Cream of the Crop – Detroit Tigers Top 20 Farmhands

Alex and Brenden will be creating their own top 20 prospects per organization. The methodology is simple: they develop their own top 20’s, average them together, then have friendly arguments about who should be higher or lower. The next organization up for them to review is the Detroit Tigers.

1. Casey Mize RHP

Age – 21

HT/WT – 6’3″ 220lb 

Current Level – A+

Alex’s Take – 

By now everyone is going to be familiar with Casey Mize, the #1 pick of the 2018 draft. Mize has a starter’s frame, already mostly filled out, but athletic. Repeats his mechanics well, with exceptional control and command. I’ve been in love with Mize since his early sophomore year and even included him in my pre-season Top 100 overall prospects last year. Mize throws a mid 90’s fastball that lives 93-95 (up to 97) with good movement on it. He adds in a low 90’s cutter with sharp spin that mimics his best pitch (splitter), a much improved slider that is slurvy but bites hard, and an absolute wipeout splitter. His splitter is easily the best splitter in the minors and possibly the best pitch in the minors.

All 4 pitches are thrown with good control and (with the exception of the slider) good command. There are a few concerns about Mize, he missed time with “forearm soreness” at the end of 2017, which is often a precursor of Tommy John surgery, but rebounded nicely in 2018 with no such issues. But he did appear to wear out a bit at the end of the year again. Durability is a bit of a concern going forward as he throws some elbow intensive pitches and hasn’t yet proven he can throw over 150 IP in a year. There’s also the technical concern that he doesn’t throw a chanegup, but really, the splitter is his change up (as with another one of my favorite arms, Tony Gonsolin) and its a legit 70 grade, so no worries there besides the arm wear difference between the two pitches. Those minor skepticisms aside, he throws potential 60 grade pitches with a 70 in the mix, has a starter’s frame, and dominated the best hitters in college baseball, was a slam dunk #1 pick and is a rare high ceiling/ high floor arm. I have what I consider to be an easy comp for him, which is Masahiro Tanaka, down to the height/weight, splitter and velocity/control. And Mize may even have the higher ceiling, which is crazy to say considering Tanaka was arguably the best Japanese pitcher ever.

Brenden’s Take – 

Mize was the number one overall pick in the 2018 MLB draft. I’m going to preface this all by saying I’m completely biased when it comes to Mize. I am a recent alumnus of Auburn University and I’ve been lucky to have been able to watch Mize multiple times while I attended the loveliest village on the plains. On top of being an Auburn Alum, I am also a lifelong Tigers fan. However, I promise to give as unbiased of a take I can give.

Mize is a special, special arm that and possibly the most polished arm to come out of the draft in a long time. I truly believe that if the Tigers were in contention last year he could’ve been in the bullpen, that is how major league level I think he already is. He has a 4 pitch arsenal that all grade at the least above-average and they all play up because of his great control and command. Mize’s money pitch is a splitter that can only draw comparisons to Roger Clemens. Fastball that can reach 97 but sits 93-95 is a plus offering that he locates with pinpoint accuracy. The slider is a potential plus pitch that he can throw multiple ways and speeds. He even added a cutter his last season in school that shows plus potential. He also throws all these pitches from the same arm slot with a relatively low effort delivery that he has no problem repeating. If there are any negatives to Mize is there are questions regarding his durability. In each of his Sophomore and Junior seasons he started the season dominating every start but seemed to fatigue as the season progressed with the worst starts of his college career being on the back end of a grueling SEC baseball slate. He also was shut down after his Sophomore season with forearm tightness preventing him from pitching for Team USA further after just two appearances. Splitters are also well known to be pretty unfriendly to elbows, as not many pitching coaches teach the splitter to pitchers anymore at the lower levels (except for Japan, almost every pitcher over there throws that pitch). As I said I’m biased here but Mize has all the makings of an Ace if he stays healthy and it wouldn’t shock me if he debuted next year. Unfortunately, 2020 is much more likely as the Tigers won’t be competing any time soon and there’s no reason to start his clock earlier than you need to.

Ceiling – SP 1

Floor – SP 3

Expectation – SP 2

Risk – Moderate

ETA – 2020


2. Matt Manning RHP

Age – 20

HT/WT –  6’6″ 190lb

Current Level – AA

Alex’s Take – 

Matt Manning was always considered to have a lofty ceiling, but talks about his ceiling were always tempered with “but his floor”. The question has never be can he be an impact starter, but will he make the progressions to become one. 2018 was a great step towards that ceiling for Manning. Hyper athletic, with a lanky 6-6 190 frame, high spin rate fastball already sitting 93-95 and ticking up to 97 at just 20 years old and a mid 80’s absolute hammer curve; Manning is the definition of projectable. The concern was that, for someone with his stuff, he was as raw as they come mechanically and had been a basketball-focused prospect much of his HS career. While those concerns aren’t gone, Manning saw increases in his fastball consistency, location and ability to maintain velocity through starts. He made jumps in command with his curve, which is 60 (maybe 65 when it is on), changed grips 3 times until he found a changeup grip he liked that made some jumps in September and made MASSIVE mechanical advances. He’s still a bit raw, but much better than he was and made it AA as a 20-year-old without looking overmatched. No small feat for a “raw” arm. With a frame that when filled out should sit around 225-230, an extra 35-40 pounds, it’s quite likely we will be seeing an easy 95-98 fastball that touches triple digits with a high spin rate and a 60 or better power curve. So the floor seems to be high leverage reliever, but if the changeup can be even average, we are looking at a Thor-lite type prospect. If command comes as well….sky’s the limit. I see a high end 2 ceiling at the moment and he’s headed in the right direction, in AA at an age most people haven’t even been drafted at. A lot to like.

