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Prospect rankings primer
Last year's Tigers list

The Top Ten

  1. 3B Nick Castellanos
  2. RHP Jonathon Crawford
  3. C James McCann
  4. RHP Jake Thompson
  5. RHP Corey Knebel
  6. RHP Endrys Briceno
  7. RHP Drew VerHagen
  8. RF Steven Moya
  9. SS Eugenio Suarez
  10. 2B Harold Castro

1. Nick Castellanos
Position: 3B/LF
DOB: 03/04/1992
Height/Weight: 6’4” 210 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2010 draft, Archbishop McCarthy HS (Southwest Ranches, FL)
Previous Ranking: #1 (Org), #37 (Top 101)
2013 Stats: .278/.278/.278 at the major-league level (11 games), .276/.343/.450 at Triple-A (134 games)
The Tools: 6+ potential hit; 6 power potential; 6 arm

What Happened in 2013: As a 21-year-old, Castellanos played a full season of Triple-A baseball, working to refine his plus bat against more advanced pitching.

Strengths: Excellent hands at the plate; creates plus bat speed; has some leverage and lift; projects to hit for both average and power; strong arm; good athlete for size; aptitude for the game; some defensive versatility.

Weaknesses: Trigger can be a bit slow; swing can get long; struggles against quality arm-side velocity; some question the offensive projection (more solid-avg than impact); glove unlikely to play solid-avg at third; below-average profile in outfield corner.

Overall Future Potential: 6; first-division player

Realistic Role: 5; major-league regular

Risk Factor/Injury History: Low risk; ready for major-league challenge

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: With a move back to the hot corner potentially on the horizon, Castellanos’ fantasy value takes a nice tick up as the eligibility is much sexier there. Even if he does switch back to third, there’s always the chance that his defensive performance there warrants a return to the outfield. Regardless, if he hits to his full potential he could be a near-.300 hitter with 20-plus homers and a lot of RBIs (as he’s more likely to be in a run-producing slot in the lineup).

The Year Ahead: Of all the prospects in the minors, Castellanos might receive the most mixed reviews, as he’s either a top-20 talent with future 6/6 hit/power at the major-league level, or he’s just an average player, a top 50 prospect that has some ability with the bat but not nearly the impact talent some project. I’ve seen it and I like it, but I tend to fall in the middle of the two camps; I think Castellanos is going to hit for a high average but I’m not sold the power shows up in the 25-plus home run range without selling out the contact to achieve it. While I don’t see a future 6/6 type, I do think he develops into a solid-average major-league player, and if he can stick around at third, there is a lot of value to be found in that profile.

Major league ETA: Debuted in 2013

2. Jonathon Crawford
Position: RHP
DOB: 11/01/1991
Height/Weight: 6’2” 205 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2013 draft, University of Florida (Gainesville, FL)
Previous Ranking: NA
2013 Stats: 1.89 ERA (19 IP, 15 H, 21 K, 9 BB) at short-season Connecticut
The Tools: 7 potential FB; 6+ potential SL

What Happened in 2013: Taken 20th overall in the 2013 draft. Crawford only dipped his toes into professional waters after signing, but should jump on an accelerated plan and move quickly up the minor league ranks in 2014.

Strengths: Big arm strength; fastball is lively in the low 90s; touches mid-90s; strong offering; slider is second plus potential pitch; hard breaker with good tilt and bat-missing ability; mature build; ready to advance quickly.

Weaknesses: Command profile is fringe; can lose his delivery; struggles to finish and will elevate offerings; changeup is below average; power arsenal with limited nuance.

Overall Future Potential: 6; no. 3 starter

Realistic Role: 5; late-innings arm (setup)

Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate risk; short-season resume; should move fast going forward.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Crawford is a big arm, and carries the most upside in the system when it comes to potential starting pitchers. He has two weapons that may allow him to maintain very strong strikeout rates, but there might not be a ton of impact in the other three categories. If he’s a reliever, it’s a poor value proposition, but there’s endgame potential.

The Year Ahead: Crawford has the arm strength and hard breaking ball to pitch in the majors, but the long-term outcome will depend on his ability to find consistency in his delivery, which will aid in his ability to throw strikes and to execute his changeup. If he can refine, this is future mid-rotation starter with good bat-missing potential. If he fails to reach that ceiling, he can still carve out a valuable career as a late-innings reliever, one who could probably work the fastball in the mid-90s (touching higher) to go along with the sharp slider.

