Welcome to the first 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 #8 on the list, Dillon Dingler.
Dingler was included as part of the widely-lauded 2020 draft class, where he was selected in the second round out of Ohio State University. Interestingly, Dingler is regarded as a great athlete–not always the case at the catching position; but he was able to showcase some of that during his 2019 sophomore season by spending time in centerfield before playing 12 of 13 games behind the dish in 2020.
Dillon Dingler’s Background
Dingler’s mother, Pam, was a track athlete down I-75 at Bowling Green State University. Speaking to the earlier point on athleticism, while Dingler was second-team all-state at Jackson Highschool in Massillon, OH for baseball, he was also second-team all-state as a punter in football. Dingler is also well-regarded for his leadership and was selected as a captain for OSU’s baseball team in 2019 and 2020.
Upon getting drafted by the Detroit Tigers, Dingler spent some time in Toledo at the alternate training site and was subsequently summoned for instructs in Lakeland, FL. In 2021, Dingler will be at spring training as a non-roster invitee; he’ll likely start the year in the same city before an eventual call north to West Michigan as the weather breaks.
Dillon Dingler’s Strengths
We have already touched on Dingler’s surprising athletic ability and his character, but one of the more refreshing parts of Dingler’s game is his ability to control at-bats and take walks; a skill that seems sparse in the Detroit Tigers system. Across his collegiate career, Dingler walked an impressive 52 times across 115 games against just 59 strikeouts. That combination of plate discipline and contact skills should translate well in the pro ranks.
The Ohio native also has an impressive arm; with pop times ranging in the 1.90-1.95 according to the Prospects Live board. Those times would put him into the top 10 of all MLB catchers, according to Statcast. MLB Pipeline gives Dingler’s arm a 65 grade; considered between plus and double-plus.
Dillion Dingler’s Weaknesses
Dingler is likely to find some regression with his running ability if the plan for the Detroit Tigers is to continue to develop him as a catcher. Nevertheless, even an average runner on the bases is still above-average in the context of his defensive position in the major leagues.
Additionally, it will likely take some time as Dingler adjusts to professional pitching during his first full season in the minors. Hopefully, his collegiate experience coupled with his reps both at the alternate site and instructs will go a long way toward making such a period shorter. While Dingler’s game is well-known for a sound offensive approach, pitchers in the minor leagues fill the zone more often and showcase sharper stuff than what is offered in the NCAA ranks. It will be fascinating to see if Dingler can maintain such a strong on-base pace.
Catchers are typically flawed in some facet; maybe they are a great defender but cannot hit; maybe the bat is strong but a liability behind the dish. Maybe they are a station-to-station runner. Maybe the arm isn’t accurate. Dingler is impressive in that, while he lacks a legitimate carrying tool, his well-rounded game both offensively and defensively makes his value as a catcher considerably higher than some of the others in the organization.
Dingler has legitimate everyday potential assuming he continues to hit. 2021 will teach us a lot about Dingler and whether he has the chops to realize such potential. Detroit has done a sneaky-nice job with catchers over the years; generating Curt Casali, James McCann, Alex Avila, Bryan Holaday, and Rob Brantley, among others over the years. Entering his age-22 season, if he performs as expected, we could see him in Detroit by the second half of 2022.
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