- Full name Luke Webber Putkonen
- Born 05/10/1986 in Wheaton, IL
- Profile Ht.: 6'6" / Wt.: 215 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School North Carolina
- Debut 04/29/2012
Drafted in the 3rd round (121st overall) by the Detroit Tigers in 2007 (signed for $236,000).
View Draft ReportRighthander Luke Putkonen's mediocrity this season (despite a 7-1 record, he owned a 4.55 ERA and a .278 opponent average) is a result of a fastball that lacks life. Although he's much taller than Carignan, he doesn't have the same arm speed. Putkonen's fastball has been up to 93 mph, and he pitches near 91. He showed a usable slider in the past, and some scouts gave it positive reviews last year in the Cape Cod League. But this season, he has relied more on a curveball that breaks out of his hand and lacks depth at 76-77 mph. He has a usable changeup at 82-83, but lacks a separating pitch. His control is fine, but he has below-average command, pitching too often in the middle of the plate. He also hasn't shown much ability to make adjustments or the feel for pitching required to get away with his present repertoire against better hitters. A redshirt sophomore, Putkonen had Tommy John surgery that cost him his 2005 season.
Organization Prospect Rankings
After he spent four and a half years as a starter, the Tigers moved Putkonen to the bullpen midway through the 2011 season. He arrived in Detroit less than a year later, arriving last April and becoming one of eight former Tar Heels to debut in the majors in the last two seasons. Becoming a reliever gave a boost to Putkonen's fastball. He worked from 89-94 mph as a starter, but he's now throwing 93-95 mph and topping out at 97. His heater has heavy life that makes it even more effective. Putkonen also mixes in a hard 79-81 mph curveball and uses a splitter as a changeup. He has a smooth, easy delivery but just fringy control, mainly because of the long levers in his tall frame. He could work on showing a more aggressive demeanor on the mound. Putkonen profiles as a solid seventh- or eighth-inning guy in a big league bullpen and could fill that role in Detroit this year.
Born in Illinois, Putkonen grew up in suburban Atlanta, a hotbed for amateur baseball talent. He went undrafted out of high school and ended up at North Carolina, where he missed the 2005 season due to Tommy John surgery. The Tigers made him their third-round pick in 2007 and he has moved at a snail's pace since because of more arm problems. He missed nearly two months with a shoulder strain that required surgery in 2008, so he didn't reach low Class A until nearly two years after he was drafted. The towering righthander has long arms and legs but a smooth, effortless delivery that almost lulls hitters to sleep. He throws on a good downhill plane that generates a lot of grounders. Putkonen showed better poise on the mound last season, and his stuff was up a tick as well, as his fastball operated at 92-95 mph. He throws both a curveball and a slider, and he also has a feel for a changeup. Detroit would like to see him focus on one breaking ball and his better option is his slider, an 80-82 mph pitch with some bite that misses bats. Putkonen had a strong second half in 2009, encouraging the Tigers that he can become a big league starter. He'll move up to high Class A this year and try to accelerate his progress.