May 19, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Drew Smyly (33) pitches during the fourth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE
Detroit Tigers Top 20 PRE-SEASON Prospects in Review
Continuing with our mid-season reviews of our pre-season Top 20 Prospect Lists, we return to the American League with a look at the Detroit Tigers farm system.
Remember, this is the pre-season list. It is NOT a new list.
This list was originally published October 30th, 2011
1) Jacob Turner, RHP, Grade A-: 2.77 ERA with 57/31 K/BB in 84 innings, 69 hits between 10 starts for Triple-A Toledo and four rehab outings in High-A. Hit hard in four major league starts. Traded to Miami Marlins in Anibal Sanchez/Omar Infante trade. Has the ingredients to be a topflight starter, but is vulnerable to "dead arm" periods and has been pushed very quickly.
2) Nick Castellanos, 3B, Grade B+: Hit .405/.461/.553 with 22 walks, 42 strikeouts in 215 at-bats for High-A Lakeland, then .308/.325/.473 with five walks and 39 strikeouts in 182 at-bats for Double-A Erie. Can't complain about the high batting averages, but quite impatient and home run power not fully developed, also has defensive questions and is spending time in right field. Although he has some flaws, he is also a career .333/.383/.470 hitter in the minors at age 20. Very promising.
3) Casey Crosby, LHP, Grade B: 3.99 ERA with 83/50 K/BB in 86 innings for Toledo, 74 hits. Severe control problems in three major league starts, walked 11 in 12 innings. Profile is the same as before: there is nothing wrong with his stuff, but he's got to improve his control.
4) Andrew Oliver, LHP, Grade B: 5.20 ERA with 90/76 K/BB in 99 innings for Toledo, 87 hits. Same story here: good velocity, poor command and erratic secondary pitches.
5) Drew Smyly, LHP, Grade B: 4.42 ERA with 75/21 K/BB in 79 major league innings, 80 hits. Injuries have reduced his pitching time but overall he has held his own and I think he wil improve further.
6) Tyler Collins, OF, Grade B-: .286/.363/.433 with five homers, 40 walks, 50 strikeouts in 360 at-bats for Lakeland, 13 steals. Gap power, good contact hitter, uses his speed well.
7) James McCann, C, Grade C+: .288/.345/.350 in 160 at-bats for Lakeland, .165/.201/.268 in 127 at-bats for Erie. Very skilled defender, has thrown out 46% of runners, but lack of power is a serious issue and hasn't been able to hit better pitching yet.
8) Brian Flynn, LHP, Grade C+: Traded to Marlins along with Turner. 4.07 ERA with 89/36 K/BB in 113 innings split between three teams. Throws hard, somewhat raw but has quite a bit of talent in his huge 6-8, 240 frame.
9) Aaron Westlake, 1B, Grade C+: .240/.312/.375 with seven homers, 38 walks, 89 strikeouts in 371 at-bats for Low-A West Michigan. I thought he would do better than this. Already 23 and needs to pick it up.
10) Eugenio Suarez, SS, Grade C+: Hitting .305/.407/.441 with 54 walks, 82 strikeouts, 16 steals in 370 at-bats for West Michigan. Hitting quite well and defense has improved, needs more attention than he gets.
11) Tyler Gibson, OF, Grade C+: .186/.313/.247 with 19 walks, 46 strikeouts in 113 at-bats in the Gulf Coast Rookie League. Has stolen 14 bases, but otherwise disappointing. Age 19, still has time.
12) Jay Voss, LHP, Grade C+: One of my big sleeper prospects, but has missed almost the entire year with an elbow injury. I ranked him too high anyway.
13) Daniel Fields, OF, Grade C+: Hitting .268/.317/.360 with 17 walks, 52 strikeouts in 228 at-bats for Lakeland. This is his third season at that level and progress has been incremental at best.
14) Alex Burgos, LHP, Grade C+: 5.16 ERA with 68/70 K/BB in 98 innings for Lakeland. Command has gone backwards, doubling walk rate while strikeouts have declined. Not a good sign.
15) Kyle Ryan, LHP, Grade C+: 4.10 ERA with 79/20 K/BB in 123 innings for West Michigan, 145 hits. Had a better year at the same level in 2011 so seems stagnant.
16) Bruce Rondon, RHP, Grade C+: 1.35 ERA with 51/18 K/BB in 40 innings for Lakeland and Erie, just 23 hits, 25 saves. Throws hard, command has improved, projects as a possible closer or at worst a good middle man.
17) Brenny Paulino, RHP, Grade C+: Injured all year.
18) Danry Vasquez, OF, Grade C: Just 18, toolsy, overmatched in Midwest League (.162/.218/.222 in 29 games) but more effective in New York-Penn League (.320/.358/.420). Will try again in Low-A next year.
19) Avisail Garcia, OF, Grade C: .289/.324/.447 for Lakeland, .281/.326/.461 for Erie, 11 homers, 17 steals, 15 walks, 78 strikeouts in 355 at-bats overall. Power/speed combo stands out, plate discipline still poor but not as bad as it used to be, has reduced strikeout rate as well. Not a sure thing but stock is up.
20) Duane Below, LHP, Grade C: Serviceable major league pitcher, 3.40 ERA with 28/6 K/BB in 42 innings, 42 hits.
Drew Smyly has been a solid rookie starter, and farm system products were used to boost the infield and pitching staff in the trade with the Marlins. However, the Tigers have still had problems turning guys with live arms (Crosby, Oliver, etc) into actual pitchers recently. On the positive side, Castellanos has had an excellent season and Avisail Garcia has made progress. Eugenio Suarez has been terrific too. Also watch catcher Curt Casali.
The Tigers didn't have a first round pick and were fairly conservative in the draft, avoiding huge over-slot deals and focusing on signable players. High school right-handder Jake Thompson, drafted in the second round, is the type of big live-armed pitcher the Tigers find moldable. Two pitchers who did get extra money from the college ranks bear close watching: Drew Verhagen out of Vanderbilt (fourth round) and 20th round lefty Logan Ehlers.