Corey Knebel posted some great numbers after being drafted in June and he will look to improve on those in his first full professional season.
Knebel was drafted 39th overall out of the University of Texas by the Detroit Tigers and was sent to the Class A West Michigan Whitecaps of the Midwest League.
While there, Knebel dominated, going 2-1 with a 0.87 ERA and 15 saves in 31 appearances. The Texas product struck out 41 batters and walked only 10, as hitters hit only .133 against him.
Following his season with the Whitecaps, the Tigers sent him to play for the Mesa Solar Sox of the Arizona Fall League.
Knebel continued his impressive season there, making the East Division Fall Stars team. In nine games with the Solar Sox, Knebel had a 4.15 ERA and two saves to go along with 11 strikeouts and only three walks. Batters continued to struggle against him as they hit only .219.
With the success that Knebel has had, the Tigers will look to move him up a level, either to the Class-A Advanced Lakeland Flying Tigers or to the Double-A Erie SeaWolves.
Knebel is a power arm, possessing a fastball that is consistently in the mid-90’s and has been clocked at 98. He projects as a late-inning reliever, which should be music to Tigers fan’s ears.
The bullpen has been a real issue for the Tigers over the past two seasons. The Tigers made some changes this offseason, but there are still some problems with it. Joe Nathan was brought in to close this offseason and he will get the job done, but he turns 39 this season and wont be around forever. Bruce Rondon is a young reliever on the roster and is projected to be the setup man this season. Knebel should be ready for the big leagues in the near future and could pair with Rondon to create a dominant 1-2 punch in the 8th and 9th inning down the road.