Detroit Tigers Top 10 Midseason Prospects
SEE ALSO: Midseason Top 10 Prospects
The Tigers ripped off the band-aid this year and so far, it’s been a little less painful than expected.
After years of trying to contend, Detroit entered 2018 with no playoff hopes for the first time in years. They have fielded a lineup of a few stars and many fill-ins who will likely be long gone by the next time the Tigers make the playoffs.
But even with a tear-down and a season-ending injury for Miguel Cabrera, the Tigers still sit in third place in the AL Central. They are just as close to first place Cleveland as they are to last-place Kansas City as the rebuilding Royals and White Sox are significantly worse than the Tigers.
After trading away J.D. Martinez, Justin Verlander and Justin Wilson(^) last summer, the Tigers will likely be less active this trade deadline largely because they have fewer tradable chips. There are some veterans who could bring back modest returns (Leonys Martin, Shane Greene, Jose Iglesias, Francisco Liriano and Blaine Hardy) some quality young player it may not make sense to trade (Nicholas Castellanos and Michael Fulmer) and a number of veterans whose contracts make them hard to trade (Jordan Zimmermann, Victor Martinez).
Even the returns for Martinez were modest, so don’t expect the Tigers to make major additions to the farm system at the deadline this year, but the results of last year’s trades and the chance to pick at the top of the draft this year has given the Tigers their deepest farm system in several years, especially when it comes to young pitching.
1. Casey Mize, RHP
Not Yet Assigned
Mize was the clear No. 1 pick in the 2018 draft thanks to his combination of now stuff (his fastball is plus and his plus-plus splitter was the best pitch in the draft class) and advanced control and command. He will pitch very little this year because he threw 115 innings for Auburn, but he is advanced enough to move quickly next season.
2. Franklin Perez, RHP
High Class A Lakeland
Perez has missed most of the season with a lat muscle injury, but he’s returned to action in the past few weeks and is showing the same excellent stuff (92-96 mph fastball, a plus curveball, an average changeup and a fringe-average slider) he did pre-injury. His command and control has not been as sharp in his first starts back, but he is still the advanced pitcher he was when the Tigers traded for him last year.
3. Matt Manning, RHP
High Class A Lakeland
Manning has all the makings of a potential front of the rotation starter, even if he has the inconsistencies that aren’t uncommon for young, tall pitchers of his ilk. Manning’s 91-95 mph fastball generates an above-average rate of swings and misses because he has such excellent extension and the fastball has good life up in the zone. His curveball comes and goes, but when it’s on, it’s plus as well. When he has those two pitches, he dominates. Other times, he struggles to locate his fastball and his below-average changeup gets hit.
4. Alex Faedo, RHP
Faedo has made it to Double-A in his first pro season. That’s the good news. The more concerning news is that Faedo’s fastball has lost two ticks from his days as a Florida Gator. Faedo generally has sat 89-92 mph this year and has bumped 93 sporadically. He is using his changeup more and it shows more promise than it did when he was in college. His lost arm speed has also cost some of the bite of his still above-average slider. The Tigers have to hope Faedo’s arm speed will come back, but even Faedo in his current form could pitch in the back of a big league rotation.
5. Christin Stewart, OF
Stewart is going to have to hit, as he’s a well-below-average defender in left field (he has shown some improvement to get to that point). The good news for him is he has always hit. Stewart has a chance to be an average hitter with plus power and plenty of walks. His power has tailed off a little this year, but only modestly and unlike many power hitters he has a knack for hitting for power while striking out in less than 20 percent of his plate appearances.
6. Beau Burrows, RHP
Burrows has one of the better fastballs in the minors as much for its late rise and spin rate as its 92-94 mph velocity–he’s touched 97 in shorter stints. But four years after he was drafted, his secondary offerings have yet to take a big step forward, as he continues to lack one above-average offspeed pitch. Burrows most likely will end up as an excellent power reliever, but he also could end up as a useful No. 4 starter.
