Position: Right-handed Pitcher
Satterwhite was on the radar of pro scouts long before the Tigers took him the second round of the 2008 draft out of Mississippi. He was a highly regarded high school pitcher and was also a standout on the hardwood as well. After three years at Mississippi, and a stint with Team USA during the PanAm games, Satterwhite opted to go pro, signing for $606,000 as one of the Tigers collection of power arms in that draft class.
After signing, Satterwhite made a brief showing in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League, before across the parking lot at TigerTown to take on hitters in the High-A Florida State League. While with Lakeland, Satterwhite appeared in 20 games, posting a 4.42 ERA and notching two saves. Cody battled his control some, walking 13 in just 20 2/3 innings, but he also struck out 24.
The Tigers promoted Satterwhite to Double-A for his second professional season, and though his 3.47 ERA is solid, it doesn't portray the quality stuff he showed all season. Satterwhite finished off 24 games for the Seawolves, picking up 12 saves and finishing with a 4-6 record. In 49 1/3 innings, Cody allowed 46 hits and 27 walks, while also issuing 12 wild pitches, though he helped his cause with 52 whiffs. Satterwhite continued to be murder on left-handers in 2009, holding them to a .179 batting average against.
The end of Satterwhite's season was cut short and leaves some doubt as to his true health entering the 2010 season, as he was placed on the disabled list on two occasions with shoulder stiffness. The shoulder problems also kept him out of the Arizona Fall League, where the advanced competition may have been very good for his development.
Satterwhite is the epitome of what the Tigers have been looking for in recent years. He offers a perfect pitchers frame and a blazing fastball to go with it. In short stints, Satterwhite sits regularly at 95-96, and touches 98 with ease. His fastball can get a little straight on him at times, particularly when he leaves it up, but he has shown good movement in the past.
He has a unorthodox over-the-top release on his delivery, but most scouts feel that simply adds deception, and don't feel it will be a problem going forward. His delivery does leave him prone to elevating pitches, but he has made strides in keeping the ball down since turning pro.
Satterwhite has mixed in both a curve and slider as his primary breaking ball in the past, and scouts reported seeing more sliders (or what they called sliders) last year, which is not surprising given some of the organization's developmental tendencies. Both pitches have the potential to be plus pitches in time, but he lacks the consistent break and control of them at this time.
Cody also features a change-up with the potential to be a solid-average or better pitch, but he is rarely forced to use it in his brief one or two inning outings of relief.
Satterwhite is a very good athlete. He repeats his mechanics quite well, which leaves most observers believing he will eventually throw enough strikes to succeed at the big league level. He is an intelligent player that understands his responsibilities after the pitch is thrown.
Satterwhite has the profile of a top notch closer or high-leverage reliever. He simply needs to refine his control and command to make that profile become a reality.
Performance Level Team W-L ERA G GS SV SO BB IP AVG AA
The shoulder injuries that hampered the end of his 2009 season are worrisome, but early reports this spring have indicated he is throwing without pain or restriction, and the velocity is there to back it up. After his first full season, and some issues along the way, the Tigers may be careful with Cody this year.
Satterwhite was invited to big league spring training as a non-roster player, and he has a very outside shot of breaking camp with the big club. Most feel he would be better off spending more time in the minor leagues, likely at Triple-A Toledo, developing some consistency with his breaking ball of choice, and his location.
There is little time left in the minor leagues for Satterwhite, and he could easily see time in Detroit during the 2010 season. Regardless, Cody is ripe to start showing his electric arsenal on the game's biggest stage during the 2011 season, and there is a chance he could be the Tigers closer of the future.
Mark Anderson is TigsTown's Managing Editor and feature Minor League writer. He can be reached at Mark@TigsTown.com.