Brenden’s Take – 

Manning has been a personal favorite of mine since he was drafted. Manning was a two-sport athlete in High School playing baseball and basketball and was swayed to give up basketball to pursue baseball full time when he was drafted in 2016. When he was drafted he was often described as incredibly raw and unrefined but oozing of potential with that ideal pitcher’s frame. I wrote about him during the 2018 season in my very first Crop Rotation Piece (http://baseball-farm.com/index.php/2018/09/10/the-crop-rotation-brusdar-graterol-and-matt-manning/) so if you want a more in-depth breakdown of him, you can read my breakdown of him and Brusdar Graterol, the talented Twins pitching prospect.

Manning has been consistently posting ridiculous K/9 numbers since being drafted with his mid-90’s fastball and plus hammer curveball, but his control and consistency were often erratic, causing high BB/9 as well. The changeup is a big project but if you take a look at the Crop Rotation piece on him, I have a video of him throwing a beautiful changeup. That shows it has potential, it’s just a matter of getting more consistent with it. Manning showed great progress in 2018 advancing from Low A all the way to AA, all the while dominating and showing great improvement. I don’t say this lightly but Manning might have the highest ceiling in this system (yes even higher than Mize) but the floor is low as well. After 2018 it does look like that floor is rising, making him less risky. I think a big 2019 could be in store and it wouldn’t shock me if he started to skyrocket up prospect lists, if he hasn’t already.

Ceiling – SP 2

Floor – High Leverage Reliever

Expectation – SP 3

Risk – High

ETA – 2021


3. Franklin Perez RHP

Age – 21

HT/WT – 6’3″ 200lb  

Current Level – A+

Alex’s Take – 

Injuries stole 2018 from Franklin Perez, who was the top dawg on most Tigers prospect lists entering the season, and while losing a developmental year always hurts and injury questions will linger, there is a lot to like with the centerpiece of the Verlander deal. despite the lat injury and right shoulder inflammation that shut down Perez’s 2018, he was already in AA in 2017 as a 19-year-old and (with health) would have been there or higher in 2018. Perez will be just 21 all of the 2019 season, making him 3 years younger than the average AA player, so he has plenty of time. He’s also shown the ability to make the most of that time, Perez didn’t start pitching until he was 15 and by 19 was in AA with 4 legit pitches, so have faith. When healthy, Perez mixes a mid 90’s fastball (up to 96) with plus life with a nasty, high spin curve, an average but newish slider and a plus fading change. All 4 pitches look like average or better offering with potential for 3 plus. With a non maxed out, athletic frame, Perez offers some projectability still and could see another stuff uptick. Either way, he has 4 legit pitches, an athletic delivery that he repeats well, a clear ability to make quick strides and an ideal frame. Write off 2018 and look forward to 2019, could be a good buy-low candidate as a high ceiling guy with a clear starter’s profile who had a freak year.

Brenden’s Take – 

Perez is a pitcher that has been marred by injury since he was acquired by the Tigers in the deal that gave the Astros Justin Verlander (and a World Series), not even eclipsing 20 innings pitched in a Tigers’ uniform. He had knee issues when he was acquired, then had a Lat strain that kept him out most of the 2018 season then was shut down after a sore right shoulder. First and foremost this is a pitcher that needs to show he can stay healthy and he has unfortunately lost a year of development. Now that we got some context out of the way let’s talk about Perez the pitcher when he’s healthy. He has a 4 pitch mix that he uses well and all play up with his advanced control and pitchability. A good fastball that can get into the mid-90’s and has good arm-side run that he pairs with a good curveball and excellent changeup. He also has a slider but the pitch is a bit of project and doesn’t throw it often. If healthy Perez has all the makings of a good mid-rotation starter but the injuries (especially a worrying Lat injury) are holding him back. Looking forward to a hopefully healthy 2019 season.

Ceiling – SP 2

Floor – SP 5

Expectation – SP 3

Risk – High/Moderate

ETA – 2021


4. Isaac Paredes SS

Age – 19

HT/WT – 5’11” 225lb 

Handedness – R/R

Current Level – AA

Alex’s Take – 

Paredes presents a combination of tools I absolutely love and strongly dislike. Homeboy didn’t just hit at AA as a 19-year-old, but straight up mashed with very very impressive K and BB rates. Love. Even with what can only be described as extreme pull rates (58%, don’t love), it’s clear the kid has a very high hit tool ceiling. With his swing plane loft and bat speed, I think he will be the rare case of a guy whose game power might overtake his 50-grade raw power. I think the hit tool could be 60 grade if he can even out his pull rates and mashing at the levels he has at his age is very very impressive. Defensively, absolute zero chance he sticks at SS. Arm is decent and could let him slide over to 3rd but even there, he’s raw fielding. 2B is an option. He likely doesn’t have the speed for the outfield. Needs to get reps defensively and work on agility. I could see him being an average 3B with hard work and reps. Body is bad. More than filled out, needs to shed some weight but probably a bit of room to turn bad weight into good weight. Just 19. Bat carries the profile, but it’s an impressive and high upside bat. Pretty much the hitting version of Luiz Gohara (minus the reported work ethic concerns). High ceiling but some concerns and needs to become more well-rounded places other than the body.

