Tigers Prospect Profile #23: Brent Dlugach

After battling injuries for two straight seasons, Brent Dlugach emerged from the forgotten and had a monster 2009 season, even getting a cup of coffee in Detroit for his first big league appearance. What does Dlugach need to do to get back to the big leagues?

Brent Dlugach
Position: Shortstop
Height: 6-4
Weight: 200
Born: 3/3/1983
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Dlugach was a standout player for the University of Memphis prior to being drafted in the sixth round of the 2004 draft by the Tigers. Dlugach debuted with Oneonta in the New York-Penn League, and struggled with the transition to wood bats and the pro game. In 47 pro games that summer, Dlugach hit a paltry .213/.256/.290 while striking out 59 times during his debut.

The Tigers moved Dlugach to West Michigan for the 2005 season, despite the slow start to his career, and he rewarded their faith by posting a stronger season in the Midwest League. He finished the season with a .283 batting average and 36 extra base hits to go along with very good defense. Strikeouts and a lack of strike zone control continued to hurt Brent, as he whiffed 121 times on the year, while walking only 19 in 522 at-bats.

The 2006 season saw Dlugach make the logical jump to High-A Lakeland where he again posted a solid – though rather empty – batting average. In 125 games for the L-Tigers, Dlugach hit .256, but struck out an astonishing 144 times.

Another move up the ladder was cut short in 2007, as Dlugach was cut down after a hot start at Double-A Erie. Hitting at a .292/.346/.472 clip in the season's first 22 games, Dlugach appeared to be putting his offensive game together, before a shoulder injury and subsequent surgery ended his season.

The following year (2008) was largely a lost season as Dlugach continued his comeback from surgery and struggled with back problems that caused him to miss more time during his comeback.

In 2009, Dlugach was finally healthy, got his first true taste of Triple-A, and showed why the Tigers had remained high on him all along. In 125 games as the everyday shortstop for Toledo, Dlugach hit .294/.349/.446 with 36 doubles and nine home runs. Dlugach also continued to flash a nice glove, helping to solidify the ‘Hens infield.

Scouting Report
Dlugach is among the new breed of bigger shortstops throughout baseball. He is long and lean, and maintains a graceful presence on the field. Dlugach is a plus defender with a strong arm that has regained much of its strength post surgery. He has good reactions to both sides, good footwork, and soft hands that enable him to make every play necessary at shortstop.

Offensively, there are some questions about Dlugach's ultimate potential. He struggles to control the strike zone, particularly in terms of judging off-speed pitches and staying back on them. He is extremely prone to the strikeout, and most scouts are skeptical of his ability to make enough contact against Major League pitching.

Dlugach has good power in his bat, generated from good bat speed and a line drive stroke. He doesn't project for more than about 8-12 home runs as a regular, but he could routinely rack up doubles in the gaps.

A below average to fringy runner for the position, Dlugach isn't a base stealing thread, though he has good instincts and doesn't clog the bases. He is a hard worker as evidenced by the dedication required to come back from major shoulder surgery and sustain his comeback amidst additional injuries.

Dlugach profiles best as a utility player at the Major League level, and with even limited practice, he could likely handle both second and third base, in addition to playing a strong shortstop. There is little projection remaining for Dlugach, and he has largely completed his development.



































Health Record
The shoulder injury has been well documented, and while that will always remain a concern, the fact that his arm strength and stamina have returned are good signs. He has had little or no lingering effects from the injury over the last 18 months. The back injury that shut him down again in 2008 is likely a larger concern going forward, and he will likely need to be monitored closely throughout his professional career.

The Future
After debuting with three at-bats in Detroit last fall during the Tigers September race, Dlugach enters spring training with an outside chance at making the 25-man roster. He is a long shot unless there are injuries to Adam Everett, Ramon Santiago, or Scott Sizemore up the middle. His best chance to make the roster is through some possible time at third base if Brandon Inge's knees give him trouble come Opening Day.

Dlugach is just about a complete product at this point, and if given the right opportunity with a Major League club, he could probably carve out a nifty little career as a backup middle infielder. His glove will continue to get him chances over the next few years, but those chances aren't likely to involve an everyday role.

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

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