Major league ETA: 2015

3. James McCann
Position: C
DOB: 06/13/1990
Height/Weight: 6’2” 210 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 2nd round, 2011 draft, University of Arkansas (Fayetteville, AR)
Previous Ranking: NR
2013 Stats: .277/.328/.404 at Double-A Erie (119 games)
The Tools: 6 arm; 5+ glove; 5 potential hit

What Happened in 2013: After a disappointing run in his first pass in Double-A, McCann rebounded in 2013, showing good gap pop to go along with his solid defensive skills behind the plate.

Strengths: Athletic and strong; good receiver; frames well; good game caller; arm is solid-average; quick release and accurate; necessary intangibles for position; bat could get to average; shows gap power.

Weaknesses: Glove-first profile; weak contact against arm-side pitching; hit most likely to play below average; power will play below average; athletic but below-average run.

Overall Future Potential: 5; major-league regular

Realistic Role: High 4; backup catcher/below-average regular

Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate risk; solid in Double-A debut; bat needs grade improvement.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Unless you’re in a deep league or one that plays two catchers, McCann is not a name worth worrying about at this point. His real-life value is much higher than his fantasy value. He profiles similarly with the bat to former Tigers’ farmhand Rob Brantly.

The Year Ahead: Dual-threat catchers don’t grow on trees, and given his progress with the stick in 2013, it’s not a stretch to see McCann developing his way into that category. It’s always going to be a glove-first profile—with solid-avg attributes that play up in combination—but the bat has a chance to play up to average and show respectable gap pop, so its not an empty out. If that’s a .260 hitter with some extra-base potential coming from a 5+ glove at a premium spot, that’s a valuable player.

Major league ETA: Late 2014

4. Jake Thompson
Position: RHP
DOB: 01/31/1994
Height/Weight: 6’4” 235 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 2nd round, 2012 draft, Rockwall-Heath HS (Heath, TX)
Previous Ranking: #5 (Org)
2013 Stats: 3.13 ERA (83.1 IP, 79 H, 91 K, 32 BB) at Low-A West Michigan
The Tools: 6 potential FB; 6+ potential SL; 5 potential CH; 5 potential CB

What Happened in 2013: The 19-year-old made his full-season debut, making 16 starts in the Midwest League, missing 91 bats in 83 innings.

Strengths: Big, physical frame; delivery and arm work well; fastball works 89-92; touches higher; some late arm-side wiggle; slider is money pitch; already above average, thrown with velocity and tilt; shows some feel for promising changeup.

Weaknesses: More control than command at this point; fastball command is below-average; will pitch off his slider; show a curveball but it’s below average (present); changeup is below average (present); physically mature without much projection remaining.

Overall Future Potential: High 5; no. 3 starter

Realistic Role: Low 5; no. 5 starter/late-innings relief (7th inning)

Risk Factor/Injury History: High risk; limited professional experience

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Of all the pitchers on this list, Thompson likely has the best chance to stay in the rotation long term, but his upside is not something to get extremely excited about. He projects as more of a back-end starter who could be solid all around, but lacks a ton of fantasy potential.

The Year Ahead: Thompson looks the part of a workhorse type, complete with a big, sturdy frame and at least two pitches that project to plus (slider is close to that point already). He needs to refine his fastball command and take a grade step with the changeup and curveball, but you have to like the profile. It might be more slow and steady than accelerated and sexy, but if he eventually finds his way to a major-league rotation and settles in as a solid-average number three or four starter, the luster and shine of his prospect status won’t matter.

Major league ETA: 2016

5. Corey Knebel
Position: RHP
DOB: 11/26/1991
Height/Weight: 6’3” 195 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2013 draft, University of Texas at Austin (Austin, TX)
Previous Ranking: NA
2013 Stats: 0.87 ERA (31 IP, 14 H, 41 K, 10 BB) at Low-A West Michigan
The Tools: 7 FB; 7 potential CB

What Happened in 2013: Knebel wasted little time after signing, shoving in the Midwest League before making a nine-game cameo in the Arizona Fall League.

