Detroit Tigers 2013 Top 15 Prospects
The rest of Bullpen Banter’s 2013 Top 15 Prospects can be found on the 2013 Team Prospect Lists Bar on the right side of your screen. Thanks for reading! -BB
Bullpen Banter Detroit Tigers 2013 Top 15 Prospects
Jeff Reese: There are a few farm systems that seem to perennially be among the bottom ten in baseball. Aggressively pursuing top free agents that required draft pick forfeiture as compensation and the accelerated promotion schedules that they’re wont to place on their the top prospects has resulted in the Detroit Tigers being one of these teams. That’s not meant to be an indictment on the current regime – after all, the goal is to win major league games, not accumulate the best prospects; those factors have depleted the farm system however. Yet talent can still be found.
Nick Castellanos is the best prospect by a wide margin with his substantial offensive tools. A natural hitter with power potential, Castellanos starred in the FSL during the first half before earning his promotion to Erie. Double-A proved to be more difficult, but his raw numbers look worse because of an extended slump to the end year. Defensively there is more cause for concern; Castellanos is merely passable at third base and made the transition to right field when he arrived in Erie. Make no mistake, his path to the majors is with the bat. My attempt to see him this year was thwarted by a pop up rain shower; he’ll likely return to double-A to start 2013, and I hope to see him then.
Avisail Garcia showed well during his time with the big league club at the end of the year and in the playoffs; he should be given a shot to capture a starting outfield spot during spring. Bruce Rondon could find himself on the major league roster with a strong spring as well; the rotund reliever can hit triple digits with his fastball and compliments it with a couple of solid secondaries – the ingredients of a relief ace. Casey Crosby may fit best there as well as the power lefty still has significant issues controlling – let alone commanding – his stuff. Mid 90s fastballs and power breaking curve balls still give him a fairly substantial ceiling if everything comes together. Sticking with the nearly MLB ready, Adam Wilk projects as a back of the rotation starter with his advanced command and feel for pitching; the stuff is average at best so he likely won’t be given a long leash when he does get the opportunity.
There are a few high upside players that reside low in the system who could see their stock drastically improve in 2013. Danry Vasquez displayed his tools in the NYPL this year; Connecticut did not come around my parts and he only lasted one AB during the NYPL All-Star game, so I’ll defer to Al here. Jake Thompson was the top draft pick (91st overall) in 2012 and features a low 90s fastball and the makings of a quality slider. Austin Schotts was the other significant prep signing as a speedy athlete who improved his bat speed and power production during the spring. A fringy arm made short stop an unrealistic pro position, so the Tigers immediately moved him to center field. A strong showing in full season and the right confluence of promotions could put him at the top of this list next year. Steven Moya has big raw power in his 6‘7” frame and solid outfield skills; he was having a productive season in the Midwest League before suffering an elbow injury midseason that prompted Tommy John surgery.
Of the 2012 college pitchers Drew Verhagen has the biggest arm, flashing easy mid 90s heat and a couple of raw secondary offerings. Control and command issues will likely force him into the bullpen long term. Hudson Randall and Josh Turley are of a drastically different mold. Command and control specialists with an advanced feel for pitching, neither has impressive stuff. Randall has a tick more velocity but Turley has the best overall pitch in his changeup. Joe Rogers is sort of a bridge between the two camps. The lefty has slightly above-average stuff and has seen some improvement with his command in college. He was used out of the bullpen at UCF, but the makings of a starting pitcher are there. It will be interesting to see if he’s given that opportunity in 2013.
So there is talent here, perhaps some that could even develop into impact level talent, but most of it is far from fruition.
