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Justyn-Henry Malloy: Getting to know the newest Detroit Tigers’ prospect

There's a new face in town, his name: Justyn-Henry Malloy. The Detroit Tigers acquired Malloy in a deal that sent Joe Jimenez to the Atlanta Braves. Malloy is a position player, something the Tigers system has been bereft of for a long time. Now, the direction seems clear under the new President of Baseball Operations, Scott Harris. They have a profile they're looking for when it comes to the offensive side of the ball and Malloy seems to fit the bill.

Justyn-Henry Malloy

Who is Justyn-Henry Malloy?

Malloy is a six-foot, three-inch, 22-year-old prospect, who is ranked sixth in the Braves system according to Baseball America. Notably, he was the only position player in their top 10 within that same ranking as well. According to his prospect profile on MLB.com,

Malloy began his college career at Vanderbilt and was on the roster when the Commodores won the College World Series in 2019, but played sparingly. That led to him transferring to Georgia Tech, where he was very productive in 2021, finishing with an OPS of .994, and catching the attention of the Braves, who took him in the sixth round last July. After a solid pro debut last summer, Malloy has continued to show an intriguing combination of power and patience during his first full season.

“Braves Top-30, MLB.com”

Malloy is an intriguing player but is unlikely to have a significant impact in 2023. However, this is a move that is setting a precedent for the Tigers moving forward. When the Tigers decided to part ways with the likes of Willi Castro, Harold Castro, and Victor Reyes much of it had to do with their inability to command the strike zone. Malloy is different and that can be clearly seen in the numbers Malloy has produced while in the Minor Leagues.

Justyn-Henry Malloy inside the numbers:

2021 was Malloy's first year as a professional ballplayer, after being drafted in the sixth round (187) out of Georgia Tech. During that season at Low-A ball, he played 37 games, hit five homers, drove in 21, walked 16.3% of the time, and struck out 20.4%. Then, in 2022, he played at all three levels of the Minor Leagues in the Braves' system.

The bat is good. And, as he moved up, his production didn't slip. His walk rate increased from A+ ball to AA, going from 14.7% in 320 A+ at-bats to 18.1% in 238 AA at-bats. In only 33 at-bats at AAA, he had a 21.2% walk rate and struck out 15.2% of the time, compared to 25.2% in more at-bats at AA. But, what is most impressive, his wRC+ posted in AAA is the second highest of his career (136), making him an above-average impact bat.

In the field, Malloy has played third base and corner outfield. And, while there is a jam-packed outfield and a hole at third base with the departure of Jeimer Candelario, it's tough to say where Justyn-Henry Malloy will fit into the Tigers defensively. He played exclusively LF in AAA last season, but in only seven of the eight games, he was there. He did commit 17 errors in 80 attempts at 3B at A+ in 2022 and did not play 3B at all in AA. Most likely he'll get a shot at 3B, but is penciled in as a right-handed hitting corner outfielder.

Justyn-Henry Malloy
Detroit Tigers' prospect Tigers Notes">
Justyn-Henry Malloy on Fangraphs

What are the Detroit Tigers saying about Justyn-Henry Malloy:

It's clear the Tigers have a plan for what they're looking for when it comes to hitters. Scott Harris said as much when he discussed his three goals for the Tigers:

  1. Acquire, develop, and retain young players
  2. Create a culture of development
  3. Dominate the strike zone on both sides of the ball

Justyn-Henry Malloy checks two of those three boxes. And, according to Harris, has the ability to change the offensive identity of the Tigers. According to Evan Petzold of The Detroit Free Press,

Scott Harris said #Tigers 3B/OF Justyn-Henry Malloy ‘is the type of hitter that can help us reshape our offensive identity. He embodies a lot of the things that we really value in hitters. He controls the strike zone. He has plus bat-to-ball skills. He does damage to all fields.'

via Evan Petzold on Twitter

The question remains, when will Justyn-Henry Malloy make his debut in the Tigers uniform? It could be sooner than you think. Again, from Evan Petzold,

Scott Harris said 3B/OF Justyn-Henry Malloy, the No. 11 prospect in the Braves' system, will likely start the 2023 season at Triple-A Toledo. He seems on track to make his MLB debut in 2023. ‘I mean, he's been dictating his own development,' Harris said. #Tigers

via Evan Petzold on Twitter

At the end of the day, Scott Harris is building a team around a specific profile that he has seen work and this should provide excitement for Detroit Tiger fans. Is it tough to see a guy like Jimenez go to another team? For sure. But, the Tigers were unlikely to sign Jimenez long-term and were able to get a budding, solid MLB player in return for him. Welcome to Motown, Justyn, we're excited for you to get here.

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