Strengths: Big fastball; delivered on steep plane; velocity works easy in the 93-97 range; power pitch; hard curve can be true hammer; thrown in the low 80s with big snap and depth; can turn over decent cambio; late-innings approach/mentality.

Weaknesses: Makeup concerns; emotions can get the better of him; fastball lacks big movement; can flatten out when he works up; more control than command.

Overall Future Potential: High 5; late-innings reliever (closer)

Realistic Role: 5; late-innings reliever (setup)

Risk Factor/Injury History: Low risk; mature arsenal

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: The leader in the clubhouse for Tigers’ closer of the future, Knebel could be an impact reliever at the major-league level and soon. The slider should keep him racking up strikeouts, but with his value being so role dependent (and the Tigers’ willingness to reach outside the organization to fill the closer role), he shouldn’t be high up on your dynasty draft boards.

The Year Ahead: Knebel is a natural late-innings arm, with a power arsenal and aggressive approach to execution. The makeup should be a legit concern, as immaturity has been a red flag since his college days. But the stuff is there to develop into a major-league caliber closer, and if he can channel his emotions without losing the intensity he brings to the table, he could move fast and contribute to the major-league team in 2014.

Major league ETA: Late 2014

6. Endrys Briceno
Position: RHP
DOB: 02/07/1992
Height/Weight: 6’5” 171 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: International free agent, 2009, Venezuela
Previous Ranking: On The Rise
2013 Stats: 4.47 ERA (116.2 IP, 124 H, 65 K, 51 BB) at Low-A West Michigan
The Tools: 7 potential FB; 6+ potential CH; 5 potential CB

What Happened in 2013: Briceno made his full-season debut, finding mixed results, but he did make 25 starts and logged an impressive 116 innings, quite the progression from last season’s body of work.

Strengths: Highly projectable body; easy delivery and release; fastball will work 90-95; touches higher; projects to be a 7 pitch; turns over an impressive changeup; good arm speed and late action; plus potential pitch; athletic and clean delivery suggests average or better command at maturity.

Weaknesses: Fastball velocity ebbs and flows; will work 90-92 then work 94-95; general inconsistencies in delivery; breaking ball is below average; slurvy offering that lacks bite; pitchability needs work; command below average at present.

Overall Future Potential: High 5; no. 2/3 starter

Realistic Role: 5; no. 4/ starter

Risk Factor/Injury History: High risk; big gap between present/future

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: If drafting for ceiling is what you’re into, Briceno should probably be the second pitcher in this system off the board. He’s too raw to have a feel for what he’ll be at peak, but the stuff is worth taking a chance toward the end of your farm system.

The Year Ahead: The system lacks many high-ceiling prospects, but Briceno has the size and the stuff to emerge as a top talent. He has a good delivery, but is still learning how to control his body and repeat his mechanics. The fastball is potential monster offering, and the changeup is ahead of the developmental curve and shows the making of an impact pitch. The breaking ball needs a lot of work, and it could take a few years for him to really take off. But once his stuff stabilizes and he starts to miss more bats, Briceno is a likely candidate to take a major step forward in the prospect world.

Major league ETA: 2016

7. Drew VerHagen
Position: RHP
DOB: 10/22/1990
Height/Weight: 6’6” 230 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 4th round, 2012 draft, Vanderbilt University (Nashville, TN)
Previous Ranking: NR
2013 Stats: 3.00 ERA (60 IP, 53 H, 40 K, 17 BB) at Double-A Erie, 2.81 ERA (67.1 IP, 49 H, 35 K, 27 BB) at High-A Lakeland
The Tools: 6 FB; 5+ potential CH; 5 CB

What Happened in 2013: A fourth-round pick out of Vandy in 2012, VerHagen advanced to the Double-A level in 2013, setting himself up for a potential call-up at some point in the coming season.

Strengths: Huge size; athletic; fastball is heavy and can work in the 91-95 range and touch higher; hard to lift when he works low in the zone; strike thrower; curve and change could be average to solid-average.

Weaknesses: Fastball-dominant arsenal; secondary arsenal is fringe-average; lacks plus projections; command needs refinement; can lose his delivery/struggle to stay over the ball.

