Bryant Packard OF – Detroit Tigers (A+)
22 Years Old – Throws: R – Bat: L – 6’3″ 200lbs. – ETA: 2023
Drafted in the 5th round of the 2019 draft out of East Carolina, Packard stood out for his offensive performance in his pro debut season and caused a lot of chatter among Tigers prospect followers during last season.
Packard already has a strong track record of offensive performance. In his sophomore season at East Carolina, Packard hit .406/.462/.671 with 14 homeruns over 249 plate appearances. His nearly 1.000 OPS in the Cape Cod League after his Sophomore season had his draft stock soaring. His draft stock would take a hit during his Junior season however, as his numbers regressed offensively somewhat with him *only* hitting.358/.444/.550 with 7 homeruns over 257 plate appearances and he was battling injuries for most of the season.
The Tigers still liked him enough for them to make him their 5th round selection however, and he was assigned to the short-season New York to start his pro career. He impressed in the New York Penn League, hitting .351/.432/.405 with a 20.5% K% and a 13.6% BB%. He quickly proved to be a far too advanced hitter for the league and was promoted to Low-A West Michigan after only 44 plate appearances with Connecticut. He was also very impressive offensively at West Michigan where he hit .309/.404/.898 with a 25.5% K% and a 13.8% BB%. He impressed so much at West Michigan he was even promoted to the Tigers High-A affiliate in Lakeland after only 94 plate appearances and a brief stint on the IL. He played in 5 games with Lakeland before the season and wasn’t all that impressive but it was only 5 games at the end of a long season.
Packard doesn’t necessarily stand out for his size, but he is a natural hitter with a projectable frame that should allow him to develop into more game power as he physically matures.
As I previously mentioned Packard was very impressive with his bat during his pro debut season. He has also already shown the ability to make the adjustment’s necessary to be a successful pro hitter. Packard had some early struggles in the Midwest League after his promotion there in early July and he particularly appeared to struggle with velocity thrown up in the zone during these first few Midwest League games. After these first 5 Midwest League games he changed his stance at the plate and deciding to go with a more open look with his hands lowered in an attempt give him a better look at the ball out of the pitchers hand.
After Packard’s first 5 games in the Midwest League he had a .350 OPS with 8 strikeouts and no walks in 5 games. Between 7/13 and 8/07 pictured above, Packard only appeared in 2 games (not available on MiLB.TV archives) and had a couple week stay on the injured list. This stance change proved to be very effective for him and he immediately began striking out a lot less, walking more and hitting for much better overall numbers after this stance change.
Packard has shown an advanced approach at the plate and the ability to make quality contact to all fields. He didn’t show massive platoon splits last year and he looks like a guy that should be able to at least be competent against both righties and lefties. As he adjusts to and learns how to hit more advanced pitching, Packard definitely has what one can confidently project as an average major league hit tool.
Obviously, as I previously mentioned, Packard is a guy that has shown the ability to drive the ball to all fields and his nearly 50% Oppo% with West Michigan last year really stands out. I would like to see Packard show the ability to more consistently hit the ball in the air and hit less groundballs, as this would really help his overall offensive performance.
Packard has shown the ability to drive the ball out to all fields in batting practice. Packard hasn’t yet however shown the ability to hit for much homerun power in game yet, and this is evident by looking at his numbers from the minor leagues last season. He did hit for some respectable power numbers in college and he has some filling out to do physically still which, combined with the raw power he’s shown and bat speed will allow him to develop more in game power over time.
Packard wont necessarily stand out for his defense in the outfield and his lack of speed/range means he’s going to be limited to a corner spot, likely LF duties with his arm also grading below average and this will further limit his defensive utility. There’s already been some talk of a possible move to first base for him which could have a devastating effect on the overall profile.
Room for Improvements:
Defense: Speed/Range are a problem for him and will limit him to being a strictly corner outfielder long term. I’ve also already seen a potential move to first mentioned for him.
Groundball Rate: Packard will need to show the ability to drive the ball in the air more consistently in order to improve his offensive performance and in order to translate more of the raw power he’s shown into in game power.
Packard is still a few years from Major League ready and it’s very hard to say how this year off from development will affect some guys. Packard has a natural feel for hitting and there will be a tremendous amount of pressure on his bat if he wishes to carve out any sort of significant Major League Career since he is going to be a corner outfielder or 1st baseman long term given his lack of range/arm. I’m not sure Packard’s average projected hit and power tool will be enough, given his lack of other tools, to earn him regular Major League playing time.
Packard realistically looks like a guy who will be a nice bench bat in the Major Leagues. I left Packard off my list of Tigers Top 20 (click the link the check out those ranks!) due to the fact he has the same future value as some of the guys on the back end of the list and has a riskier profile simply because he isn’t as close to Major League ready as these others and will loose this entire year of development.
He’s definitely a legitimate prospect whose offensive skillset will play at the Major League level and I think ranking him among this systems Top-20 is certainly justifiable and I won’t argue with too much with anyone that decides to put him in their Top 20. For me however, I just don’t see enough outside of his average projected hit and power tool for him to warrant a Top 20 ranking on my list at this current time, but he is certainly very close.