Detroit Tigers top 30 prospects for 2023: No. 9 Dillon Dingler
We continue counting down our Detroit Tigers top prospects for 2023 with C Dillon Dingler
The shortened 2020 COVID draft might go down as one of the better Detroit Tigers drafts in recent years. Selecting first overall helps, sure, but the club was able to find talent in later rounds--a skill that had been fleeting in recent years. Included in that 2020 draft is second rounder Dillon Dingler out of Ohio State, who checks in at ninth on our countdown.
Dingler's bloodlines and athleticism have been well-documented. Mom, Pam, was a track athlete at Bowling Green State. Meanwhile, in addition to baseball, Dillon received all-state honors as a high school football punter. After choosing baseball to pursue at the next level, Dingler would ultimately spend time at catcher and center field for the Buckeyes; two positions that rarely cross paths at any level.
2023 will be the third consecutive season that Dingler has made the MLB spring training squad as a non-roster invite. Because of his timeline and his development, Dingler will not need to be added to the 40-man roster until this December, unless of course he sees playing time in Detroit sometime throughout the year.
If there is one prospect I remain higher than the crowd on in the Tigers' system, it's Dingler. He's very athletic behind the plate with light feet and an excellent throwing arm. With the new pickoff rules, stolen base attempts are likely to be up, which helps someone like Dingler who is proficient at blocking and fearless as it pertains to back-picking runners sleeping on the basepaths or throwing out would-be base stealers.
Offensively, Dingler shows home run power foul pole to foul pole and boasted a rock-solid 10 percent walk rate at Double-A Erie last season. The reason many are down on the catcher heading into 2023 is his strikeout rate, which crossed over the 30 percent mark in 2022--a number that's largely deemed unplayable at the next level.
For context, Phillies outfielder Kyle Schwarber led the big leagues in strikeouts in 2022, heading back taking the walk of shame back to the dugout 200 times last season. His strikeout rate came in at 29.9 percent.
If Dingler wants to realize his everyday MLB catcher potential, cutting down on the swing-and-miss will undoubtedly be part of the equation. Because of Dingler's solid walk numbers, though, it will be interesting to see if he's more aggressive earlier in counts and his walk rate takes a dip as a result. Nevertheless, cutting the strikeout rate, even at a small expense to walks, would likely help the profile overall.
Dingler figures to start the season at Triple-A Toledo entering his age-24 season. It is conceivable Dingler could debut in 2023 with injuries or some struggles at the big league level between Jake Rogers, Eric Haase, or Donny Sands. Sands, who was acquired as part of the Gregory Soto deal from Philadelphia, figures to have a more inside shot at an immediate big league chance since he is already on the 40-man roster, though.