Holaday joined the Tigers as a sixth round pick in 2010 after earning national acclaim as part of TCU's College World Series Push.
The Tigers sent him to Lakeland after signing that summer and he came out guns blazing but faded to post a .220/.335/.327 line his 44 game debut. He did manage to pop eight doubles and three home runs and threw out 21% of the runners trying to steal against him.
Promoted to Erie in 2011, Holaday improved marginally offensively and made great strides defensively. He finished with a .242/.304/.361 line with 18 doubles and seven bombs in 95 games. His defense improved to show a 34% caught stealing percentage.
Known for his defense coming out of college, Holaday has required more work behind the dish than some amateur scouts imagined. He has been very rough blocking balls in the dirt and his receiving has garnered mixed reviews from scouts that saw him in 2011.
He does have good catch and throw skills with a quick transfer and plus arm, allowing him to help his pitching staff control the running game. He works exceptionally well with his pitchers and exhibits tremendous leadership ability.
Holaday has the strength to drive the ball at the plate but he lacks the bat control and pitch recognition to utilize that strength. His swing can get mechanical at times. He regularly swings at breaking pitches well out of the strike zone and he is prone to weak contact. He is a well below-average runner and some scouts were concerned he was going to be a complete base clogger in short order.
Without a major shift in his offensive profile – a shift that does not appear on the horizon – Holaday profiles as a defense-first backup that carries some clubhouse clout because of his natural leadership abilities.
Performance Level Team AB AVG 2B HR RBI SO BB OBP% SLG% AA
Holaday has been pretty durable as a catcher in his career. He was babied a bit by the Tigers in 2011 and not forced to catch a full season, a move that may prove wise in his development.
Holaday will go to big league spring training as an extra receiver and that could be a great opportunity for him to learn what it means to be a quality big league backup from someone like Gerald Laird.
Once back in minor league camp, Holaday seems destined to head back to Double-A Erie, though he could land anywhere from Lakeland to Toledo depending on how the rosters shake out at the end of March.
Long term, he still needs to tighten up his blocking and receiving skills to put him in position to be a big leaguer. There is a slim chance he could be in competition to succeed Laird as the Tigers backup catcher in 2013, with a more likely scenario having him vying for that slot in 2014.
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