Infielder Steve Lombardozzi and lefty reliever Ian Krol can contribute to Detroit in 2014, but southpaw prospect Robbie Ray was the centerpiece of this deal for the Tigers, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today:
Ray split the past season between Single-A and Double-A, and he's shown enough promise in the minor leagues to think he could evolve into a force for Detroit's rotation down the line. Let's take a closer look at the key player acquired by Detroit in its latest high-profile move of a busy offseason.
DOB: Oct. 1, 1991 (Age: 22)
Height/Weight: 6'2"/170 lbs.
Drafted: 2010 12th round by WAS
The 22-year-old lefty turned the corner in 2013 with improved stats across the board. He's always been able to strike people out, but he's also shown a lack of control throughout his career, which appears to be the biggest flaw in his game.
Big walk totals have been a trend for Ray since he turned professional; that will be his biggest hurdle before making the jump to the big leagues. According to Ryan Slocum of ABC 12, Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski said Ray could make an impact sooner rather than later.
His 2013 turnaround is encouraging, but he still has a lot to prove before he's MLB-ready.
According to Teddy Cahill of MLB.com, Ray has a power arm with an average fastball of 93 miles per hour, but notes that he can fire it up to the mid-90s at times as well. Cahill said Ray needs to work on harnessing his slider, which he uses with a changeup as his main secondary pitches off of his fastball.
If anyone has an eye for effective power arms it's the Tigers, who have two of the league's best in Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer. But a good fastball doesn't do you any good if you can't keep it in the strike zone, which should be Ray's focus going forward.
Dombrowski has already declared that Krol will be added to Detroit's bullpen, moving Drew Smyly into the rotation for 2014. If Ray is able to maintain his status as a strikeout pitcher while increasing his control, there's reason to believe he could be ready for a September call-up in 2014.
If the team is unable to re-sign Scherzer following the 2014 season, Ray could be counted on to step in and help fill his void in the rotation the following year. Ideally, the Tigers will be able to keep Scherzer around and Ray will be able to join him, Verlander, Anibal Sanchez and Rick Porcello in 2015.