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|1.||Cameron Maybin, of Born: April 4, 1987 • B-T: R-R • Ht: 6-4 • Wt: 205|
|Drafted: HS--Asheville, N.C., 2005 (1st round) • Signed by: Bill Buck|
|Background: Baseball America's third-rated prospect for the 2005 draft, Maybin fell to the Tigers at No. 10 because teams at the top of the draft preferred college talents and there were some mild concerns about his signability. BA's 2004 Youth Player of the Year after leading the Midland Redskins to the Connie Mack World Series title, Maybin missed his first pro summer while negotiating a $2.65 million bonus. From a standpoint of both development and performance, Detroit couldn't have asked for a better 2006 debut than Maybin gave them. He nearly led the low Class A Midwest League in hitting despite competing against players who were often two and three years older. He played for a league champion West Michigan team, batting .343 with six extra-base hits in nine postseason games, including a pair of clutch triples that turned around the final series. Maybin also played for the U.S. team in the Futures Game and was the second-youngest player in the game, behind the Yankees' Jose Tabata. There were distractions and setbacks, too. Maybin missed a month early in the season with a bruise on his right index finger. Later, his name was bandied about in trade rumors after the Nationals asked for him as part of an Alfonso Soriano deal. Then he was charged as a minor in possession of alcohol, but the incident didn't appear to suggest any more serious issues. By all accounts, the Tigers believe Maybin to have great character in addition to tremendous talent.|
Strengths: Maybin has all the tools and, all the more impressive, those tools are well developed at his young age. Managers rated him the MWL's best and fastest baserunner and its most exciting player, and he also drew votes as the top hitting prospect and best defensive outfielder. Though he was considered somewhat raw and played in a tough hitter's park, Maybin hit .304 in his debut, showing more ability to make adjustments and awareness of the strike zone than expected. He has exceptional bat speed and raw power, so he'll be a home run threat as well. Seven of his nine longballs came in the season's last two months. He runs extremely well, both on the bases and in center field, and he succeeded on 27 of his 34 steal attempts. Maybin has a strong arm, and though he should have no difficulty staying in center, he also profiles well for right field. His overall ability has drawn comparisons to that of Mike Cameron and Torii Hunter. Maybin can be an elite player, with the potential to hit somewhere at the top or in the middle of the order.
Weaknesses: Maybin has very few shortcomings. The most apparent is that he strikes out too often, a common trait among Tigers farmhands. He had nearly as many whiffs as he had hits in his debut, and he can take some ugly swings when he's fooled at the plate. But he's also very gifted and very advanced for a 19-year-old, and his plate discipline should improve with experience. He has lost some time to hamstring problems in 2005 instructional league and to the finger injury in his debut, but his long-term health isn't a worry.
The Future: After the trade deadline passed, Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski declared, “I wouldn’t trade Cameron Maybin straight up for Alfonso Soriano. That’s how much we like him.” Manager Jim Leyland later concurred and called Maybin a special talent. He'll likely start 2007 in Double-A Erie, and he could push his way to Detroit by the end of the season. Curtis Granderson played capably in center field in 2006 and starred in the postseason, so either he or Maybin eventually will have to move to a corner.
|2.||Andrew Miller, lhp Born: May 21, 1985 • B-T: R-L • Ht: 6-6 • Wt: 210|
|Drafted: North Carolina, 2006 (1st round) • Signed by: Grant Brittain|
|Background: The 2006 draft’s consensus top talent and Baseball America's College Player of the Year, Miller slid to Detroit at No. 6 because of signability concerns. By early August, the sides agreed on a major league contract with a $3.55 million bonus and $5.45 million guarantee. After five innings at high Class A Lakeland, Miller made his big league debut at Yankee Stadium later that month. His season included two thrills: his North Carolina team went to the College World Series finals, and he was on the mound in Kansas City when the Tigers clinched their first postseason berth in 19 years.|
Strengths: Few lefthanders can match Miller's combination of size and stuff, and he projects as a frontline starter. He throws 93-95 with little effort and tops out at 98. His mid-80s slider already qualifies as a major league out pitch. He has dominated against wood bats, earning top-prospect honors in the Cape Cod League in both 2004 and 2005.
Weaknesses: Miller doesn't have much of a changeup and may need one against big league righthanders. He has preferred to dial his two-seam fastball down to the low to mid-80s. His command faded at times during his stint with the Tigers. Most scouts' concerns about him center on his arm action, as he has a slight wrap in the back of his delivery that hampers his command.
The Future: Though he pitched in relief for the Tigers, who considered adding him to the World Series roster, Miller's future clearly is in the rotation. He'll head to Double-A as a starter and could be back in Detroit by the end of the season. Few clubs can match the Tigers' eventual 1-2-3 punch of Justin Verlander, Jeremy Bonderman and Miller.
|3.||Brent Clevlen, of Born: Oct. 27, 1983 • B-T: R-R • Ht: 6-2 • Wt: 190|
|Drafted: HS--Cedar Park, Texas, 2002 (2nd round) • Signed by: Tim Grieve|
|Background: The 2005 high Class A Florida State League MVP, Clevlen batted just .230 in Double-A but stood out in two late stints with Detroit. He had two hits in his first big league start, including a double off Johan Santana, and a two-homer game two nights later at Tampa Bay. He attributed the difference in his performance to better lighting in the majors.|
Strengths: A natural athlete, Clevlen has above-average power and arm strength. He has the speed and instincts to handle center field, though he fits better in right field. Clevlen's defensive ability impressed Tigers manager Jim Leyland during his major league stint.
Weaknesses: Double-A pitchers learned quickly that Clevlen will chase pitches out of the zone, both up and away, so he saw few good pitches to hit and struck out often. He probably won't ever hit for a high average, but he'll need to have better command of the strike zone in order to sustain success in the big leagues. Though he has slightly above-average speed, he's not much of a basestealing threat.
