Position: First Baseman
Strieby joined the Tigers as a 4th round selection out of the University of Kentucky. The Washington native was named his high school's Athlete of the Year in both 2002 and 2003, on his way to a two-year stint at Edmonds Community College. As a freshman at Edmonds, Ryan was named to the NWAACC All-Conference Team, and was drafted by the Dodgers in the 29th round as a DFE candidate. Strieby exploded in his second season, batting .450 with 21 doubles, 5 triples, and 7 home runs in 43 games. Yet again, he was named to the to the All-Conference 1st team, and rather than sign with the Dodgers, Ryan chose to honor his commitment to Kentucky.
In his lone season with the Wildcats, Ryan was named SEC Player of the Year, Louisville Slugger/Collegiate Baseball All-American 1st Team, and the Collegiate Baseball Foundation All-American Team. Strieby posted a .343/.473/.704 line with 22 doubles and 20 home runs, while also setting a single-season school record for RBIs with 77. His professional debut came with the Oneonta Tigers of the New York-Penn League. However, Ryan struggled to find the form that made him such a lofty draft choice, and finished the summer with a disappointing .241/.317/.335 line. Strieby's best month came in July when he started to find his stroke, notching a nifty .309/.375/.404 spot.
Strieby is a classic power hitting first baseman. He is a huge individual, with impressive strength and surprising athletic ability. His swing is sound, and he whips the bat through the zone with authority, driving the ball to all fields. Like most power hitters, Ryan is at his best when he can extend his powerful arms and pull the ball, but he has shown the ability to adjust to other pitches and drive them out of the park to the opposite field.
Ryan has solid pitch recognition skills, and as a result, he controls the strike zone very well. He has an advanced approach at the plate, focusing on what he needs to do in each at-bat to allow him to be successful. He can get fooled by good breaking pitches, and will get rattled when things don't go his way.
In the field, Ryan is an above-average defender at first, with soft hands and reasonable footwork. His speed is good for his size, but he will never be mistaken for a burner. With extensive wood-bat experience thanks to his time at Edmonds CC, Strieby projects to hit for power immediately, and should adjust quickly to the pro game. Ryan's ceiling projects as a big time power hitter, but his success will depend largely on his ability to continue controlling the strike zone and recognizing good pitches to hit.
Performance Level Team AB AVG 2B HR RBI SO BB OBP% SLG% SS-A
Strieby has been healthy throughout his high school and collegiate careers. He will need to maintain control of his weight and stay in good physical condition to avoid nagging injuries, but that hasn't been a problem throughout his baseball career.
Despite his struggles at Oneonta – which were surprising – Strieby should head to West Michigan to start the 2007 campaign. He is likely to split first base and DH duties with fellow 2006 draftee Chris Carlson, but one of the two could head to Lakeland for more consistent playing time. As a right-handed hitter, Strieby may have trouble driving the ball while playing at home in Grand Rapids, but he should display some impressive power numbers while on the road.
Look for Strieby to perform better in 2007 than he did last summer, as his adjustment to the professional game continues. He will consistently put on impressive batting practice displays, but that must translate to game action for him to fulfill his power hitting promise. If things go smoothly, he could challenge Kelly Hunt's club record for homeruns in a season at West Michigan.
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.