Overall Future Potential: 5; no. 4 starter

Realistic Role: 5; late-innings reliever (setup)

Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate risk; mature build; limited projection

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: The upside is just not there for VerHagen to be owned outside of very deep dynasty leagues. Even if he makes it to Detroit as a starter, his quality of raw stuff isn’t going to lead to a ton of missed bats (as it hasn’t thus far in the minors), though his groundball tendencies will help insulate his ratios a bit.

The Year Ahead: VerHagen is a big-bodied sinkerballer who knows how to pound the zone and force groundball outs. He’s not sexy but if the secondary stuff can improve a bit, he should end up a solid back-of-the-rotation starter. If the curve and changeup remain fringe offerings, a bullpen future is still likely given the power of the fastball and the ability to throw strikes. He should start back in Double-A, and with any luck, VerHagen could taste the majors at some point this season.

Major league ETA: Late 2014

8. Steven Moya
Position: RF
DOB: 09/08/1991
Height/Weight: 6’6” 230 lbs
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Acquired: International free agent, 2008, Dominican Republic
Previous Ranking: #9 (Org)
2013 Stats: .255/.296/.433 at High-A Lakeland
The Tools: 8 raw power

What Happened in 2013: After 566 at-bats at the Low-A level over the last two seasons, Moya finally made his way to the Florida State League, where his batting practice displays still received more acclaim than his on-the-field performance.

Strengths: Abnormally large human; raw power is off the charts; good athlete for his enormous size; raw arm strength for corner spot; glove should be average.

Weaknesses: Swing is long and leveraged; issues with pitch recognition; chewed up by arm-side stuff; hit tool will play well below average; game power will play under raw; glove is average at best; needs power to play.

Overall Future Potential: 6; first-division player

Realistic Role: High 4; platoon bat/below-average regular

Risk Factor/Injury History: High risk; big developmental gains needed to play

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Moya is a fantasy of sorts, as he still has a long way to turn his One True Tool into fantasy relevance. If you’re in a league where a two true outcome player (he doesn’t walk) has value, Moya may be worth a flier, but he’s most likely not worth the roster spot.

The Year Ahead: Moya has some of the best raw power in the minors, with batting practice heroics that force observers to worship the long ball like it was a sun god. The biggest problem with Moya’s profile is that his future is tied to his ability to bring that raw power into game action, and the reality is that his hit tool is going to limit that utility. The swing isn’t especially quick, as he relies more on his superhuman strength than pure bat speed, and he has holes that better pitching will exploit with greater efficiency. He’s still very young, and it might take three more years in the minors to refine his swing and approach, but if he can find a way to get the power to play, its an impact bat in the middle of a lineup. Hard to see that actually happening, though.

Major league ETA: Late 2016

9. Eugenio Suarez
Position: SS
DOB: 07/18/1991
Height/Weight: 5’11” 180 lbs
Bats/Throws: B/R
Drafted/Acquired: International Free Agent, 2008, Venezuela
Previous Ranking: #7 (Org)
2013 Stats: .253/.332/.387 at Double-A Erie (111 games), .311/.410/.437 at High-A Lakeland (25 games)
The Tools: 5+ glove; 5+ arm; 5 potential hit

What Happened in 2013: The 22-year-old proved to be a tough out over two levels, while showing above-average defense at shortstop.

Strengths: Left-side defensive skills; good actions; good backhand pickup; arm is strong enough to make the throws; shows instincts for the position; can put the bat on the ball at the plate; good hands; quick to the ball; hit tool could play to solid-average.

Weaknesses: Lacks impact tools; defensive profile is solid-average but will make fundamental errors; arm isn’t a weapon; well below-average power; hit tool might play below average; not a burner; limited upside.

Overall Future Potential: 5; major-league regular

Realistic Role: High 4; utility player

Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate risk; Double-A experience; quality glove

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Another low-upside fantasy option in the Tigers system. Suarez might have the potential to be a valuable member of Detroit organization, but if he’s on your fantasy roster, you may have to rethink your strategy for acquiring minor leaguers.

The Year Ahead: It was a toss-up between Suarez and Hernan Perez for this spot, as both look like future utility options at the highest level. Suarez gets the nod on this list because of the better left-side profile, even though Perez has the superior stick. It’s close, but I think Suarez takes a step forward in 2014 and shows more life at the plate than he did in his first run through Double-A.

