As we continue to upgrade our Detroit Tigers minor league coverage here at Motor City Bengals, I wanted to tell a bit of the story about how the Tigers Minor League Report came to be.
In 2019, I, along with Chris Brown, Kenon Carter, and James Chipman started the Tigers Minor League Report, a website now a YouTube channel that provides analysis, scouting, and videos of the Detroit Tigers minor league system. One of the principles of looking any prospect over is what Chipman has taught us and that is to do a live look at the ballpark and recently, I went to Lakeland and to West Michigan.
The first summer the site started to roll on was the 2019 draft class, which has many of the top prospects in the Detroit Tigers system. Names like Riley Greene, who is number one on our MCB Top 20 prospects board, Bryant Packard, Ryan Kreidler, just to name a few but one prospect I had the opportunity to see early and often was Cooper Johnson, the 6th round pick out of the University of Mississippi at West Michigan.
A 2021 update on Cooper Johnson
One of the first things you noticed about his game is his defense and the ability to command staff and pretty quickly in our first visit to West Michigan, we saw how quick his pop time and arm strength were behind the plate.
The swing was a work in progress as his hands were holding the bat higher to it but looking over from then to now, he looks much calmer at the plate and less waggle in his bat.
Here he is in 2019. Watch where his hands are when he goes to swing.
Now here he is last night. It was the same approach I saw last week. Smoother swings through the zone.
As a result, the numbers so far in Lakeland show an increase in batting average and OPS with a slash line of .283/.387/.415 with an OPS of .802. which compared to 2019 at the same level (Low-A) was .618 in this very small sample size but the batting average in 62 plate appearances is up from his .179 batting average at West Michigan in 2019.
While looking at the limited advanced data that the hardest-hit ball he has had this season is 100.6, it’s the four doubles and the home run so far in the early season that you have to applaud the efforts of the new swing and his work ethic which by all accounts, he has an outstanding one.
The possible reason why he is staying in Lakeland versus West Michigan is the opportunity to start every day but as he continues to grow with his bat, do not be surprised if we see him wearing a Whitecaps uniform at some point this season.