#8 - Kenny Baugh

The Tigers have had a run of extremely bad luck concerning their first round selections – especially pitchers. Seth Greisinger and Matt Wheatland have more or less lost their careers to arm injuries, and the Tigers 2001 first round selection, Kenny Baugh, is trying not to follow suit. A solid year this season and Baugh can put the injury concerns aside. But if he gets the injury bug again, another first round pick could be down the drain.

Kenny Baugh was the Tigers first round pick (11th overall) in the 2001 draft out of Rice University. There were big questions as to whether or not the Tigers would select Baugh or RHP Aaron Heilmann. Heilmann dominated the minors, but has yet to find consistency with the Mets at the major league level. Baugh meanwhile suffered a serious arm injury, probably due to overuse at Rice, and lost the entire 2002 season.

After coming off major arm surgery, every pitcher is expected to have their ups and downs. Baugh's 2003 season was no different. He had his good outings and his bad outings as he struggled to get back to his pre-injury form. He finished the season with a very pedestrian-like 7-9 record with a 4.60 ERA. His 1.81 K:BB ratio definitely wasn't one to brag about either. However, Baugh showed improvement throughout the season and hope is that he'll improve even more with a full season now between him and the injury.

Baugh originally projected to be a number 2 or 3 starter, someone who could definitely be counted on every fifth day. However, there's no telling whether or not he'll get everything back velocity-wise, so it's more likely that Baugh projects as someone that'll appear closer to the bottom of the rotation. He's not a real strikeout pitcher, but he can still take someone out when the need arises.

Baugh originally sported a 94-mph fastball with a high leg kick and a smooth delivery. Last year, the leg kick was lower and the fastball was slower (typically sitting at 90). However, if he can get the extra zip back, his fastball will easily be his top pitch. He also possesses a change-up and a curveball, both serviceable pitches that still need work. However, with a little bit of work, either could become a very solid out pitch for him. Either way, the most important thing for Baugh will be to get his velocity back to what it was before the injury.

Baugh will either return to Erie, or make the jump up to Toledo, depending on how he looks in Spring Training. He's seen plenty of Erie – pitching there even before he sat the entire 2002 season out. However, if the Tigers still feel he needs more development time, they won't hesitate to return him there. But a solid Spring Training and he'll be headed to Toledo for a full season with the Mud Hens. He does have a small chance at making the big league club, but highly unlikely unless he completely blows the competition away.

It's impossible to tell whether or not Baugh will rebound. The overuse in college could have easily killed his chances at a successful pro career, or the year off might have allowed his arm to heal up and now he just needs to rebuild. Baugh will get a chance in Detroit at some point, probably coming sometime in 2005. However, his success level is entirely contingent on his arm. Baugh has the make-up, but don't be shocked if he falls victim just like Greisinger did.

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