Detroit Tigers Top Prospect Countdown: #9 Kevin Ziomek
The Detroit Tigers selected left-handed pitcher Kevin Ziomek out of Vanderbilt in the second round of the 2013 draft with the 58th overall pick. While at Vanderbilt, Ziomek was named to the 2013 NCBWA 3rd Team All American, 2013 BA Third Team All-American, 2011, 2012, and 2013 SEC Academic Honor Roll, 2011 Second Team Freshman All-American, and 2011 SEC All-Freshman Team.
In his time with the Tigers, Ziomek spend 4 games with the Connecticut Tigers in 2013, a full season with the single-A West Michigan Whitecaps in 2014, and a full season with the Lakeland Tigers in 2015.
In his time in at Vanderbilt and his multiple stops through the A-ball tiers, Ziomek has shown a bit of a ¾ funky delivery from the left side which can be difficult for left-handed batters to pick up out of his hand which is shown by his strikeout numbers. Since joining the Tigers, Ziomek has come much more over the top with his delivery, but still will drop to the side a bit on certain breaking balls.
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Some viewed his delivery as a weakness because Ziomek lacked consistency with it, leading to control issues, but Ziomek was an incredibly consistent strike thrower in 2015, harshly cutting his walk rate from 3.88 BB/9 to 1.98 BB/9.
FanGraph’s scouting report says Ziomek works 89-93 with his fastball hitting 95 on the gun when he wants with an above average slider and an average changeup that both sit in the mid 70s. In the
In 2014, Ziomek posted a 10-6 record with a 2.27 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP with 152 strikeouts in 123 innings with the West Michigan Whitecaps. In 2015, Ziomek was 9-11 with a 3.42 ERA, a 2.98 FIP and a 1.14 WHIP with 143 strikeouts in 154.2 innings with the Lakeland Tigers.
Ziomek’s strikeout numbers are impressive, but when teams are making contact against him, their BABIP were .286 in 2014 when his K/9 was 11.12 and .312 in 2015 when his K/9 dropped to 8.32.
Throwing more strikes reduced his strikeout rate, but throwing to contact improved some of his other numbers. Opposing batting average increased from .197 to .240 from 2014 to 2015, but there is a strong correlation between that increase and his walk decrease from 10.4% to 5.4% (3.88 BB/9 to 1.98 BB/9) over those two seasons. That is why his WHIP and FIP decreased from 2014 to 2015 while stepping up a level.
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Ziomek looks to have mid-rotation stuff, especially if he hold his walk rate as low as it was in 2015. If the Tigers could turn Ziomek into the next Drew Smyly, he would be viewed as a rare success story of the Tigers’ minor league organization. The Tigers should not see Ziomek on the big league roster unless he shows a drastic jump in 2016, but Ziomek could get a shot in 2017 based on his numbers in AA and possibly AAA in 2016.