Tigers Prospect Profile #9: James McCann

McCann could be catching in Detroit soon.

Fans considered McCann's selection in the 2nd round in 2011 to be controversial given the amount of high-ceiling talent still on the board. Just over a year later, McCann reached Double-A in his first full season. What does McCann bring to the table that makes the Tigers such big believers in his future? Check inside to find out!

James McCann
Position: Catcher
Height: 6-2
Weight: 210
Born: 6/13/1990
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Acquired: 2011 MLB Draft, 2nd Round
Ranking History: #8 (2011)

Background
After going in the 31st round of the 2008 draft to the White Sox, McCann's stock improved dramatically heading into the 2011 draft, as the Tigers picked him in the second round; surprising many in a draft loaded with high-end talent.

Once signed, McCann made a brief debut with five games in the Gulf Coast League and eight more games with Low-A West Michigan. Across 54 plate appearances, McCann hit just .146/.222/.250 with three walks and 12 strikeouts.

The Tigers moved McCann quickly in 2012, starting him with High-A Lakeland and eventually moving him to Double-A Erie. In 45 games with Lakeland McCann hit .288 with ten doubles and 20 RBI. After his promotion to Double-A, McCann slumped to a .200 batting average in 64 games. Over that span he punched 12 doubles and knocked two home runs, though his strikeout rate spiked.

Scouting Report
McCann is not a standout player but he grows on you after watching him for extended periods. His most noticeable attribute is his size. He has a sturdy frame that screams strength and durability. In addition to his physicality, his leadership ability and positive makeup standout as strong positives.

Defense is the carrying tool for McCann. His glove isn't flashy but he does everything well behind the plate. He is a solid receiver with good hands and good technique; allowing him to handle velocity and quality secondary stuff with ease. He showed some feel for calling a game in 2012 and most scouts believe he will be good at that in the long run.

McCann's arm strength is above-average and he shows good footwork and a quick release at times. He consistently pops in the 1.90-1.95 second range, giving him a chance to gun down runners. When he rushes, his arm drops and his throws tend to tail away from the bag to the arm side, but he showed improvement in that regard as the 2012 season wore on.

Overall, McCann has the intellect, leadership skills, footwork, receiving ability, and arm strength to profile as an above-average defensive backstop. What doesn't impress in a single viewing, he makes up for with consistency and technically sound defensive play over longer stretches.

Offensively, McCann struggles. He has decent bat to ball skills but struggles recognizing soft and spinning stuff, leaving him out front and susceptible to weak contact. His bat speed is solid and he can catch up to most velocity, though he has a hitch in his trigger that keeps him from consistently getting the barrel of the bat to the zone on time.

Despite his physicality, McCann doesn't have a ton of punch in his bat. His swing is a bit flat and he is more of a line-drive hitter than anything. He can get into one every now and again, and projects for 10-12 home runs a year at his peak. He should supplement that power production with some doubles.

McCann's overall offensive profile, even with the mechanical problems he shows, rests in the .250-.260 range with modest power. If he can actualize that projection he could still profile as an average big leaguer catcher. Without a realization of his offensive potential, McCann's defense should allow him to become a quality backup catcher.

Performance

Level

Team

AB

AVG

2B

HR

RBI

SO

BB

OBP%

SLG%

A+

Lakeland

160

.288

10

2

20

29

10

.345

.350

AA

Erie

230

.200

12

2

19

44

8

.227

.282


Health Record
McCann has the durable build scouts look for in a catcher. He has yet to experience a significant injury in his baseball career.

Projection
Though it doesn't jump out at observers in brief viewings, McCann still has the ingredients to become an average big league backstop. His defense and leadership skills will lead the way and with that he only needs to produce a little bit at the plate. As he adjusts to more polished pitchers, McCann should settle in as a .250-.260 hitter with some on-base ability; giving him a chance at an everyday job in the next few years.

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