In the first of a regular series of scouting reports on Tigers prospects, James Chipman profiles left-handed starter Kevin Ziomek, the Tigers' second-round pick in 2013 from Vanderbilt.
Ziomek pitches for the Single A Lakeland Tigers and last year flourished at Single A West Michigan. He was selected Tigers Minor League Pitcher of the Year.
All numerical grades are determined on the standard scouting scale where 80, rather than 100, is the ceiling.
Date of birth: March 21,1992.
Bats / throws: Right / left.
Date observed: April 9, 2015.
2014 statistics at Single A West Michigan: 123 inning pitched, 10-6 record, 2.27 ERA 1.15 WHIP 3.9 walks per nine innings, 11.1 strikeouts.
Final line on April 9: Five innings pitched, one earned run, three hits, one walk, three strikeouts, one hit batter.
Body: Listed at 6-foot-3, 200 pounds. Height and weight appear fairly accurate. Tall, athletic build; high waist; long limbs; average strength throughout upper and lower body. Frame suggests Ziomek could be a potential innings-eater. Minimal room for added growth as he appears to be maxed-out and in his finished body.
Delivery / mechanics: High three-quarter arm slot; medium effort in delivery; hides the ball well; extremely deceptive delivery at times. This explains in part how he manhandled young inexperienced A-ball hitters. Delivery and mechanics were inconsistent, choppy and often rushed at times throughout the April outing. Release-point varied, causing issues with command. Clean and quick arm action through release point, with nice downward plane when he's at his best, however. Occasionally throws across his body, causing balance and landing issues. A tick below average to the plate from the stretch (1.35-1.44). Regardless, did not appear to struggle holding baserunners.
Fastball: Consistently sat between 86-89 mph, topping out a few times at 90. Lacked desired velocity and life needed to adequately challenge big-league hitters. Fastball has some occasional arm-side run when thrown at lower velocity. Fairly flat at higher velocity, and straight as a string when thrown up in the zone. Generated a great deal of weak contact and ground balls when fastball was down in the zone. Particularly tough on lefties. During this start he lived almost exclusively on the inner third of the plate, jamming batters inside. During past observations, his velocity had been a tick higher, bumping as high as 92. In that context, April's lower velocity and lack of movement could be an anomaly and in keeping with his first start of the season. Grade: Present 40 / Future 50
Slider: Sat between 75-78 mph throughout the outing. Short with a little depth, but fairly horizontal in shape, featuring occasional two-plane break that lets a club dream. Movement will sometimes cause pitch to behave as more of a solid late-breaking slurve than a traditional slider. Thrown primarily as a chase pitch, buried down and away in the zone. Legit swing-and-miss potential moving forward. Grade: Present 50 / Future 55
Curveball: Sat between 72-74 mph throughout the outing. Traditional shape. Consistency repeating the pitch, however, varies. Spins on occasion, lacking proper tight rotation and desired velocity. Hung a couple up in the zone that likely would have been destroyed by more advanced hitters. Failed to generate much swing and miss. Did, however, get a few called strikes. Featured his curve more than during previous observations. Noticeably is trying to iron out complications to refine the pitch. Remains a fringy offering with minimal projection at this time. Grade: Present 40 / Future 45
Change-up: Sat between 80-81 mph throughout the outing. Similar to previous observations Ziomek only threw a few, seemingly abandoning the change early on. Utilizes a standard grip. Very little downward movement; lacks fade. Lacks feel for the pitch and the arm speed necessary to make it a useful weapon in his repertoire. Grade: Present 40 / Future 40
Control/Command: His profile is heavy on control. Ziomek undoubtedly is a strike-thrower. His command noticeably lags behind, however, as he routinely missed his spots catching too much of the plate. Ziomek often got ahead, and stayed ahead in the count. He sequenced fairly well, avoiding predictable patterns. Ziomek also is not afraid to pitch inside. However, he struggled up in the zone. There, his fastball flattened out. He also hung a few of his secondary pitches that more advanced batters would feast upon.
Additional points: Ziomek is poised and in control of his emotions on the mound, regardless of results. He's a competitor and is highly respected by his teammates and coaching staff as a hard worker and a great teammate.
Projection: Ziomek features an arsenal of fringe-average to average offerings, lacking a true carrying pitch. It's essentially a low ceiling/high floor profile with very little projection remaining. The development of the curveball and/or change will be paramount if Ziomek wishes to remain in the rotation. Should that happen, you can squint and see a back-end of the rotation guy that eats innings. More realistically however, moving forward I see Ziomek's stuff playing up a bit higher in the bullpen as a long reliever or lefty specialist. Overall, the profile projects a fringe-average big-leaguer.
James Chipman scouts the minor leagues for The Detroit News and is based in Orlando, Fla. Twitter: @J__Chipman.