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Top Prospect: Kyle Sleeth, rhp
Age: 22 Ht.: 6-5 Wt.: 205 Bats: R Throws: R
Drafted: Wake Forest, 2003 (1st round)
Signed by: Bill Buck
Background: An 18th-round pick by the Orioles out of a Colorado high school in 2000, Sleeth opted to attend Wake Forest instead. He went 31-6 in three seasons, tying an NCAA record by winning 26 consecutive decisions. Sleeth entered 2003 as the top amateur pitching prospect and exited the draft as the first pitcher selected and third overall pick. Scouts considered him better than Bryan Bullington, who went No. 1 overall to the Pirates the year before. Sleeth didn’t sign until August, receiving a $3.35 million bonus. By that time, the Tigers decided that he shouldn’t make his pro debut until 2004. They didn’t want him to work many innings last summer in any case, after watching 2001 first-rounder Kenny Baugh develop shoulder problems shortly after signing. After signing, Sleeth worked out with the major league club and then with Triple-A Toledo. He did pitch during instructional league and was impressive.
Strengths: Sleeth has far and away the highest ceiling among Tigers farmhands. He had one of the best fastballs available in the 2003 draft, both in terms of velocity and life. He usually pitches between 92-94 mph and touches 96. His fastball seems even firmer, however, because of its movement. It bores down and in on righthanders. It’s a heavy ball. Sleeth throws both a power curveball and a low-80s slider. The curveball is the better breaking pitch, as he throws it in the high 70s, and it features a lot of depth and bite. His slider improved last spring, though some scouts say it’s a bit slurvy. His changeup has the potential to be an average major league pitch. Sleeth has a strong, projectable frame and was durable at Wake Forest. He’s quiet and confident. When the Demon Deacons struggled behind him last spring, he remained poised. Though not demonstrative, Sleeth exudes competitiveness.
Weaknesses: To move quickly through the minors and to be effective in the majors, Sleeth will have to be more consistent with each of his pitches. His ability to repeat pitches is still questionable. He sometimes loses his delivery, causing him to throw across his body or leave pitches up in the strike zone. Sleeth also has to decide whether he wants to use three or four pitches. His slider is too similar to his curveball.
The Future: If Sleeth had signed quickly and pitched last summer, he likely would start 2004 at Double-A Erie and be in line to reach Detroit by September. Now the Tigers won’t push him quite that hard, so he’ll probably make his pro debut at high Class A Lakeland. If he enjoys immediate success, the club won’t hesitate to promote him to Double-A, and he still could make it to the majors this year. He has that type of ability and makeup, and Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski won’t hesitate to bring deserving prospects to the majors.
June 20, 2004
TOP PROSECT ARRIVES IN ERIE!
Kyle Sleeth assigned to Erie from Lakeland…Kirsten promoted to Toledo
(Erie, PA) – In conjunction with the Detroit Tigers, the Erie SeaWolves announced earlier today that Righthanded pitcher Kyle Sleeth has been assigned to Erie from High-A Lakeland. To make room for Sleeth, Righthanded pitcher Rick Kirsten has been promoted to Triple-A Toledo.
Sleeth, who is ranked as the top prospect in the Tigers organization, was 5-4, 3.11 in 11 starts with the Lakeland Tigers (Florida State League). Detroit drafted Sleeth with their first pick (3rd overall) in the 2003 draft and signed him on August 8. The Colorado native, attended Wake Forest University, departing second on the school’s all-time list with 31 wins, third with an .838 winning percentage and fourth with 293.0 innings pitched and 271 strikeouts.
Kyle Sleeth’s Bio
Height - 6-5 Bats - R Birthdate - 12/20/1981 Age - 23 Birthplace - Thornton, CO
Weight - 205 Throws - R College - Wake Forest (NC) Resides - Westminster, CO
Selected by Tigers in first round (third overall) of 2003 draft; signed Aug. 8, 2003
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