Position: Third Baseman
Gaynor was the Tigers third round pick last June, after turning in a monster season at Western Kentucky. On the heels of a .383 batting average and 21 home runs, Gaynor was named to the All-Conference 1st Team in the Sun Belt Conference. He also ranked first in the league in runs scored (74) and third in RBI (67). Gaynor capped his season with a stolen base in the conference tournament, making him the first Western Kentucky player to garner a 20-20 season.
Gaynor posted .347 and .323 averages during his sophomore and freshman seasons, respectively, contributing in a big way all three seasons at WKU. He also posted a .350 average playing in the New York Collegiate Baseball League after his freshman year.
The Tigers sent Wade to Oneonta for his professional debut, and to say things were a struggle in 2009, would be an understatement. Playing everyday for the O-Tigers, Gaynor hit a paltry .192/.281/.282 with only three home runs in 67 games. The successes for Gaynor involved swiping eight bags in eleven attempts, and walking 21 times during the short season.
The Tigers invited Gaynor to the Fall Instructional League at TigerTown, in hopes that some additional work with the organizational coaching staff, may get him set to come out strong in 2010.
The key to Gaynor's prospect status is his raw ability. Despite being a three-year college player, Gaynor is very raw, and full of untapped potential. With professional coaching, many scouts believe Gaynor's raw ability could blossom.
He is an exceptional athlete, and he has a fantastic frame from which to build a top notch player. Gaynor is naturally strong and has outstanding work habits that enable him to continue developing himself physically.
Offensively, Gaynor has plus raw power to all fields, with monster plus-plus power to the pull side. He has to learn to trust his swing and his natural ability, and realize that he doesn't have to muscle the ball out of the park. His swing is quick and often compact, but his bat doesn't always follow the same path to the hitting zone. The Tigers are working to simplify his swing and eliminate some of the moving parts, with hopes of getting him to the ball more consistently and allowing him to utilize his power.
Gaynor is an above-average runner, with some scouts reporting him turning in times as good as 6.7 seconds in the 60-yard dash. He gets up to speed quickly, and maintains his speed with ease.
Defensively, Gaynor is anything but smooth and beautiful. He is an unorthodox defender, but he makes all the plays and gets the job done. His athleticism carries him in the field, and he shows good hands, good range, and a strong arm.
He is a tireless worker with a good head for the game and some solid instincts on which to build. His combination of raw ability and intelligence could help him overcome his initial struggles to develop his talent. Gaynor has a massive gap between what he is now, and what he could become, which is a solid MLB third baseman with power, speed, and average defense.
Performance Level Team AB AVG 2B HR RBI SO BB OBP% SLG% SS-A
Gaynor has yet to sustain major injury, and with his work habits, he should remain in excellent physical shape. He is an aggressive player, so there may be bumps and bruises along the way, but his coaches have indicated a level of toughness that should keep him in the lineup.
After a very tough 2009 season, Gaynor will be watched closely in 2010. The natural progression would involve Gaynor moving on to West Michigan this season, but some rumblings have indicated that Gaynor will have to earn that chance during spring training. He made good progress during the Instructional League, and the prevailing belief is that he will in fact be in West Michigan.
Unless a light bulb just suddenly goes off, Gaynor is likely to move one level at a time, and be at least three years away from his first showing in the big leagues. Gaynor is a very talented, yet very raw player, and he may take a while to move up the ladder. The potential is there for a very nice third base prospect, but he'll have to piece together his raw tools, in order to use them day-in and day-out in games.
Mark Anderson is TigsTown's Managing Editor and feature Minor League writer. He can be reached at Mark@TigsTown.com.