Tigers Prospect Profile #40: Jay Sborz

Jay Sborz has been around for what seems like an eternity, but after seven years in the organization, Sborz may finally be on the verge of making it to the big league club.

Jay Sborz
Position: Right-handed Pitcher
Height: 6-4
Weight: 210
Born: 1/24/1985
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Background
It often seems as though Sborz has been in the Tigers minor league system for ages, when in fact, he has only been on the scene since the Tigers made him their second round pick in the 2003 draft. Signed by Bill Buck, Sborz debuted in the Gulf Coast League that summer, whiffing 35 hitters in just 26 innings, despite finishing with an 0-2 record.

From there, things were pretty rocky for Sborz over the next couple of years, as he battled injuries and never saw his ERA dive below 4.34 until the 2007 season. The low point came in 2005, when Jay posted a 7.90 ERA in 27 1/3 innings with West Michigan; giving up 36 hits and walking 23 along the way.

After finally getting healthy throughout the 2007 season, Sborz came back with a vengeance in 2008, turning in a dominating season at High-A Lakeland. The then 23-year old right-hander appeared in 40 games for the Flying Tigers, picking up seven saves, and allowing just 44 hits in 53 1/3 innings.

After starting the 2009 season in extended spring training to work out some consistency issues, Sborz made one appearance in Lakeland before being promoted to Double-A for the first in his career. With Erie, Sborz logged 25 innings with just 16 hits allowed and 29 punch outs. With such a dominating run, the Tigers were prepping Sborz for a potential trip to the big leagues with a promotion to Triple-A Toledo, before an oblique injury shut him down for the remainder of the season.

After finishing his seventh year in the Tigers organization, Sborz would have been eligible for minor league free agency at the conclusion of the season, but the Tigers added him to the 40-man roster instead.

Scouting Report
Sborz is a pure power reliever with a fastball that sits at 93-95 with life through the zone, and touches 98 on occasion. He is an imposing figure on the mound, with a think lower half that he uses well to generate his velocity. There is some deception and moving parts to his delivery, which helps his fastball even more.

Jay regularly battles himself when trying to command his fastball, something he will have to improve upon to become a reliable big league option. He has developed more of an ability to throw strikes, but they are not always quality strikes located within the zone.

Aside from a plus-fastball, Sborz features a true power curveball that is a plus pitch nearly every time out. Some scouts would still like to se Sborz use his curveball outside of the strike zone more often; throwing it in the dirt as a chase pitch.

Sborz is an intense competitor on the mound with excellent makeup and he is rarely rattled. He enjoys the game and has fun both on and off the field.

Though some scouts still view Sborz as a potential closer, he is more often viewed as a strong setup reliever that is capable of locking down the 7th or 8th inning.

Performance

Level

Team

W-L

ERA

G

GS

SV

SO

BB

IP

AVG

A+

Lakeland

0-0

0.00

1

0

0

1

1

2.2

.125

AA

Erie

1-2

2.52

14

1

0

29

13

25.0

.184

AAA

Toledo

1-0

2.25

2

0

0

5

1

4.0

.077


Health Record
Throughout 2006 and 2007, Sborz battled both shoulder and elbow injuries that caused him to miss significant time. Because his mechanics are less than clean, Sborz is likely to battle arm injuries from time to time. He was shut down at the end of the 2009 season in Toledo because of an oblique injury; an injury that had him rehabbing with the training staff in Lakeland well into the fall. The injury is not expected to impact his 2010 season.

The Future
Now on the Tigers' 40-man roster, Sborz will head to big league spring training for the first time, and he will enter with a chance to compete for a bullpen slot. With a power arsenal and great makeup, Sborz could make the team with a strong spring. Regardless of the spring outcome, Sborz will likely make his big league debut during the 2010 season, and will likely spend the rest of his time at Triple-A Toledo.

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


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