The next prospect outside of MCB’s top 50 that I wanted to look at is coming off a disappointing 2011 season. After flashing some decent skills and putting up some decent numbers in 2010, the Tigers are going to be looking for a bounce back from Wade Gaynor.
Gaynor probably is better than he showed in 2011, but can he improve going forward?
Without further delay, I take a more in depth look at Wade Gaynor………
Wade Gaynor is a right-handed hitting 3B that was drafted in the 3rd round out of Western Kentucky in 2009. Statistically, Gaynor has been up and down throughout his short career with the Tigers. Getting his start in 2009 with the Tigers short season NYPL team, Gaynor struggled out the gate, hitting just .192. In 2010, the Tigers still moved Gaynor to full season West Michigan, where he turned things around somewhat. Gaynor hit .286 for West Michigan, showing off some of the speed and power combination that he was drafted for. He hit 10 home runs and stole 13 bases for the ‘Caps, posting a solid OPS of .789 in the Midwest League. 2011 was a different story for Gaynor. He couldn’t continue the momentum he gained, and had a real rough season in high A Lakeland. Gaynor hit just .213 on the season, and got carved up pretty regularly striking out 137 times. Gaynor did hit 9 homers with 28 doubles, so when he was making contact, he did show an ability to drive the ball. Gaynor will turn 24 early in the season in 2012, so his upcoming season is going to be important in his development and career path.
Gaynor is one of those players that can be frustrating. He has good size and an athletic frame, and at times, the tools are evident. His main issue is that he can’t put them together on the field often enough at this point to start climbing up prospect lists. Gaynor’s best attribute is probably his raw power. He has the ability, when he squares the ball, to take the baseball out in any area of the park. Scouts don’t see it often enough because Gaynor has trouble repeating his swing mechanics. At times he is short to the ball, and others he gets long in his swing, making his swing path vary way too much to be consistent right now. Gaynor has trouble recognizing good breaking balls, and can be busted inside with good fastballs, helping along his high strikeout totals. Gaynor is a good athlete, so there is some hope that he will be able to find a swing that will work for him, and get him to square the baseball with good bat speed, instead of relying on his natural strength to do all the work. Gaynor runs well for a big guy, and while he probably won’t steal a ton of bases at the big league level, he isn’t going to clog the bases, and can cover some ground.
Defensively, the reviews aren’t real positive for Gaynor, nor are they all that negative. He has solid hands, and solid range around the 3rd base bag. He lacks some of the fluid motion that you see from top 3rd baseman, and can look unnatural catching the ball from time to time, but he gets the job done most of the time. He has good arm strength, and it has been suggested that Gaynor could see a corner outfield position in his future. If the bat comes around, his defense is good enough at 3rd to stick there.
I can’t necessarily paint a rosy picture here. It isn’t that Gaynor doesn’t have talent. It’s there for sure. From a scouting perspective, the athletic ability is there, the raw power, and reportedly the work ethic is there as well. His hit tool is going to hamper him though. There are too many holes present in that swing right now, and I am sure the Tigers will continue to tweak Gaynor to get a consistent swing path out of him. If he gets that consistent swing path, and trusts his natural strength to work for him, he could take a step forward.
I liken Gaynor to Brennan Boesch in some respects. Big, strong, athletes that have some holes in the swing. Boesch has gone on to eliminate some of those, and improve his recognition and discipline. Gaynor is going to have to do the same. I think Boesch was a little bit better at this point in their careers, so I got to give Gaynor a ceiling of an utility player at this point.