Tigers Prospect Profile: Aaron Westlake

As a senior for Vanderbilt, Aaron Westlake is still in the midst of competing for Vandy in the College World Series. While Tigers fans wait for him, read inside to get the details on what Westlake will bring to the table!

Aaron Westlake
Position:First Baseman
Height: 6-4
Weight: 230
Born: 12/27/1988
Bats: Left
Throws: Right

Background
Westlake was a well-regarded prospect coming out of California high school in 2007, but his strong commitment to Vanderbilt scared away many teams. After sticking it out for four years with the Commodores, Westlake was popped by the Tigers in the third round of the draft.

Westlake remains in the midst of a 2011 season that saw him rake despite the change to more conservative aluminum bats at the college level.

Through 60 games, Westlake has posted a robust .349/.466/.616 line that is backed by 17 doubles and 14 home runs along with nearly as many walks (43) as strikeouts (48). Leading the team in home runs has helped Westlake sit third on the Vanderbilt team list for RBI this season with 48.

With the more potent bats in 2010, Westlake posted another strong line with a .308/.404/.538 showing. He hit 14 home runs that season, just like so far in 2011. That performance was a bit of a let down after he crushed the ball with a .377 average with 25 extra-base hits in 2009; finishing second on the team with 57 RBI.

As a freshman, Westlake hit only .241/.313/.276 before an injury shut him down for the final two months of the season.

Scouting Report
Westlake is a big bodied first baseman that fits the profile well. His calling card is his power profile. Much of his power is generated from his size, strength and the leverage he generates as a result, rather than pure bat speed. He will show fringe- to average bat speed at times, but that's not where his power comes from.

Scout see Westlake getting beat inside by hard stuff, as he likes to extend his arms and muscle the ball out of the park. He can drive the ball to the opposite field, but he is more likely to clear the fence to the pull side. He has plus raw power that could generate 22-27 home runs if it all shows through in game situations.

As a hitter, Westlake has consistently posted good averages in college, but there remains a large faction of scouts that seriously question his hit tool. He recognizes pitches well but lacks the discipline to hold off swinging at pitches out of the zone, and doesn't have the plus barrel control needed to make consistent contact. He profiles as a .250-.260 hitter at the big league level.

Despite attempts at Vanderbilt to play other positions, Westlake is a first baseman only. He lacks the athleticism for an outfield corner, and though he has a strong arm, he did not move well in a brief trial behind the plate. He is a solid defender at first base and provides a big target for his infielders.

Westlake has adapted well to the new bats and has hit well with wood in the past, giving some hope that he can continue developing as a pro. There's not a ton of projection here, but he has the chance to be a second division regular at first base, but only if the bat fully translates.

Health Record
Westlake missed the last two months of his freshman year due to injury, but he has been healthy and durable throughout his last three college seasons.

The Future
Westlake will not sign with the Tigers until Vanderbilt completes their College World Series run. They are set to play in the Superregional round this coming weekend, and could head to Omaha after that.

Once he signs, which should be soon after his season ends, there is no reason Westlake could not be pushed aggressively to either A-ball level. With both Jordan Lennerton and Tony Plagman already at Lakeland, he may find himself helping the Whitecaps lineup in the season's second half.

Westlake is a player the Tigers will not be shy with over the next couple of years, and he could see Erie at some point in 2012. Though he is blocked at the big league level, his left-handed bat and raw power could force him onto the roster as a bench bat and platoon player.

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