Tigers Scouting Report #5: James McCann

Despite having maintained a low profile for much of his pro career since being drafted in the 2nd round, James McCann has plenty of believers in his future as a big league catcher. Could McCann supplant or steal time away from Alex Avila in Detroit, and when might it happen?

James McCann


Position: Catcher

Date of Birth: 6/13/1990 (2014 Opening Day Age: 23)
Height/Weight: 6-2/210
Bats/Throws: Right/Right
Acquired: 2011 MLB Draft, 2nd Round
Ranking History: #8 (2012), #9 (2013), #5 (2014)

Background: A second round pick that was hated by pundits, McCann has slowly placed himself on the MLB radar. McCann's 2011 debut amounted to just 14 games between the GCL and Midwest Leagues, and his real debut did not occur until 2012. In 45 games at High-A Lakeland that year, McCann hit .288 with 10 doubles, before a promotion to Double-A. He hit just .200 in his first 64 games at the level, and returned to Erie in 2013; improving across the board with a .277 average, 30 doubles and eight home runs.


2013 Stats - Hitting
Erie 44150122301854308533.277.328.404

Scouting Report

Body: Very impressive; looks taller than listed height; strong, chiseled frame; very good athlete; looks the part of MLBer; stands out on the field and in street clothes; excellent frame/body.

Hit: Swing has been tweaked since signing; much more consistent and much quicker to the zone; gets there on time; solid-average bat speed; has feel for the barrel and makes plenty of contact; contact is not always firm; much better against LHP; learning to run on pitches that run in on him; good approach; doesn't swing and miss a lot; would be exploited now but could develop to solid-average with more experience against advanced pitching. Grade – Present 4/Future 5

Power: Bat is not impactful; despite decent bat speed ball doesn't jump; has strength in swing; can get ball to gaps; flashes average raw in BP but doesn't translate; more potential for doubles power in the 20-25 per year range; can reach double digit bombs; will play to below-average level long term. Grade – 3+/4

Speed: Runs with fluidity; still below-average down the line; good athlete and should keep majority of speed even as catching takes a toll. Grade – 4/4

Defense: Legitimate asset; knack for everything at the position; understands how to call a good game; exceptional leadership traits; gains trust of pitching staff; works well with them and coaches; sees and recommends necessary adjustments in real time; can adjust game plan on the fly; very good receiver; earns his pitchers an extra strike or two each game; handles heat and spin very well; minimal drift; good going down to block; very good footwork; easy above-average glove at present; extra polish and sum of the parts can push to plus. Grade – 5+/6

Arm: Below-average; arm has not transitioned to OF throws from prior infield days; doesn't come out of his hand well; arm stroke and release are inconsistent; accuracy varies; left-field arm. Grade – 4/4

Other: Extremely smart player; hard worker; knows the game; quiet when he needs to be; can be vocal leader as well; very passionate player without on-field shows of emotion.

Final Word

Summary: Strong overall profile; glove will carry; plus potential at a premium position; arm plays to above-average; overall defensive profile can impact game significantly; has contact ability and enough strength for doubles and 8-10 home runs; bat won't be empty; if hit tool gets to average, profile can work in every day role; excellent leader; good clubhouse kid.

Risk: Low risk; Upper-level success; polished overall profile; minimal improvements required for MLB success; high floor; floor and ceiling aren't separated by much.

Projection: Potential to be everyday back stop with backup floor; nearly MLB ready now and could play in extended backup role at present; should be full-time MLB ready in 2015; very good platoon complement to Alex Avila and could take full-time role down the road.

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