Up next in the MWaH/LAAI Top 30 Angels Prospect Countdown, we get a look at yet another potential closer of the future, only Daniel Tillman probably has the best claim to that throne right now.
Position: Relief Pitcher Level: Low-A and High-A
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6'1" Weight: 205 lbs.
Age: 22 Born: March 14, 1989
2011 Season Stats (Low-A): 5-3, 12 SV, 66.1 IP, 2.04 ERA, 53 H, 1 HR, 32 BB, 70 K, 2.91 FIP, .290 BABIP, 1.82 GO/AO
2011 Season Stats (High-A): 1-0, 2 SV, 8.0 IP, 4.50 ERA, 7 H, 1 HR, 2 BB, 8 K, 3.95 FIP, .250 BABIP, 2.00 GO/AO
2011 Season Stats (AFL): 1-1, 1 SV, 10.1 IP, 5.23 ERA, 13 H, 1 HR, 3 BB, 10 K, 1.00 GO/AO
Fastball – B+. Some games he sits 92-93, others he cranks it up to 95-96. Solid, steady.
Breaking Ball – A. Tillman has a very good wipeout slider, it’s clearly a strikeout pitch.
Change up – NA. He used it as a starter, but now that he’s a reliever it’s gone away.
Performance – A. He’s an all-star closer, climbed the ladder and is showing no ill effects.
Projection – B+. Most would peg him as future closer, but with Walden around, 8th inning.
Comp – Floor: Jason Bulger. Ceiling: Young Scot Shields.
Estimated MLB Arrival Date: 2013/2014.
(*As always, the above scouting report is provided by Scotty Allen of LA Angels Insider)
Season Summary: Despite being a reliever in college, Tillman started the season out as a starting pitcher for the Kernels, but that little trial came to a quick end and Daniel was moved to relief and it appears to be permanent, as well it should since that is really what is best for his skill set. It wasn't even that Tillman was bad as a starter, but he was MUCH better as a reliever as can be seen by the fact that 12 of the 15 earned runs he allowed with the Kernels came while he was working as a starter.
What Tillman showed was a slider that continues to improve, giving him a great pitch to complement his strong fastball. While Tillman didn't generate a ridiculous amount of strikeouts, he still fanned over a batter per inning and induced copious amounts of groundballs. That's a pretty good way for a reliever to live. The only blemish on his resume though is that he issued so many walks, 4.34 BB/9 at Cedar Rapids. He saw those walk numbers improve in his brief promotion to Inland Empire and tenure in the AFL, but neither sample size is big enough to draw any grand conclusions. Then again, he only allowed 12 walks in the 29 innings after making the full-time switch to relief, so there could be some in-season improvement happening.
What to Expect in 2012: Tillman is moving up and moving fast. He just completed only his second season of pro ball and has already impressed the Angels enough to make the jump to High-A and then move on to pitch in the vaunted Arizona Fall League after the season. And the team is making no secret of their plans to have him someday be a closer as he has worked as the stopper for his team at every stop.
With only eight innings at Inland Empire, the Angels could start him off again there in 2012, but with how quickly he has advanced thus far, there is reason to believe that he'll be challenged by promoting him straight to Double-A or at least move him there early in the season. Whenever he gets the call to Double-A is when we should really start paying attention to him. He'll be 23 by the time the season starts, so we shouldn't be too shocked that he is moving down Single-A batters. At Double-A though, he'll be playing with the big boys. He should be able to hold his own since he acquit himself well enough in the AFL, but in Arkansas it should become readily apparent whether or not he has the stuff to keep missing bats and generating grounders or whether he might be more of a reliable middle reliever than a shutdown closer.