Tigers Prospect Profile #34: Ryan Strieby

The Tigers just spent over $200 million for their new first baseman in Prince Fielder. However, should an injury happen and the Tigers look internally for a replacement, Ryan Strieby could be the guy.

Ryan Strieby
Position:First Baseman
Height: 6-6
Weight: 235
Born: 8/9/1985
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Signed as the Tigers fourth round pick in 2006, Strieby struggled in his pro debut with Oneonta, hitting just .241 with 13 extra-base hits in 61 games as a 20-year old straight out of college.

Though his batting average didn't take off in 2007 the rest of his game showed some life. In 123 with West Michigan he ripped 23 doubles and 16 home runs while walking nearly as much as he struck out. His 76 RBI tied him for eighth in the league.

In 2008 things really took off for Strieby as he tore through the High-A Florida State League. He crushed the ball to the tune of a .563 slugging percentage in a difficult offensive environment. His 29 home runs set a franchise record and he would have blown that record away even more if not for a wrist injury late in the year.

That wrist injury lingered through 2009, 2010 and even parts of 2011 and Strieby hasn't been the same since. He only managed to play 86 games in Erie in 2009 but when he was on the field he mashed. He finished with a .303/.427/.565 line that elevated expectations for him if he could ever get healthy.

In 2010 with Toledo, Strieby's batting average dipped to .345 and he continued to battle the wrist injury that sapped him of his power. That season he hit just 15 doubles and ten home runs in 76 games.

He appeared far healthier in 2011 though there were indications the wrist was still a problem at times. He managed to see action in 130 games last year with 28 doubles, 19 home runs and 76 RBI. While those numbers seem to indicate a return to prominence for the now 26-year old Strieby, his strikeout rate went through the roof as he whiffed 171 times on the year.

Scouting Report
Strieby is a classic right-handed slugger. He is a huge man with broad shoulders and a thick, muscular frame. His swing is very long and very powerful. He can generate plus-plus power to all fields when his arms are extended.

Strieby has long been dubbed a bad ball hitter by scouts. He feasts on mistake pitches and struggles with premium velocity. His command of the strike zone vanished in 2011 and he was caught out front flailing at breaking pitches out of the zone more frequently. Some scouts felt he was pressing while others simply felt he was exposed by better pitching.

At the peak of his prospect status the Tigers toyed with Strieby in the outfield as they tried to identify a way for him to arrive in Detroit while Miguel Cabrera was at first base. That trial didn't work well as Strieby looked slow and lumbering in the outfield, as most talent evaluators expected before the move happened.

He has returned to first base and he is a solid defender there. He moves reasonably well around the bag and has improved his ability to pick throws and rescue his infielders.

As a right-handed slugger with a new-found propensity for the swing-and-miss there is very little projection for Strieby as a big league player. His power is hard to ignore and if he can again master the strike zone, he could be a second division first baseman or platoon designated hitter.
























Health Record
As mentioned, Strieby battled a left wrist injury for the better part of three years. The injury limited him in just about every way and required multiple surgeries. His ability to play 130 games in 2011 was encouraging but there are still lingering questions about the long term health of the wrist.

The Future
This off-season has been a very telling one for Strieby's prospect status – of what's left of it I should say. The Tigers designated him for assignment to remove him from the 40-man roster and during that process every team in the league had an opportunity to claim him at minimal cost. He cleared waivers and was out-righted to Toledo.

The Tigers left Strieby exposed in the Rule 5 draft and though there was some nominal media buzz about interest in him, not surprisingly the 29 other teams passed on him at the cost of $50,000 and a 25-man roster spot.

Strieby is stuck in the undesirable realm of the 4-A hitter. He isn't considered to have the bat speed to catch up to quality stuff and he's a right-handed hitter that leaves him on the wrong side of any platoon scenarios teams may consider employing.

He has two potential paths remaining to a big league opportunity. The first path would be an injury in Detroit that necessitates his call-up to fill a void. The other being that Streiby will be a minor league free agent following the 2012 season and he will have a chance to look for an opportunity with another club.

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