7. Daz Cameron, OF
Until this year, Cameron had been on a slow path. He needed two seasons to master low Class A. After a solid but unspectacular first half with high Class A Lakeland, he’s blossomed in his first month at Double-A Erie, hitting with more power than he’s shown in the past. That power boost may be a short-term blip, but Cameron has a well-rounded tool-set. As an athletic center fielder with a lot of average to above-average tools, he’s got a solid chance of becoming a useful regular in center field.
8. Isaac Paredes, SS
There weren’t many 19-year-olds in the Florida State League. There was only one who reached double digits in home runs–Paredes, and it earned him a bump to Double-A. Paredes’ bat is ahead of his glove, which is why he’ll likely end up at second or third base eventually. He’s playing more and more second base this season and has the bat to profile there.
9. Wenceel Perez, SS
Perez ranked No. 23 on the Baseball America 2016 Top 30 international prospects largely because he was athletic with a knack for hitting. He’s lived up to that scouting report and more as he played his way out of the Gulf Coast League in less than a month by blitzing the league to the tune of a .383/.462/.543 slash line. Perez is a potentially plus hitter with the speed and athleticism to stay at shortstop.
10. Kyle Funkhouser, RHP
Funkhouser made it to Triple-A with his standard combination of excellent stuff and at times shaky control. That’s been the scouting report on Funkhouser going back to his days at Louisville, and it should be enough to get him to the big leagues. Funkhouser’s 92-95 mph fastball can miss bats and his above-average slider gives him a second weapon.
- C Grayson Greiner hasn’t hit, but he’s played well enough in his short stints with the Tigers to be viewed as a viable backup catcher for a rebuilding team.
- LHP Matt Hall has taken well to a move to the bullpen, although the Tigers moved him back to the rotation right before he was promoted to Triple-A. Hall’s long-term role is most likely as a lefty reliever, as his plus curveball and below-average fastball project better in shorter stints.
- C Jake Rogers has the defensive ability to be a backup catcher at the big league level even if he can’t hit, but he has to be at least a .230-.240 hitter to be a future regular. That’s a big ask for a hitter who never hit better than .261 in three years in college and .239 in the minors. Rogers strikeout rate has skied this year as he’s having more trouble getting to his plus raw power.
- C Sam McMillan had a breakout pro debut in the Gulf Coast League, as he hit .288/.441/.432. This year more advanced pitchers in the New York-Penn League have figured out that he’s rather powerless to hurt them if they attack him when they fall behind in the count. His walk rate has plummeted and he’s going to have to prove he can drive the ball to make pitchers fear him.
- OF Mike Gerber seemed ready to challenge Rule 5 pick Victor Reyes to be the big league club’s fourth outfielder. Instead he’s struggled to hit for average in Triple-A, which is disconcerting because Gerber’s hit tool is his best tool. Even though he’s made his big league debut this year, he’s effectively further from Detroit now than he was coming into the season.
- RHP Bryan Garcia will not pitch again until 2019 after Tommy John surgery cost him his entire 2018 season.
- RHP Gerson Moreno was released from the 40-man roster and re-signed as a minor league free agent when it was discovered that he needed Tommy John surgery, which will likely cost him almost all of the 2019 season as well.
- RHP Jason Foley continues to rehab after 2017 Tommy John surgery.
- RHP Joe Jimenez had a disastrous first exposure to the big leagues in 2017 (12.34 ERA in 24 appearances) but he’s proven himself as a solid setup man this year and made the American league All-Star team.
- 2B Niko Goodrum arrived as a minor league free agent during the offseason and has proven himself to be a useful, versatile utilityman.
- OF Victor Reyes, the team’s Rule 5 pick, has played so sparingly that he’s yet to exhaust his prospect eligibility, but he likely will before the season ends. He’s not hitting so far, but he’s impressed the Tigers as a useful fourth outfielder.