Tyler Alexander (LHP) - High-A Lakeland
Date Observed: 4/8/16
Final line: 5 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 0 BB, 5 K
Listed at 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, Alexander features that ideal innings eater frame that you look for in a starting pitcher. He has an athletic build, with a high waist, long limbs and solid-average strength in his arms and legs.
Alexander works quickly, firing the ball with above-average arm-speed from a low-3/4 arm-slot. There's a fair amount of deception thanks to the high leg kick and late exposure of the ball. His ability to repeat the delivery yielded above-average control and solid-average command; both of which could take a step forward with continued pro instruction. Alexander also held runners exceptionally well, clocking in between 1.20 and 1.25, and picking off one base-runner.
The crafty southpaw doesn't light up the radar gun as his fastball sat between 88-91 mph, topping out at 92. However, what he lacks in velocity, Alexander more than makes up for in location and movement. Alexander moved the ball around well, attacking all four quadrants and painting the black of the plate with precision. His fastball showed cutter action at the lower band of velocity and heavy sinking action when he pounded the ball in the lower third of the strike zone. Alexander's fastball also featured solid arm-side run when he utilized the offering up in the zone as a chase pitch.
During the outing a 83-84 mph change-up was Alexander's go-to secondary weapon. He sold the offering well, maintaining arm-speed while achieving solid sink and arm-side run. Alexander also occasionally mixed in a 81-83 mph slider that drew a few awkward swings. While it lacked consistency, the offering featured tight late-breaking 2/7 action at its best.
When checking the boxes during evaluation most of Alexander's arsenal lives in the fringy to solid-average zone. His advanced approach, ability to throw quality strikes and left-handedness however make the entire profile play up a tick, yielding a respectable high-floor potential back of the rotation stalwart.
Jairo Labourt (LHP) – High-A Lakeland
Dates Observed: 4/9/16 & 3 starts in 2015
Final Line: 4 IP 0 ER 2 H 3 BB 8 K
While 6-foot-4 seems legit, Labourt appears much heavier than his listed weight of 205 pounds. His face and chest appear doughy, raising natural concern about continuing to hang additional bad weight down the road as he ages. That being said, both the upper and lower body feature solid natural strength. Labourt appears rather uncoordinated, noticeably lacking athleticism and the ability to adequately field his position.
Labourt slings the ball from a high-3/4 arm-slot with quick arm-action through the release point. There's a fair amount of effort in the delivery and he struggles mightily to repeat his rather choppy mechanics throughout his delivery. At his best, Labourt's arm-slot and long levers generated an exceptional amount of downward plane, yielding lots of weak contact.
His fastball consistently sat between 92-95 mph, topping out as high as 96. He predominantly navigated the fastball east-to-west, living almost exclusively in the lower third of the strike zone, achieving exceptional heavy sinking action. Unfortunately, when elevated the offering appeared flat, which could be an issue when he faces more advanced batters.
Labourt's mid-80s slider was absolutely nasty during his first outing of the season, drawing whiffs from both right and left-handed batters. The tight, sharp two-plane breaker projects legit bat-missing potential at the big-league level. Labourt mixed in a mid-80s change piece that appeared to be more of a change of pace pitch than anything. He noticeably lacks feel for the pitch and the proper arm-speed necessary to make the offering an adequate weapon in his repertoire. Labourt also mixed in a solid 87-88 mph cutter, something I didn't see from him over last season's observations. The arm-speed and reduced velocity paired well with his fastball, making the offering a solid new addition to his arsenal.
Control and command remain Labourt's biggest bugaboo. He can best be described as a raw dart thrower. Control comes and goes thanks to high effort in the delivery and difficulty repeating his mechanics. Command is almost non-existent. Pro instruction and repetition might yield a small step forward, but it's difficult to project any major improvement in the area of his game.
Labourt struggles to turn over a lineup, largely in part to his inability to avoid predictable patterns in his sequencing. However, I firmly believe that a lot of these issues sort themselves out, if and when he's utilized in a relief role. The Tigers will understandably continue to develop Labourt as a starting pitcher, his future however will likely be in the bullpen -- where his plus fastball and slider combo will likely play up a tick higher, making it an impressive profile for a lefty reliever. When you also factor in his bulldog mound presence, the Tigers have a potential late-inning relief stud in Jairo Labourt -- a solid find, considering he was the "pot sweetener" in the David Price trade with Toronto last summer.
James Chipman is TigsTown's Senior Lakeland Correspondent, covering the organization up close from Florida. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @J__Chipman.