Tigers Scouting Report #23: Joey Pankake

The Tigers snagged an experienced college third baseman in the 2014 MLB Draft in Joey Pankake, who immediately made an impact in Connecticut. As a more polished college player with a good approach at the plate, Pankake could move quickly up the organizational ladder.

Joey Pankake


Position: Third Baseman

Date of Birth: 11/23/1992 (2014 Opening Day Age: 22)
Height/Weight: 6-2/185
Bats/Throws: Right/Right
Acquired: 2014 MLB Draft, 7th Round
Ranking History: No Previous Ranking

Background: A high-profile player for South Carolina from the minute he stepped on campus, Pankake is more than just a fun name, he’s a legitimate prospect. After three successful seasons on campus, the Tigers popped Pankake in the 7th round, inking him for $165,000, and then sent him to Connecticut where he hit .292 with 20 extra-base hits in 64 games.


2014 Stats - Hitting
Connecticut 2403770162236224220.292.345.400

Scouting Report

Body: Strong, physical body; good frame; broad shoulders; athletic with good size; prototypical third base body; should still fill out some over the next few years but physical conditioning is not a concern; plus body.

Hit: Refined approach; has a plan when he steps in the box and shows ability to both execute that plan and adjust as pitchers change what they’re doing; good plate coverage with a simple, compact swing; has knack for getting the barrel to the ball; absolutely wears out the middle of the field; laces line drives from pole to pole; experience, poised, and confident in everything he does at the plate; potential above-average hitter as he moves up the ladder. Grade – Present 5/Future 5+

Power: Strong arms and wrists; very good bat speed; squares the ball consistently and drives with authority; doesn’t generate a ton of lift in his swing, showing more line drive ability than over-the-fence power; potential for 12-15 home runs at peak but power will come more from plenty of doubles; above-average raw pop with a chance to play average in game situations. Grade – 5/5

Speed: Showed below-average speed down the line in pro debut; looked like he was laboring at times and didn’t get out of the box well on a consistent basis; projects as below-average runner long term but moves well enough to take an extra base when necessary; will need to see how speed plays if he shifts to OF long term. Grade – 4/4

Defense: Had stretches where he looked rough at 3B in 2014, but also made some plays that give hope for his future at the position; lacks impressive lateral quickness but can certainly move well enough to get to balls to both sides; still learning when to cut off grounders in the hole to left side, and when to let SS make the play; fringe hands that are too firm and prevent him from making all plays look routine; needs repetition and drills on footwork to gain consistency; likely fringe defender at third base in best case scenario; significant number of scouts see LF as long term home. Grade – 4/4+

Arm: Arm was inconsistent during pro debut but when it flashed, it flashed big; easy plus arm strength across the diamond; accuracy wavered at times but with focus on footwork that can be improved; footwork and confidence should allow arm to play to plus level over long term. Grade – 5+/6

Other: Heady, intelligent player; knows how to play the game; grinds out ABs; remains composed on the field at all times; demonstrates leadership potential with teammates; diligent worker.

Final Word

Summary: Low-ceiling profile but solid across the board with no glaring weakness; defensive home will determine his long-term value; at third base his bat profiles as an asset; in LF the bat could be underwhelming; potential for average hit/power profile is enticing and could make him a quality MLB bat that can play every day or be a really strong asset from a bench role; MLB profile but lacks impact ceiling.

Risk: Low risk; High level college experience; intelligent/polished player; should move quickly.

Projection: Positional home determines ultimate projection but looks the part of potential four-corner utility option that hits enough to play most days but doesn’t hit so much that he anchors a full-time spot at any single position; should hit at both A-ball levels in 2015 and could be on MLB radar in very short order.

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