Tigers Prospect Profile #29: Eddie Bonine

Eddie Bonine came into the organization under the radar, but quickly made a name for himself, even earning a slot for the Tigers in the Arizona Fall League. Where does Bonine project to be in the future for the Tigers?

Eddie Bonine
Position: Right-handed Pitcher
Height: 6-5
Weight: 205
Born: 6/6/1981
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Background
Bonine came to the Tigers during the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft prior to the 2006 season. Drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 23rd round of the 2003 draft, Bonine brings an interesting skill set to the table. After two seasons at Glendale Junior College, where he was named All-ACCAC during his second season, Eddie transferred to the Pac-10 with the Washington State Cougars. By honoring his commitment to WSU, Bonine turned down the overtures of the Arizona Diamondbacks, who selected him in the 20th round of the 2001 draft as a DFE candidate. In 17 appearances (16 starts) for the Cougars, Bonine finished with an 8-8 record with three complete games, and earned Honorable Mention All-Pac 10 accolades. After only one year at WSU, he transferred again, this time to the University of Nevada, where he went 5-6; again in 17 appearances.

In his pro debut, Bonine managed an impressive performance in the Northwest League; seeing action in 31 games (tied for 5th in the NWL), and ranking third in the circuit with 14 saves. In 2004, he was moved back to the rotation while splitting his season between Fort Wayne and Lake Elsinore. After struggling with an ERA over five at High-A Lake Elsinore, Bonine was held back to repeat the California League, without better results. After a token appearance with AAA-Portland to close the season, Bonine was taken by the Tigers in the Rule 5 draft.

The Tigers sent him to Lakeland for the 2006 season where he appeared in 41 games (11 starts), posting a 4-4 record with three saves and a 3.98 ERA. Following his solid organizational debut at High-A Lakeland, Bonine reported to Double-A for the 2007 season, and promptly turned it up a notch. Working as a main cog in the Erie rotation, Eddie managed a 14-5 record on the season, good enough for second in the Eastern League in wins. Bonine logged the third most innings in the circuit (154.2) and led the league in WHIP (1.18). Bonine's performance during the 2007 season earned him a trip to the Arizona Fall League where he was shut down after only two relief appearances due to some shoulder soreness.

Scouting Report
Bonine has an unusual skill-set, one that could land him on a Major League roster at some point in the future. He works consistently with an 88-91 mph fastball that has some solid late sink. His fastball velocity plays up because his second quality pitch is a tough knuckleball that floats over the plate, confounding hitters. He throws his knuckler harder than most, tossing it up there in the mid- to high-70s. He spots his fastball exceptionally well, working to both sides of the plate with equal ability, and demonstrating some of the best fastball command in the organization. He has intermittent control of his knuckleball, but for the most part he is able to throw strikes with it when needed.

Eddie also mixes in an average curveball-change combination that helps to keep hitters off balance. His curveball has a loose, slurvy break to it, and could stand to be tightened up a bit over the coming seasons. Bonine's mound presence is excellent, as he controls the game well, and demonstrates a supreme confidence on the mound. He gets after hitters, and is not afraid to challenge them on the inner half of the plate, pushing them off to set up his secondary offerings and reinforce the idea that he is controlling the game from the mound.

After being cited by former manager Matt Walbeck as someone who needed to improve his defensive abilities and awareness, Bonine made nice strides throughout the year, developing into an average defender for his position. He still struggles to hold runners, and he will have to do a better job of helping his catchers control the running game.

Overall, his ceiling is that of a back-end starter; a guy that can eat innings with some quality performance, and help a Major League team. The more likely scenario has him moving to the bullpen, and becoming a key middle relief cog at the next level.

Performance

Level

Team

W-L

ERA

G

GS

SV

SO

BB

IP

AVG

AA

Erie

14-5

3.90

25

25

0

73

24

154.2

.265

AAA

Toledo

1-0

2.25

1

1

0

4

1

8.0

.233


Health Record
Up until last fall, Bonine had been a model of health in his pro career, logging plenty of innings without a hint of arm trouble. Though his shoulder problems in the AFL were deemed minor by those I spoke with, he should be watched closely this spring for changes to his mechanics, a dip in velocity, or a loss of command; all possible indicators of a lingering problem.

The Future
There looks to be a log-jam in the battle for the Toledo rotation, which means Eddie is likely to return to Double-A for a second engagement with Eastern League hitters. His impeccable command and bulldog mentality give him an excellent chance to sustain his success heading forward. Though he will play most of this season at age 27, Bonine is relatively new to this style of pitching, having converted from a full-time knuckleballer when he joined the Tiger organization.

Bonine has made huge strides in a short time, and looks to be on the verge of a Major League debut. Don't be shocked if he gets some time in Detroit this season, particularly if injuries or ineffectiveness strikes at the big league level.

Mark Anderson is TigsTown's Managing Editor and feature Minor League writer. He can be reached at Mark@TigsTown.com.


Tigs Town Top Stories