Brenden’s Take – 

Paredes was included in the trade with the Cubs that sent Justin Wilson and Alex Avila to the Cubs (man that trade does not look good in hindsight at all does it). Paredes was a part of my Next Phenom series and you can read a more in-depth write up of him here: http://baseball-farm.com/index.php/2018/08/23/the-next-phenom-isaac-paredes/. In broad strokes, Paredes has a highly advanced approach at the plate and advanced hit tool that limits strikeouts (only 14.2% at AA in 2018) and also shows the willingness to take walks (12.3% at AA in 2018). His advanced hit tool gives him the potential to be a high average hitter at the major league level. He has a stocky build that shows some strength but his contact-oriented approach limits his power production. I think as he matures some more, the power could really begin to show and I don’t think 25+ is out of the realm of possibilities when he reaches his peak. Defensively he’s currently playing SS, where he can make every routine play that he can get to but the range is lacking. 2B or 3B will most likely be his future home defensively where he should profile as an average defender with his good hands and good arm. Paredes and Daz Cameron are really close for me in these rankings but I’m going to give Paredes the edge due to him having a potentially plus tool as opposed to Daz’s more rounded skill set.

Ceiling – .290/.370/.500 25/7

Floor – .240/.305/.400 10/2

Expectation – .275/.345/.460 18/5

Risk – Moderate

ETA – 2020


5. Parker Meadows OF

Age – 19

HT/WT – 6’5″ 190lb  

Handedness – L/R

Current Level – A-

Alex’s Take – 

Pretty much the polar opposite of Paredes, Meadows is a long lean 6-5 athlete with a plus plus frame, plus defense, speed, tons of projection, but a raw hit tool. The younger brother of Austin Meadows, Parker may be an even better athlete. Current 70 grade speed (although I’d imagine that comes down as he fills out) Meadows is a bounding center fielder who quickly covers ground, gets decent jumps for his age and has an above average arm that will play in right if needed. With a frame like Meadows comes 60-grade raw power, although the game power looks to be lagging behind. The hit tool is the only real question mark here. It might be easy to look at the stats and think “290/377/473 and up to low A in his draft year out of HS? Where’s the raw hit?” but that comes with context. Like pretty much any 6-5 HS bat, Meadows has some length to his swing. This shows up in a 29% K rate. He is also extremely pull heavy (over 60%) which just isn’t going to work long-term and he has some issues recognizing spin (as do most prep bats). Between his fielding, speed, arm and raw power, there are 4 standout tools here. I’m higher than our ranking on Meadows (had him easy 4th in the system) and think he has every shot at becoming the Tigers top hitting prospect with time, but it will take time. If the hit tool comes around, we could be looking at a Kyle Tucker profile here, but he has a long ways to go for that. If not he will be a high K-rate power/speed play who plays good enough defense to keep him in lineups. The future is bright.

Brenden’s Take – 

Meadows was the Tigers’ 2nd round pick of the 2018 draft and is the younger brother of former top prospect Austin Meadows. Parker doesn’t have the highly regarded hit tool that his brother has but Parker might have the higher ceiling. Parker is a total tool shed: plus runner, plus raw power, and a plus throwing arm. His speed is a bit deceptive because of his 6’5″ frame so it looks slower on tape but only needs a handful of strides to get home to first. His swing is going to need a lot of work to unlock his potential, with it being long and having timing issues. If they can iron how his swing and translate his plus power, he has the potential to be a very fun player to watch. I’m pretty impressed with his rookie ball debut slashing .284/.376/.500 showing some patience with a 9.4% BB%. Easy to dream on a potential perennial All-Star with power and speed, but also plays enough defense where he should be able to make a major league squad even if the hit tool doesn’t develop.

Ceiling – .270/.360/.500 30/20

Floor – 4th OF

Expectation – .255/.340/.445 15/20

Risk – Very High

ETA – 2022


6. Beau Burrows RHP

Age – 22

HT/WT – 6’2″ 200lb 

Current Level – AA

Alex’s Take – 

Burrows may not be the sexiest arm in the system, but he’s probably the safest. Free of injury concerns, Burrows throws a 91-93 MPH fastball with plus life down in the zone with good command, that is better than its velo. He adds in an above-average curveball with good spin, an average changeup, and a slider that should either become average in 2019 or get scrapped in my opinion. With his fastball command first profile and developing offspeed stuff, Burrows might not have an incredibly high ceiling, but he does have a high floor. I can squint and see a 3 if the slider improves significantly but a 4-5 looks likely. He’s a bulldog on the mound and while he won’t likely be a high K guy, he can generate soft contact, limit damage and get innings. Every team can use a guy like that.

