#9 - Tony Giarratano

The Tigers have gone through numerous Shortstop prospects over the past ten years, but none of have really developed to the point of consistent production for the Tigers. The Tigers hope to break that streak with their most recent Shortstop draft pick; Tony Giarratano. Despite just being drafted, Giarratano is a much more polished player and should move quickly through the system.

The Tigers selected Tony Giarratano in the 3rd round of the 2003 amateur draft out of Tulane University. After a very successful career at Tulane, Giarratano was ready to continue his success at the professional level – and did so in his very first season in the organization. Ever since his selection, Giarratano has been regarded as a very advanced prospect – and the 21-year old should see a speedy move up the charts.

Giarratano spent the 2003 season in short season A ball, playing for the Oneonta Tigers. He had a very good season at Oneonta, hitting .328 as the team's starting Shortstop. Defensively, he had some rough spots, but is for the most part fluid in the field. He has decent speed on the basepaths and has a knack for getting the ball into the gaps (evidenced by his .476 slugging percentage - although it's unlikely he'll ever develop a legit power swing). Currently, Giarratano's biggest issue will be to improve his eye at the plate (.328 average, but only a .365 OBP).

Giarratano isn't a star, but he projects to be a solid everyday Shortstop. Someone who can put the ball in play, steal a base when necessary, and provide solid defense for the team. He's not an All Star, not a gold glover or a batting champion, just the typical player that shows up and gets the job done.

As stated before, Giarratano is very advanced for his age, so expect him to skip low-A West Michigan and jump straight to high-A Lakeland – probably along with fellow Oneonta teammate 3B Kody Kirkland. With Carlos Guillen's impending free agency and the uncertainty surrounding Omar Infante, don't be surprised if the Tigers look to put Giarratano on the fast track to the majors, especially because they don't feel Don Kelly can be an everyday starter at Shortstop and Juan Gonzalez (starter at Lakeland last season) was traded to the Mariners in the deal for Guillen.

Giarratano doesn't have an incredible upside, but there are very few prospects straight out of college as polished as Giarratano. He knows the game, can consistently put the ball in play and get on base, and he's no slouch in the field either. While he needs to increase his patience at the plate, Giarratano could be only a couple years away from making his debut with the Tigers, especially if Guillen doesn't return when free agency hits for him.

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