Major league ETA: Late 2014

10. Harold Castro
Position: 2B
DOB: 11/30/1993
Height/Weight: 6’0’’ 145 lbs.
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Acquired: international free agent, 2010, Venezuela
Previous Ranking: #10 (Org)
2013 Stats: .274/.316/.329 at High-A Lakeland (21 games); .231/.240/.313 at Low-A West Michigan (41 games)
The Tools: 6+ potential hit tool; 5 glove; 5 run

What Happened in 2013: After an unexpected start in High-A, Castro finished the season in the Midwest League, where he pressed and took a developmental step back.

Strengths: Natural bat-to-ball ability; excellent hands; good bat speed; enough arm for second; average glove; good run.

Weaknesses: Overly aggressive at the plate; puts himself in bad hitting conditions; pull-happy approach; below-average power; lacks plus defensive tools; limited feel in the field; body needs to add strength.

Overall Future Potential: 5; major-league regular

Realistic Role: High 4; below-average player

Risk Factor/Injury History: High risk; bat needs several grades to play to ceiling.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: This is well within the straw-grasping range, but Castro has the eligibility and bat speed on his side to actually carry fantasy value if he can cross the other side of the gauntlet. Plus, having the potential to steal some bases as well doesn’t hurt.

The Year Ahead: Castro will play the 2014 season as a 20-year-old, and after a rollercoaster developmental year in 2013 the young hitter will look to find some stability in the process. He can hit the ball, and that’s his carrying tool to the majors. His approach needs a lot of work, and he isn’t going to make a name for himself with his defensive skill set, but the bat has a chance to be a legit plus tool, the kind that can eventually carry him all the way to the majors. He’s a long way off, but I think this kid is going to hit.

Major league ETA: 2016

Prospects on the Rise
1. INF Javier Betancourt
: The Tigers have been aggressive with the 18-year-old Betancourt, offering him the chance to make his stateside debut in 2013. He rewarded that aggressiveness with a .333/.379/.441 performance while playing shortstop, third base and second base. The nephew of former major leaguer Edgardo Alfonso, Betancourt’s tools won’t blow you away but he has a great feel for the game and just enough tools to profile as a potential everyday player, most likely at second base where his modest range and average arm will play best.

2. INF Steven Fuentes: Betancourt’s teammate each of the last two seasons, Fuentes has the raw tools Betancourt lacks. Fuentes is compact with exceptional athleticism, plus speed, a plus arm and good feel for the barrel. He has the ingredients to remain at shortstop but could move to third base if he doesn’t settle into the defensive profile. The developmental arc may be bumpier for Fuentes because he is so raw, but he has some of the most impactful tools in the system.

3. RHP Joe Jimenez: A non-drafted free agent out of Puerto Rico, Jimenez was widely considered the top pitcher on the island heading into the 2013 draft. He fell out of the draft after not budging from his lofty bonus demands and the Tigers used a close relationship with the player to sign him away from a college commitment. A physically mature 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, Jimenez offers a low-90s sinking fastball, quality slider and some feel for a changeup, allowing him to profile as a mid-rotation inning eater.

Factors on the Farm (Prospects likely to contribute at the ML level in 2014)
1. LHP Kyle Lobstein
: After coming over from the Rays in the Rule 5 draft, Lobstein logged 28 starts between Double-A and Triple-A in 2013, and was added to the Tigers 40-man roster last month. Though the overall profile lacks flash, Lobstein has the durability and breadth of arsenal to serve as a fifth starter, or he could fill in as a second lefty out of the bullpen. In either capacity, he will be in line for a major league look at some point in 2014.

2. RHP Justin Miller: The Tigers moved quickly to sign the former Rangers farmhand as a minor-league free agent following the 2013 season. After evaluating his progress as he recovers from surgery, they added Miller to the 40-man roster, and he will be a candidate to contribute out of the bullpen next season. At his best Miller can show an easy plus fastball with a good slider, giving him two distinct offerings that could work against major league hitters.

3. RHP Melvin Mercedes: Another product of the Tigers’ Latin American pipeline, Mercedes has already survived Tommy John surgery and put together an impressive 2013 season that included a 1.19 ERA across High-A and Double-A. Mercedes’ fastball can work in the 93-95 mph range and has touched 98 mph at times. On top of his impressive velocity, Mercedes has a heavy fastball that is extremely difficult to lift, and when combined with his slider he can induce plenty of weak contact. Mercedes may only pitch in the middle innings in 2014, but he has the potential to develop into a quality setup arm.

