Tigers Prospect Profile #23: Aaron Westlake

The Tigers snagged Aaron Westlake with their third round pick in last summer's amateur draft, but Westlake didn't have a dynamite debut, putting up relatively pedestrian numbers with short season Connecticut. What did the Tigers see in the big first baseman, and can he reach his projection?

Aaron Westlake
Position: First Baseman
Height: 6-4
Weight: 235
Born: 12/27/1988
Bats: Left
Throws: Right

Background
After turning down the Blue Jays as a 22nd round pick in 2010, Westlake returned to Vanderbilt for his senior season and was then popped in the third round of the draft by the Tigers in 2011.

Westlake part way through the summer and after a brief five-game cameo in the Gulf Coast League, he was quickly pushed to short-season Connecticut for the rest of the summer.

In 27 games with the CT-Tigers, Westlake posted a .264 batting average and walked ten times while whiffing 23 times. He managed to poke four doubles and two home runs while driving in 15 runs in the process.

Scouting Report
Westlake is a classic college masher. He is big bodied with plenty of strength and that strength is the primary trait on which his baseball abilities are built.

Westlake's best tool is his plus-plus raw power. He has the natural strength to get the ball out of the park with wood bats, even without making full contact. He has plenty of loft in his swing and uses his lower half to leverage his swing when he's trying to crank. When he sells out for power, Westlake will hedge more toward an uppercut swing.

Scouts do have concern over Westlake's bat speed. His long swing is befitting his power profile and there are scouts that wonder whether he will catch up to plus velocity. He doesn't adjust quickly and likely won't post a strong batting average.

Westlake does have a good concept of the strike zone and shows the ability to lay off fastball out of the zone. He will get out front on change-ups and struggles against lefties.

Though some college coaches lauded Westlake for his defensive abilities, pro scouts were far from impressed. He doesn't move well around the bag, with poor footwork and mediocre instincts. He frequently struggles with throws in the dirt and rarely helps his infielder on marginal throws. He is a well below-average runner with fringy range at first.

Westlake's prospect status hinges entirely on his power bat and how much that plays in game situations. If he hits enough to blast 25-plus home runs annually, that combined with his ability to draw some walks may enable him to have enough offensive production to have the ceiling of a second division starter.

Performance

Level

Team

AB

AVG

2B

HR

RBI

SO

BB

OBP%

SLG%

R

GCL Tigers

18

.167

1

1

4

6

2

.250

.389

SS-A

Connecticut

106

.264

4

2

15

23

10

.328

.377


Health Record
Westlake missed most of his freshman (2008) season at Vanderbilt due to an issue with blood clots but that has not been a problem since he returned late that year. He has a durable body and no other injury issues in his past.

The Future
Westlake enters spring training with a chance to land in either West Michigan or Lakeland depending on his spring performance. Already 23-years old Westlake will need to move quickly through the lower levels to catch up to the hypothetical age-development curve.

While there is little room for him at the big league level in Detroit, Westlake's primary developmental concern has to be increased contact and improved defense at first base. Without those two things stepping forward, Westlake has limited first division projection.

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