Tigers Prospect Profile #13: Cale Iorg

What is sure to be the most controversial of the year in the TigsTown Top 50, Cale Iorg remains just outside of the top ten, despite continued offensive struggles. What keeps Iorg so high on the prospect list?

Cale Iorg
Position:Shortstop
Height: 6-2
Weight: 180
Born: 9/6/1985
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Background
Despite not having played in two years because of Mormon mission to Portugal, the Tigers were aggressive in signing Iorg after selecting him in the sixth round of the 2007 draft. As deadline day approached, the Tigers inked the toolsy shortstop for a bonus just shy of $1.5 million.

He signed in time to see action in just eight games between the GCL and Lakeland, and the rust showed as he hit .241/.313/.310 over that span. The Tigers sent Iorg to the Hawaii Winter League to get some additional experience, but a hamstring injury sidelined him for much of the season and he was forced to head to spring training without much game experience under his belt.

The Tigers were aggressive with him in 2008, assigning him to High-A Lakeland right out of the gate. In 99 games – again missing time with some relatively minor hamstring injuries – Iorg hit .251 with 15 doubles, seven triples, and ten home runs. On top of that he drove in 47 runs and swiped 22 bases.

After what many considered a very positive debut after two years away from the game, Iorg hit a big rough patch in his first exposure to Double-A. In 129 games, Iorg continued to strike out at a high rate while not filling in with enough secondary skills to become a true offensive asset. He hit just .222/.274/.336 in 2009, but he continued to show outstanding defense at shortstop.

Repeating Double-A in 2010, Iorg didn't find much more success, hitting just .215 in his second tour through the league. On the bright side, he did rip 28 doubles – up from 17 the year before – and eleven home runs, along with 12 steals. A late season promotion to Toledo saw a small glimmer of hope appear as Iorg boosted his average to .242 with six doubles, one triple and one home run in just 16 games.

Following both the 2009 and 2010 seasons, the Tigers sent Iorg to the Arizona Fall League for some additional at-bats. The 2010 tour was a rousing success for Iorg as he finished the fall strong with a monster stretch of games, and pushed his average up over .300 for the season.

Scouting Report
Iorg is a rare breed among prospects, and while scouts drool, not enough fans realize just how supremely talented he is. Iorg has four tools that rate as at least big league average or better; that's right, four of them.

Defense is the best piece of his game, as he flashes a true 70 glove that consistently draws praise as potentially warranting Gold Gloves down the line. He has exceptional defensive instincts with a great first step, plus-plus range, and aggressive style and outstanding hands. He is an acrobatic defender that can make any play you can imagine.

Iorg's arm is also a plus tool with good accuracy and carry on his throws. The best athlete in the Tigers system, Iorg has outstanding balance and he keeps his feet under him at all times, allowing him to stay in control on the most difficult of plays.

A plus to plus-plus runner, Iorg has solid instincts on the bases and most scouts believe that if he gets on base enough he could steal 15-20 bases annually at the big league level.

Offensively, things get a little tougher for Iorg. He has above-average raw power, but his inability to make consistent contact has kept him from translating that power to game situations. He has a well-below average hit tool and an aggressive approach that can undermine his overall offensive contribution. Some scouts saw a difference in him late last year, as they felt he relaxed some at the plate and seemed to barrel balls more consistently.

Iorg is likely never going to hit at even an average level for a big leaguer, but with 70-grade defense, a good arm, plus speed, and pop when he makes contact, scouts view that as a big leaguer in waiting. With Peralta signed through 2012, Iorg has at least the next year to polish up his game and demonstrate that he is ready to field at an elite level and hit in the bottom of a big league lineup.

Performance

Level

Team

AB

AVG

2B

HR

RBI

SO

BB

OBP%

SLG%

AA

Erie

427

.211

22

10

33

139

17

.248

.337

AAA

Toledo

66

.242

6

1

9

20

2

.271

.409


Health Record
Iorg had some hamstring issues in 2007 and 2008, but those injuries have largely been chalked up to him getting back into true game playing shape, and they have not been an issue over the last two years.

The Future
Despite his struggles at the plate, Iorg has done an exceptional job compartmentalizing his defense from his offense, which has allowed him to remain a strong asset to his teams.

Even without significant improvement in his hitting ability, Iorg's other four tools – particularly his defense – should allow him to be a solid MLB shortstop for several seasons. Should Jhonny Peralta falter at shortstop over the next two years, Iorg's addition to the 40-man roster this off-season leaves him just a quick phone call away.

He profiles better defensively than Danny Worth and may be more likely to hold down a starting spot down the line. Iorg is slated to start the 2011 season in Triple-A Toledo, but the shakeout from the Detroit roster could see him starting back in Double-A. Either way, Iorg is getting close to the big leagues, and while he may never fulfill the All-Star billing that GM Dave Dombrowski threw on him, he should be a solid player that amazes Tiger fans with his glove work.

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