Position: Right-handed Pitcher
After a solid career with Sam Houston State (and previously with Oklahoma Weslyan), the Detroit Tigers took Tata in the 16th round of the 2003 draft. His senior season wasn't stellar, but still earned him 3rd Team All-Southland Conference. As an experienced college pitcher, Jordan started his professional career with Low-A Oneonta, where he posted some very inspiring numbers, including a 2.58 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in 73 innings.
Early in the 2004 season, Tata struggled with his control, velocity, and with the overall transition to full-season ball at West Michigan, but he eventually figured it out. The second half saw a breakthrough performance from the second-year pitcher. Through the last two months of the season, Jordan led a West Michigan rotation that dominated the Midwest League and brought the championship to Grand Rapids. After finishing the season on such a role, Tata was named the TigsTown West Michigan Pitcher of the Year.
With a promotion to Lakeland, Tata figured to be challenged to great lengths in 2006. However, he is the one that did the challenging, dominating FSL hitters to the tune of a 13-2 record, 2.79 ERA, and over a 3:1 K:BB ratio, and capped it by being named TigsTown.com's Lakeland Tigers Pitcher of the Year; his second yearly award in a row. In a surprise move, and with an injury to Todd Jones, Tata debuted the 2006 season in the Detroit bullpen. After spending a little over a month with the big club, Tata was optioned to AAA-Toledo, where he spent the bulk of the season. Though unspectacular, Jordan routinely got the job done for the ‘Hens, and took home yet another yearly award; the TigsTown Toledo Pitcher of the Year.
Tata's bread and butter is his 91-93 mph sinking fastball that can be dominating when he's controlling it well to all parts of the zone. Jordan has dramatically improved his control over this pitch during the last two years, and he now has confidence to throw it to all parts of the strike zone. He could stand to spot it better within the quadrants, but that should come with additional experience.
His second best offering is his cutter that can reach 94, but sits in the 90-92 range. His cutter has good movement and explodes as it reaches the plate. His only change of pace offering is a weak curveball that must improve significantly to maintain its effectiveness. His overall arsenal, without improvement from the curveball, screams bullpen, and I think that's where his long term future may lie.
Jordan has a big, strong body that helps him profile as a durable, and intimidating pitcher as he moves up the ladder. He is an average athlete who fields his position well, and has very good composure during all situations on the mound.
With erratic control, and velocity that has seemed to fluctuate significantly in recent season, Tata seems even more destined for the bullpen. He could possibly fill the back of a rotation at some point, but at 25-years old he's quickly reaching a time when he must get to the big leagues and establish himself.
Performance Level Team W-L ERA G GS SV SO BB IP AVG AAA
Jordan has had no major injuries in his career, and his extremely durable frame should help prevent any injuries down the line.
There doesn't appear to be much room in the Detroit rotation or bullpen to start the 2007 season, but stranger things have happened. Jim Leyland remains adamant that he will take the best 12 pitchers north on the 25-man roster, and if Tata can outshine someone like Zach Miner or Jason Grilli, he'll get a shot to fill a role in Detroit. His most likely destination is back in Toledo serving as an anchor for the starting rotation.
Jordan's prospects of breaking into the Detroit rotation when Kenny Rogers' contract expires after next season, slimmed dramatically with the drafting of Andrew Miller and the emergence of Virgil Vasquez and Jair Jurrjens. He'll have to make huge strides with his curveball to get that chance, but with Jose Mesa and Todd Jones departing after the '07 season, Tata could fill a valuable role in the Detroit pen for several years.
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.