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After the Detroit Tigers acquired him from the Los Angeles Angels in January of 2016, infield prospect Kody Eaves spent the bulk of the last two seasons with Double-A Erie before getting a look at Triple-A Toledo this summer in an injury-shortened campaign. Across both levels this year he appeared in 96 games (332 at-bats) and slashed .271/.341/.464/.804 with 19 doubles, 13 home runs, 33 walks, and 80 strikeouts — a productive half-season at the right time in Eaves’ career.

But because it was only a half season, the Tigers sent the 24-year-old (DOB: July 8, 1993) to play for the Mesa Solar Sox at the Arizona Fall League last month in a bid for more at-bats. It was there that Baseball Census observed him play nearly a dozen times, and it’s here from those looks that you’ll find our full Kody Eaves scouting report, including game video, tool grades, and projection notes on the Detroit Tigers utility infield prospect.

Kody Eaves Scouting Report, Detroit Tigers — 2017

Dates observed in 2017: Arizona Fall League

Hit (50)
Slightly open stance with leg kick and high hands; considerable knee lift/leg kick and weight transfer as timing mechanism to get to hitting position. Markedly shorter two-strike approach with no leg kick and occasionally not even a stride; shortens for contact with quick, punchy swing. Can reach all fields, but especially pull; good feel for barrel and will manipulate. Patient hitter, sometimes to a fault, but will work counts with pitch recognition and good contact skills. Above average bat speed. High-hands hitter from start and at load position; will get tied up on inner half at times. Will also get pull-happy in orientation and approach, pulling off the ball and creating too much weak roll-over contact. Power profiles almost exclusively to pull side; could have a hot zone in left-center gap with swing mechanics/bat path, but has yet to utilize consistently in game action.

Power (45)
Modest power to his pull side, with little by way of opposite field pop, especially over-the-fence. High-ball hitter for power; will go up and out of zone to chase high heat; will lift with authority, especially on inner half with quick bat. Leg kick/weight transfer in swing mechanics greatly aid his natural power profile. Physical maturity likely finished or nearly finished; not significant room left for physical growth to aid raw power. May grade out higher than 45 FV in an everyday role with barrel manipulation improvements and better access to low-ball power.

Glove (50)
Reliable and consistent in the field, with soft hands and good range going to forehand and backhand at both second and third base. Very good athleticism and balance to throw back over shoulder on ground balls up the middle to his backhand; surprising range. Liked him better at second base in my AFL looks; athleticism in his footwork that fits well there with good situational/spatial awareness around the bag. Consistent and reliable with ability to develop into above-average defender depending on future role/playing time.

Arm (45)
As with glove, reliable arm that’s consistent and unspectacular. Probably fits better at second than third; accurate with decent carry from all points/positions on field, but lacking some of the raw arm strength that’d be ideal in a third baseman. More than enough arm to fit as a utility infielder moving around the diamond; value here is in reliability/consistency more than anything.

Speed (45)
Tight cluster of six different home-to-first times from 4.21 - 4.27 at AFL. Doesn’t look like a great athlete in body type/build, but moves pretty well with average top speed once he gets going. Hustles hard out of the box; good footwork defensively that helps athleticism play up even if it doesn’t show in raw speed tool. Unlikely be a major stolen base threat as he develops; smart baserunner though — aggressive with good instincts.

Jack of all trades across the infield. Reminds me a ton of Colorado Rockies infield prospect Forrest Wall in terms of swing mechanics and approach at the plate (see Wall video here for comparison). Seems like a solid bet to become an up-and-down infielder who could fall into productive utility/platoon infield role with relatively low risk in coming years. Aggressive, hard-nosed with quiet intensity to game. Can sulk at times with bat at-bats, but pretty minor stuff.

Kody Eaves Scouting Report, Detroit Tigers — 2017 Game Video

Kody Eaves Scouting Report — Notes & Analysis

Though Kody Eaves is far from spectacular either in the field or at the plate, he’s got the profile and tools to become a consistent, reliable big leaguer with the ability to play multiple positions across the infield. He grew on me the more I observed him in Mesa this fall, showing off some sneaky pop, good contact skills, and the ability to work counts against the best pitchers the AFL had to offer. Defensively, he’s as consistent as they come playing second and third, and he’d occasionally flash an exceptional play (typically to his backhand up the middle) that’d draw attention and go above and beyond my expectations.

There are still some holes here: Eaves can get too pull happy, especially when he’s trying to hit the ball in the air, and it’d be interesting to see him sell out more for line-drive gap power to his opposite field side depending on how he’s being pitched. With his approach, leg kick, and swing mechanics, though, it’s likely pitchers will continue to bust him hard inside, and so it’s imperative the Detroit Tigers prospect improve his bat speed and barrel control to go along with already good contact skills and pitch recognition. Some of that will come in time as he develops against pitching in the upper minors, though. Ultimately, Kody Eaves has the tools to be sneaky-good in a bench role with a path forward to the big leagues, and that could land him on a 25-man roster one day soon.

Kody Eaves Scouting Report — Future Projection

The 2018 season will be a big one for Kody Eaves, fresh off a productive half season and then a solid showing at the prestigious AFL. His 2017 season was the strongest offensive campaign of his career, and while it came at the right time a year after being traded, Eaves must now prove he can do that again in 2018 against better pitches if he’s to be taken seriously as a future big league option for the Detroit Tigers. He ought to spend most, if not all, of the season with Triple-A Toledo, and if the pop he showed this season translates to the International League, he could get a shot in Detroit at some point considering his versatility and roster flexibility.

Long term, I like Kody Eaves as an under-the-radar type who could overachieve and fall into a productive platoon/utility infield role moving between positions, providing a left-handed option off the bench with some sneaky power. There are holes in his swing that’ll be exploited by better pitchers and limit his ultimate ceiling, but Eaves has strong enough contact skills with some pitch recognition in his approach that’ll allow him to adjust and find a way to succeed in The Show. If things fall into place, he could see some time with the Detroit Tigers in 2018, with a more significant chance to fight for a bench role on the 25-man roster in 2019 and beyond.

Overall Future Potential (Future Value): Ceiling as utility infielder with some pop; if bat regresses, up-and-down role likely (45)

MLB ETA: 2018

Did you like this Kody Eaves scouting report? Get more prospects here:

Detroit Tigers RHP Spencer Turnbull — CLICK HERE

Baltimore Orioles LHP Keegan Akin — CLICK HERE

Chicago Cubs OF Kwang-Min Kwon — CLICK HERE

Toronto Blue Jays SS Kevin Vicuna — CLICK HERE

Colorado Rockies 2B Shael Mendoza — CLICK HERE


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Bobby DeMuro

Bobby DeMuro is the founder of Baseball Census. A former college and independent league baseball player, he now watches more than 200 games a year working full time for the site. You can follow him on Twitter @BobbyDeMuro for more.

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