Those who know me well, know that I wasn’t the biggest fan of the Tigers draft last year. Not because they didn’t get some players with some talent, but more because they opted for a lot of college guys with lower ceilings in what was considered a very strong draft. Regardless, there was some selections that were intriguing for various reasons. Tyler Collins was one, and he landed in our MCB Top 50 Prospects list at #9. Dean Green and Tommy Collier were interesting selections as well. A guy that fell outside the top 50 with a good arm is Ryan Woolley. He had some intrigue attached to him as well, but not for necessarily the right reasons.
For a more in depth look at Woolley, continue on…..
Ryan Woolley is a 23 year old right hander drafted by the Tigers in the 13th round of the 2011 draft. He actually turns 24 in February, so his prospect timetable is ticking rather quickly already. Drafted as a 5th year senior, it bears mention that Woolley’s career was interrupted by an incident at the Cape Cod League where he was charged with injuring a teammate, hitting him with a car while under the influence. Woolley struggled for a few years after the incident than put things together as a 5th year senior at UAB. The Tigers pushed Woolley aggressively, and after some success in short-season Connecticut in which he posted an ERA of 2.38, the Tigers sent Woolley to West Michigan to finish out the season. Woolley started roughly for the Whitecaps, but finished strong, and posted an ERA of 4.44, largely due to giving up 5 home runs in 24 innings. Woolley displayed exceptional command throughout the summer, walking only 9 batters in 47 total innings, striking out 44 batters and posting a WHIP of 1.22.
Woolley is a pretty rare 3 pitch reliever who isn’t going to be a starter in all likelihood. His 3 pitch mix includes a fastball, curve and a change up. As mentioned, Woolley possesses a rather strong arm for a kid that lasted until the 13th round. His fastball at times can get to the mid-90’s, but he is more comfortable sitting 91-92. When Woolley reaches back for more, his fastball tends to get up and straighten out, making him susceptible to the long ball. When he operates in the low 90’s his fastball shows good life and sinking action down in the zone. He also is able to command it more effectively.
His curve ball and his change up are both potential average offerings. The curve is more of a get me over curve that he will use to throw strikes with, and less of a strikeout pitch with better than average spin or depth. He does show some ability to get fade with his change and throws it with good arm action. It isn’t necessarily a strike out pitch for him as he advances levels, but it is a usable offering that he can throw for strikes as well.
Woolley has a good pitchers frame, and isn’t a bad athlete.
Woolley is going to have to be pushed in 2012, and we should see if he is going to be a legit prospect or not rather quickly. If he reaches his ceiling, I have to think he isn’t much more than a middle reliever, possibly a 7th inning type. His secondaries aren’t sharp enough to start, and his fastball is better off when he isn’t trying to blow it by people. He could carve out an existence as a command/sinker middle relief guy, and that isn’t a bad thing considering he was drafted in the 13th round as a 5th year senior.