Tigers Prospect Profile: LHP Kyle Lobstein

The Tigers snagged left-hander Kyle Lobstein in the Rule 5 Draft, but his late acquisition meant he was left out of the TigsTown Top 50. The Tigers didn't think he was ready for prime time, but liked his potential, and made a trade to keep his rights. What does the lanky left-hander bring to the organization?

Kyle Lobstein
Position: Left-handed Pitcher
Height: 6-3
Weight: 200
Born: 8/12/1989
Bats: Left
Throws: Left

Acquired: Rule 5 Draft, 2012 (subsequently traded for in exchange for Curt Casali)
Ranking History: N/A

Background
A second round pick of the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008, Lobstein received an over-slot bonus of $1.5 million and debuted with a 2.58 ERA across 14 New York-Penn League starts the following year. The still teenaged Lobstein allowed just 55 hits in 73-1/3 innings while striking out 74 hitters.

The Rays followed their low and slow approach to developing pitchers by promoting him a level at a time over the next three years. He mixed success and failure throughout his time in Low-A and High-A and then imploded when he reached Double-A for two starts at the end of the 2011 season; posting a 7.36 ERA.

Lobstein returned to Double-A in 2012 and improved significantly, showing a 4.06 ERA in 27 starts. He allowed just under a hit per inning, walked 69 batters in 144 frames and fanned 129 Southern League hitters.

The Tigers worked out a deal with the New York Mets prior to the Rule 5 draft to acquire Lobstein and later traded catcher Curt Casali to the Rays to retain his rights. So far with Double-A Erie, Lobstein has a 4.43 ERA in four starts.

Scouting Report
Lobstein has prototypical size with a high waist and good strength in his lower half. He has a shorter torso and could stand to add additional upper body strength to polish him physically. Lobstein's delivery is free and easy with a clean release of the ball and a repeatable arm slot. He has some deception that comes from his ability to hide the ball well and some occasional cross-fire to his release.

Despite his prototypical size, Lobstein's two-seam fastball sits in the 86-88 mph range with good sink. He will touch 89 regularly and can scrape 90 mph at times. His four-seam fastball routinely rests in the 88-89 mph range and will touch 90-91 on rare occasions. Lobstein pounds the strike zone with his fastball from both the windup and the stretch.

The changeup is Lobstein's best pitch, featuring good arm-speed deception and quality late life. He uses the pitch frequently and demonstrates a willingness to throw it in any count. Scouts that like Lobstein's changeup will give it plus grades while others have dubbed it a solid- to above-average offering.

Lobstein also mixes in a quality curveball with above-average potential. His three-quarters arm slot prevents him from really getting over the ball and creating downward snap but he does a good job of staying as high as he can on the ball and generating sharp 2-7 break.

Lobstein knows how to sequence his pitches to keep hitters off balance. He will throw all three pitches in any count to any hitter. His command has lagged behind his plus control and it prevents him from really taking the next step in his development. Lobstein can throw strikes with all of his pitches but rarely locates them well within the strike zone.

Without a step forward in his command, Lobstein will struggle to consistently handle more polished hitters. He doesn't have a significant margin for error with his modest raw stuff and as a result, he profiles as fifth starter at best.

Performance

Level

Team

W-L

ERA

G

GS

SV

SO

BB

IP

BAA

AA

Erie

1-2

4.43

4

4

0

22

8

22.1

.293


Health Record
Lobstein has had no injuries during his professional career and has in fact logged more than 130 innings in each of his last three seasons.

Projection
Lobstein was – and is – a worthwhile gamble for the Tigers. He showed plus velocity in high school but that has been nowhere to be seen over the last five years. He has adjusted his style of pitching to match his diminished stuff but he still needs to improve his ability to locate both in and out of the strike zone. Lobstein won't be more than a durable back end starter with his current command profile and even that could be a stretch as he faces more advanced hitters that will punish poorly located pitches.

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