Tigers Prospect Profile #27: Danny Worth

After an excellent debut season, Worth had his share of struggles in 2008, battling a dip in performance as well as nagging injuries that likely contributed to his struggles. Without a dominant shortstop in Detroit, and with Cale Iorg coming up fast, what's next for Worth?

Danny Worth
Position: Shortstop
Height: 6-1
Weight: 185
Born: 9/30/1985
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Worth joined the Tigers after a standout three-year career at Pepperdine University. As a senior, Danny was named 1st Team All-West Coast Conference as he posted a .344/.410/.477 line for the Waves. He also stole 11 bases (8th in WCC) in 16 attempts while notching a .964 fielding percentage. Worth also ranked in the WCC top ten in runs (43), hits (83), doubles (19), batting average, and slugging. He ended his career at Pepperdine ranking second on the career doubles list – which was good for ninth in WCC history – and also 11th on the career hit list; all while playing in 183 consecutive games for the Wave. Between his sophomore and junior seasons, Danny played for the Alexandria Beetles of the Northwoods League. He earned league All-Star honors on the back of a league leading .344 average, and top five finishes in on-base percentage, slugging, and steals.

In 2006, Danny again earned all-conference accolades as he took home West Coast Conference Honorable Mention honors, along with being named to the Malibu Regional All-Tournament Team. He led the West Coast Conference in doubles (24) and ranked ninth in the league in hits with 78. Between his freshman and sophomore seasons, Danny played for Danville of the Central Illinois Collegiate League, where he finished with a .259/.329/.381 line and 11 steals (7th in CICL).

As a freshman he was not expected to see much action, but his excellent poise and play thrust him into the starting lineup where he played in 63 games, with a .306 average and 34 RBI. From an unexpected starter, he ended up taking home 2nd Team All-WCC honors, and made the Long Beach Regional Tournament Team. In high school, Worth helped lead his Valencia High team to three straight Santa Clarita Conference titles, while taking home conference honors in each of the three seasons, including 1st Team All-Santa Clarita as a senior when he hit .417 with five home runs.

The Tigers challenged Worth upon signing, sending him straight to Lakeland to start his professional career. In 51 games for the Flying Tigers, Danny notched a .251 average and nine doubles, along with swiping six bases. In August, he was promoted Double-A Erie for the final five regular season games and playoffs. In those final stretch games during the regular season, Worth knocked six hits in only fourteen at-bats, including two doubles and a triple.

The organization sent Danny back to Double-A to start the 2008 season, and he came out of the gates roaring with a runner-up finish in the TigsTown Erie Player of the Month voting, on the back of a .301/.353/.462 line in April. Worth slumped badly from there however, hitting a paltry .235/.313/.353 the rest of the way before being shut down with shoulder problems in July.

Scouting Report
Worth is a premium level defender and his glove could carry him to a big league career. He has true shortstop actions with an excellent first step, above-average range, good foot work, excellent hands, and superb instincts. He makes the routine plays look routine, and the difficult plays look much easier than they should. He lacks the flair that many premium defenders possess, but he can save runs with the glove. His arm is strong and generally accurate, though he can rush some throws and get a bit wild at times.

Scouts were mixed about his offensive potential coming out of college, with some seeing him as an all glove, not hit guy, and others viewing him as having enough potential to hit reasonably well at the highest levels. Since turning pro, more scouts have begun to see him as a guy that could be an offensive liability in the everyday lineup. He lacks power, though his speed allows him to leg out his share of doubles. He can make contact with ease, but is generally a singles hitter that can spray the ball to all fields. He is an improving bunter and demonstrates a willingness to play small ball when asked. Worth is an above-average runner on the bases, who has yet to be caught in his professional career.

A heady player with a strong work ethic, Worth should at a minimum become a solid utility infielder with a slick glove and some late inning small ball or speed value to a team. There's a chance that his concept of the strike zone and ability to make contact could turn him into a Placido Polanco type with a better glove, but that seems a stretch at this point.



































Health Record
Worth had been durable throughout much of his baseball career, but he was sidelined in July 2008 with a cyst in his right shoulder, and also saw time off the field with back trouble at Erie. The cyst was removed from his shoulder and at last check, rehab was going well and the organization expected him to be back on the field this spring. Those I have spoken with don't expect the procedure to have lasting impacts on his game, though the problem could explain some his struggles both at the plate and in the field as the 2008 season wore on.

The Future
The Tigers have a pile-up of shortstops that will all be vying for time at Erie and Toledo in 2008, and Danny Worth is right in the thick of it all. With Cale Iorg, Don Kelly, Shawn Roof, and Brent Dlugach all working at the position, Worth could find himself in a time-share situation. Iorg is likely to get the bulk of the at-bats at Double-A Erie, with Roof possibly serving as his primary backup. Kelly has extensive experience at the Triple-A level, and is a favorite to head to Toledo to start the season; probably along with Worth.

The Tigers clearly view Cale Iorg as their shortstop of the future, so don't be surprised if Worth begins to garner time at the keystone and the hot corner in 2009; to test his versatility for either a permanent position change or a future role as a utility infielder. Danny needs to remain healthy and play well in 2009, or he risks being lapped by a number of middle infielders and utility types that are making their way up the ladder.

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

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