Rookies on the Playoff Teams: Detroit Tigers
Here is a look at rookies and prospects who played for the Detroit Tigers in 2012.
Duane Below, LHP: Age 26, posted a 3.88 ERA with a 29/8 K/BB in 46 major league innings, 49 hits allowed, but was sent back to the minors in August. Lefties hit him better than right-handers so he didn't fit well as a LOOGY type. As a lefty with a pulse, he'll be on the fringes awhile. Drafted in the 19th round in 2006 from Lake Michigan Community College.
Quinton Berry, OF: Age 27, unexpectedly earned major league outfield spot after signing as a minor league free agent and made the most of it, hitting .261/.332/.359 with 24 walks, 79 strikeouts in 284 at-bats, but stealing 21 bases without being caught. Lacks power and has a mediocre minor league track record, but his speed could make him an attractive bench option for many managers. Drafted in the fifth round by the Phillies in 2006 from San Diego State University.
Casey Crosby, LHP: Age 24. Posted a 4.02 ERA with a 112/65 K/BB in 126 innings for Triple-A Toledo, 112 hits allowed. Walked 11 in 12 major league innings over three starts in June. Live arm with solid fastball, curve, and change, but his poor command continues to hold him back, with little progress evident this year. Will get more chances but perhaps not in Detroit. Drafted in the fifth round in 2007 from high school in Maple Park, Illinois.
Darin Downs, LHP: Age 27, minor league vet, posted 2.15 ERA with 33/8 K/BB in 29 innings for Toledo, then a 3.66 ERA with a 19/8 K/BB in 20 innings for the Tigers. Has shut down lefties very well (.177/.222/.176 in the majors) with his fastball and slider, and looks like a workable LOOGY option. Originally drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the fifth round in 2003 from high school in Latana, Florida.
Avisail Garcia, OF: Age 21. Hit .299/.333/.455 with 18 walks, 95 strikeouts, 23 steals in 481 at-bats between High-A Lakeland and Double-A Erie. Has played 21 major league games, hitting .333/.388/.333 with three walks and 10 strikeouts in 45 at-bats. Big tools with power, speed, and strong throwing arm, but still shows a raw approach to hitting and will need more minor league time before earning a regular major league job. Signed from Venezuela in 2007.
Bryan Holaday, C: Age 24, hit .240/.312/.320 with 22 walks, 43 strikeouts in 250 at-bats for Toledo, went 3-for-10 in brief major league action. Solid defensive catcher, hasn't hit much in pro ball although he mashed with the metal bat in college. Glove will keep him on the fringes. Drafted in the sixth round in 2010 from Texas Christian University.
Luis Marte, RHP: Age 26. Posted 3.70 ERA with 27/10 K/BB in 24 innings for Triple-A Toledo, 3.32 ERA with 17/7 K/BB in 19 innings for the Tigers. Fastball/slider arsenal, profiles as a middle reliever although he has experience as a starter at the lower levels. Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2005.
Jose Ortega, RHP: Age 23. Severe control problems in Triple-A resulted in 5.74 ERA, 68/51 K/BB in 63 innings, 76 hits. Saw action in two major league games. Outstanding velocity in mid-to-upper-90s, but a thrower, not a pitcher at this stage. No one wants to give up on a guy who hits 98 and he's still young. Signed out of Venezuela in 2006.
Hernan Perez, 2B: Age 21. Young, defense-first guy, hit .261/.298/.338 with 24 walks, 70 strikeouts, 27-for-31 in steals in 441 at-bats for High-A Lakeland. Saw two games of action for the Tigers in June. Might make it as a utility guy eventually if he can boost his hitting. Signed out of Venezuela in 2007.
Luke Putkonen, RHP: Age 26, posted 4.92 ERA with 46/20 K/BB in 57 innings for Toledo, 4.73 ERA with 9/7 K/BB in 13 innings for the Tigers. Fastball as high as 98 MPH, but has a very erratic track record and hasn't pitched well in the high minors. Drafted in the third round in 2007 from the University of North Carolina.
Drew Smyly, LHP: Age 23. Lost time with a blister and a strained intercostal muscle, but he was pretty good when healthy, posting a 4.01 ERA with a 94/31 K/BB in 99 major league innings, 92 hits. I don't think his performance is a fluke and he should be a solid major league starter, he just needs to avoid the doctors. Drafted in the second round in 2010 from the University of Arkansas.
Brayan Villarreal, RHP: Age 25. Very good season in the Tigers bullpen, 2.52 ERA with 66/27 K/BB in 54 innings, 37 hits. Some scouts have been skeptical about his size in the past and his track record is a bit inconsistent, but his fastball/slider arsenal has proven effective. Signed out of Venezuela in 2005.
Adam Wilk, LHP: Age 24. Made three major league starts in April, going 0-3, 8.18 with 21 hits and 11 runs in 11 innings. Sent back to Triple-A, where he was very good, 2.77 ERA with 128/28 K/BB in 150 innings, 123 hits for Toledo. Soft-tosser relies on location, he has nothing left to prove in the minors and he might still be useful under the right circumstances. Drafted in the 11th round from Long Beach State in 2009.
The Tigers ran a bunch of rookies through the roster but most of the hitters saw little action, just brief looks and emergency roster support. Berry provided 0.7 WAR off the bench. Only Garcia looks like he could be a regular and he has a lot of work to do. Young pitchers provided more help, Smyly giving a 1.8 WAR as a starter when healthy and Villarreal 1.1 WAR coming out of the pen. And of course prospect Jacob Turner was traded to the Miami Marlins in the Anibal Sanchez deal.