Tigers Scouting Report #40: Aaron Westlake

Aaron Westlake has had an up-and-down pro career since the Tigers drafted him in 2011, but the 2013 season was a bright spot for the big first baseman, who hit .291 for Lakeland. Has the turnaround year brightened his future projections?

Aaron Westlake

Vitals

Position: First Baseman
Date of Birth: 12/27/1988 (2014 Opening Day Age: 25)
Height/Weight: 6-4/235
Bats/Throws: Left/Right
Acquired: 2011 Draft, 3rd Round
Ranking History: #23 (2012), #41 (2013), #40 (2014)

Background: The Tigers third round pick in 2011, Westlake hit .264/.328/.377 in his debut with the Connecticut Tigers that summer. After moving up to Low-A West Michigan in 2012, he hit a disappointing .249/.320/.391 in 123 games with 35 doubles and just nine home runs. In an injury-shortened 2013 season, Westlake rebounded with a .291 average, 29 doubles and seven home runs.

Performance:

2013 Aaron Westlake Stats - Hitting
TEAMABRH2B3BHRRBIBBSOSBCSBAOBPSLG
GCL Tigers 2444101411000.182.250.364
Lakeland 35840104293762268701.291.344.447


Scouting Report

Body: Big, hulking build; classic first base body; conditioning has varied some over the years; shows dedication to keep body in check most of the time; plenty of natural strength; not a physical freak but very well built.

Hit: Wide base; hands at shoulder height prior to load; bounces bat off back shoulder; load has toned down since draft; more consistent trigger and quieter getting the bat to the hitting zone; quicker to the ball; can stay inside and doesn't always have to extend arms now; hitting has improved with professional coaching; still struggles with premium velocity; susceptible to spin out of the zone; pitch recognition is mediocre; below-average feel for the barrel; more of a mistake hitter; can take advantage of fringy (and worse) velocity; below-average hit projection; could struggle against advanced arms and sequence in 2014. Grade – Present 3+/Future 4

Power: Power generated from brute strength rather than bat speed; can drive to all fields with ease; ball jumps off his bat when he squares; true plus raw; struggles to slug against better velocity because he can't always get around on it to square it up; content to go the other way too often and needs to find pitches to turn on and flash pop; poor hit projection will limit game utility of power; plus raw but plays below-average now and will play at average once developed. Grade – 4/5

Speed: Below-average runner from home to first; no better once underway; speed is not a significant part of his game; body does not project to hold below-average speed long term; could slow quickly and dramatically. Grade – 4/3

Defense: Still developing; actions and hands are rough; starting to show better feel around the bag but still tentative at times; needs considerable work to be average; has length to be an asset to other infielders on the stretch and on wild throws; instincts must improve for length to matter consistently; below-average with fringe-average projection. Grade – 4/4+

Arm: Good accuracy; arm plays average at first base; can make most throws; will struggle on throws to second base for double-play turn; solid arm that does the job. Grade – 5/5

Other: Quality makeup; quality kid; works hard on and off the field; doesn't get rattled when things don't go his way during at-bats; can sustain performance in big situations; confident player; good intelligence; takes well to coaching and has demonstrated willingness to adjust game and try to improve himself.

Final Word

Summary: Has classic 1B profile; power is legitimate plus tool; hit needs to come for power to play at max level; unlikely to see power manifest to plus level; could still pound 30+ doubles and 10-15 home runs with below-average hit tool; base running, defense and arm all range from below-average to average; hit and power will have to carry profile.

Risk: Moderate risk; difficult profile to fulfill; has yet to reach Double-A; will be challenged by advanced arms.

Projection: Second division ceiling; power won't play at a first division level due to lack of hit projection; could also find MLB time as lefty power off the bench.

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