Detroit Tigers No. 7 Prospect – Joey Wentz – LHP
Joey Wentz was the primary return from Atlanta in Detroit’s 2019 deadline trade of Shane Greene, and after a handful of utterly dominant post-trade outings in Double-A Erie (5G, 25.2 IP, 2.10 ERA, 37K, 4BB) it looked as though he was a huge steal. That may still prove true, but Wentz went down with Tommy John surgery in March of 2020, and he wasn’t very crisp or efficient in his return to the mound last year. Wentz stands 6’5, and he’s a solid athlete who showed big-time power potential as a first baseman in high school, but the Braves took him as a pitcher with the 40th pick in the 2016 draft. He was dominant in 2017, but then battled injuries and inconsistency before his excellent run in Erie.
Wentz’s fastball shows fringe-average velocity, siting in the 90-92 MPH range and occasionally touching as high as 95, but it plays up slightly thanks to his arm angle and above-average spin rates. Before surgery, his best pitch was a mid-80s changeup, but he also shows a sweeping low-80s slider, and the occasional mid-70s curve. Wentz struggled to locate all his offerings last year, and had trouble putting hitters away, but for now we consider those fairly typical post-surgery issues. When he’s at his best, Wentz looks like a potential #4 starter, but if he remains the pitcher he was in 2021, he may top out as an emergency starter or long reliever.