Al Skorupa: This system is still lacking in quality overall, but there are some guys who can make an impact soon at the top and some interesting tools and arms down the line. Jeff and I agreed on the order of the top 7 players. Its still difficult to make a case for Garcia over Castellanos, I think. I do expect them to be roughly equally valuable major leaguers when they both mature. That is; the difference between them is not going to be huge. While I don’t think Garcia is a great bet to hit .319 again, the power is definitely coming. The downside on Garcia that bothers me is a lack of patience and body type. I see Garcia as a pretty average major league regular, but there’s some risk there. I’m an optimist on Castellanos’ power projection and I see him as an above average third baseman. Much like with Mike Olt in Texas, I like Castellanos less in an outfield corner. I’m not sure his skill set fits as well there. Bruce Rondon is absolutely filthy and could be an impact Closer arm as a rookie. I’d imagine there are some talent evaluators that would take Rondon for their team before anyone in this system.
I see the CT Tigers quite a bit as I’m only about an hour from Norwich, so I get a very good look at the players in this system when they come through there. This year, the team wasn’t deep but Danrys Vasquez stood out as one of the better players in the NYPL. He’s got solid athleticism and good bat speed. Scouts wanted to see some physical maturity out of him (he’s very skinny). While the tools very much stand out on a short season field, I don’t know that he’s ever going to hit for all that much over the fence power… so I see another guy that probably projects as a solid big leaguer but not a standout. I got a good look at Eugenio Suarez last year and he’s interesting. Consistency was a big issue but for every couple wasted ABs he would run into a ball and would turn your head. He’s a good athlete with a strong arm but there’s so much swing and miss and approach issues I’m not confident he can start in the big leagues. He definitely has the potential to be a major league shortstop who’s a non-zero with the bat, though. I heard a bit about Joe Rogers, but I was surprised when I checked the sheets and was reminded he was a 5th rounder. At his best he was in the low 90′s with a solid mix of pitches. He got some very good results but the stuff didn’t really stand out to me. I see him as a major league lefty arm, but probably more of a middle innings type. I’d be curious to see him start (as is rumored), but I’d kind of lean towards starting being a developmental aid rather than a long term plan. Of the Connecticut arms, the most exciting to me was Montreal Robertson. Robertson has some size, athleticism and projection left. Consistency, weakness of secondary offerings and an inability to repeat his delivery lead me to project him as a bullpen guy – but there is some later inning potential here. Robertson would – using the same effort – deliver one fastball at 91 and the next at 97. The FB has some late, heavy life and was hard to square up. The cut SL showed promise as a complementary offering (though not much depth to the pitch) and he could sometimes throw it for strikes. I saw him in relief as well as starting and, oddly, he was basically the same guy both times. He hasn’t quite figured things out but its a nice big league relief arm if he does. So he’s a bit of a head scratcher, but the flashes of potential set him apart for me. I wouldn’t say 9th inning potential, but he could work as a 7th-8th inning guy if everything breaks right. I preferred Endrys Briceno to big Edgar De La Rosa but both were pleasant surprises. I hadn’t anticipated either guy as a top 15 guy for this system but they both ended up there for me (personal list, not combined) so I might do more in depth pieces down the line on them. Much like Robertson, both guys would work low 90′s (sometimes falling into the high 80′s) and would flash higher velos here or there. Command, consistency, secondary stuff and mechanics all were hit or miss for both guys. Briceno would lose his release point often. Both guys are interesting arms and above average prospects for the NYPL, but with their age I’d really like to see them next year (and perhaps the year after).
There is some nice potential for this system to take a big leap forward in 2013… but there’s probably just as good a chance it falls backward. The Tigers actually haven’t had their first round pick since 2009, when they drafted 9th. They took Jacob Turner with that pick and gave up their 1st rounders in subsequent years for Jose Valverde, Victor Martinez and Prince Fielder. Assuming Rafael Soriano doesn’t land in Detroit, the system should get a solid boost from the 21st overall pick and perhaps get some extra money to spread around their early picks.
3B/OF Nick Castellanos (Peter Wardell)
OF Danry Vasquez (Jeff Reese, E. Tyler Bullock, David Wiers)
RHP Montreal Robertson (Al Skorupa)
RHP Josh Turley (Jeff Reese)