Detroit Tigers Top 20 Prospects: No. 16 Gage Workman

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - Gage Workman bats ional team trials on August 24, 2017 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - Gage Workman bats ional team trials on August 24, 2017 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images) /

Welcome to the first-ever installment of the Motor City Bengals Top 20 Detroit Tigers prospects. The MCB staff has compiled our prospect lists and we will be releasing our consensus rankings, along with a breakdown of each player, in a series of articles in the coming days. Today, we look at #16 on our list, Gage Workman.

I know I’ve done it, and if you are reading this article, it is likely you have to. While reviewing the Tiger’s recent drafts, you have looked at the draftees after the first couple rounds and wondered (maybe screamed or is that just me), where is the upside? Well, the 2020 draft was a different story and Workman was part of the reason.

Gage Workman Background:

Workman was a solid prep prospect, who was drafted in the 14th round by the Brewers, however, it wasn’t enough to keep him from attending Arizona State. During his time with the Sun Devils, he was generally excellent at the plate, especially during his sophomore season, when he posted a .330/.413/.528 slash line. He also enjoyed a productive stint in the Cape Cod League prior to his junior year. The 2020 season saw Workman take a step back across the board. His slash numbers declined significantly to .250/.316/.471 however it was in 150 fewer at-bats. Defensively, he spent his career at ASU at third base however this was, at least in part, due to the presence of gifted shortstop Alika Williams (a fellow 2020 draftee). He did play shortstop during the Cape Cod league allowing scouts a chance to see him as an up the middle defender.

Workman was selected by the Tigers in the fourth round and given a well-above slot bonus of $1 million. There were many prospect analysts who believed this was a solid value for Workman and thought he could have been picked much earlier.

Workman has an ideal build for a corner infielder with a long, lean frame. (6’4” and around 200 lbs). Oh yeah, and his middle name is “Tater” which is objectively excellent. Is there a better middle name for a baseball player (well, maybe not a pitcher but I digress)?

Gage Workman Strengths:

Workman’s strength as a prospect is his well-rounded set of tools which rate as the average or better across the board (with the exception of his hit tool which we will cover later) which gives him a rather sizeable ceiling.

Workman is a very good athlete capable of being an outstanding defender on the left side of the infield. There are scouts who believe he could be an everyday shortstop however the Tigers announced him as a third baseman when he was drafted and that was his defensive home during his college career. If third is his eventual home, he has the potential to be a plus defender (and is already a good one) at the hot corner with a combination of range, soft hands, and arm strength. However, given the Tigers glut of third baseman now in the lower levels of the minors, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see them give him a shot at shortstop.

Offensively, his greatest asset is his power potential. His frame, natural strength, and bat speed give him plus raw power which MLB Pipeline believes will translate into above-average game power as he develops (55 on the 20-80 scout scale).

A prospect’s age can be pretty important when it comes to their development since younger players have obviously had less time to develop. Workman turned 21 in October which makes him quite young relative to his peers in the 2020 draft who were also college juniors. This means, as he ages and gains additional experience he may be more likely to overcome his weaknesses than some of his peers.

Gage Workman Weaknesses:

Similar to our #17 prospect Jose De La Cruz, Workman’s ultimate ceiling will likely be determined by the progression (or lack therefore) of his hitting ability. A switch hitter, Workman showed better from the left side during his college career but will need to make improvements from both sides as he moves up the professional ladder. Workman displayed a fair amount of swing and miss while with the Sun Devils. Overall, he struck out in a shade over 26% of his plate appearances. Even during his excellent sophomore season, he struck out 68 times in 251 plate appearances which is more than you would like to see from a top prospect facing college pitching. It is likely this swing and miss, in addition, to a rather average ability to draw walks that led most scouting services to rate his hit tool as slightly below average (45).

Reports are mixed on his overall approach at the plate with some indicating he needed to tighten up his command of the strike zone (MLB Pipeline) and others believing his approach was already solid (Ralph Lifshitz at Prospects Live). Whatever the case, it seems likely he will need to figure out a way to make more consistent contact going forward.

Our Take on Gage Workman:

Workman is not your typical fourth-round college draft pick. He oozes potential given his relative youth, frame, and athleticism. His raw power and defense will likely always be his calling cards but the development of his hit tool will determine his fate as a professional baseball player.

Like many college draft picks, Workman should start his first full season after being drafted at Low-A (now in Lakeland). There he will get plenty of opportunities to be in the everyday lineup and make the necessary adjustments to improve. And who knows, maybe with just enough improvement, one day he will be hitting “Taters” for the Tigers.

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