Top 10 Talents 25 And Under (born 4/1/88 or later)

  1. Nick Castellanos
  2. Jose Iglesias
  3. Rick Porcello
  4. Drew Smyly
  5. Jonathon Crawford
  6. James McCann
  7. Bruce Rondon
  8. Jake Thompson
  9. Corey Knebel
  10. Drew VerHagen

While much of the Tigers core talent is in the prime of their respective careers, most are too old to factor into a list of this nature. The Tigers’ top four starting pitchers are all between 28 and 30 years old, and several of their everyday position players are in the same range, including the best hitter on the planet in Miguel Cabrera. With such a stout core of relatively young players and an owner willing to carry a hefty payroll, the Tigers don’t need to have a ton on a list like this to sustain their excellence.

As one of the premium position player prospects in the game, Nick Castellanos could easily top many organizational talent lists. Boasting an impressive offensive profile, Castellanos is on the verge of helping the Tigers in 2014; whether that assistance comes at third base or in left field remains to be seen.

One of the newest members of the Tigers organization, shortstop Jose Iglesias offers elite-level defense at one of the games toughest positions. That attribute alone is enough to draw consideration near the top of this list, but with some scouts still seeing some modicum of offensive potential in his bat, Igelsias looks like a member of the Tigers’ positional core over the long haul.

It seems odd that Rick Porcello is still eligible for an under-25 list, but as one of the most criminally underrated members of the Tigers roster, Porcello has offered at least 170 innings of back-of-the-rotation pitching in four of his five major league seasons. On top of that heavy workload for a young arm, Porcello has improved each season from both statistical and scouting perspectives. He doesn’t have the front-of-the-rotation talent once envisioned, but he is undoubtedly a workhorse starter that can help a championship-caliber team.

A supplemental pick in 2010, Drew Smyly filled in as a starter in 2012 and then worked as one of the club’s primary setup men in 2013. The Tigers have stated that they plan to move him to the rotation in 2014, but that requires space that does not currently exist. Smyly has the potential to rate higher than Porcello on this list but he has yet to demonstrate Porcello’s durability at any level, and the value that presents should not be underestimated.

Jonathon Crawford and James McCann represent quality prospects but are unlikely to be impact major leaguers, meaning their ranking ahead of Bruce Rondon – a potential impact closer – is far from certain. Rondon’s late season arm trouble is concerning and his inability to make progress locating his fastball continues to push him further away from his late-game ceiling. If Rondon is healthy next year, he could be a force at the back of the Tigers bullpen, but there are several variables that must be overcome before that happens.

The rest of the Tigers’ under-25 list consists of prospects detailed above and there were no other players under consideration for this list. As sad as that may seem, the Tigers won’t be crying in their beer as long as they have a roster stacked with Miguel Cabrera, Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Anibal Sanchez, Ian Kinsler, Doug Fister, Alex Avila, and Victor Martinez. With that core in place over the next season or two, and with only modest augmenting from the farm, the Tigers will remain one of the favorites to play deep into October. –Mark Anderson

A Parting Thought: There is no denying that the system is in rough shape; only Castellanos is a top 101 player, and outside of a few high-risk types at the lower levels, the farm lacks many candidates capable to achieving such prospect heights.

Special thanks to Mark Anderson for additional input and execution on the “On the Rise” and “Factor on the Farm” categories. The man knows the Tigers system.


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This front office watched Miguel Cabrera play third base for two years. I haven't seen Castellanos' actions, but I can't imagine he's a downgrade defensively.
Surprised that Devon Travis is not here. Is size + second base profile or is there more to it?
College hitter crushing in the lower minors. I couldn't find many sources that believed in the bat against better arms. He will get overrated on lists because of his numbers, but the scouting doesn't back it up.
I have been updating the notes on my dynasty draft list and I am currently entering the top 100 rankings for players I have on my list based on BP and BA rankings (my two most trusted sources). I find it very interesting that Baseball America has Devon Travis listed as the #84 ranked prospect and you don't even have him in this organization's top 10. No judgment. Just very interesting.