Brenden’s Take – 

Burrows has been sliding down Tigers’ prospect rankings since being drafted and it’s not because of his performance but more due to the influx of talent into the Tigers’ system in recent years. He was the Tigers’ first-round pick in 2015 and has had good success in the minors. Burrows has a plus fastball in the low 90s with good life that can touch 97 according to BA. It has better movement at the bottom of the zone but seems to have more success at the top of the zone with the pitch. He has a pair of breaking balls (slider and curveball) that are average offerings but neither are great out pitches. The changeup is going to be the deciding factor for Burrows as it is a highly inconsistent pitch right now but if shows above-average potential and it will be key for him to reach his potential. I think there is a very good chance he ends up in the bullpen, where I’m not sure he could be an impact late inning guy but more a middle reliever/swing guy that could make a spot start or two. If the changeup and control improve tough I could see him as a lower end mid-rotation guy that can eat some innings with his strong frame.

Ceiling – SP 3

Floor – Middle Relief or Swing Man

Expectation – SP 4

Risk – Moderate

ETA – 2019


7. Daz Cameron OF

Age – 21

HT/WT – 6’2″ 195lb  

Handedness – R/R

Current Level – AAA

Alex’s Take – 

Growing up as a Mariners fan, I am biased in favor of anybody who’s a progeny of Mike Cameron, easily one of the most exciting players and charismatic players to watch of my childhood. Like Mike, Razzle Daz flashes above-average speed and arm with double plus jumps and routes and should be a valuable center fielder in a park where outfield defense matters. The bat seems to flash average across the board. I see a 50-55 hit with decent patience but more swing and miss than I’d like, but one that uses all fields and always has. I think he has 50 pop and should get to the 15 or so home run mark. Ultimately, I see a major league CF with charisma who should be a 260-270 hitter with a 15/15 profile. Probably not a star, but a nice piece. And considering he reached AAA at just 21 and had a very nice AFL, he looks to have a long career.

Brenden’s Take – 

Cameron was another piece in the Verlander trade and is the son of former MLB All Star OF Mike Cameron. Cameron doesn’t have one standout tool but he does everything well. Profiles nicely as a hitter with a good hit tool, good pop, and the speed to make some impact on the base paths. Cameron made a small tweak to his approach late in the season, where he started being more aggressive in the count and looking to hammer his pitch. It paid immediate dividends and led to an impressive AFL showing. Defensively he profiles as an above average CF with good range and a good arm. At worst Cameron is a 4th OF but I see a good Major League OF patrolling CF in Comerica for years to come.

Ceiling – .280/.360/.470 15/25

Floor – 4th OF

Expectation – .270/.345/.450 12/25

Risk – Moderate

ETA – 2019


8. Christin Stewart OF

Age – 25

HT/WT – 6’2″ 205lb  

Handedness – L/R

Current Level – MLB

Alex’s Take – 

Christin Stewart can put a charge into a baseball. Likely 60-grade power and the bat is average, so this could be a 25-30 home run guy who won’t kill you with average if he gets his at-bats. 265/25-30 is the offensive profile. Plate discipline is fine, takes walks and average K rate. Discipline won’t hold him back. The only downside is that he basically Willie Calhoun defensively. He’s slow for an outfielder, takes poor routes and has an arm only his mother and first base could love. Realistically it is a left-field only profile with a very good chance that he’s a DH only. Getting at-bats could be tricky. But he’s MLB ready on a rebuilding team looking to trade its LF and DH anyways and has a nice bat with serious pop. Treat him like you’d treat Willie Calhoun.

Brenden’s Take – 

Stewart was the Tigers’ first-round pick in 2015 out of Tennessee. Stewart is a hitter, no there’s really no other way to say it. He has an advanced approach at the plate, taking walks and not striking out a ton. There’s also a lot of pop in that bat, hitting 27 homers in the 2018 season and 28 in 2017. He made his MLB debut in 2018 at the end of the season and I loved what I saw, and he didn’t look out of place or outmatched. Defensively though, he’s a mess. Little range, weak throwing arm, and just doesn’t look comfortable out in the field. He’s been a relentless worker in this aspect but at best he’s going to be a below average defender out in LF. Eventually, I think he will have to make a move to either 1B (where he would be undersized at only 6’0″) or be a full-time DH. With Miguel Cabrera nearing full-time DH duties and Castellanos (for the moment, could be traded at any time) also being a below average defender in the OF and possibly needing a similar move like Stewart, DH and 1B aren’t open for the foreseeable future. Stewart definitely has the makings of a .260 hitter with 25+ bombs which is a nice MLB contributor. Hopefully, his poor defense doesn’t take too many AB’s away from him.

Ceiling – .260/.360/.500 30/2

Floor – .230/.315/.465 20/2

Expectation – .248/.340/.470 25/2

Risk – Low

ETA – 2018


9. Wenceel Perez SS

Age – 19

HT/WT – 5’11” 170lb 

Handedness – S/R

Current Level – A

Alex’s Take – 

I really like Wenceel and not just because its fun to say his name. I see the ingredients of a legit SS with a possible 60 bat and 60 wheels. While I’d like to have seen him take more walks, what he was able to do at A- Ball as an 18 year old was very impressive, especially making 3 jumps in one season during his first time stateside, while dealing with the outside factors of the cultural shock coming from the Dominican to the US. I think he has an above average arm and can be an average SS defensively, so he should stick at the position. I like his swing and open stance from both sides. He’s extremely advanced for his age and can see a genuine 60 hit future. He’squick-twitchh and athletic and seems like the ingredients are there for 20-25 stolen bases. I don’t see much power coming, but maybe 10 home runs at maturity. I don’t think he will quite be Segura defensively, but from a fantasy standpoint, I think Jean Segura is the easy comp for what Wenceel can be if he develops right.

