Top 20 PRE-SEASON Tigers Prospects in Review
This is the PRE-SEASON list. That means it was generated BEFORE THE SEASON STARTED and that the grades were PRE-SEASON. Anyone complaining about the grades based on 2006 performance will be smacked up the side of the head with a Shane Loux autographed baseball.
1) Justin Verlander, RHP, Grade A
10-4, 3.01 in 111 innings with a 69/33 K/BB. His strikeout rate is lower than I expected, but the bottom line is that he has a chance to win 20 games in his rookie season. Hard to complain about that.
2) Joel Zumaya, RHP, B+
2.08 ERA in 36 games out of the bullpen, 54/20 K/BB in 43 innings. Very impressive season in middle relief.
3) Cameron Maybin, OF, B
Hitting .314/.412/.466 with 16 steals in 52 games for West Michigan. Good points: batting average, speed, high walk rate. Bad points: high strikeout rate (66 in 191 at-bats), lack of home run power.
4) Brent Clevlen, OF, B
Hitting .219/.304/.324 with a 36/102 BB/K in 306 at-bats. Inability to make contact against advanced pitching is a bad sign.
5) Jordan Tata, RHP, B-
3.34 ERA in 11 starts for Triple-A Toledo, 3.86 ERA in seven games for the Tigers. A solid prospect though not in the same class as Verlander or Zumaya.
6) Tony Giarratano, SS, C+
Hitting .283/.340/.390 in 67 games for Double-A Erie, with 16 steals. Lack of pop may be a problem but he should make it in at least a utility role.
7) Jeff Larish, 1B, C+
Hitting .249/.364/.479 with 15 homers, 51 walks, 72 strikeouts in 309 at-bats for Class A Lakeland. Good power and patience, batting average is rather low.
8) Jeff Frazier, OF, C+
Hitting .231/.272/.339 in 86 games for Lakeland, very disappointing.
9) Kevin Whelan, RHP, C+
3.34 ERA with 41/20 K/BB and 19 saves in 30 innings for Lakeland. Throws very hard, needs better control.
10) Clete Thomas, OF, C+
Hitting .262/.339/.386 with 12 steals for Lakeland. Mediocre numbers overall, strikeout rate is quite high (93 in 83 games).
11) Michael Hollimon, SS, C+
Hitting .278/.388/.462 with 24 doubles and nine steals in 289 at-bats for West Michigan. Strikeout rate is high and he's a bit old for the league, but showing a lot of gap power and good patience.
12) Matt Joyce, OF, C+
Hitting .262/.334/.400 for West Michigan. Not exactly terrible, but nothing stands out as a major positive either.
13) Jair Jurrjens, RHP, C+
Combined 8-0, 2.16 in 16 starts between Lakeland and Erie, 76/17 K/BB in 96 innings. Throws strikes, has adjusted well to Double-A so far, a sleeper.
14) Eulogio De La Cruz, RHP, C+
3.79 ERA with 46/28 K/BB in 58 innings for Erie. Best mark is just one homer allowed but needs to improve command.
15) P.J. Finigan, RHP, C+
3.44 ERA in 55 innings for Lakeland, used as both a starter and reliever. Throws strikes but strikeout rate is rather low.
16) Chris Robinson, C, C+
Hitting .278/.331/.348 in 68 games for Lakeland. Lack of power looks like a problem.
17) Wilkin Ramirez, 3B, C
Hitting .226/.260/.395 for Lakeland. Poor strike zone judgment a major issue inhibiting his production.
18) Humberto Sanchez, RHP, C
10-4, 1.89 in 17 starts combined between Erie and Toledo, 117/37 K/BB in 109 innings, just 79 hits. Better health and more consistent command resulting in excellent numbers. Throws quite hard and is breaking through this year. Raise his grade to B+.
19) Kody Kirkland, 3B, C
Hitting .223/.291/.471 with 17 homers, 15 walks, 108 strikeouts, 20 doubles for Erie. Lots of power, high ISP numbers, but horrible plate discipline ruins his OBP.
20) Dallas Trahern, RHP, C
3-9, 3.88 in 17 starts for Lakeland, 60/25 K/BB in 97 innings. A competent A-ball pitcher with good control, but K/IP and H/IP marks don't translate well to higher levels.
Verlander and Zumaya are terrific, and Humberto Sanchez has made huge progress. Jordan Tata rounds out a top-notch young pitching quartet. The hitting is a different story. Maybin looks good, but there are more disappointments on this list than breakthroughs. Still, anytime your farm system produces an excellent starter, an excellent reliever, and two other good pitching prospects, you should be happy. Also note the development of Curtis Granderson, who had too much experience in the majors last year to be on this list.