Detroit Tigers pitching prospect Jairo Labourt recently wrapped up the 2016 season with Lakeland. He kicks off Motor City Bengals’ look at the top 25 Tigers prospects.
Detroit Tigers fans saw the team trade standout starting pitcher David Price at the 2015 trade deadline.
The two most prominent pieces the Tigers acquired in return were fellow starters Daniel Norris and Matt Boyd. Both young arms slotted into Detroit’s rotation, and are now indispensable parts of the roster.
Along with Michael Fulmer, the duo nearly led the team to the playoffs in 2016, but fell just short.
While both Norris and Boyd have thrived, Detroit acquired another pitcher in the swap.
Jairo Labourt came over as the proverbial lottery ticket in the deal.
A 22-year-old, 6’4” left-hander, Labourt was dominating the lower levels of the minors upon joining the Tigers organization.
However, the southpaw struggled at times early with Detroit’s minor league affiliates. Labourt’s ERA sat at 6.31 in 35.2 innings for Lakeland down the stretch in 2015.
The 2016 season saw the pitcher improve upon his ERA with a 5.26 number. However, he continued to struggle with walks. Labourt handed out 70 free passes in 87.1 innings last year.
That spit out to 7.2 walks allowed per nine innings. While his 8.3 strikeouts per nine frames was an obvious bright spot, the base on balls were simply too great to overlook.
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Featuring a blazing fastball that can generate ground balls, Labourt moved to the bullpen late last season.
While the results came in a small sample size, the results were encouraging. Over 15 appearances spanning 32 innings, the lefty posted a 3.38 ERA and 23 strikeouts.
Despite 18 walks allowed in the same stretch, there’s definite upside in a relief role where his stuff can play up in shorter stints.
Future Role With the Detroit Tigers
There’s still a chance Labourt can become an effective starter if he can reign in the walks.
However, he could still make an impact at the Major League level as a reliever.
Should he stick in the bullpen and make it to the Majors, he’d join a potentially exciting group of power arms in Detroit’s bullpen.