Prospect Profile: Tony Giarratano

Tony Giarratano had a great start to the 2005 season, receiving plenty of playing time for the big league team in spring training, and earning the praises of manager Alan Trammell. But that's where the good news would end in '05 for Giarratano, as his numbers came up well short of expectations. Will he turn it around to provide for a solid future?

Tony Giarratano
Position: Shortstop Height: 6-0 Weight: 180
Born: 11/29/1982 Bats: Both Throws: Right

Background
Giarratano, sometimes referred to as TonyG, was taken in the 3rd round of the 2003 draft out of the University of Tulane. While at Tulane, the slender shortstop followed up an exceptional freshman campaign by diving into the traditional sophomore slump. Not only did Tony struggle during the collegiate season, but he also struggled mightily during the Cape Cod League season, turning off many scouts along the way. After a solid showing in 2003, the Tigers were convinced Giarratano would make a fine professional shortstop. During his debut in the New York-Penn League, Tony posted an .845 OPS in 47 games. Making the logical jump to West Michigan in 2004, Tony started off modestly, before a promotion to Lakeland, where he went absolutely nuts. Before a season ending injury, Giarratano was in the midst of posting a .376/.421/.505 line for the L-Tigers. A 2005 promotion to Erie was certainly in line, and after an impressive spring Tony got off to a rough start, until his brief stint in Detroit in June. TonyG continued to struggle with Detroit and didn't see much of his success return once he went back to Erie, finishing the season with a .266/.334/.373 line at AA.

Scouting Report
Despite being slight of build, Giarratano possesses surprising pop, and could develop more as he learns to loft the ball more. Tony uses a quick, compact stroke to snap his bat through the strike zone, rarely seeming overmatched by any fastball, and able to adequately adjust to breaking pitches. Giarratano has an advanced approach at the plate and can recognize pitches well enough to maintain above average plate discipline. During his time with Lakeland last season, Tony saw his walk rates drop due to increased aggressiveness at the plate. Giarratano will need to find a more adequate balance between that aggressiveness and better discipline to continue to succeed at higher levels. In the field, Tony is an outstanding defender at the highest end of the defensive spectrum. TonyG has excellent range, good footwork, extremely soft hands, and a strong arm. Giarratano has all the defensive tools necessary to be a Gold Glover at short, but he must settle down and begin to trust his hands and arm to become successful. Tony has an interesting compliment of tools, but he must work hard to become more than a middling shortstop prospect.

Performance

Level

Team

AB

AVG

2B

HR

RBI

SO

BB

OBP%

SLG%

AA

Erie

346

.266

22

3

32

75

32

.334

.373

ML

Detroit

42

.143

0

1

4

7

5

.234

.214


Health Record
Giarratano missed the end of the 2004 season as a result of a separated shoulder that required surgery. This injury was a repeat of one suffered during his sophomore season at Tulane. With multiple separations of his shoulder already in his past, it's likely to be a recurring problem throughout his career. As long as the problem remains isolated to his non-throwing shoulder it shouldn't affect his arm strength, but may sap some of his offensive power.

The Future
With the signing of former-Tiger Ramon Santiago to a minor league contract, that paves the way for Tony to return to Erie with an eye on resurrecting his offensive arsenal that disappeared in 2005. Tony's bat took a huge step back in terms of both plate discipline and power last season, and he must regain those aspects of his arsenal to remain a highly touted prospect. Giarratano is far and away the top middle-infield prospect in the system, with little of substance directly behind him. The Tigers are still very high on him, and rightfully so. With a strong 2006 season, he could line himself up to replace Carlos Guillen at the end of his contract.

Mark Anderson covers the Tigers' minor league system and all of minor league baseball for TigsTown.com. He can be reached at Mark@TigsTown.com.


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