Position: Right-handed Pitcher
The 2006 season was Fragoso's second since coming stateside prior to the 2005 campaign. Unlike many Dominican natives, Jose was not signed at an early juncture, but rather after extensive scouting and some continued development in his native country. Debuting with Oneonta in the NYPL, Fragoso posted impressive numbers, leading many to begin wondering if the Tigers had found another promising young arm. Jose's 2.25/1.25 line and 10+ K/9 resulted in him being named the TigsTown Oneonta Pitcher of the Year in 2005.
After such success, it was mildly surprising to see Fragoso return to the O-Tigers to start the 2006 campaign, but the end result was promising enough. After a completely dominating stretch out of the Oneonta bullpen, Fragoso was promoted to West Michigan. At Oneonta, he mustered a 2.33/1.09 line, while allowing opposing batters a paltry .133/.239/.187 line against him. Upon his promotion to the Whitecaps, Jose's success did not slow at all; as he concluded his season with a 1.50/0.71 line in 19.1 innings for the ‘Caps.
Fragoso follows in the mold of so many young Tiger pitching prospects; using an above-average fastball and progressing off-speed pitches to start making a name for himself. With a fastball that can touch 95, and sits routinely in the 91-93 range, Jose has the foundation for a solid arsenal. His fastball has good late life, making solid contact difficult on most occasions. Command of his fastball has wavered often, but strides were made during his second stateside season. He has a tendency to elevate his heater, losing movement and leaving it prone to being hit hard.
Jose compliments his fastball with a slurvy breaking ball and a pretty rudimentary change-up. His breaking ball has the potential to develop into an above-average offering, but he'll need to tighten up the break to make it a truly useful pitch. He has demonstrated an aptitude for burying his breaking ball in the dirt, leading to his high strikeout rates. To maintain this pattern, he'll need to be able to throw the pitch for strikes as well, to avoid becoming predictable. Fragoso's change-up needs significant work, as it lacks consistent movement, and his arm speed can frequently give the pitch away. The Tigers tried Jose in the rotation to close out the 2005 season, but his future seems squarely in the bullpen. After a dominating stretch in the ‘pen this season, Fragoso has begun to cement himself as a potentially dominating relief prospect.
Performance Level Team W-L ERA G GS SV SO BB IP AVG SS-A
Despite some reported soreness in spring training (that may have kept him from going north with the Whitecaps), Fragoso has remained healthy throughout his brief professional career. His mechanics are a little rough, and he could stand to add some bulk to his skinny frame to avoid any potential for future injury.
Jose should start the 2007 season in the Lakeland bullpen, and could head to spring camp as one of the leading candidates for the L-Tigers closer gig. Fragoso has the raw fastball, enough of a breaking ball, and a solid nasty streak that could allow him to be immediately successful in such a role.
Don't be shocked if the Tigers push him up the ladder if he gets off to a quick start. He's demonstrated an ability to handle tough assignments and promotions, and the Tigers could do well to continue challenging him. Fragoso certainly has a ways to go before he should be considered a legitimate option for the Detroit bullpen, but his name should remain on the radar throughout the next 12-18 months.
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.