Tigers Prospect Profile #40: Jay Voss

In 2010, Jay Voss got the all-important promotion to Double-A, but struggled out of the bullpen for the SeaWolves, so in 2011 he returned to Lakeland, where he again shined and pushed a promotion, only this time he stayed in the rotation, and this time around, he shined. What does the left-hander bring to the mound, and can he maintain his success?

Jay Voss
Position: Left-handed Pitcher
Height: 6-4
Weight: 195
Born: 4/22/1987
Bats: Left
Throws: Left

Background
The Marlins plucked Voss from Kaskaskia Junior College in the eighth round of the 2007 draft, inking him for a reported $80,000. His contract was done quickly and he appeared in 15 games in the New York-Penn League going 0-7 with a 7.63 ERA.

Sent to the Low-A South Atlantic League for the 2008 season the then 21-year old Voss posted a 6.39 ERA in 69 innings giving up a whopping 106 hits along the way.

In 2009 Voss's career began to take off as he notched a 2.02 ERA in ten games with Jupiter in the Florida State League and then rattled off a 2.97 ERA in 30 outings at Double-A. He struck out nearly a batter an inning across the two levels that year while allowing less than a hit per inning.

The Marlins traded Voss to the Tigers in exchange for big league left-hander Nate Robertson at the end of spring training 2010 and he was quickly assigned to High-A Lakeland to start his Tigers career.

Voss quickly proved he was too much for another tour through the FSL and was sent to Double-A to work out of the bullpen He posted a 5.81 ERA in 33 outings, reverting back to his hittable ways from early in his career.

Voss got back on track in 2011 with a strong start to the season back in High-A. He posted a 3-0 record in eight games (six starts) with a 3.21 ERA and a four-to-one strikeout to walk ratio.

He capitalized on another opportunity in Erie with a strong performance across 19 starts with the SeaWolves. He finished the year with a 9-7 mark and 3.67 ERA, allowing only 96 hits in 115 1/3 innings while striking out 101 hitters.

Scouting Report
Voss is a classic three pitch lefty. He features a fastball, slider and change-up in his arsenal with the confidence to throw all three pitches.

In 2011 Voss's fastball velocity settled in at 88-90 mph with an occasional bump to 91 mph. Prior to joining the Tigers Voss had flashed 92-93 mph velocity with the Marlins before regressing in 2010 and settling in with a fringe-average heater in 2011.

Most scouts prefer Voss's slider to his change-up. The slider frequently shows solid two-plan break though it can be a bit transparent at times, particularly to right-handers that see the ball well out of Voss's hand. The pitch can be effective against left-handers. His slider has a chance to be an average pitch with added consistency.

The change-up has made good strides over the last three years and is now a pitch he can use on the outer half against right-handers to keep them from sitting on his fastball. He gets some arm-side fade and occasional sink on the change but neither is significant or consistent.

Voss shows the potential for average big league command of all three pitches. He works down in the zone regularly and typically only elevates with a purpose. He is still learning how to utilize his slider as a chase pitch away from lefties or on the back foot of righties, but that should come with more experience.

Voss earned high marks for his composure on the mound in 2011. He remained even keeled throughout his starts and showed good work ethic between outings.

Though Voss has had more success as a starter since joining the Tigers most scouts see him as more of a middle reliever or swing man. If he tightens his slider he could be an option as a second situational lefty in the bullpen.

Performance

Level

Team

W-L

ERA

G

GS

SV

SO

BB

IP

WHIP

A+

Lakeland

3-0

3.21

8

6

0

30

7

33.2

1.19

AA

Erie

9-7

3.67

19

19

0

101

37

115.1

1.15


Health Record
Voss has not seen any significant time on the disabled list in either the Marlins or Tigers organization. He has maintained a solid workload and showed minimal signs of tiring toward the end of the 2011 season where he jumped from less than 70 innings in 2010 to almost 150 innings. He has a clean arm action and he uses his lower half well, limiting any abnormal stress on his arm.

The Future
Voss will spend the spring working with both the Double-A and Triple-A squads and could see some limited time in big league camp to help fill out the roster during some split-squad games.

If he can't find a spot on the Toledo pitching staff to start the season he should be back in the Erie rotation for another turn. He is a ways down the MLB depth chart and would need 40-man roster space to make his big league debut in 2012, but if he pitches well enough he could get a look if injuries strike.

With the current and projected makeup of the Tigers pitching staff over the next two or three years he will have to either dominate at the upper levels of the system to get a chance or survive as an up-and-down guy that fills a variety of roles on the roster.

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