- Full name Christopher Bob Shelton
- Born 06/26/1980 in Salt Lake City, UT
- Profile Ht.: 6'0" / Wt.: 215 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Utah
- Debut 04/15/2004
- Drafted in the 33rd round (984th overall) by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2001.
Organization Prospect Rankings
The first pick in the 2003 major league Rule 5 draft, Shelton spent all of last season on the Tigers' 25-man roster but saw little playing time. He wasn't protected by the Pirates despite being named their minor league player of the year and the high Class A Carolina League MVP. He has a career .332 batting average in the minors, and continued his torrid hitting in the Arizona Fall League, where he led the circuit in hitting (.404), on-base percentage (.470), slugging percentage (.667) and RBIs (33) and won another MVP award. In the minors, he hit all types of pitching, used the entire field and did an excellent job of working counts and drawing walks. He rarely stung the ball with Detroit, though he did grow rusty sitting on the bench. If Shelton is going to have an impact in the major leagues, his bat will have to continue to carry him. He's a below-average catcher in every way and likely will be used in that role only in an emergency. He also is limited at first base because he's stiff and lacks athleticism. He has had unsuccessful trials in the outfield and at third base, and likely profiles as a DH or righthanded bat off the bench when he returns to the majors. Shelton needs some time in Triple-A after getting just 108 at-bats last season.
The Tigers popped Shelton out of the Pirates system with the first pick in December's major league Rule 5 draft. Given Shelton's track record for hitting, many teams were surprised that Pittsburgh left their minor league player of the year unprotected. After leading the low Class A South Atlantic League in on-base and slugging percentage in 2002, he did the same in the high Class A Carolina League last year. He also added batting and home run titles en route to winning the CL MVP award. A 33rd-round pick in 2001, Shelton was ticketed for a backup role in short-season ball that summer before an injury to another player gave him an opening as a starter. He may not excite scouts with his stocky build, but he can hit all pitches to all fields, both for power and average. He also works the count well and draws lots of walks. Shelton's biggest need is to find a position. He's subpar defensively and can't run. He doesn't move well behind the plate or at first base, and he threw out just 25 percent of basestealers last year. In many ways, he's similar to the Pirates' Craig Wilson, who came up through the minors as a catcher. Shelton also tried third base and left field in instructional league with the Pirates. If he keeps hitting, his lack of athleticism will be overlooked. The Tigers have been disappointed with Carlos Pena so far and don't have much in the way of first-base prospects, so they'll make every effort to keep Shelton. If he doesn't stay on their 25-man roster all year, they have to slide him through waivers and then offer him back to Pittsburgh for half the $50,000 draft price. Detroit retained all three of its major league Rule 5 picks a year ago and should be able to do the same with Shelton.
Minor League Top Prospects
Shelton was a bit old for the league at 23, but his offensive potential is obvious. He led the league in on-base (.478) and slugging percentage (.641) after topping the SAL in those categories last year. He also added batting and home run crowns as well as an MVP award in 2003. "He's got a swing without a hole in it," Lovullo said. "He took a balanced approach to the ball with a short, downward swing every at-bat. It wasn't by luck, it was by design that he hit .359 this year." He's similar to Pittsburgh's Craig Wilson, who came up through the minors as a catcher but has yet to find a position where he can be a big league regular. Shelton split time with Doumit behind the plate, throwing out 26 percent of basestealers, and with Walter Young at first base. "The trouble is going to be finding a spot for him," one manager said. "I know this much, it definitely isn't behind the plate. If he's going to continue to move up the ladder, it's going to have to be at first base. He can swing it though, which is more than enough reason to find him a spot."
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Batting Prospect in the Carolina League in 2003