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Ben Verlander, OF

Date(s) Seen: Late April/Early May (4 viewings), 2014.

Where: Fifth Third Ballpark-West Michigan Whitecaps (Class A-Midwest League)

Body: Good, athletic frame with projection for added mass. Present strength throughout, lean muscle present, solid athlete. Listed at 6’4′ 200, which seems accurate. Has frame to play at 215-220lbs.

Hit: Has some feel to hit, but incredibly raw at this time. Struggles to recognize spin and will expand the strike zone. Quiet stance and set up, no wasted movement in pre-swing mechanics. Average to above-average bat speed, but swing will get long. Struggles to barrel up fastballs on inner third; also struggles with anything soft away. Hips will leak when trying to cheat to inside velo. Converted pitcher, needs tons of reps. Even still, don’t see much of a future here. Needs to work on shortening swing, pitch recognition and strike zone discipline to even think about reaching below-average ceiling.

Grade (Current/Future): 20/40

Power: Has some pop in bat. Swing, while having a tendency to get long, does have leverage and he shows the ability to hit baseballs out of the ballpark. Will backspin balls into gaps. Present strength in body with room to add muscle. Have seen power to all fields in batting practice, but current game power is limited to pull field. Above-average raw power, but in-game utility is lacking and will continue to lack due to underdeveloped hit tool.

Grade (Current/Future): 30/50

Run: Average runner at present. Gets out of box relatively well, has decent acceleration, and shows ability to pick up speed when going 1-3 or 2-H. Will slow down as he matures physically. Should settle in as a below-average runner moving forward.

Grade (Current/Future): 50/40

Defense (RF): Shows natural athleticism in OF, though still raw in learning the nuances of the position. Takes some pretty bad routes to balls at present. Did show improvement across the 3 weeks between my viewings. Solid range overall, footwork showing improvement, but still lacks natural instincts of the position. With added reps, should settle in as a fringy defender in either RF or LF.

Grade (Current/Future): 30/45

Arm: Has above-average raw arm strength. Is a converted pitcher who could hit mid-upper 80’s off the mound (per his college pitching coach). Still working on the mechanics of throwing from the OF. Inconsistent mechanics all around when throwing. Generally accurate arm.

Grade (Current/Future): 40/50

Overall Future Potential: Verlander possesses some raw tools, which makes me believe that he truly was not a nepotism pick by the Tigers. He shows some legitimate power, good athleticism, and a strong arm from the OF, but the overall rawness and the sum of the total package leave a lot to be desired. If he reaches projection in his hit and power tools, he could potentially be a bench bat at best, but realistically we’re looking at an organizational player here who doesn’t get past AA.

OFP: 40 (Bench bat/4th-5th OF)

Realistic: 30 (Organizational Player)