Rob Waite is a little talked about reliever in the Tigers system, that spent this past off-season pitching in the Arizona Fall League. While he may not have the arm of some of the other relief options in the minors, it doesn’t mean there isn’t some things to like with Waite. He will have some people to jump over in the pecking order, but it is still worth taking a look at him and his repertoire.
We celebrate Rob Waite’s 25th birthday with a scouting report on him.
For an in depth look at Rob Waite, just continue on…….
The Tigers selected Rob Waite in the 17th round of the 2008 draft out of UC-Riverside. A prototypical frame for a pitcher at 6’3″ and 210 lbs, Waite has made his way to the AA level each of the last two seasons. After being drafted in 2008, Waite got to work quickly, making 17 appearances for the Gulf Coast League Tigers. The numbers weren’t overly impressive, as he posted an ERA of 4.67, but struck out 25 batters in 27 innings. 2009 saw a split between West Michigan and Lakeland, and once again the results weren’t eye popping by any means. Over the course of the season Waite went a combined 2-1 with an ERA of 4.39, but his K rate dropped quite a bit, and Waite only struck out 42 in 69.1 innings. 2010 saw a jump forward for Waite. He once again split time at two levels, this time between Lakeland and Erie, posting an ERA of 3.32 and striking out 53 in 62.1 innings. 2011 saw Waite stick at AA Erie the entire season, where he struggled a little after a strong 2010, posting an ERA of 4.56.
Rob Waite is a versatile reliever who can go short, but in most cases will give his team multiple innings. Given that he tends to go more than one inning, he is a 3 pitch reliever in the mold of a guy like Eddie Bonine. I’m not making that a comparison, but that is the kind of role he could potentially fill on a club.
Waite’s fastball is average in velocity, topping out in the low 90’s, and mostly working 88-92. However, there is some really good sinking action on his fastball, generating a large amount of ground balls. Waite has consistently posted above average ground ball rates, and has shown an ability to command his fastball despite the good movement. Waite’s game isn’t geared to throw the fastball by the hitters, but his movement makes his average fastball play up a bit.
Waite’s curve ball is potentially his best pitch. He shows an ability to throw the curve for strikes, even if he doesn’t command it perfectly. The curve shows good break, and at times operates as a swing and miss pitch for him. It’s a pitch for him that has taken a step forward since being drafted, and has the potential to be a little bit above average. A little more consistency mechanically could help this pitch out, getting the good sharp bite more often that he shows once in a while.
Waite’s change up is coming along as well. There is some average potential here with this pitch, giving him a solid 3 pitch mix across the board. His change up tends to average about 8-9 mph slower than his fastball, giving him a pretty ideal speed differential, and he throws it with good arm action. He does have a tendency to get hurt with this pitch, leaving it up from time to time.
The fact of the matter is Waite would be a much more talked about prospect with more arm strength. But this type of pitcher can certainly serve a purpose. The thing that jumps out about you is his ability to generate ground balls, and that can’t be overlooked. He gets around 2 ground balls per fly ball over his career, which is way above average. To go along with that, his K rate is strong, and his BB rate is okay at a little bit over 3 over his career. His 2011 in Erie looks worse than it really was due to a BABIP of .355, so he got a little unlucky, and for the most part, he has posted good FIP numbers.
When I saw Waite in West Michigan, honestly, I didn’t find him that impressive. Reports I have gotten from Erie suggest that he has improved a bit from when I saw him though, and I”m starting to believe a little more in his potential to be a big league contributor at some point. I think at most, there is a long reliever here, but he could be an effective one.