Brenden’s Take – 

Love me some Wenceel. The switch-hitting SS was the Tigers top 2017 J2 signing and has gotten off to a hot start to his professional career. First dominating the DSL in 2017 then coming stateside and dominating with a slash of .383/.462/.543. He then received two more promotions in 2018 to SS A ball then to Full Season A ball at West Michigan. Overall Wenceel is a quick twitch athlete with a sweet swing that drives the ball to the gaps. Not much homerun power as of yet but there is room on his frame and in 2080 Baseball’s report of him this past year, they reported he may be closer to 190 than his reported 170 now. Good defender, needs some seasoning in the field but all the tools are there to be an above average defender at short. May become a better real life player than fantasy but I think he will hit, steal some bases and have double digit pop.

Ceiling – .300/.345/.440 15/20

Floor – Utility Player

Expectation – .280/.340/.420 12/20

Risk – High

ETA – 2023


10. Alex Faedo RHP

Age – 23

HT/WT – 6’5″ 230lb  

Current Level – AA

Alex’s Take – 

This one makes me sad. I really liked Faedo in college. He had frontline stuff, even after returning from his knee injury in 2017. I preferred his college tape to teammates AJ Puk and Brady Singer. And while he didn’t have a 4th pitch like Mize, he may have been the more dominant SEC pitcher. But that stuff just wasn’t there this year. The fastball that used to sit 92-94, touching higher with elite sinking action and generating extreme GB rates, was living more 86-90 with less life and less consistency hitting his spots. The formerly absolute wipeout 60 plus grade slider just didn’t have the same bite and looked more 50-55 and the changeup that had flashed plus when used in college just couldn’t play the same off of the diminished fastball. It was a tough season to watch from a prospect I really liked. He has shown TOR stuff before, so he could bounce back and become the two he looked like he always would up until 2018…but there wasn’t any sign that was coming or a clear reason for the drop off. Pitchers are weird. I’m hoping for a bounce-back, but if the stuff doesn’t come back he looks like a 5 and a candidate for the pen to see if he can get the stuff working again in shorter stints.

Brenden’s Take – 

When Faedo was drafted in 2017 in the first round by the Tigers, I was pretty excited for his potential. I saw a polished arm that threw a plus fastball and plus slider with a feel for his changeup that came out of a program that just keeps pumping out top pitching prospects. When Faedo finally made his debut in 2018, he wasn’t the same pitcher I had watched college tape on. His velocity had decreased. He was hitting 92-94 in college but in his professional debut was struggling to even eclipse 90 mph. This drop in velocity affected all his pitches. His once wipeout slider was less effective due to his diminished arm speed and the changeup was basically useless since there was almost no separation from his fastball. Faedo also has a odd delivery throwing almost side arm with a crossfire type of finish. With the diminished velocity and delivery, I’m just struggling to see a pitcher that will be able to compete at the major league level at all. If the arm speed returns, he could regain some faith and be able to be a potential big league rotation piece.

Ceiling – SP 2

Floor – Doesn’t regain arm speed and doesn’t make the majors

Expectation – SP 4

Risk – Very High

ETA – 2020


11. Willi Castro SS

Age – 21

HT/WT – 6’1″ 165lb  

Handedness – S/R

Current Level – AAA

Alex’s Take – 

Line drive approach switch hitter who can play standard MLB defense at SS or 2B and reached AAA by age 21. Castro came over from Cleveland in the Leonys Martin deal last year and flashes above average hit, speed and arm while hitting from both sides of the plate. I would love to see a bit more patience from him at the plate and I don’t see more than 10-15 home run pop at max with his swing plane, but he has good contact skills, good speed and solid defense. I think he can be a 270/15/15 type (lower OBP) hitter who could be a utility infield guy with 2B, SS, and 3B eligibility. Always room for a guy like that.

Brenden’s Take – 

Castro was acquired by the Tigers in 2018 in the deal that sent Leonys Martin to the Indians. Castro projects to be able to stay as SS with good range and a strong arm, but can probably play 3B and 2B as well. His hit tool and approach are still a work in progress but is still relatively young, he was only 21 when he made a cameo at AAA late last year. Doesn’t take a lot of walks 5.3% and hasn’t shown a lot of power, with exception of his 26 game start to his Tigers tenure posting a .238 ISO but you can probably write that off to sample size. I’m a little weary of his swing (from both sides) but he has shown to be able to hold his own at each level despite being younger than the competition. He doesn’t have a lot of competition at the SS spot in the Tigers system so he has a chance to be a MLB regular with the hopes he can hit with some speed but not a lot of pop (10-12 at his peak I think). His floor is a utility player that can play 3 of the IF positions.

Ceiling – 290/330/440 15/20

Floor – Utility Infielder

Expectation – 265/300/400 10/12

Risk – Low

ETA – Mid 2019


12. Kody Clemens 2B

Age – 22

HT/WT – 6’1″ 170lb 

Handedness – L/R

Current Level – A+

Alex’s Take – 

One of Roger Clemens’s sons, Kody Clemens was unremarkable for any other reason his first two years at Texas. But following an elbow surgery and move to 2B he burst out with 25 home runs and a 351/444/726 slashline. It was a major jump in all offensive categories, so there was skepticism, but he made the Tigers look wise for grabbing him in the third round when the power seemed to transfer well to the wood bat. Clemens is small for a power bat and the approach is still a bit raw and he will struggle with spin initially, so there’s still reason for skepticism, but Clemens has taken well to 2B, where he shows good instincts (though lacks agility) and made it to real spin (High A) last year. I see a 45 hit, 55 power grade without much speed here, but a 250-260 average with 20-25 home runs at maturity seems possible and would play at 2B.

