Dusty Ryan – Detroit Tigers
Position: Catcher Height: 6-5 Weight: 220 Born: 9/2/84 Bats: Right Throws: Right
One of two draft and follow players the Tigers signed prior to the 2004 draft, Ryan is justifying the organizations investment immediately. Taken in the 48th round of the 2003 draft, Ryan had displayed moderate numbers in his freshman season at Merced Junior College, posting a 0.256 batting average, with 11 doubles and 14 runs batted in. With a commitment to attend Oklahoma State following his sophomore season in hand, Ryan put together an outstanding campaign. Dusty finished the season ranking in the top ten in the Central Valley Conference in batting average (0.398), homeruns (6), RBI (41), slugging (0.617), and on-base percentage (.477). Fortunately, the Tigers were able to sign him away from his commitment to OSU, sending him on to Oneonta to start his professional career. Ryan was also drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 46th round of the 2002 draft following an outstanding career at Golden Valley High School in Merced, California.
Obviously, the offensive potential exists; it's just a matter of how well this potential will translate to the professional game. Ryan has above-average power potential, and has shown the ability to hit for decent average to this point. Dusty normally displays a short, compact, and powerful stroke, but his swing does become too long on occasion when he starts swinging for the fences. So far in 2004, Ryan has managed to keep his swing short, generating some impressive numbers for a 19 year old in the New York-Penn League. A .287/.381/.465 line posted in what is typically a pitcher's league is quite impressive, and bodes well for his future. Ryan has demonstrated an advanced approach at the plate, showing a willingness to be patient and take walks. With some additional strength and continued work on his strike zone judgment, Dusty could become an offensive monster, capable of driving the ball to all fields with authority. Defensively, Ryan shows above average catch and throw mechanics, with a powerful arm. Ryan also demonstrates surprising quickness behind the plate, and the agility to block the ball well. There are some concerns about his ability to remain at catcher due to his large frame, but for now, all indications are that he can handle the position well.
To date, Dusty has not experienced any significant injuries that will affect him moving forward.
After a solid campaign in the tough New York-Penn League, Dusty will likely move on to West Michigan to start the 2005 season. With an abundance of catching prospects littering the lower levels of the Tigers farm system (Joel Roa, Justin Barnes, Cole Miller, Cody Collet, Andrew Graham, etc.), it may prove difficult for Ryan to find consistent at-bats. It will be imperative that Dusty take advantage of all his opportunities, and works hard to continue developing on his own. Both the offensive and defensive potential are there for Ryan to emerge as an elite catching prospect in the coming years, but keep in mind that the developmental curve for catchers is often much slower than other position prospects. It may be a while before he reaches the more advanced levels of the Tigers system, but remember, he is not even 20 years old yet.