Tigers Prospect Profile #8: James McCann

The Tigers top selection in the 2011 draft, James McCann had a relatively quiet start to his pro career, appearing in just 14 games after signing. What about the young backstop made the Tigers so eager to snag him, despite a young All-Star catcher and a top prospect just in front of him?

James McCann
Position: Catcher
Height: 6-2
Weight: 210
Born: 6/13/1990
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Background
McCann had a solid season (.306/.388/.469) at Arkansas as he continued to show some offensive promise even with the new BBCOR bats that the NCAA instituted last year.

The Tigers made him their top pick – second round – in last year's draft, to the chagrin of many fans that expected the Tigers to bust MLB's recommended slots with their first pick.

McCann crushed the inexperienced pitchers of the Gulf Coast League in a four game trial, hitting .357 with a double, a home run and six runs batted in.

Promoted to West Michigan quickly, the 21-year old McCann picked up just two hits in 34 at-bats (.059 average) while striking out 12 times in 38 plate appearances. In his nine games behind the dish in Low-A, McCann threw out only 21% of base stealers.

Scouting Report
McCann stands out for his physical, well-built frame that offers plenty of strength and durability. He is a workout warrior that has done a lot to improve and mold his body since turning down the White Sox as a 31st round pick in 2008.

McCann also earns high marks for his makeup. He is a good leader, taking charge on the field at times and leading by example at others. He carries himself with confidence and has a good rapport with his pitchers.

Of the traditional five tools, McCann's best is his defense. He is a polished receiver for a young player. He catches the ball softly and cleanly, understands how to frame pitches and does a good job blocking the ball in the dirt. His catch-and-throw mechanics are technically sound but his footwork does get away from him at times, causing inaccuracy in his throws and a delay in his release. His arm is an above-average tool.

McCann has the strength to drive the ball when he connects. His swing is somewhat flat and he lacks home run projection, but he should be able to drive the ball to the gaps for doubles and could ultimately pop 10-12 home runs a year.

Scouts have questions about McCann's swing mechanics and just how much he will hit pro pitching. McCann has never demonstrated an ability to handle plus velocity consistently and his pitch recognition skills are unrefined, leaving him vulnerable to breaking balls and other secondary offerings. He needs to improve his approach at the plate and contact rates for his fringe-average power to play in game situations.

Like most catchers, McCann is a below-average runner but he is not a base clogger. He has good instincts on the bases and knows what he's doing when running.

With his leadership skills, potential for at least above-average defense and at least gap power, McCann could be a second division regular behind the plate. Even without significant development in his offensive game, McCann has the type of makeup and defensive potential that teams look for in backup catchers, giving him another avenue to the big leagues.

Performance

Level

Team

AB

AVG

2B

HR

RBI

SO

BB

OBP%

SLG%

R

GCL Tigers

14

.357

1

1

6

1

1

.438

.643

A

West Michigan

34

.059

1

0

1

12

2

.132

.088


Health Record
McCann has been healthy throughout his college career. He is a big, physical, well-conditioned player that has the body to project as a durable backstop.

The Future
Having gotten his feet wet at Low-A West Michigan after signing last year, McCann enters spring training with a chance to earn a spot on the High-A Lakeland roster or return to West Michigan for the first half of the year.

McCann may require time to develop offensively but his defense and leadership should translate to pro ball quickly. He could reach Double-A by late 2012 and should be expected to be the everyday guy in Erie in 2013, putting him in line for a potential big league role sometime in the second half of 2014.

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