Tigers Prospect Profile #10: Drew VerHagen

VerHagen cracks the top ten with his big fastball

After receiving an over-slot signing bonus to sign with the Tigers out of Vanderbilt, VerHagen had a solid debut season in 2012, pitching in rookie ball and for Lakeland. As a prototypical Tigers arm, what does VerHagen need to do to solidify his status as a top ten prospect?

Drew VerHagen
Position: Right-handed Pitcher
Height: 6-6
Weight: 225
Born: 10/22/1990
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Acquired: 2012 MLB Draft, 4th Round
Ranking History: N/A

Background
After bouncing around to three schools in three years, VerHagen signed with the Tigers as a fourth round pick last summer. With another year of eligibility remaining, the Tigers had to up the ante and give VerHagen about $100,000 over the recommended slot for the fourth round.

VerHagen started his career with two relief appearances in the Gulf Coast League before moving straight to High-A Lakeland for the remainder of the season. In eight outings (six starts), VerHagen allowed only 20 hits in 27 innings, though he did walk 14 and only struck out 17 batters.

Scouting Report
Physically, VerHagen fits the profile of a Tigers pitching prospect from the last decade. Standing 6-foot-6 and checking in at 225 pounds, VerHagen is a physically imposing presence on the mound. Despite his strong, durable frame, he has battled injuries throughout his career.

With long arms and legs, VerHagen pumps fastballs in the 92-93 mph range consistently; running it up to 95-96 mph when he needs a little more or works in shorter bursts. His fastball has excellent natural life and his long arms allow the ball to "jump" on hitters.

VerHagen's arm doesn't work well and as a result his command is very inconsistent. He has a tendency to work up in the zone too frequently but the life on his fastball helps mitigate that problem somewhat.

Similar to his command troubles, VerHagen's arm action doesn't allow him to generate a consistent breaking ball. He has yet to show an ability to regularly spin the ball and as a result, he lacks confidence in the pitch. VerHagen's future will depend on his ability to either find something that works with his arm action or clean up his delivery to allow the breaking ball to work a little better.

What VerHagen does offer is a quality change-up. He disguises the pitch well with the same arm speed and slot as his fastball. He typically works his change-up in the low-80s and the pitch shows solid sink and average overall potential.

The key to VerHagen's success is keeping the ball low and inducing weak contact with his lively fastball and sinking change-up. When he does that, he can work quickly through innings and he has the strength and stamina to eat innings.

Most scouts believe VerHagen will end up in the bullpen down the road because of his intermittent command and lack of a breaking ball. The Tigers began working with him last fall to clean up his arm action and hopefully help solidify his profile as a number four starter.

Performance

Level

Team

W-L

ERA

G

GS

SV

SO

BB

IP

BAA

R

GCL Tigers

0-0

2.25

2

0

0

2

0

4.0

.313

A+

Lakeland

0-3

3.67

8

6

0

17

14

27.0

.206


Health Record
VerHagen's injury issues date back to high school when he dealt with shoulder problems. His issues resurfaced during his time at Navarro JC when he went under the knife for Tommy John surgery.

Projection
VerHagen has two career paths depending on what happens with his breaking ball and command. If the Tigers are able to work some magic and clean up his arm action, he could see improvements in his ability to locate as well as his ability to spin a breaking ball, allowing him to eat innings in a rotation. If the Tigers can't work such magic, he has the potential to mix a mid-90s heater and solid change-up in a setup role.

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