Scouting Reports

Like Mark from TigsTown (@TigsTownMark), I’m going to begin my scouting reports from now on by listing where I got my information from, as well as a “bare-bones” projection of sorts, which I will term “BBP” (for bare bones projection, obviously).

Basis of Report:

-Personal Observation (film study, in-person viewing)

-Personal Observations from other scouts, told to me in person


7th-8th inning reliever, potential shut down set up man.


Began career in 2006, pitching for the Tigers affiliate in the Venezuelan Summer League.  He spent the vast majority of his minor league time as a starter where he was solid, but not spectacular, and as we have seen, the move to the bullpen has paid big dividends.  Villarreal slowly but surely worked his way up through the minors, spending 2006 in the VSL, 2007 in the GCL, 2008 split btwn GCL and WMI, 2009 with WMI, 2010 split btwn Lakeland and Erie, and making his professional debut in 2011.  He posted solid numbers throughout the minors, but wasn’t going to challenge anyone for a spot in the Tigers rotation.  One scout I spoke to said “I saw him in 2009 with the Whitecaps, and immediately thought that he should move to the pen.  He just didn’t have a legitimate 3rd pitch, and the fastball wasn’t what it is now.”  25 years old right now, will turn 26 in May of 2013


Villarreal stands 6′ tall and weighs about 170lbs ( per ).  He has a slender build, which doesn’t usually fit the profile of a flame-throwing RHP, but Villarreal has very sturdy and strong legs which allow him to generate very good velocity.  Makeup (or composure) is solid but occasionally comes into question.  Normally he doesn’t have an issue, but once in awhile we’ve witnessed him get flustered, usually following an untimely walk or base hit.  Such a thing is to be expected with a young pitcher, particularly one who was called upon to pitch in high-leverage innings in his first full season in the Majors.  Not a complete “non-issue”, but definitely a minor one.



Villarreal gets great drive from his lower half…good arm speed…does not show the ball early to hitters…when right, has good arm slot…solid mechanics all around…lands in athletic position, ready to field the ball…does not lose sight of target at any time during delivery…


Some effort to delivery, perhaps leading to the arm tightness he felt in 2012 (for reference, “effortless delivery” is epitomized by Justin Verlander)…has occasional trouble repeating delivery, which leads to altered arm slot, which in turn affects his command…very rarely, I have noticed him tipping his pitches by way of arm slot…



Fastball earns easy 65-70 grades as it usually sits 96-98…very good life at plate, in particular when throwing to arm side…straightens out slightly when thrown to glove side, but that’s common…has touched 99 several times…seems to command it the same whether its at 95 or at 98, which is special…misses bats easily, due to late movement, especially when located up in zone…

Grade- 65-70

Breaking Ball:

Throws a slider that sits at about 86-88…flashes plus at times, when sharp, late, 2 plane break is witnessed…majority of the time it is an above-average pitch…has ability to miss bats, especially to RHH…excellent complement to plus-plus fastball…occasionally tips pitch by adjusting arm slot (rare)…usually throws pitch from same arm slot with same arm speed as fastball, which is outstanding…

Grade- 55


Rarely throws pitch…when he does, it sits around 84-86…basically a “show-me” pitch that’s better left unthrown…of the few I’ve seen, it’s rather flat with marginal arm side fade…does throw from same arm slot and arm speed as fastball…with overpowering fastball and above-average slider, changeup is not really needed at this point…

Grade- 40


Plus-plus fastball, potential plus slider, solid mechanics, and solid makeup.  Should definitely stay in bullpen.


I see an 8th inning reliever, with the potential to be dominating.  His mechanics lead me to have minor questions about his long-term durability, and his makeup worries me very slightly, but enough to where I don’t see a future closer, although I would argue that he has the pure stuff to become one.  Should he be able to develop his slider into a legitimate plus pitch, rather than just flashing it occasionally, his profile increases in potential.  Don’t see the arm speed nor frame for added velocity, but I don’t think anyone is complaining about consistent 96-97 MPH

Thanks for reading, and Go Tigers!


I posted something on twitter last night saying that Putkonen getting his first MLB save may be a foreshadowing of things to come, simply because I liked his profile as a potential late innings reliever.  You’d have thought that I praised Satan or said that Miguel Cabrera was awful, based upon the amount of backlash I received.

I’m rather new to this whole scouting/prospecting thing, but I’ve never been someone to backpedal away from my beliefs if the reception of those beliefs isn’t a positive one.  So, I’ve assumed that I’ll take my lumps when it comes to my opinions on players, and I figured that I would write an article explaining my opinion of Putkonen.

Keep in mind, I did say that Putkonen’s success hinges upon his developing consistent command of both his fastball and curveball, but that more or less goes without saying to anyone that pays any attention to the Tigers.

Here we go:


Putkonen is a big dude with the prototypical power pitcher’s frame, standing 6’6″ and weighing about 210-215 lbs.  He gets a very good downward angle with his slot release, and I’m a fan of the leg drive he is able to generate, especially when throwing from the stretch.  Putkonen was originally a starter in the Tigers system, where he was more of your typical sinkerball type pitcher, sitting 90-92 on his fastball with solid sink/heaviness, and a fringy curveball/changeup combination.  He has some history of injuries which influenced his move to the bullpen, where he has reinvented himself as a pitcher.


Putkonen now sits comfortably at 95-96 with the ability to reach back and get 98 on occasion.  His ball still has some heaviness to it, but not as significant as when he was 91-92, but that’s to be expected.  When he throws to the arm side, there is marginal arm-side run on the pitch, which runs in on the right handed batters.  When he throws to the glove-side, the pitch straightens out without much movement, but can still be effective with command.  Putkonen’s biggest issue this season has been leaving his fastball up in the zone.  In the major leagues, even if you throw hard, with no command its going to get hit (Verlander in the All-Star Game).


Putkonen’s curve has become a legitimate swing and miss pitch since his move to the bullpen.  It has sharp break, tight spin, and legitimate downward action to it, and it’s actually pretty hard at 81-82 MPH.  Again, command is the issue here, with too many of these curveballs being left up in the zone.  Verlander can occasionally get away with hanging a curve, but Luke Putkonen cannot.  He needs to develop the command to throw the pitch not only for strikes, but also burying it down and away to right handed hitters, resulting in swings and misses.


Putkonen had a changeup when he was a starter that was never really graded as better than fringy, but he seemingly has eliminated it from his repertoire as a reliever.  At least, I haven’t noticed him throwing it.  As a starter it’s important to have 3 pitches, even if one of them is merely a show-me pitch (Bonderman!!!!!), but as a reliever, you can get away with 2 pitches, especially if both of them are effective (as Putkonen’s can be)


I see Putkonen as having a 7th-8th inning set up man ceiling.  This is, of course, dependent upon him developing at least average command of both his fastball and curveball.  He has the potential to be a good late innings reliever that can not only get groundballs, but also miss bats.  His floor is the up and down long reliever that we saw this season.  Likelihood to reach ceiling is probably pretty low, but the fact that we’ve already seen Putkonen’s floor is a good indication that as he develops more as a reliever, he’ll improve.  Right now, I’d project him to get one of the Tigers bullpen spots in 2013, probably in the Luis Marte/Colin Balester long relief/mop up role, with the obvious potential for more.



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