Detroit Tigers Top Prospect Countdown: #12 Wynton Bernard
By Ben Rosener
Just the second position player on the list, outfielder Wynton Bernard is the Detroit Tigers’ 12th best prospect.
#20 Artie Lewicki #19 Drew Smith #18 Austin Kubitza #17 Josh Turley #16 Montreal Robertson #15 Jairo Labourt #14 Steven Moya #13 Adam Ravenelle
Before coming to the Detroit Tigers organization, Wynton Bernard had never hit above .255 or played more than 55 games in a professional season. However, the Tigers took a chance on the former 25th round pick of the San Diego Padres, signing him to a minor-league pact.
It’s safe to say that the investment has paid off for Detroit. Bernard has become one of the organization’s best prospects thanks to an intriguing skillset and some fantastic seasons in the minors.
Stats So Far
The 2014 season was Wynton Bernard’s first with in the Detroit Tigers’ system, and he made an instant impact. With Single-A Western Michigan, the outfielder hit .323 with an .836 OPS, 164 hits, 91 runs scored, 30 doubles, six triples, six home runs, 47 RBI and a staggering 45 stolen bases in 131 games.
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Last year, the speedster made the jump to Double-A, and thrived again. In 135 games, the prospect posted a .301 batting average to go along with a .761 OPS. He also collected 161 hits, 78 runs scored, 29 doubles, eight triples, four home runs, 36 RBI and 43 stolen bases.
A prototypical leadoff-type, Bernard excels at getting on base and doing damage with his outstanding speed. He doesn’t just get on base by hitting alone. The former San Diego farm hand has drawn 94 walks over the past two seasons. What’s more, he also limits his strikeouts. Since the start of 2014, the outfielder has struck out a combined 159 times.
Bernard has even taken to bunting as a way to contribute, with 23 sacrifice hits over the past two seasons. His ability to bunt will pay dividends down the road as his speed in bunting situations will cause opposing teams headaches in the field.
Additionally, MLB.com writes of Bernard that “With his speed, he can play all three outfield spots.”
As a defensively flexible outfielder that can rack up stolen bases and get on base, Wynton Bernard has a bright future with the Tigers.
Detroit is loaded in the outfield right now with Justin Upton and J.D. Martinez likely occupying the corner positions for the better part of the next decade. This is without taking center field pairing Cameron Maybin and Anthony Gose into consideration. In addition to the team’s top four outfielders, Detroit also employs Tyler Collins and fellow top prospect Mike Gerber, not to mention non-roster invitees John Mayberry Jr. and Nate Schierholtz.
In other words, Bernard will definitely have competition. However, it wouldn’t be a shock to see Bernard carve out some kind of role now, if not in the future.
Next: Outfield Improvement Will be Key for Tigers in 2016
Speed plays, and always will play, in the Major Leagues—luckily for Bernard, he has that spades.