Performance Level Team W-L ERA G GS SV SO BB IP BAA A
Following in the footsteps of his dominant late inning role at University of Texas, Corey Knebel assumed the closers role for West Michigan once he signed following the draft.
Listed at 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, the right-hander features the ideal build that we often discus and love to see in a pitcher. The soon-to-be 22-year-old has broad shoulders, long muscular limbs and a strong sturdy frame.
When everything is clicking on the mound, Knebel delivers the ball from a standard 3/4 arm slot. As our Director of Scouting Mark Anderson has previously pointed out, Knebel does struggle at times with release point consistency. There is also noticeable effort in Knebel's aggressive delivery. Regardless, nothing appears to be too concerning or taxing on his arm moving forward.
Knebel's demeanor and mound presence is off the charts. He oozes the bulldog mentality that you love to see in a shutdown late inning reliever. Regardless of the occasional mechanical blemishes, Knebel's overall product on the mound is top notch and impressive.
Over my weekend visit and throughout the season via film study, Knebel confidently sequences his entire arsenal, moving the ball around the zone well. He challenges hitters inside, gets ahead in the count and was regularly the aggressor in the battle.
Knebel features a solid four pitch mix and all of the offerings are already arguably average to above-average or plus offerings. His fastball featured excellent life and the velocity sat between 93-95 mph, reportedly even touching as high as 97 mph. Knebel mixed in an outstanding high-70s to low-80s curveball with massive depth that he seemed comfortable throwing regardless of the count. He also showed a slider and a change-up, both of which were intriguing, appearing to be promising pitches.
Overall, I left Fifth Third Ballpark with my lofty expectations of Corey Knebel both fulfilled and exceeded. Knebel throws hard, has an advanced feel for pitching and is undoubtedly a top prospect with amazing stuff.
It takes only a matter of minutes to deduce that Knebel has the chops to be a successful big league late-inning reliever. However, his advanced repertoire and sturdy build also give him a realistic chance to get a crack at the rotation, should the organization decide to go that route.
With that being said, his future success and projection are almost directly linked to the direction the organization takes with his development. While I certainly understand the value and logic behind auditioning him in a starting role, Daniel Bard's and Joba Chamberlain‘s failure litter my mind with an "if it ain't broke don't fix it" attitude towards the move. Regardless of the role he's given, at least to this point, the Tigers selection of Knebel appears to be a steal. Knebel's next test will come in October when he joins the best of the best in the Arizona Fall League.
James Chipman is the Senior Lakeland Correspondent for TigsTown. Be sure to follow him on twitter @JAYRC_TigsTown.