Every Friday, I will be discussing a pitching “sleeper” for the Detroit Tigers in the upcoming 2021 MLB Draft. Today’s sleeper is a local kid out of Saginaw Heritage, Spencer Schwellenbach, who just won the Big Ten Baseball Player of the Year award and second-team All-American.
Spencer Schwellenbach’s Background
Coming out of high school, Schwellenbach was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the 34th round as a pitcher but as he told Mlive.com($), he wanted to play shortstop.
"“It’s funny, but in high school all the Major League scouts were looking at me as a pitcher, but I wanted to play shortstop so I went to Nebraska and played shortstop,” Schwellenbach said. “Then they all looked at me as a shortstop. Now, some are talking to me about shortstop, some about pitching. It’s like they’re only interested in what I’ve done the last.”"
After his freshman year, he had an elbow injury but he saw a change in managers. Darin Estrad resigned and was replaced by another former Cornhusker, Will Bolt, who played on two Cornhuskers College World Series teams in 2001 and 2002.
When COVID wiped out much of his 2020 season, the invite to play in the Cape Cod league was changed when the season was canceled. He took the oppournity to come back to Michigan and play for the Traverse City Spitters.
Spencer Schwellenbach’s Scouting Report:
Schwellenback is 6’1, 200 lbs and bats and throws right-handed. He was Nebraska’s closer this year in addition to playing short and put up some impressive numbers. In 25 innings pitched, he allowed just two runs, six walks, 29 strikouts, six saves and finished with an ERA of 0.71. He throws a fastball in the upper 90’s with a wipeout slider and a changeup.
At the plate, he finished his junior season with a slash line of .289/ .413/.482 with six home runs. He has no preference when he reaches the pros what position he would play but most scouts have him playing short. He has a smooth swing with a bit of bat waggle at the plate. He is known to be a gap hitter with power potentail as he has a bit of loft in his swing. He prides himself on his defense at short.
Here’s what Prospects Live said:
"“Schwellenbach is also a plus runner from the right, registering a 4.25 on a ground ball to second. The first step is quicker than his max speed, which in theory should play well at third. At the plate Schwellenbach has plus bat speed. Mechanically he had a big stride forward but kept his hands back to the last second, allowing another split second of reaction time. The swing plane was pretty linear. Most of his contact was solid but also on the ground or low line drives."
On their most recent update where he is ranked 106
"“Steady defender on the dirt who makes all the routine plays. Patient hitter who draws a lot of walks and can tap into some power (6 HR in ~200 college ABs). Schwellenbach is likely a 45 hitter at the next level with 40 power but can do a little bit of everything well.”"
Here’s what Prospects Worldwide said:
"He’s a patient hitter with some ambush power, though his swing can get a little loopy and the barrel isn’t always in the zone for long. That has led to a fringe-average hit tool where you’d like to see a bit better given his profile. A shortstop, for now, he can make it work at the premium position but fits better at second base."
Will the Detroit Tigers draft Spencer Schwellenbach?
It really depends on how the Tigers see him either as a reliever, starting pitcher, or infielder. He could be projected to go anywhere between the first round or the tenth. Detroit has been addressing the infield the last few drafts but teams don’t draft for need, they draft the best that can fit their system.
With his ability to play anywhere in the infield and he is local, Schwellenbach’s two-way ability could come in handy for the Tigers. If Detroit decided to develop him into a starting pitcher full time, with his stuff, he could be a backend starter.