Prospect Profile: Jared Gayhart
By John Verburg
With our top 50 in full swing right now, I have decided to profile a few guys that have just missed for a number of reasons. Today, I am going to look at Jared Gayhart. Much like recently profiled players, Brennan Smith, Steven Moya, James Robbins, and Luis Castillo, there is some potential here for Gayhart, and he could have easily slotted in the back 10 or so on the top 50. There is in general minute differences in players who get ranked between 30-60 in an organization, or across baseball in general. In other words, Gayhart could just as easily be in Detroit’s top 50 as say Robbie Weinhardt.
I give you Jared Gayhart…..
Gayhart is a right-handed relief pitcher drafted in the 13th round out of Rice in the 2008 draft. Unlike many other pitchers at Rice, Jared came out of Rice without his arm being abused, as he didn’t pitch much in college. The Tigers saw some arm strength in Gayhart and converted him into a reliever. For an inexperienced pitcher, the Tigers were aggressive with Gayhart. In 2009, his first full season, Gayhart began the season in West Michigan, and eventually pitched his way all the way up to AA Erie by the end of the season. All combined in 2009, Gayhart finished with an ERA of 2.63, and struck out 79 batters in 85 innings, while walking 33. In 2010, they started Gayhart in high A Lakeland, and once again he proved too good for A ball, and was advanced to Erie. He struggled in Erie in 2010, struggling with walks, and posting an ERA of 6.06. Due to his struggles, he repeated Erie in 2011, and performed much better. Gayhart finished with an ERA of 3.38 in 66.2 innings, finishing with 58 strikeouts.
Gayhart is a classic two pitch reliever, carrying a fastball and a slider. His fastball is a good one that sits 91-94 mph on most nights. He throws his fastball with good arm side run, and in general hides the ball pretty well, giving his fastball some good life. While he does have good life, the quality of his fastball loses a little bit given his lack of command within the zone. Gayhart displays solid control, but he still needs work painting both sides of the plate, and developing the nuances of pitching. Gayhart’s slider is also a solid pitch, and at times is an above average offering. Most people believe it is a cross between a curve and slider, not having the depth of a curve, but a little more break than a slider. Either way, the pitch has solid spin on it, and it’s break, although shorter, is usually good. He can throw strikes with the slider, however, much like his fastball he needs to command it better and use it to work early in the count and pitch backwards.
Gayhart is a good athlete, so fielding his position isn’t an issue. He also should be able to repeat his mechanics, and make adjustments going forward without too much trouble.
Gayhart certainly has a good arm, and with his fastball and slider, he could have two slightly above average major league pitches. His inexperience and lack of command within the zone however could hamper him against major league pitching at this point. His ultimate ceiling though lies in a 6th or 7th inning type pitcher if all goes well. A strong start to 2012 could get him a look if there are some injuries on the Tigers roster. It should be noted that Gayhart is Rule 5 eligible this season, and there is a small chance that someone could take him, though I don’t think it is likely.
Gayhart is one of a multitude of relievers at about the same level in the Tigers system.