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Prospect Note: Drew VerHagen, RHP, Detroit Tigers

Drew VerHagen
Drew VerHagen
Mark Cunningham, Getty Images

Detroit Tigers rookie right-hander Drew VerHagen made his major league debut on Saturday. He looked good through four innings but ran into trouble in the fifth, ending up with five innings pitched, three runs allowed on five hits and three walks, with four strikeouts. He was sent back to Triple-A Toledo after the game, but he'll likely be back later in the season and could take on a larger role in 2015.

VerHagen was drafted in the fourth round in 2012 out of Vanderbilt University. He began his college career with the University of Oklahoma in 2010 but pitched just 13 innings, prompting a transfer to Navarro Junior College in 2011. Moving on to the Commodores for '12, he posted a 3.50 ERA with a 37/28 K/BB in 69 innings, used as both a starter and reliever.

He's been a full-time starter in pro ball, posting a 2.90 ERA in 127 innings between High-A and Double-A last year with a 75/44 K/BB. This season he made 19 starts for Toledo with a 3.67 ERA in 110 innings, with a 67/25 K/BB, 117 hits allowed and a 1.50 GO/AO.

As you can see, his track record is marked by good control but his strikeout rate is also notably low. He has a sinker at 88-93 MPH, averaging about 91, mixing in a changeup in the low 80s and a curve in the 70s. Pre-season scouting reports rated his curveball and changeup as mediocre, which would explain the unimpressive strikeout rates, but they've at least improved enough for him to succeed in Triple-A.

He's a big guy at 6-6, 230 and looks like he should be durable, although he did have Tommy John surgery in high school. I had him rated as a Grade C+ prospect pre-season, seeing him as a potentially useful inning-eater type. That still seems reasonable to me.

Here's some video from back in May so you can get a feel for how his approach works: