Tigers Prospect Profile: Andy Dirks

Andy Dirks made a quick impression last summer and last fall, and that continued throughout spring training. The Tigers pushed him to Lakeland, and then Erie when injuries opened up a spot. How is he doing it, and what can he provide the Tigers down the line?

Andy Dirks
Position: Outfielder
Height: 6-0
Weight: 195
Born: 1/24/1986
Bats: Left
Throws: Left

Background
Dirks was drafted by the Tigers in the 8th round of the 2008 draft out of Wichita State University where he had played for two seasons under head coach Gene Stephenson. In his first season at WSU, Dirks hit .320 in 64 games before going crazy as a senior. In his final collegiate season, Dirks posted a mind boggling .388/.498/.632 line for the Shockers with 61 runs driven in and more walks than strikeouts on the season.

During his two years at Wichita, Andy was named 1st Team All-MVC as a senior and 1st Team all Region during the NCAA tournament. He earned similar accolades as a junior, making the Honorable Mention squad of the Missouri Valley Conference, and earning All-Wichita region honors.

Prior to his time at Wichita, Dirks spent two years playing for Hutchinson Community College, where he hit .415 as a sophomore and .341 as a freshman. His honors stretch back even further, as he was named All-State in baseball in 2002, 2003, and 2004, while also lettering for four years in not just baseball, but also basketball and football.

Upon signing, the Tigers assigned Dirks to West Michigan of the Midwest League. After a brief appearance there, he went down with injury and finished the season playing in the Gulf Coast League. Once healthy in the GCL, Dirks hit at a .412/. 447/.618 clip in ten games.

Scouting Report
Most scouts viewed Dirks as the prototypical fourth outfielder on draft day, but that opinion has been changing quickly has he transforms himself as a pro. He is an above-average runner with exceptional instincts in the outfield and on the bases. His outfield defense is absolutely superb at all three positions. He is a pure center fielder with great jumps and excellent, direct routes to the ball. He tracks down balls in both gaps and his arm is strong enough to make any throw necessary. Despite his natural gift for defense, Dirks is a tireless defensive worker who is continually trying to improve.

Dirks hadn't previously showed much more than doubles power in his college and early pro showings, but he has begun to transform his ability at the plate. Through intensive work, Dirks has added strength and now possesses average pull power to right field. He is still able to drive balls to both gaps and he can use the entire field to his advantage. Andy has an excellent concept of the strike zone and he is willing to work counts and take walks at the top of the order. As he gains experience at each level, he could be expected to walk more than he strikes out.

In addition to being a good all-around player, Dirks is a tireless worker and outstanding leader. He leads through effort on the field while also being vocal and instructive when appropriate.

After hearing scouts say his ceiling was that of a fourth outfielder, Dirks has done plenty to make scouts change their thinking and begin believing he can become an everyday center fielder at the big league level. Coaches are infatuated with his work ethic and all-out style, and most consider him a big leaguer in waiting.

Performance

Level

Team

AB

AVG

2B

HR

RBI

SO

BB

OBP%

SLG%

A+

Lakeland

103

.330

5

0

18

11

13

.410

.379

AA

Erie

47

.280

2

0

18

7

2

.280

.298


Health Record
The broken hand Dirks experienced while at West Michigan in 2008 has not hindered him since returning from the disabled list. He hit well in the GCL on rehab, and he continued to hit well during the fall instructional league. It is safe to consider the injury completely behind him.

The Future
Thanks to injuries and other promotions, Dirks earned a quick call to Double-A Erie this season, on the heels of a tear that had him hitting .330 with Lakeland at High-A. He has the pure hitting skills, concept of the strike zone, defensive chops, and speed to play at the big league level quickly.

The defensive ability he shows is nearly big league ready right now, and his instincts on the bases would be an asset in Detroit instantly. He still needs time to refine his ability to hit advanced pitching, but he could be ready for a reserve outfield role as soon as 2010, and possibly more in 2011 if there is an opening in Detroit.

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


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