Typically, you don't find too many 19-year old ballplayers in AA – a level normally more reserved…
Prospect Profile: Joel Zumaya
Joel Zumaya Position: Right handed Pitcher Height: 6-3 Weight: 210 Born: 11/9/1984 Bats: Right Throws: Right Background Zumaya was an 11th round high school draft choice by the Tigers in 2002, mostly on the basis of his exceptional curveball, with the hope that he would add velocity and become an above average prospect. Well, the Tigers wishes came true when Joel's velocity jumped from the high 80s to the mid 90s almost immediately. Zumaya has maintained excellent strike out rates throughout his minor league career, but has struggled with control, keeping him from becoming the elite prospect the organization believes he can become. Despite mediocre numbers during the 2004 campaign, Zumaya made the move to AA-Erie at the end of the season, notching four starts with 29 strike outs over 20 innings. Scouting Report As Zumaya has matured physically, his large frame has filled out, and his velocity has continued to climb. With added velocity however, has come reduced command. Zumaya combines his mid-90s fastball with a hard, biting "slurve" that can be dominating at times, to make a formidable one-two punch. Joel has continued to work on his change-up, in hopes that it will become a serviceable third pitch, giving him the necessary arsenal to be a top-flight starter. Zumaya's numbers may seem uninspiring on the surface, but they have been posted as one of the youngest players in his league at every stop. With his youth, comes trouble with controlling his emotions on the mound. Zumaya has a tendency to let his fiery competitiveness get the best of him, further hindering his already spotty command. Until Zumaya can harness his fastball and his emotions, he'll continue to walk batters at a bothersome rate. Joel's delivery has extremely high effort, and often borders on violent. The organization has been working to smooth out his mechanics, with only limited success. The front office is hopeful that a full season working with Erie pitching coach Mike Caldwell will help Joel take a huge step forward in his advancement. In terms of pure ceiling, Zumaya is one of the top prospects in the organization, and could take the next step towards becoming one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball if he can throw strikes more consistently. At present, Zumaya is almost certain to be an excellent Major League reliever, but he will get every chance to become a frontline starter before the Tigers shift him to the bullpen. Performance Year Team W-L ERA G GS SV SO BB IP WHIP 2004 Lakeland 7-7 4.36 20 20 0 108 58 115.2 1.28 2004 Erie 2-2 6.30 4 4 0 29 10 20.0 1.45 Health Record Zumaya has experienced no major injuries at this early stage of his career. He has encountered lower back problems and some shoulder stiffness, both likely a result of his violent delivery. Neither problem has proven persistent and neither presents a significant worry going forward. At only 20 years old, Joel still has some huge injury aversion hurdles to climb before he should be counted on to contribute in Detroit. The Future After getting a taste of AA in 2004, Zumaya will help anchor what could be a dominating starting rotation at Erie in 2005. The rotation will likely feature three of the organizations top eight prospects, and could be one of the most electric groups in the minors. Zumaya will need to continue to display his impressive strike out rates to maintain any success at Double-A, and it wouldn't hurt if he could cut his walk rate by a full walk per nine innings. The 2005 season represents a huge opportunity for this young phenom. If he can make the strides the organization believes he can, he could be knocking on Detroit's door sometime during the 2006 season.
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