Tigers Prospect Profile #45: Brendan Wise

While many arms in the Tigers' farm system are high velocity types that rely on strikeouts, Brendan Wise does not fit that mold. That hasn't stopped him from being effective yet though.

Brendan Wise
Position: Right-handed Pitcher
Height: 6-2
Weight: 190
Born: 1/9/1986
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Background
A Perth, Australia native, Wise joined the Tigers after having spent one year at Pratt Community College, and several years participating in high level Australian baseball leagues. In his one collegiate season stateside, Wise was named Jayhawk West First Team All-Conference, after a stellar season in the NJCAA.

The Tigers and particularly Area Scout Steve Taylor were extremely impressed with Wise, leading to his selection in the 8th round of the '05 draft. Wise joined the Gulf Coast League Tigers, where he steadily improved as the season progressed. After a very solid final month, Brendan finished the season with a 4.87 ERA in 10 starts (53 innings). Following the logical progression, Wise was promoted to the New York-Penn League in 2006 where he battled through some early season control issues to post a very solid season. Wise finished with only a 3-5 record, despite a 3.30 ERA and 1.25 WHIP in 60 innings for the Oneonta Tigers.

In 2007, Wise skipped the Midwest League and was challenged with an assignment to High-A Lakeland of the Florida State League. Working exclusively in relief, Wise compiled a 1-2 record in 31 appearances with a 3.12 ERA and 1.10 WHIP. During the middle of the season Wise was promoted to Double-A Erie for a brief two game stretch where he notched a win while giving up one run in 1-2/3 innings of work.

Wise's strong pitching continued in 2008, as he was sent back to the Florida State League for a brief second tour. In 18 games through April and part of May, Wise posted only a 4.64 ERA and 1-3 record. The Tigers promoted him to Double-A out of necessity due to injuries in Erie, and he performed admirably. In 44 innings the rest of the way, Wise was a key cog in Manager Tom Brookens bullpen. With three saves and a 3.30 ERA for the ‘Wolves, Wise did enough to impress plenty of onlookers. In July, Wise held opponents to a 1.08 WHIP and 3.78 ERA, en route to being Runner-Up in the TigsTown Erie Pitcher of the Month balloting.

Scouting Report
Wise's bread and butter is a deadly sinker that sits in the low-90s and can touch the mid-90s with regularity. While his command of the pitch lags significantly behind the raw quality of it, he's typically able to throw enough strikes to avoid trouble. Brendan's fastball has heavy sink down in the zone and is nearly impossible to lift with any authority. His ability to work the pitch at the knees enables him to induce groundballs at high rates (57% of the time in 2008).

Wise also mixes in a solid breaking ball and passable change-up. Though many scouts refer to his breaker as a curveball, it often resembles more of a slider. He must work on staying on top of the pitch, as he frequently gets under it too much, losing effectiveness in the process. While a solid-average pitch, it's not a swing and miss offering that Wise can go to in tight situations. The change-up is a show-me pitch that rarely makes an appearance in games, but has some value in keeping lefties off balance.

Brendan's mechanics are pretty clean with a solid arm action and good use of his lower half throughout the delivery. He can open up too early, causing a loss of command of all his pitches. Wise is a good natural athlete that gets off the mound well and fields his position in pretty good fashion.

With durability and stamina concerns in his past, Wise has found a home in the bullpen. His ability to generate groundballs is an extreme plus, but his relative inability to miss bats has drawn the ire of some scouts. Wise is more of a middle reliever in the long run, and there's likely not going to be much more development from him in the coming years.

Performance

Level

Team

W-L

ERA

G

GS

SV

SO

BB

IP

AVG

A+

Lakeland

1-3

4.64

18

0

1

9

11

21.1

.300

AA

Erie

2-1

3.30

30

0

3

20

14

43.2

.267


Health Record
As mentioned, there have been some past concerns over Wise's durability and stamina, both of which have diminished with his move to the bullpen full time. Wise peaked at 77 innings of relief work in 2008, and scouts indicated he looked strong right up to his final appearances of the season. If he shows no ill effects from the increased workload in 2009, that will be an excellent sign for him to be considered a fairly durable reliever going forward.

The Future
Wise is a long shot to see time in Detroit in 2009, but at just 23 years old next season; he still has time to refine his approach and the quality of his pitches. Wise may benefit from some work with new Tigers coach Rick Knapp, who focuses on throwing strikes more than pure velocity. If he can work the corners and all four quadrants of the zone with more regularity, he may further increase his already impressive groundballs rates.

It is difficult to envision more than a 6th or 7th inning role for Wise long term, but there is a slim chance for more if he can suddenly make strides with his breaking ball to create a swing and miss offering that he can go to in key situations. Increasing his ability to throw quality strikes and miss some bats are the only things left on the docket for Brendan to improve upon. He's likely to get a chance in the big leagues at some point, but the extent of his stay will depend on his ability to keep the ball down and induce grounders against the most advanced hitters in the game.

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


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