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2017 TigsTools: Detroit Tigers Best Power Hitter

There are dozens of ways baseball players can contribute on the field, but few things draw the eye like a ball soaring over the outfield fence. Raw power is one of the easiest things to spot: just look for the guys hitting moonshots during batting practice. But usable in-game power is a different animal, and it’s rare to see players realize their full power potential. The Tigers have a solid crop of power-hitting prospects heading into 2017, led by one of last year’s most prolific sluggers.

Best Power

1. Christin Stewart (LF/DH)

2. Zac Shepherd (3B)

3. Jacoby Jones (OF/IF)

4. Connor Harrell (OF)

5. Mike Gerber (OF)

 

The Tigers drafted Stewart in the first round in 2015 primarily for the promise of a thunderous bat, and so far he has met or surpassed expectations. He has easy plus raw power to all fields, and more to the pull side, and so far he has made the adjustments necessary to tap into that power in games. He was one of just six minor leaguers to hit more than 30 home runs last season, and he shows all the signs of being able to hit 20+ bombs on an annual basis.

 

Shepherd owns at least above-average raw power thanks to good bat speed and a solid feel for the barrel, and at just 21 he still has room to add more strength to his 6’3 frame. He tripled his previous career high with 15 home runs last year, but he did so at the expense of contact, and he’ll need to make some big adjustments to produce average in-game pop.

 

Jones is an athletic specimen who is blessed with good bat speed and above-average raw power. He has produced 30+ extra-base hits in each of his three full seasons in the minors, and when he gets ahold of the ball he can send it a long way. But he has serious pitch recognition issues, and without some adjustments he is unlikely to reach even average in-game power.

 

Harrell is similar to Jones in a lot of ways. They are both impressive athletes built like linebackers, they both have above-average raw power, and they both punished left-handed pitching in the minors last year (Jones .292/.397./.566, Harrell .328/.383/.484). Unfortunately, Harrell suffers from the same sort of pitch recognition and swing-and-miss issues as Jones, and he’ll struggle to tap into his power in games.

 

Gerber isn’t quite as strong as the players above him, but he has average raw power and enough sock in his bat to consistently find the gaps and clear the wall in the minors. He, too, suffers from a lot of swing-and-miss, and he had a great deal of difficulty against left-handed pitchers in AA, so the likelihood of him producing average power numbers in the majors is slim.

 

Honorable Mention

Will Allen (1B)

Joey Pankake (2B)

 

A former catcher, Allen is a big, strong prospect who owns average raw pop. He hit just five home runs in West Michigan last year, but he also blasted 35 doubles, and some of those figure to clear the fence when he reaches more hitter friendly leagues.

Like Shepherd, Pankake tripled his previous career high in home runs last season, blasting 15 in just 96 games for Lakeland. He also hit just .215 on the season, and was victimized by a .244 BABIP in part by selling out for fly balls, so he may need to find a better balance between power and average in the future.

 

Projection Kings

Ulrich Bojarksi

Julio Martinez

Randel Alcantara

 

A native of South Africa, Bojarski is an impressive athlete with all the tools to play an outfield corner, including above-average raw power, but the 18-year-old will need a ton of refinement before he makes it higher on this list.

The Tigers made Martinez a priority in July of 2014, signing the then 16-year-old for $600,000 thanks in part to his impressive raw power. He hit just one home run in his stateside debut last year, but that number should rise considerably as he grows into his tall, lean body.

Alcantara was a member of the 2013 international class, and he uses his sturdy frame to produce above-average raw power from the left side of the dish. He hit five home runs in his U.S. debut last year, which tied for sixth most in the Gulf Coast League.



Why He Missed

Steven Moya

Gabriel Quintana

 

Steven Moya has 70-grade raw power, and some sites still list him as a prospect because he has fewer than 130 MLB at-bats. However, he is no longer eligible to win the Rookie of the Year award because he spent more than 45 days on the Tigers active roster last year, and is thus no longer considered a prospect by TigsTown.

The Tigers signed Quintana as a minor-league free agent in January after the 24-year-old third baseman bashed 50 extra-base hits, including 20 home runs, in AA last year. However, he has never shown any signs of possessing the plate discipline to turn his plus raw power into usable game power at the highest level, so it’s hard to consider him a real prospect.

 


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