Brenden’s Take – 

Big fan of Roger Clemens youngest son, Kody. Kody popped his junior year at Texas posting a 351/444/726 line. After being drafted quickly proved that he was too advanced for his Low A placement at West Michigan, hitting .302/.387/.477 over 174 plate appearances. He finally faced some opposition in A+, struggling a bit .238/.283/.357 but with that being considered one of the biggest jumps for a minor leaguer he did okay. Clemens as a hitter is one that doesn’t get cheated at the plate and hits with some power despite his wiry frame. Generates good rotation with strong hands and can drive the ball to the LCF as well. Also has good speed and plays solid defense at the keystone. While the swings are different, I can’t shake the Ian Kinsler comparison for Kody. I think he has good potential to be a guy who can hit for average, power and steal some bases not unlike what Kinsler has been able to do throughout his great career. He also has the arm and quickness I think where at worst he could be a utility guy who could play all over the field.

Ceiling – 265/320/475 28/5

Floor – Never makes majors

Expectation – 245/300/435 20/3

Risk – High

ETA – 2021


13. Kyle Funkhouser RHP

Age – 24

HT/WT – 6’2″ 220lb 

Current Level – AAA

Alex’s Take – 

I’ve always had a soft spot for Funkhouser, but he’s always had a soft spot for injuries. When healthy, the Funk will flash a mid 90’s heater that can reach 97 MPH, with an inconsistent slider that will show you anything from 55-45 depending on the day, an average curve and an average changeup. He’s a bit inconsistent with command and control but will flash at least average with both and has the stuff to become an SP3 at the ceiling. He’s extremely risky with his injury concerns and command that comes and goes month to month, but if healthy, he can be a backend starter and if the command comes he can be a 3. Not a bad gamble for the price.

Brenden’s Take – 

Funkhouser is a bit of an enigma for me. He was drafted in the 1st round of the 2015 draft by the Dodgers but decided to go back to school thinking he could improve his draft stock. His velocity diminished his senior year at Louisville and so did the results, and eventually his draft stock. He was eventually drafted in the 4th round. Since being drafted Funkhouser has been marred by similar issues he had while at Louisville, inconsistency and durability concerns. He had a terrific 2017 season, showing his previous first round talent, but was eventually shut down due to elbow soreness. He was hoping to carry over his 2017 success into 2018 but often struggled in the higher levels (AA and AAA). There are times where his plus fastball with great arm side run and a sharp curve (which can look like a slider at times) are on and he looks terrific but there also times where he isn’t as sharp and struggles mightily. He also has a changeup which I think can be an average offering and keep hitters honest as well. Overall the story with Funkhouser will be if he can stay healthy and become more consistent. If he accomplishes those he can easily be a mid-rotation guy but that is a tall order for young pitchers but his stuff does translate well to the bullpen if he can’t cut it in the rotation.

Ceiling – SP 3

Floor – Swingman

Expectation – Injury risk SP 4

Risk – Med/High

ETA – Late 2019


14. Carlos Guzman RHP

Age – 20

HT/WT – 6’1″ 170lb 

Current Level – A+

Alex’s Take – 

Guzman was probably the biggest surprise scouting the system for me. Signed as a 3B out of Venezuela as an unheralded 18 year old in 2016, a decision to switch Guzman to pitcher has paid major dividends for the Tigers. With a still projectable 6-1 170 frame, Guzman throws a 93-97 MPH fastball, with a developing low 80’s slider and a surprisingly 60 grade changeup. The change is phenomenal with 10 mph separation and exactly the same arm movement as his fastball. To have a changeup like that having only pitched for less than 2 years is simply amazing. Guzman has a very fast arm with plus arm speed that means if he does grow, he will see velo increases. Reaching A+ at just 20, Guzman may not be on many radars yet, but make no mistake, he will be in 2019. If the slider and command come, this a legit SP3 and if not, possibly a late inning fastball/change reliever. Sleeper.

Brenden’s Take – 

Looks like a very interesting arm. He is a converted position player. His fastball reportedly can sit in the low-mid 90’s and looks to have a good changeup with good arm action. The breaking ball also seems to be an average pitch. Was able to reach A+ as a 20 year old.

Ceiling – High end sp3

Floor – Middle Reliever

Expectation – High Leverage RP

Risk – High

ETA – 2022


15. Jake Rogers C

Age – 23

HT/WT – 6’1″ 190lb  

Handedness – R/R

Current Level – AA

Alex’s Take – 

Simple guy to write up. Absolute plus defensive catcher who is likely see plenty of MLB starts as a result with plus pop, a monster arm, willing to take walks but also is going to strikeout a ton and hit for low average. Of note, he’s a standout for Baseball Farm’s very own Green Bean stat (groundball rate/(LD rate + Flyball Rate-IFFB Rate)) and could have been unlucky in terms of XBH. Could be in for a higher SLG next year.

