Position: Second Base Height: 5-9 Weight: 155
Born: 4/1/1983 Bats: Right Throws: Right
Rhymes joined the Tigers as a 27th round choice out of William & Mary College after he had completed one of the most impressive careers in school history. Rhymes finished his senior season with a .413 average, which led the CAA Conference, and 92 hits that broke the William & Mary single-season record. For his efforts, Rhymes was named Second Team All-Conference, First Team All-Region, and Honorable Mention All-State (Virginia). Any doubts about his ability to hit with wood were laid to rest after he was named to the Cape Cod League All-Star team in 2004.
After joining the Tigers organization, Rhymes kept right on hitting, posting a .328/.391/.420 line. After a promotion to full-season ball in 2006, Rhymes was solid, but unspectacular for the West Michigan Whitecaps. He put many of his skills on display in the Midwest League, but struggled to drive the ball against more advanced pitchers, in more difficult hitter's environments.
Rhymes is never going to wow anyone with his tools, but rather with his pure determination and love for the game. What he lacks in pure skill is made up for in effort and heart. His offensive game relies on singles and walks, with very little power. He is easily overpowered by good fastballs, and struggles to drive the ball to any part of the park. His pitch recognition and patience are advanced, but his below average hand-eye coordination prevents him from taking advantage. Will is an average runner with good base stealing instincts.
Defensively, he has better range at second, than his raw speed would suggest, and he can make all the routine plays with ease. His arm is average on most plays, but he has difficulty with strong throws on the double-play pivot. Rhymes is a heady player, who understands the nuances of the game and is capable of playing situational baseball with the best of them. He gives 100% effort at all times, and he is his own worst critic. At times, he can be too hard on himself, allowing it to effect the rest of his game.
Performance Level Team AB AVG 2B HR RBI SO BB OBP% SLG% A
Because of his hard-nosed style, Rhymes always seems to be battling nagging injuries, but he has yet to encounter anything of serious concern in his career.
Rhymes found his full season debut to be substantially more difficult than his first taste of pro ball in 2005. Despite his struggles at the plate in 2006, he is likely to receive a promotion to Lakeland of the Florida State League, for next season. With a slightly better offensive environment, and a better idea of what to expect as a professional, Rhymes could be in line for a small bump in his numbers. In the end, his lack of tools may limit his long term success. Without superior athleticism or tools, Rhymes is limited to second base defensively, and likely doesn't have the stick to carry him to the higher levels. He'll have a chance to become a David Eckstein type player, but he must make some strides quickly, before he is passed by other players on the organizational depth chart.
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.