 131 games at West Michigan. The everyday 3B for the club ripped the ball, posting a .789 OPS, over 10% better than the league average. Buried beneath that raw number, Gaynor knocked 39 doubles and ten home runs in a league that is notorious for suppressing power, while also swiping 13 bases in 18 attempts.
Gaynor is an outstanding athlete for a man his size. He is a physical specimen with a chiseled frame, though he maintains his flexibility. The Tigers were blown away by his raw athleticism in pre-draft workouts and couldn't resist getting him in the organization.
Gaynor offers the potential for above-average raw power and above-average speed, having been clocked as low as 6.7 seconds in the 60-yard dash. He has solid base running instincts, but he is still improving his ability to read pitchers and steal bases.
He lacks the natural hitting ability to let all of his raw power show in game situations, but he could still hit 15 home runs annually. There is some swing and miss in his game, but not an exorbitant amount, and he has demonstrated a willingness to work counts and wait for a pitch he can drive.
Defensively he is still pretty rough at third. His athleticism allows him to make most plays, though he is often unorthodox in his methods. He loses his footwork frequently. Gaynor's arm is above-average but many scouts are thrown by his short arm motion that saps some of what should be better arm strength. The common theme among observers outside the Tigers organization is that he could fit better on an outfield corner defensively.
Scouts that like Gaynor see him as a potential second division regular, while scouts that aren't a fan of his see a potential bench bat at best. If he can't stick at third base, then his bat will have to improve beyond its current projection to carry an outfield corner.
Performance Level Team AB AVG 2B HR RBI SO BB OBP% SLG% A
As mentioned, Gaynor is an exceptional athlete with a strong body that he has worked hard to craft. He has an outstanding work ethic. He has had no significant injuries in his pro career.
One of Gaynor and Francisco Martinez are likely headed to Lakeland, while the other heads to Double-A Erie in 2011. At this early stage of spring training, indications are pointing toward Gaynor heading to High-A to build on last year's success.
As a third baseman, his offensive ceiling as a player potentially capable of poking 15 home runs and stealing 15 bases is fairly enticing and could make him a decent MLB regular. If his defense can't hold up however, that offensive profile will look more and more like a fourth outfielder. If he is forced to move away from third base as his everyday home, he would probably be best suited to become acquainted with playing all four corners to increase his versatility and give the big league club options for getting his offensive game in the lineup.
Gaynor is in a position to see multiple levels of the farm system in 2011. If he starts at Lakeland, he could easily see Erie before the close of the season. That type of progress this summer could put him on the radar as a potential call-up late in 2012 and into 2013.
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