Position: Right Handed Pitcher Height: 6-4 Weight: 220
Born: 1/24/1984 Bats: Left Throws: Right
The San Diego Padres nabbed Steik in the 2004 draft after a very successful season at Golden West College. After signing with the Friars that summer, Steik managed to bounce between three different levels, filling holes in various bullpens as needed. His stops that summer even included a stint at AAA-Portland. In 2005, The Padres sent the hard-throwing righty to the Fort Wayne Wizards of the Midwest League. With another successful season of relief in the books, Steik was beginning to make noise as a solid relief prospect.
The Tigers acquired Ricky in a trade last off-season; sending former first round choice Kenny Baugh to San Diego in return. In a bit of a surprise, the Tigers sent Steik back to the Midwest League, this time pitching for the West Michigan Whitecaps. During his repeat stint in the league, Steik helped anchor a dominating ‘Caps bullpen; a bullpen that eventually helped lead the Tigers affiliate to the Midwest League title.
Steik is a prototypical Dave Dombrowski pitcher, with the potential to become a dominating, hard-throwing bullpen option. Steik's fastball sits in the 92-94 range, and can touch 96 at times. With plenty of natural sink on his ball, Ricky is often better off keeping his fastball in the lower 90s, preventing it from flattening out and becoming very hittable. Ricky peppers the strike zone with heavy fastballs, but lacks the consistent ability to hit spots and make quality pitches.
His breaking ball is a bit slurvy, and lacks consistent, late bite, but has shown potential to develop into an above-average offering. The Tigers have been working with him to tighten it up, but progress is slow. His arm often falls below the ball, costing him movement and control. Steik lacks a usable change-up, but as long as he can continue improving his breaking ball, he should be able to survive without a third offering. One challenge for Ricky has, and always will be, conditioning. His weight and ability to remain in top physical condition have been a challenge, and the Tigers must hope he is able to control it and reach his ultimate effectiveness.
Performance Level Team W-L ERA G GS SV SO BB IP WHIP A
Thus far, Steik has been injury free in his career, however, conditioning has been an issue for the big righty, and could potentially present injury issues in the future.
Along with many of his 2006 teammates, Steik will almost certainly head on to play for Lakeland in the Advanced-A Florida State League. It would have been beneficial for Ricky to get a taste of the FSL this past summer, but with several relievers dominating for the L-Tigers, such a move was not in the cards. If Steik is able to come into camp ready to pitch, he'll likely have a shot to nail down the closer's role during spring training.
With the departure of Anthony Claggett, and concerns over the long term health of Orlando Perdomo, Steik may be next in line at Lakeland for the job. There is little doubt his fastball could carry him to a career as a successfully late inning reliever, but his breaking ball and conditioning must get in order before that success becomes a realistic possibility. Look for Steik to battle through a challenging season at Lakeland, and if things go well, he could see AA-Erie for a taste before 2007 is closed out.
You can contact Mark Anderson at email@example.com