Position: Right-handed Pitcher
The Tigers selected Jensen in the 14th round of the 2006 draft, as a four-year college player from the University of Nebraska. Prior to joining the Cornhuskers, Brett spent a year at Iowa Central Community College where he logged an 11-1 record, pitching nine complete games with a 2.79 ERA. Such an impressive season earned him 1st Team NJCAA All-American honors, along with a 45th round selection by the Baltimore Orioles.
As a sophomore for Nebraska, Jensen worked primarily in middle relief, notching a 7.33/1.80 line. Starting with his junior campaign, Jensen took on the closer's role for Nebraska, combining for 19 saves over his final two seasons, and posting ERAs of 1.96 and 2.56 in his junior and senior seasons, respectively. During his junior campaign, Jensen set the Cornhusker record for saves in a season, with sixteen, and was named 2nd Team All-Big 12 and a 23rd round selection by the Washington Nationals. As a senior, Jensen was named a preseason All-American by multiple publications, and ended the year as a 1st Team All-Big 12 member. After setting the single season saves record in 2005, Jensen's career total of 31, ranks first in Husker history.
The Tigers debuted Jensen with Oneonta of the New York-Penn League, and he promptly seized control of the O-Tigers closer role and saved 17 games, good enough for 2nd in the league. His 25 appearances (T-9th in NYPL) and sub-1.00 ERA were enough to take home the TigsTown Oneonta Pitcher of the Year Award.
Most dominant closers rely on brute force and a devastating breaking pitch to get outs, but Jensen follows more in the line of Dennis Eckersley. A tall, lanky pitcher, Jensen slings the ball from a very low three-quarter to side-arm slot, and his long limbs come flying at batters from all angles. His fastball sits in the 88-90 range, but can be more effective when worked in the 85-87 range with plus riding life. He spots his fastball well, and consistently works down in the zone.
His change-up is sporadic, and must improve for him to remain effective against lefties as he advances. His second-best pitch is an above-average slider that moves in a "saucer-like" fashion, darting across the plate in one plane. Because of his side-arm delivery, Jensen can sometimes come too far under his slider, causing it to spin without much movement. He must remain on top of the slider in order to adequately compliment his fastball.
Brett has the consummate closer mentality, with a desire to dominate his opponents, and a very short memory. He is aggressive on the mound, attacking hitters and refusing to back down regardless of the situation. Without some improvement in his change-up, though Jensen likely profiles as more of a set-up guy or situational reliever.
Performance Level Team W-L ERA G GS SV SO BB IP AVG SS-A
Jensen has yet to experience any significant arm injuries, and he is able to repeat his funky mechanics surprisingly well, considering his lanky frame.
Jensen was dominant while at Oneonta, and should really be pushed to Lakeland for his next test. West Michigan likely wouldn't serve as much more of a challenge than the Big 12 was while at Nebraska. If Jensen is pushed to Lakeland, he would likely assume the closer's role, and have a full compliment of dominant relievers to help pin down the innings ahead of his appearance.
At this time, Jensen will likely work in a closer's role wherever he goes, but his path to the big leagues is more likely in a 7th or 8th inning role, where a manager can better use his quirks to the teams advantage. With extensive big game competition behind him, look for Jensen to be pushed quickly over the next couple of seasons.
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.