Brenden’s Take – 

Rogers was the last piece of the Verlander trade (with Perez and Cameron). His calling card is the fact he is probably the best fielding catching prospect in baseball and there are reports that if he was in the majors right now he could be competing for gold gloves. That’s how good he is defensively. From a fantasy perspective, it’s nice to have a player like him because he will play plenty with his defensive abilities but can he contribute enough to be a good fantasy C? He has some pop in that bat hitting 17 homers this past season with a .193 ISO but he also only hit .219. The hit tool is developing and there is some doubt that it can even become average. Best case scenario is his hit tool develops to about .240 which allows him to pop about 20 homers and play stellar defense. Probably a better real life player than fantasy but if he’s hitting 20 homers a year, probably not a terrible option at a barren position.

Ceiling – 235/315/450 25/1 with GG

Floor – Backup Catcher

Expectation – 220/290/390 15/0

Risk – Medium

ETA – Late 2109


16. Tarik Skubal LHP

Age – 22

HT/WT – 6’3″ 215lb 

Current Level – A

Alex’s Take – 

Skubal, a draft eligible sophomore in 2017, was starting to draw late first-round buzz before falling victim to Tommy John just 8 starts into the year. He was still drafted by Arizona as a late round flier but decided to go back to college and improve his stock. Unfortunately, while the raw stuff came back during his JR year, the command wasn’t there. Skubal pitched for Seattle University, just a 10 min drive from my apartment and I have had the pleasure of seeing a few of his starts in person. 2016-17 Skubal was dominant but post TJS, but it took awhile for the command to return. Luckily for the Tigers, it returned post draft in shorter stints, getting them an absolute steal in round 9. Skubal has a big frame and looks the part of an innings eater. He throws a mid 90’s fastball, living 94-96 from the left side with life. He mixes that with a power curve in the mid 80’s that should be a strikeout pitch if the consistency of command stays and an average change. Power lefties are a rare breed and Skubal fits that bill. The Tigers are clearly grooming him as a starter for 2019 and as such, he’s clearly the top lefty in the system. In his 9 short stints as a pro, Skubal put up an eye popping 3-0 record with a 0.40 ERA, 0.85 WHIP and 33K/4BB in 22 IP rising from RK to A- to A ball. It certainly looks like the Tigers got a top 2 round arm in the 9th, and make no mistake, that’s what he was pre-TJS. If his command fails him as a starter next year, he does have good appeal in the bullpen.

Brenden’s Take – 

Skubal was drafted in the 9th round of the 2018 draft. He was once expected to be drafted much higher but had to undergo Tommy John surgery and struggled in his return as a redshirt Junior. Skubal was a starter prior to the injury but pitched out of the bullpen his last year and with the Tigers in the minors. Pre-draft tape I kinda wrote him off as a potential reliever with a high effort delivery but in post-draft tape he has toned it down dramatically. He has done so while still maintaining a mid-90’s fastball and now might be the best lefty in the Tigers’ organization. He absolutely dominated in his debut only allowing 1 ER in 22.1 innings across 3 levels while accumulating a 33:4 K:BB ratio. It all starts with that electric fastball but he also features a good changeup and breaking ball. I think there’s a good chance the Tigers will try him out as a starter next year, they were slowly stretching him out in relief appearances in his debut. He has had consistency issues in the past but with a toned down delivery, it’s very possible the Tigers have a potential gem on their hands.

Ceiling – SP3

Floor – Mid Level RP with Command issues

Expectation – High Leverage RP

Risk – High

ETA – 2022 


17. Alvaro Gonzalez SS

Age – 18

HT/WT – 6’0″ 165lb  

Handedness – R/R

Current Level – R (DSL)

Alex’s Take – 

One of the older notable players in the 2017 J2 class, Gonzalez signed for $1 Mil with the Tigers. With an athletic build that looks capable of adding another inch or two and some solid muscle, Gonzalez has good agility for his size and could stick at short, but profiles as a plus defender at third base. Known more for his defense as a prospect, Alvaro didn’t set the world on fire but showed advanced discipline in the DOSL last year, but the defense was more raw than anticipated, making a move to third look likely. With a fairly flat swing path but quick powerful wrists, he looks like a hit tool over power prospect. Add in decent speed and the potential to be a well above average defender at third who can play short in a pinch and there is a lot to like. He just has a long way to go.

Brenden’s Take – 

Gonzalez was the Tigers’ top J2 signing from 2017. I love this kid’s swing. Great bat speed with more pop than you’d expect from a kid his size. Good athlete with good hands and a strong arm that profile nicely from short but he made 23 errors (!) in his professional debut. There’s not too much to write home about considering his professional debut numbers-wise but I like seeing a 11.9% walk percentage and only striking out 18.6% which backs up the advanced hit tool scouts placed on him early on but is also showing patience at the plate. One of the more interesting younger players in the system.

Ceiling – 280/360/450 18/10 at SS

Floor – Never makes Majors

Expectation – 260/315/425 14/8

Risk – Very High

ETA – 2023


18. Brock Deatherage OF

Age – 23

HT/WT – 6’1″ 175lb

Handedness –  L/L

Current Level – 

Alex’s Take – 

Aside from the best name in baseball, the SR sign from NC ST possesses 60 grade speed, capable CF defense, more pop than expected and possibly 50 grade power aaaaaaand is going to strikeout 40% of the time or more against good spin. Already a steal in the 10th round and costing just 10,000 bucks to sign (Skubal in round 9 was 350K) Deatherage set the world on fire in his debut 326/385/504 with 7 bombs and 19 steals in just 60 games across 3 levels. But the strikeout ways were on full display as well. But surprisingly showed well at A+ (first level with decent pitching) in a very small sample size, despite high strikeout totals. Already a year older than most college draft picks and with a very notable bust potential; the 80 grade name, power/speed combo, outfield defense and statistical sample size earn Brock a spot on this list.

