Position: Right-handed Pitcher
The Tigers made Gayhart their 13th round pick in the 2008 draft out of Rice University, where he was a two-way standout for the Owls for two years. During the 2008 season, Gayhart started 61 games in the outfield for Rice, hitting at a .310 clip with fifteen doubles and six home runs, while walking more than he struck out.
For the second consecutive season, Gayhart was named to the Conference USA All-Conference Second Team as an outfielder. In 2007, Gayhart hit .339 in 57 games for the Owls, with nine doubles, five triples, and four home runs.
As a pitcher during his two years at Rice, Jared saw action in 14 innings, compiling a 2-1 record and 1.93 ERA with one save.
Gayhart played at San Jacinto Junior College prior to playing at Rice, where he hit .324 with 31 RBI in 2006. Gayhart was also a high school standout on the diamond, hitting .390 with 19 home runs during his senior season at Katy High. He was an All-State performer during his junior and senior seasons, and a four-year starter.
After signing in July of 2008, Gayhart made his professional debut with the Gulf Coast League Tigers, seeing action in ten games with a 4.82 ERA and two saves. The Tigers quickly promoted him to Oneonta in August, and in twelve games for the O-Tigers, Jared posted a 3.86 ERA with four more saves and a 1-2 record out of the bullpen.
Gayhart has been a dominating force for West Michigan this season, posting a 1.97 ERA and 5-3 record in 24 relief appearances. Gayhart logged 45 2/3 innings for the ‘Caps, with only 15 walks and 49 strikeouts, while making the Midwest League All-Star team.
Gayhart is an exceptional athlete, having starred as a high school quarterback at Katy High School in Texas. Despite having some pro potential as an outfielder, Gayhart has even more potential on the mound.
Since focusing on pitching after the 2008 draft, Gayhart has seen an uptick in his velocity, along with increased overall consistency on the mound. His fastball sits at 90-92, and touches 94 with some regularity. He has a long, loose arm action and easy delivery that makes the ball appear as though it jumps out of his hand at hitters.
He is an aggressive strike thrower, though he is still learning to locate the ball to both sides of the plate, and when to elevate to change the eye level of the hitter. His athleticism and aptitude for the game leave scouts believing that he should have above-average command in time.
Jared backs up his fastball with a breaking ball that has the potential to be above-average. Some scouts view it as a tight slider, while others view it as a shorter curveball, but either way, it is a quality pitch that he relies on in all situations.
An intelligent all-around player, Gayhart fields his position well, and understands his defensive responsibilities on balls in play. He is a tireless worker and a great example for other players.
Gayhart has good potential as an MLB reliever, and he could move quickly pitching in a 7th or 8th inning setup role.
Performance Level Team W-L ERA G GS SV SO BB IP AVG A
Unlike many college pitchers, Gayhart has very little mileage on his arm, and his easy delivery leaves many believing he should be able to avoid major injuries. This being his first year of an intense pitching workload, Gayhart is likely to be monitored closely for fatigue.
Gayhart has already earned an in-season promotion, moving on to Lakeland just this week. Though his peripheral numbers suggest a fair bit of luck during his time with West Michigan, he has still been an excellent pitcher and one that could help the Flying Tigers in the late innings.
He is likely to spend the remainder of the 2009 season in Lakeland, and he should begin 2010 with Double-A Erie. If he continues to pitch well, he could earn a shot in Detroit by the close of the 2010 season, or more likely sometime in 2011.
Mark Anderson is TigsTown's Managing Editor and feature Minor League writer. He can be reached at Mark@TigsTown.com.