Thank you for all your hard work. I very much appreciate it.
So, the Tigers' sixth best prospect is Rule 5 eligible and not on the 40-man roster. Neat
He's a very promising arm, but you couldn't stash him on a 25-man roster right now. The projections on the player are actually quite neat. Don't forget that players who sign at age 16 or 17 often become rule 5 eligible before they can escape the lower minors. In this case, its a fault of the process not the prospect.

"With that core in place over the next season or two, and with only modest augmenting from the farm, the Tigers will remain one of the favorites to play deep into October"

This is true as far as it goes, but the Core Anderson lists is missing a big name that was a big part of the previous October runs, making fans wonder fi this is the end of the big spending win at any cost era, or a re-tooling similar to the much maligned but now appreciated Granderson deal.

So is the state of this system largely attributable to losing so many first round picks due to signing free agents and drafting late due to strong records, or is there some issues with player selection and/or development?
The offseason is still extremely young. I have every expectation that the Tigers will acquire a considerable talent for either left field, third base, first base or designated hitter. They have plenty of options and outstanding flexibility this offseason thanks to the departure of Prince Fielder.

To your other question, I don't believe there is any one thing you can point to when trying to identify why the minor league system is in such a poor state. They've traded away a considerable amount of talent over the last few years. They've surrendered first round draft picks. They have struggled to develop hitters with any consistency. There are a lot of things that have contributed to this. In the end, the Tigers have continued to win over the last 6-7 years because they are able to turn prospects into Major League talent...whether that be through the promotion of players like Verlander, Porcello, Granderson, Smyly, Avila, etc., or through through trades to acquire players like Cabrera, Sanchez, Scherzer, Infante, etc. As an organization, they do an exceptional job of accumulating talent for the Major League roster, despite how their farm system is ranked by folks like us.
One more while I have you guys....what have you heard about Domingo Leyba?
Small guy that lacks tools but has a very good feel for the game. Some feel for the barrel with minimal power. Has some left-side defensive tools but I like him better as a second baseman. Interesting player that should draw more attention on a larger scale next year when he makes his stateside debut in the GCL.
Does Jose Alvarez have a chance to stick at the majors for the whole season or will he be the riding the taxi between Toledo and Detroit all season?
He's a fringe MLB arm for me. I think you'll see him back in Toledo for much of the 2014 season with occasional starts in Detroit and some bullpen time in Detroit as well.
For a relative neophyte in scouting terminology, could you please tell me what is "cambio" as used in the comment on Corey Knebel's strengths? I truly enjoy these features even when I don't appreciate the nuances of pitching.
I have been following the game for over 20 years now and I have NEVER once heard this....guess you learn something new every day.
It's Spanish.
Cambio is also a Filipino band who has a song about working in a call center.
Robbie Ray falls into the 2 or 3 spot I assume?
Will you be providing a write-up of him in the "top 10" style or will he fall through the cracks?
We will write him up.
Noticed that 5 of the top 10 are 6'4" or taller. Is that just a coincidence or does that reflect the team's method?
From a pitching perspective, the Tigers have long pursued big kids with physical projection. That's been their mode of operation for at least 7-8 years now. They have also been pretty consistent in acquiring big guys on the position player side as well. It's certainly part of their strategy and not a coincidence.
How far did Austin Schotts fall? Did he receive any consideration after his abysmal season, or are things as bad as they look?
Schotts fell a lot in my eyes. Great athlete with 7 speed, but he has a lot of work to do on his hitting approach, barrel control and he needs to add a ton of strength. I just don't see it working...
Devon Travis is a top 5 on every other reputable list that has come out and isn't even in your top 10. Combine that with Endrys Briceno being #6 on your list but no where on anyone else's rankings and that makes this a very questionable list. I understand there are always differences of opinions with prospects but when a list is so far off from the norm, all i gotta say better be right. Because you risk damaging your site's legitimacy if you are wrong.
BP has plenty of guys on staff (including myself) who have seen these guys in person, and excellent sources to boot.

Devon Travis is not a top 10 prospect. He's the 4th best 2B prospect in the system, if you count Suarez.

Briceno is an extremely intriguing arm, I've seen him in person, and it's really impressive. Anyone who I've spoken to about extremely high on him.

Keep scouting the box score, though.