Position: First Baseman/Outfielder
Drafted for the second time in 2006, the Tigers made him their fourth round choice out of Kentucky, after he was selected in the 29th round by the Dodgers in the 2004 draft. Strieby was coming off a season at Kentucky where he was named SEC Player of the Year, and his power bat was drawing attention nationwide.
During his debut in the New York-Penn League, Strieby struggled to hit much at all, let alone for power. IN 61 games with Oneonta, Strieby posted a measly .241/.319/.335 line with only four home runs and 13 extra-base hits total. He did show a solid eye at the plate, walking 25 times, but that was one of the few bright spots.
Promoted to West Michigan for the 2007 season, Strieby played nearly everyday for the Whitecaps, and his power stroke started to come through. In a tough offensive environment, Ryan blasted 16 home runs and 23 doubles, giving him a .422 slugging average. He continued to walk at a good rate, drawing 63 free passes, while reigning in his strikeouts, withonly 78 in 519 plate appearances.
Continuing his climb up the ladder, Strieby played the entire 2008 season with High-A Lakeland, where suffice it to say, he broke out in a big way. Despite missing the end of the season after breaking the hamate bone in his wrist, Strieby still led the league in home runs (29) while setting a new Lakeland club record. He also drove in 94 runs and hit .278 on the season.
Though there were lingering problems from his wrist injury in 2008, Strieby turned in another exceptional campaign in 2009 with Double-A Erie. Seeing action in 86 games, Strieby ripped 19 more home runs and posted an impressive .303/.427/.565 line for the Seawolves. Amidst that offensive onslaught, Strieby also began seeing time in left field in addition to playing first base.
Strieby was added to the Tigers' 40-man roster during the off-season, and he showed well during big league spring training, putting him in a position for a potential big league debut in 2010.
Strieby is a pure power hitter, with plus-plus power to all fields. He can be a game-changer with the bat, and he is even more dangerous now that he has improved his approach at the plate.
Early on in his career, many scouts considered him a ‘bad ball' hitter, feasting on mistake pitches and unrefined breaking balls. That trend has begun to change, as Strieby now punishes everything in sight, and most scouts believe he can be a true big league power threat.
His hit tool is average, and once settled, he should post averages in the .270-.280 range without sacrificing any of his power output. The refined approach he takes to his at-bats helps him get in better counts and situations where he can drive the ball. His bat has progressed to the point where the Tigers are forced to move him around defensively to try and find a path to Detroit for him.
His play at first base is solid-average and he has improved his footwork around the bag to the point where he is an asset defensively. He picks low throws well. The early returns on his outfield defense were far from positive last summer. Most scouts felt he was well below-average with little room for improvement. He didn't look lost in the outfield during spring training, but his jumps were late, and his routes far from flawless. The hope here is that he learns enough about the position to keep from embarrassing himself.
Strieby is a below-average runner, though he is not a base clogger because of his solid instincts. He is an intelligent player and his work ethic is unquestioned.
If he can manage to play a passable left field, he could become a solid slugger that helps the offense in a variety of ways.
Performance Level Team AB AVG 2B HR RBI SO BB OBP% SLG% AA
The lingering wrist issues he faced in 2009 were of significant concern to observers and the organization. Those problems seem to be behind him, though there may be some ongoing maintenance and treatment that may be needed to keep him from relapsing.
Assigned to Triple-A Toledo to spend the bulk of his time in left field, Strieby is knocking on the big league door. There is little left for him to prove offensively, and the Tigers are simply waiting to find someplace he can fit into their defensive lineup.
If he takes to left field at even a passable level, he should be part of Detroit's everyday plans starting in 2011; splitting his time between left field and designated hitter, while also spelling Miguel Cabrera at first base.
Few would project Strieby for stardom, despite the power bat he has displayed over the last two-plus years, but he should be a solid slugging corner man; whether that corner be in the outfield or infield.
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