Brenden’s Take – 

Deatherage, what a name. I promise I’m not including him here just because of the name value. Deatherage (but I will admit, I’m finding every excuse I can to write that name down because of how awesome it is) is uber athletic player that can do a lot of things. He has true 80 grade speed, plays good defense and has some pop. He absolutely mashed in his debut this season, raining death on all the pitchers he faced (pun totally intended). He hit 4 home runs in his first 10 PA’s at rookie ball then got quickly promoted to full season A ball where he slashed .313/.369/.443 and stole 15 bases. Finally ended up in A+ where he still wasn’t being slowed down. I think this was more a 23 year old, experienced college player taking advantage of less advanced competition but the results are impressive. His swing is overly long and the development of his hit tool and ability to hitting breaking pitches will determine his future. Probably a dynamic 4th OF but if the hit tool develops could be a starter at any OF position.

Ceiling – 250/310/440 15/30

Floor – Never reaches majors

Expectation – 4th outfielder

Risk – Very High

ETA – 2022


19. Jacob Robson OF

Age – 24

HT/WT – 5’10” 175lb  

Handedness – L/R

Current Level – AAA

Alex’s Take – 

Robson is a speed/hit prospect. 60-70 grade speed and should be able to hit for average and walks more often than normal for a player with his speed. Power came on last year with 44 XBH, but is still below average, like a 7-10 home run player capable of 30 steals. Weak arm but capable in center or left, but speed in a cavernous outfield could earn him AB’s. Just about MLB ready. Leadoff hitter ceiling with a bench outfielder floor.

Brenden’s Take – 

Robson is a prototypical scrappy CF. He has plus speed and can cover some ground in CF. Offensively there’s some pop, hitting 11 homers across two levels in 2018. Would expect much more than that at the major league level but he just seems to keep hitting despite not being known as a dynamic offensive player. Still needs some work on his base-paths as he was only 18 for 28 in SB attempts but Robson has the ability to be a nice 4th OF that might get some extended playing time this year (at least until Daz Cameron is ready) with the little resistance he has at the major league level. No expectations from me for Robson to be anything more than 4th OF but a lower tier starting CF isn’t impossible.

Ceiling – 285/345/425 10/30

Floor – Quad A guy

Expectation – 4th Outfielder

Risk – Low

ETA – 2019


20. Zac Houston RHP

Age – 24

HT/WT – 6’5″, 250lbs  

Current Level – AAA

Alex’s Take – 

Potential backend reliever. 70 grade extreme spin fastball, perhaps 75, lives mid 90’s but with elite movement and deception. Loopy slurve has good spin but gives hitters too much time to adjust and fringy change is only 5 mph slower than the heater, although the heater’s movement allows the straighter change to play up. Lack of a second plus pitch limits profile but the fastball is one of my favorites I’ve seen. Picks at edges of zone. Simply dominated every level of minors. 1-2 with a 1.63 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and 80K/25BB in 55 IP between AA and AAA was his worst minor league season yet. That’s how dominant he’s been. Could sneak into closer role next year, but likely a fastball first 7-8 guy longterm.

Brenden’s Take – 

Houston is a relief pitcher that had a terrific 2018 season. He accumulated a 1.18 ERA and 13 K/9 over 38 innings at AAA. He also converted 10/12 save chances. Houston’s main weapon is a great fastball that generally sits 92-94 but can reach 97 that is heavy with great arm side movement and generates a ton of swings and misses. He also throws a curve that is passable but it’s main purpose is to get hitters off his fastball (if they can hit it in the first place). He’s an imposing pitcher with his 6’5″ frame that fills the late inning role well. I love Houston’s fastball but the lack of another impact pitch makes me weary of his major league future. There are plenty of pitchers that can be dominate from the bullpen with only one pitch but I’m not sure Houston’s fastball falls into that class. I think he will fill a solid middle reliever role with the potential for some late inning work occasionally, and should get his first crack at the majors in 2019.

Ceiling – Closer

Floor – 7th inning Fastball Heavy RP

Expectation – Set Up Man

Risk – Low

ETA – 2019


Honorable Mentions

Jose de la Cruz OF

de la Cruz was the Tigers’ top J2 signing from this past year. He has terrific bat speed and when he makes good contact he generates impressive power. Thinking he could be one of the best J2 guys Detroit has ever signed.

Daniel Reyes OF

Reyes was a big time prep player and bounced around 3 different colleges in 3 years but kept hitting. Had a very good debut slashing .286/.372/.522 in 189 rookie ball plate appearances. Has good bat speed with power and also stole 12 bases. A under the radar guy to keep an eye on. Started on 2016 Florida Gators as a true freshman.

Wilkel Hernandez RHP

19 year old pitching prospect with a highly projectable frame with a fastball with nice arm side life and a feel for the changeup. The breaking ball needs work but already has the early makings of a potential back of the rotation arm with room to grow.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *