Prospect Profile: Justin Verlander

The Tigers were rumored to be going in any number of directions when the draft came around last June, but after much debate, they went back to the guy with the highest upside; Justin Verlander. Now, after a lengthy contract dispute, Verlander is finally signed and ready to prove he was worth the major league contract he signed.

Justin Verlander
Position: Right handed Pitcher Height: 6-5 Weight: 200
Born: 2/20/1983 Bats: Right Throws: Right

Verlander was the Tigers first selection (2nd overall) in last year's amateur draft. While at Old Dominion, Justin's statistics were less than dominating, but his raw potential was enough to shoot him up most draft boards. Verlander has continually struggled with his control, and will need to make strides to be an effective professional pitcher. While the organization was in no hurry to get Verlander into the system and back on the mound, they never anticipated the contract squabbles they would later endure. The Tigers had made several very fair offers to Verlander, including an offer of a Major League contract; however, the sides appeared very far apart. In October, the front office pulled all offers from the table and ended negotiations with their first round pick, prepared to send him back into the 2005 draft. At that point, Justin's father became involved, relieving his agent and getting a deal done in only a week.

Scouting Report
Verlander's big ticket item is his high-octane fastball that can touch triple digits on occasion. Despite his impressive velocity, Verlander struggles to put hitters away, often falling behind in the count, putting himself in positions where it is difficult to succeed. In addition to his dominating fastball, Verlander uses a true "hammer curve" that has sharp, late bite. His curveball is not a consistent offering at this point, but it has the potential to be a second plus pitch. Verlander's change-up needs the most work, and should prove to be at least an average pitch with continued work. Justin is a good athlete who should be able to adjust well to the changes the organization is likely to make in his mechanics. Throughout college, Verlander relied on somewhat violent mechanics that were very difficult to repeat, lending further to his control problems. With improved mechanics and a more consistent delivery, Verlander could make enormous strides with his command. Overall, Justin has the potential to be a frontline starter with electric "stuff." There are some concerns that his high effort delivery will land him in the bullpen, but until he fails as a starter or encounters injury problems, the Tigers would be wise to give him every shot to head their rotation.














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Health Record
Verlander has experienced no significant injuries to this point. He did encounter some rather high workloads in college, and will be watched closely at the start of his career, but there are no immediate concerns.

The Future
Verlander will likely start the 2005 season with Lakeland of the Florida State League, and with good performance, he could see time in Erie towards the end of the year. The biggest obstacle standing in Justin's way is his control. If he can make early strides finding the strike zone, Justin has the potential to move quickly through the system. Wisely, the organization will closely monitor his workload in 2005, likely holding him to no more than 140-150 innings. With continued health and maturity, Verlander could see Detroit late in the 2006 season, and will likely begin fighting for a permanent rotation spot in 2007.

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