Iorg joins the Tigers on the back of the largest signing bonus in history for a sixth round pick. The Tigers signed Cale for a bonus just shy of $1.5 million. Iorg, the son of former Toronto infielder Garth Iorg, spent the last two years on a Mormon mission through Portugal before coming back to the states. Prior to his mission in Portugal, Cale had begun to make a name for himself as a freshman at Alabama, where he posted a .280/.331/.415 line that included 19 extra-base hits and 15 steals. For his efforts, he was named to the All-SEC Freshman Team.
Leading up to his lone season at Alabama, Cale played for his father with the Knoxville Yard where he posted an impressive .486 average with six home runs and 20 stolen bases. As one of the nation's elite prep middle infield prospects, Iorg hit .495 with 15 home runs and 57 RBI during his senior season at Karns High School in Knoxville, TN. Following his senior campaign, the Devil Rays selected him in the 16th round of the amateur draft; much lower than he likely would have gone without a commitment to complete his two-year mission. During his standout senior season, he was named a 1st Team All-American, 1st Team All-Knoxville, and 1st Team All-State by the Knoxville News Sentinel.
As he returned from his mission, Cale faced a difficult decision, sign to play professionally for the defending American League Champions, return to the University of Alabama and re-enter the 2008 draft, or transfer to Arizona State for his second collegiate season. In the end, the decision came down to playing for the Sun Devils or signing with the Tigers, and with a million dollar plus bonus staring him in the face, the 21-year old shortstop opted to turn pro.
Cale has a wide base of skills that he maximizes on the field through a gritty, all-out style of play. He is an above average runner, having rated as one of the faster runners present in many of his high school showcases, as well as on his Alabama team in 2005. His instincts on the bases are tremendous, having learned from professionals throughout his baseball life.
At the plate, he has a short, compact, quick swing that generates average power to all fields. He is more of a line drive hitter, who sprays balls to all parts of the field with authority, and he has the potential to knock 30-40 doubles annually. His home run power is unlikely to ever become terribly evident, but he should hit 12-15 long balls a season. Iorg has a discerning eye at the plate, and uses his quick wrists and excellent hand-eye coordination to make contact with pitches easily. He should hit for average immediately, and will likely post very respectable on-base numbers.
Defensively, Cale is likely to challenge the newly acquired Danny Worth, along with veteran prospects Tony Giarratano and Brent Dlugach for the organization's top honors with the glove. He has excellent range stemming from tremendous instincts and good quickness. His hands are soft and he can make plays to both sides with aplomb. His arm is slightly above-average but plays up because of exceptional footwork and a quick release.
His experiences during his mission have likely aided in his maturity, and he should handle any bumps in the road with relative ease. His makeup has always rated as a plus attribute, and that will play well as the leader of whatever infield he mans in 2008. Overall, Cale has the ceiling of a legitimate Major League shortstop; not one that is ever going to be a star, but of someone who should contribute day in, and day out for an extended stretch.
Has not played since 2005.
Iorg's health record is difficult to gauge at this juncture, simply because he hasn't been playing organized baseball for over two years. Provided he has stayed in good shape – which all indications point to being the case – Cale should be able to get back into the flow of a serious training regimen without much trouble. Watching how he fairs during Instructional League will be a solid indicator of his health and readiness for a professional season.
Iorg's bonus may not actually be commensurate with his overall talent level and time away from the game, but with his bloodlines and overall skill set, the money is worth the gamble. He has the raw ability to become a serious shortstop prospect in short order, and if he can shake off the rust, that shouldn't be much of a problem.
Expect Cale to get extensive work during the fall Instructional League, and again during spring training, in order to determine just how ready he is and where to slot him within the organization. Given the struggles of Audy Ciriaco this year at West Michigan, and the organization's decision to start Danny Worth at Lakeland this summer, it is not difficult to envision Iorg starting his professional career with Lakeland next spring.
Mark Anderson is TigsTown's Managing Editor and feature Minor League writer. He can be reached at Mark@TigsTown.com.