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2017 TigsTown Top 50 Scouting Reports #30-26: Ulrich Bojarski, Isrrael de la Cruz, Ildemaro Escalona, Zac Shepherd, Grayson Greiner

Continuing with the 2017 TigsTown Top 50, the next five in the top 50 include a trio of intriguing youngsters, each of whom brings an intriguing set of tools, along with a catcher who has returned from a severe, prolonged slump to rank among the top catching prospects in the organization.

30. Ulrich Bojarski (OF)

Tool Grades (Future)

Hit

Power

Speed

Defense

Arm

45

55

55

50

60

 

The South African born Bojarski will be an intriguing player to follow this summer. Blessed with an impressive package of raw tools, Bojarski will face the stiffest competition of his career when he makes his Stateside debut, likely in the GCL, in June. With the athleticism, feel for the game, and arm strength to profile in right field, Bojarski should contribute defensively right away, allowing him to earn the necessary game action for his raw offensive game to catch up. Bojarski possesses the bat speed and raw strength to be an impact offensive player, but his pitch recognition and strike zone knowledge will have to develop for him to become the necessary fringe – or better – hitter that will allow his power to manifest in game situations.

 

29. Isrrael De La Cruz (SS)

Tool Grades (Future)

Hit

Power

Speed

Defense

Arm

50

40

60

55

55

 

The Tigers have had a knack for finding slick fielding Latin American shortstops that they hope will develop the offensive skills to become quality overall prospects. De La Cruz is the next in a long line of such prospects, and with the gains he displayed in 2016, his offensive game just might have the legs necessary to put him on the big league radar. A potential above-average to plus defender with first-step quickness, speed, and arm strength, De La Cruz is a near lock to stick at shortstop long term. His strength took an impressive step forward heading into last season and it showed with his ability to knock line drives to all fields and become a more consistent offensive threat. De La Cruz will have to continue gaining strength as he matures and must refine his offensive approach against more advanced arms, but he has the potential to be a glove-first player with potential to hit for average in a big league lineup.

 

28. Ildemaro Escalona (SS)

Tool Grades (Future)

Hit

Power

Speed

Defense

Arm

50

55

60

45

60

 

There’s little middle ground to be had with this ranking, as Escalona could make this positioning look ridiculous in either a positive or negative way in short order. A tooled-up teenager, Escalona has the potential to explode into one of the system’s top prospects or fade away as a high-risk player that never puts it all together. The 2017 season will be a huge test for Escalona, but scouts familiar with him are extremely high on his potential as an impact player; particularly at the plate. A potential offensive force, Escalona has the bat-to-ball ability and bat speed to be an average hitter that pounds the ball to the gaps and hits at the top of the order. His plus speed will help him on both sides of the ball, and could be the key skill that gives him a chance to stay at shortstop. In all likelihood, Escalona is not a shortstop long term, but his arm strength would allow him to slide to third base, or his quickness and athleticism could allow him to handle second base or even center field. Regardless of his future position, Escalona is an exciting player with impact potential littered throughout his game.

 

27. Zac Shepherd (3B)

Tool Grades (Future)

Hit

Power

Speed

Defense

Arm

50

55

45

40

45

 

Shepherd’s profile as a prospect is carried by his offensive potential, namely his natural hitting ability and potential for plenty of doubles and possibly 15-20 home runs at his peak. That type of offensive potential will keep him on the radar for a long time, and could result in a big league career at the end of the day. Defensively, Shepherd will likely be a fringe or worse defender at any position he plays (even if he shifts to left field from third base), putting more pressure on his bat. After struggling at High-A in 2016, Shepherd needs to rebound with a solid offensive showing in a tough offensive environment this summer to re-establish his prospect footing. If the bat comes along, Shepherd could be a solid MLB contributor, or he could settle into a second division or bench bat role should things come up just shy of his offensive ceiling.

 

26. Grayson Greiner (C)

Tool Grades (Future)

Hit

Power

Speed

Defense

Arm

40

45

40

55

60

 

There’s nothing sexy in Greiner’s profile, but most scouts remain confident in his future as a big league backup catcher. Finally past a hamate bone injury he suffered in 2015, Greiner looked much better in 2016 and regained some of his prospect “shine.” A solid defender that calls a good game and receives the ball well, Greiner has the chops and raw arm strength to be an asset behind the dish. His footwork and transfer need to be cleaned up for his arm to play at a maximum level, but that could still come with consistent playing time at Double-A and Triple-A. Greiner has a lengthy swing that prevents him from making consistent contact, but when he keeps things a little shorter to the ball, he has the ability to drive the ball deep to the outfield, mostly to the pull side. A solid backup catcher with occasional pop is always an asset to a big league bench, and that description fits Greiner perfectly. 


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