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Who Is Detroit Tigers OF Matt Joyce?

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The Detroit Tigers shook-up their line-up yesterday be designating LF Jacques Jones for assignment, installing Gary Sheffield in LF and recalling OF Matt Joyce from AAA Toledo.  Given the impression the Tigers emptied their farm system to acquire Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis, I was unfamilar with Matt Joyce as a prospect.  As a result, I went to my Baseball America and John Sickels prospect handbooks to read-up on Joyce.

My memory was jogged looking at Joyce's 2007 K/BB ratio of 127:51.  With more than two Ks per walk at AA, I had decided he wasn't enough of a prospect for me to consider amongst the top 24 available in my draft.  However, a closer look shows he skipped High A and went right to AA.  This has given me pause.

He has transitioned well to AAA this year batting 299/367/536 versus his AA slash stat line of 257/333/454.  His K/BB hasn't changed much, though, at 27:11.  I'm cautiously optimistic that he could provide some value in AL-Only formats.  Here are the write-ups on Matt Joyce from Baseball America and John Sickels.  Judge for yourself.

From Baseball America Prospect Handbook 2008 which ranked Joyce 7th in the organization:

Joyce helped Western Michigan win the Midwest League title in 2006, then skipped a level and helped Erie make the Eastern league play-offs.  He was pulling off the ball early in the season and batted .193 during the first two months.  but then he settled back into his overachieving ways, started allowing the ball to travel deeper into the zone and batted .293 with 13 homers over the final three months.  Joyce has a smooth left-handed stroke and a knack for driving in runs.  He generally hits gap-to-gap but possesses some home run power and has the potential to top last year's career high of 17.  A well-above-average right fielder, he gets jumps and has a strong, accurate arm.  He can play an adequate center field if needed.  Like many of the Tigers' top prospects, Joyce needs to cut down his strikeouts.  He chases low change-ups from right-handers.  He doesn't use his average speed as well on the bases as he does in the outfield.  Joyce has moved swiftly since signing in 2005, and he'll move up to Triple-A this season.  If all goes well, he'll challenge for a big league job in 2009.

From The Baseball Prospect Book 2008:

A 12th round pick out of Florida Southern in '05, Joyce was jumped to Double-A last year, skipping Detroit's Florida State League affiliate.  He held his own at the higher level, posting a +7 percent OPS, not great at all by comparable to the +9 percent he managed at West Michigan.  Joyce has adequate plate discipline, although note how his strikeout rate spiked last year.  He has average range and a strong arm, making him suitable for right field.  I have no objective evidence for this, but Joyce strikes me as the kind of player who might be a late bloomer, sneaking up on us maybe in '08, but more likely in '09, as a useful platoon player.  We'll see. Grade: C