Tigers Scouting Report #5: James McCann

Despite being a second round pick with college experience, James McCann hasn't moved quickly up the organizational ladder, hitting a stop at a time. But nearly four years after being drafted, McCann has cracked the big league roster. Can he now challenge for the everyday catcher spot?

James McCann


Position: Catcher

Date of Birth: 6/13/1990 (2014 Opening Day Age: 24)
Height/Weight: 6-2/210
Bats/Throws: Right/Right
Acquired: 2011 Draft, 2nd Round
Ranking History: #8 (2012), #9 (2013), #5 (2014), #5 (2015)

Background: A second round pick that was panned 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. Following a successful season in Double-A in 2013, McCann continued to come out of his shell with a .295/.343/.427 line in his first attempt against Triple-A competition.


2014 Stats - Hitting
Toledo 41749123340754259092.295.343.427
Detroit 122310000210.250.250.333

Scouting Report

Body: Exceptional frame/body; strong throughout; chiseled; demonstrated durability; tall; broad shoulders; thick legs; good stamina; excellent build for a catcher.

Hit: Swing has been tweaked since signing; much more consistent and much quicker to the zone; solid-average bat speed; feel for the barrel and makes good contact; contact is not always firm; much better against LHP; must learn to turn on pitches on the inner half to demonstrate strength and add power to game; good approach; doesn’t swing and miss a lot; potential for fringe hit tool and maybe a tick more as he develops against advanced competition at the MLB level. Grade – Present 4/Future 4+

Power: Contact can be sluggish at times and often appears soft when served to the opposite field; has significant natural strength and just needs to translate that to his swing; still learning to turn on the ball and drive it to pull side; should provide some doubles power and 10-12 home runs at peak with everyday playing time; only tool with significant development remaining. Grade – 3/4

Speed: Runs well for a catcher; still below-average down the line; good athlete and should keep majority of speed even as catching takes a toll; can run reasonably well once underway and has momentum. 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 with firm wrists and ability to frame; handles heat and spin very well; minimal drift; good going down to block; very good footwork in all areas of defensive responsibility; easy above-average glove at present; extra polish and sum of the parts can push to plus once he settles into MLB role. Grade – 5+/6

Arm: Plays up with good footwork and quick release; gets rid of it very easily; ball comes out without trouble; above-average raw strength; throws are consistently downhill to bag and on target. Grade – 5+/5+

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

Final Word

Summary: Underrated overall profile; value comes from the sum of his parts rather than any standout tool; bat will determine long term role; has potential for fringe to average hit and fringe power that will play well as a catcher in today’s offensive environment; glove and arm are assets and could play near plus on a day-to-day basis; good teammate with leadership ability; profile that will carry an extended big league career; type of player that rounds out everyday lineup of successful teams.

Risk: Low risk; Success at every MiLB level; minimal skill development remaining; already reached big leagues.

Projection: Obvious backup catcher without additional tool/skill development; potential to work as everyday catcher on even the best teams thanks to carrying defensive tools and enough bat to make it all work; has already arrived in MLB and should stick for the duration.

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