Garth McKinney – Detroit Tigers
Position: Outfield Height: 6-3 Weight: 210 Born: 5/7/82 Bats: Right Throws: Right
Taken in the 29th round of the 2001 draft as a draft-and-follow player, McKinney returned to Walters State Community College, posting such impressive numbers, the Tigers had no choice but to try and sign him. In his final year at Walters State CC, McKinney was among the national leaders in nearly every offensive category despite suffering a broken wrist near the end of the season. Finishing the year with a .473 batting average, 15 homeruns, and 67 RBI, Garth was one of the top junior college players in the nation in 2002. After recovering from his wrist injury, McKinney made a brief appearance in the Gulf Coast League in 2002, posting modest numbers. Since then, McKinney has struggled at Oneonta and this season in West Michigan.
McKinney came into the Tigers organization with a reputation as a player with tremendous power potential, reasonable speed, and a very strong arm. While the power potential is beginning to come to light this season, McKinney has struggled to make consistent contact, striking out at some rather incredible rates. His strike zone judgment, and willingness to take a walk has improved over the course of his professional career, but there is still room for significant improvement. McKinney has shown streaks where he is capable of putting all of his tools together for weeks at a time, demonstrating the potential he has. Unfortunately, these streaks are not increasing in frequency as he continues his development. Defensively, Garth has been strong. He reads the ball well off the bat, takes direct routes while tracking fly balls, and has displayed a strong, accurate arm from the outfield. McKinney has a lot to improve in his offensive game. The flashes of brilliance are there, but far too infrequently. If Garth can begin to make more consistent contact, while maintaining his ability to drive the ball, he could move quickly. If not, it could be a long, winding road to the majors.
Having fully recovered from the broken wrist that cut short his final season at Walters State, McKinney has maintained a clean bill of health as a professional. With no other injuries in his history, McKinney appears poised to continue his development without worry at this point.
As previously mentioned, McKinney's biggest stumbling block will be his inability to make consistent contact. If he is able to improve upon this, his remaining tools could carry him to a solid big league career. McKinney is displaying the abilities necessary to be a major league outfielder; he is just not displaying those abilities on a consistent basis. At age 22, Garth has time to develop into the player the Tigers hoped he would become, but he must start to make some significant progress soon, or the organization could sour on him. At this point, McKinney doesn't project to be much more than an average outfielder at any level.