Prospect Profile: Jonah Nickerson

When the Tigers grabbed Jonah Nickerson in the first week of June, he was just another name. A couple weeks later, he was anything but another name, as he emerged as the staff ace for the College World Series champs, and was named the Series' Most Outstanding Player.

Jonah Nickerson
Position: Right-Handed Pitcher Height: 6-1 Weight: 195
Born: 2/22/1985 Bats: Right Throws: Right

Background
Nickerson will join the Tigers after leading his Oregon State Beavers squad to the College World Series Championship last month. As a workhorse for the OSU team, Nickerson notched 2nd Team All-American and 1st Team All-Pac 10 honors as a sophomore, and was named a Preseason All-American this past spring. Jonah's collegiate accolades came on the heels of a high school career that saw him named as a 3-time All-League performer, and a 2-time All-State winner. Following his sophomore season at Oregon State, Nickerson joined Team USA, pitching very well in six outings. He logged a 1-1 record with a 2.00 ERA and 11.5 K/9. Jonah carried his International success to his junior campaign for the Beavers, notching a 2.67 regular season ERA, and a 10-4 regular season record.

Scouting Report
Despite all his high school and collegiate success, Nickerson does not profile as a top-notch starter at the professional level. He brings four pitches that range from barely average, to a tick above average; with none of them having the potential to develop into plus offerings. His fastball and cutter are his top two pitches, both of which he controls well to both sides of the plate. His fastball sits in the 86-88 range, and can touch 90 on occasion. Nickerson compliments his hard stuff with a curve and change combination that is just good enough to keep hitters off balance. Neither pitch has swing-and-miss potential, but they should be enough to get hitters out in front, and drive it into the turf. His makeup is exceptional, with a bulldog mentality that often forces him to remain competitive in all situations. He will never give up on the mound, and that may prove beneficial as he moves up the minor league ladder. Nickerson is an average athlete who fields his position fairly well. He doesn't profile as much more than a #4 starter, and could easily slide to the bullpen within the next few seasons.

Performance

Level

Team

W-L

ERA

G

GS

SV

SO

BB

IP

WHIP

'06

Oregon St.

13-4

2.24

20

20

0

131

38

136.2

1.11


Health Record
Nickerson's arm appears to be one of freakish ability to remain healthy. He never seems to be excessively sore, even after being worked hard during the CWS. Whether the Tigers allow him to continue throwing this season will be something to monitor. His arm still needs to be protected, and the Tigers would be wise to make sure he doesn't experience any injuries this summer.

The Future
If Nickerson joins a roster this summer, he will likely head to Oneonta, but is polished enough to handle the leap straight to West Michigan. He should start 2007 in full-season ball, regardless of how he is used this summer. Nickerson is likely to work out of the rotation during the early parts of his career, as the Tigers try to make a determination on his ability to remain there long term. It is far more likely that he takes his fierce pitching mentality to the bullpen by the time he reaches AA. The Tigers have plenty of power arms, but few pitchers that can match Jonah's intensity on the hill. This component of his game could be a valuable addition to a system in need of toughness.


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