Position: Third Baseman
King was the Tigers fourth round pick last summer. He flew under the radar during the 2010 and 2011 seasons at Kansas State due to Tommy John surgery that forced him to redshirt in 2010. King was limited in the field in 2011 but did post a /.326/.377/.591 line in 61 games with the new BBCOR bats.
King signed quickly for just under $200,000 and made his professional debut with Connecticut in the short-season New York-Penn League. He saw action in 53 games for the CT-Tigers before a knee injury sidelined him for the remainder of the year.
In his time on the field, King hit .251/.341/.415 with 16 extra-base hits, 31 runs batted in, six steals and only 39 strikeouts versus 20 walks.
King has baseball bloodlines with a father that played Division I ball and also saw one year of action in the Yankees organization. He hasn't been on the field much the last two years due to his aforementioned injuries, leaving him a little rusty and in need of game experience.
King is a high effort player that coaches fall in love with quickly. He runs hard on every ball in play, is an aggressive defender and works extremely hard between games.
A switch-hitter, King is more advanced from the left side. He sees the ball better out of the pitcher's hand, allowing him improved pitch recognition and a better overall approach during his at-bats. His swing plane from the left side is more consistent and powerful, giving him a solid offensive profile.
From the right side, King is less refined. He struggles with breaking balls as a right-handed hitter and is more of a gap-to-gap guy without the loft in his stroke to drive the ball out of the park.
Given that the vast majority of his at-bats will come as a left-handed hitter, King's overall offensive profile has an above-average ceiling with patience and average power. He doesn't have the most projectable hit tool and is likely to post a modest batting average, but it should be enough for the rest of his offensive tools to play.
King is more athletic than he looks at first glance. He's well built and very strong, but at times can look a little stiff in his movements; his upper body in particular. King has shown plus speed at times but that may begin to degrade with the knee injury suffered last summer. His instincts on the bases remain rough. If he can get better jumps he could steal 10-15 bases annually.
Despite being a solid athlete, King can get mechanical at third base. The movements required for the position don't appear natural to him and you can almost see him thinking every play through as he prepares to make it. He showed solid-average to plus arm strength last summer, a good sign just a year after surgery on his right elbow.
After scouting him extensively last summer, I'm not convinced King can stay at third base long term. He seems destined for an outfield corner in the coming years, an opinion many NYPL scouts shared.
Overall, King profiles as a potential fringe-average hitter with solid on-base skills, 15-20 home runs annually, and even a few steals. What position that comes from is still up in the air, but if it comes from an outfield corner, that gives him a bit of a tweener profile.
Performance Level Team AB AVG 2B HR RBI SO BB OBP% SLG% SS-A
King missed all of 2010 after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his throwing (right) arm. After making his pro debut in 2011, King suffered a significant knee injury that required surgery and may put the start of his 2012 season in jeopardy. It's too early to call King injury prone, but he needs an extended run of health to completely shake the tag.
King's initial 2012 assignment will depend entirely on the health of his knee. If he is ready to play, the everyday third base job in West Michigan is his for the taking. If the knee injury lingers beyond spring training, King may not make his 2012 debut until closer to the summer, and could see some limited time back in short-season ball before moving on to West Michigan around mid-season.
If healthy, King has the offensive approach and work ethic to move quickly through the system. He could reach Double-A for a taste of advanced pitching before the end of the 2013 season, followed by a full trial at that level in 2014. From there, his performance will dictate his big league time table, with a possible 2015 arrival in Detroit.
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