Vanderbilt University has contributed quite a bit to the Tigers' farm system lately, producing prospects from Triple-A Toledo left-hander Drew VerHagen to Double-A Erie first baseman Aaron Westlake to Class A hurler Kevin Ziomek to now-Rays catching prospect Curt Casali. Adam Ravenelle didn't have quite the collegiate career of that group, thanks in no small part to surgery, but his talent wooed the Tigers to take a shot on him with their fourth-round pick.
The right-hander had elbow problems that led to ulnar transposition surgery in 2012, greatly limiting his work his first two college seasons. He came back this spring and took well to the bullpen, though not as a closer, with a mid-90s sinking fastball, a promising breaking ball and the makings of good efficiency. Ravenelle allowed just five earned runs on 17 hits over 34 1/3 innings with 32 strikeouts this season, though he has been hampered by 14 walks. Just four of his hits allowed have gone for extra bases, all doubles.
"Rav has come a long way since he stepped on campus," Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin said in a statement on Ravenelle's online player page. "He has always had very good athleticism and a clean, strong arm. He is now putting all of it together and becoming very skilled. There is a tremendous amount of consistency in his life ... his disposition, his investment level, his academics and now his performance."
The performance vaulted Ravenelle to the 152nd spot on MLB.com's Top 200 Draft prospects list.
The Tigers could face a similar decision with Ravenelle that they will with second-rounder Spencer Turnbull this Draft, and did with Corey Knebel last year. Though Ravenelle has found his success in a relief role, he has the stuff to potentially try a shift to starting pitching.
"Ravenelle we took as a starter," Tigers vice president of amateur scouting David Chadd said. "He has a delivery and arm action to allow him to start. For whatever reason, he's always been in the 'pen at Vanderbilt. We think he can start."
The Draft concludes on Saturday, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 11-40 beginning on MLB.com at 1 p.m. ET.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.