Tigers Scouting Report #9: Drew VerHagen

It was an unusual year for Drew VerHagen, filled with a tremendous high and low time. After a strong first half, he got the call and made his big league debut in Detroit, only to be shut down immediately after with back problems, that have carried into 2015. When VerHagen returns to the mound, could he be a long term solution in the Tigers rotation?

Drew VerHagen

Vitals

Position: Right-handed Pitcher
Date of Birth: 10/22/1990 (2015 Opening Day Age: 24)
Height/Weight: 6-6/230
Bats/Throws: Right/Right
Acquired: 2012 Draft, 4th Round
Ranking History: #10 (2013), #7 (2014), #9 (2015)

Background: After three strong seasons at Vanderbilt, the Tigers went back to one of their favorite wells and popped VerHagen in the fourth round of the 2012 draft. The Tigers limited VerHagen to just 31 innings during his first summer and then took the reins off as he moved through High-A and Double-A in 2013, logging 127-plus innings with a 2.90 ERA. VerHagen naturally moved to Triple-A in 2014 and started 19 games for the Hens while also making his Major League debut with one solid start in Detroit.

Performance:

2014 Stats - Pitching
TEAMGGSSVIPHHRRERBBSOHBPERAWHIPW/L
Toledo 19190110.111784745256383.671.296-7
Detroit 1105.050333405.401.600-1


Scouting Report

Body: Extremely physical; matches all of listed height and weight; filled out frame; strong lower half and good upper body strength as well; Tommy John surgery on resume dating back to high school; suffered substantial back injury last season; needs to stay healthy; frame suggests potential inning-eating workhorse.

Delivery/Mechanics: Consistent delivery; tremendous height is augmented by arm length to provide excellent downward angle; extends really well out front, shortening distance to home plate and allowing stuff to jump on hitters; will come across body and fall toward first base; repeats well overall.

Fastball: Works consistently in low-90s, sitting 91-93 mph with two-seam variety; pumps up to 95-96 mph with four-seamer at times; sinking fastball has tremendous downward movement and busts in on RHH with hard life; difficult pitch to square and drive; four-seam fastball is fairly straight but gets on hitters quickly thanks to extension in delivery; quality pitch; leans on it heavily throughout starts; above-average offering. Grade – Present 5+/Future 5+

Curveball: Below-average pitch; lacks feel for spin; frequently casts and doesn’t get tight rotation or movement; leaves CB up in the zone regularly and pitch is prone to being hit hard when he throws it; has worked hard on pitch with little success; minimal projection due to historical lack of feel. Grade – 4/4

Changeup: Good strides since draft day; shows good arm speed and same hole as FB, adding deception to pitch; good variation in velocity from FB, dropping about 8-10 mph; at best, pitch offers good sink, mirroring movement of FB; fringe pitch that could still reach average level. Grade – 4+/5

Control/Command: Controls extra-large frame well and repeats delivery; as a result, throws plenty of strikes with FB and has begun to do so with CH as well; CB control/command lags behind; has to further ability to consistently move ball around and hit spots at the edges of the strike zone to find sustained success at the highest level; solid-average FB command is within reach.

Other: Solid pickoff move and ability to hold runners, fields position well when he stays square to plate and doesn't dive toward 1B; good worker and maintains conditioning well.



Final Word

Summary: Hulking right-hander with potential to eat innings every fifth day; FB plays beyond raw velocity thanks to sink and boring action; difficult pitch for hitters to handle; FB carries much of the load in VerHagen’s game; CH plays to average at times but still needs some polish; CB lags behind and won’t catch up; quality makeup.

Risk: Low risk; Navigated minor league ladder and is nearly big league ready; injury history is mildly worrisome; low ceiling player with minimal growth remaining.

Projection: With health, VerHagen still has potential to help the Tigers (or another club) as a 5th starter that eats innings and posts solid starts; will never miss bats thanks to poor secondary pitches; could play as middle reliever or possibly 7th inning arm if FB plays up in bursts; health will dictate re-emergence at MLB level, but could see innings in Detroit in 2015.

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