#17 - Eric Eckenstahler

This offseason, the Tigers resigned LHP Jamie Walker to be their man lefty out of the bullpen after he had another strong year last season. However, LHP Eric Eckenstahler could still factor into the equation, especially if he can keep the ball around the strike zone.

Eric Eckenstahler was drafted three separate times, but didn't sign until the Tigers drafted him in the 32nd round in the 1999 amateur draft. Eckenstahler is an older player at 27, having spent part of the past two seasons with the Tigers. His production in the minors has always been solid, but he has yet to truly prove he can stick in the majors.

Statistically, Eckenstahler had a very solid 2003. His ERA was just above 3 for AAA Toledo, and his ERA was actually sub-3 for the Tigers. However, he had more walks than strikeouts (15 to 12) and allowed way too many inherited runs to score (that didn't count against him).

Eckenstahler is a lefty reliever out of the bullpen. He's filled that role before, and he'll hope to make the team and fill that role again for the Tigers.

Eckenstahler has an incredible breaking ball to go along with a fastball. The problem is that he's accuracy leaves a lot to be desired, and while he very rarely throws wild, he has trouble hitting spots and often leaves his fastball up in the zone, a very hittable pitch. However, when Eckenstahler is on target, he's extremely tough against left-handed hitters and can be great out of the pen.

Walker has already made the squad, so the bigger question is whether or not Manager Alan Trammel wants to carry a second lefty on the squad. If he does, Eckenstahler will have a chance at sticking in Detroit. If not, he'll be headed back to Toledo, and probably will fall of the 40-man roster as well.

Trammel could very well decide to carry two lefties, in which case Eckenstahler will battle Rule-5 selection Mike Bumatay for the other lefty spot in the bullpen. Eckenstahler needs to put it all together, or his hopes of becoming a regular major leaguer will probably disappear. Eckenstahler has the size and the curve to stick, but it will all come down to his consistency. At 27, Eckenstahler could finally be able to put it all together and give the Tigers another lefty out of the bullpen.

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