The Future: The Tigers’ near-term outfield situation is somewhat fluid, with only Magglio Ordonez signed to a guaranteed contract for 2007. Clevlen could see time in Detroit again, though it's more likely that he'll at least begin 2007 in the minors with an eye toward improving his plate discipline.
|4.||Jair Jurrjens, rhp Born: Jan. 29, 1986 • B-T: R-R • Ht: 6-1 • Wt: 190|
|Signed: Curacao, 2003 • Signed by: Greg Smith|
|Background: Jurrjens ended 2006 with a much higher profile than he had at the beginning of the year. He pitched in the World Baseball Classic, reached Double-A at age 20 and was part of the Nationals’ initial trade request during Alfonso Soriano talks. Jurrjens also was involved in an automobile accident, which caused him to go almost two weeks between starts in late July.|
Strengths: The Tigers thought Jurrjens might make a No. 4 starter coming into 2006, but they've revised their hopes upward. He works in the low 90s with the ability to add and subtract from his fastball, which has good life and reaches 97 mph. He has terrific control, especially considering his age. His curveball and changeup improved throughout the season, and now grade out as at least average.
Weaknesses: Jurrjens has just one plus pitch and both his curve and change still need polish. His youth is occasionally evident on the mound. He ended the season on the disabled list with right shoulder spasms. The Tigers aren't overly worried, but exercised caution and scrapped plans for him to participate in the Arizona Fall League.
The Future: Jurrjens probably won’t be ready for the majors until 2008, but if he performs well at Triple-A Toledo this season, he could get a late-season callup. Though the Tigers don't expect his shoulder to be an issue, there's a chance they could start him back in Double-A.
|5.||Jordan Tata, rhp Born: Sept. 20, 1981 • B-T: R-R • Ht: 6-6 • Wt: 220|
|Drafted: Sam Houston State, 2003 (16th round) • Signed by: Tim Grieve|
|Background: Tata hadn't pitched above Class A and was ticketed for Double-A, but he made the Opening Day bullpen after an injury to closer Todd Jones in Detroit's final exhibition game. Tata looked comfortable in Detroit before returning to the minors in May. He struggled briefly in Triple-A but recovered and rejoined the Tigers in September.|
Strengths: Tata's fastball, usually clocked from 89-93 mph, has natural cutting action. He also throws a good knuckle-curve. A good athlete who was a two-way player at Sam Houston State, he has a nice frame and sound delivery that allow him to throw strikes.
Weaknesses: He's not overpowering, so Tata must to refine his repertoire in order to be a big league starter. The Tigers have worked with him on developing a sinker, and he also could use a better changeup to use against lefthanders.
The Future: Tigers manager Jim Leyland says that Tata’s future appears to be as a starter, but the Tigers don't have any obvious openings and plenty of internal competition (Andrew Miller, Jair Jurrjens) for any vacancy that arises. Tata may have to start in Triple-A or relieve in the majors for most of 2007.
|6.||Eulogio de la Cruz, rhp Born: March 12, 1984 • B-T: R-R • Ht: 5-11 • Wt: 177|
|Signed: Dominican Republic, 2001 • Signed by: Ramon Pena|
|Background: Though he's short and stocky, de la Cruz has one of the biggest fastballs in the organization. He shuttled between starting and relieving in Double-A in 2006, and he was able to harness his adrenaline more when he was in the rotation. He earned a September promotion to Triple-A, where he was electric but erratic in the one-game Bricktown Showdown against Pacific Coast League champ Tucson.|
Strengths: At its best, his fastball compares favorably to those of Justin Verlander or Joel Zumaya. De la Cruz usually pitches in the mid- to high 90s and has reached 100 mph. His hard curveball is a genuine knee-buckler.
Weaknesses: Issues with control and command have put de la Cruz behind other young pitchers in the system, though he improved in those areas as a starter. His long-term role is in question because he was more effective as a reliever in 2005. His changeup really can throw hitters off balance when they try to sit on his power stuff, but he doesn't have much confidence in the pitch.
The Future: Destined for Triple-A in 2007, de la Cruz is on track to reach the big leagues the following season. Though there's more room in the bullpen, the Tigers may not want to jeopardize the progress he has made as a starter.
|7.||Gorkys Hernandez, of Born: Sept. 7, 1987 • B-T: R-R • Ht: 6-0 • Wt: 175|
|Signed: Venezuela, 2005 • Signed by: Ramon Pena|
|Background: After hitting .265 in the Rookie-level Venezuelan Summer League during his first taste of pro ball in 2005, Hernandez had a spectacular U.S. debut. Though he didn't turn 19 until after the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League schedule concluded, he topped the circuit in hitting, runs and hits while finishing second in steals and total bases (95).|
Strengths: Well above-average speed is Hernandez' best tool but far from his only one. He's a natural leadoff hitter with a gap-to-gap stroke. His raw power and arm strength are solid, and he gets very good jumps and covers significant real estate in center field. He showed off his basestealing prowess by swiping 20 in 24 tries in the GCL.
Weaknesses: As with many young players, Hernandez' biggest weakness is his plate discipline. He's advanced for his age but still needs more polish and experience in most phases of his game. He needs to get stronger and fill out his skinny frame, which should come with time.
The Future: The only position player in the system with more upside is Cameron Maybin. Hernandez may follow the same path and play in low Class A as a 19-year-old. He could become a special prospect if he continues to mature.
|8.||Dallas Trahern, rhp Born: Nov. 29, 1985 • B-T: R-R • Ht: 6-3 • Wt: 190|
|Drafted: HS--Owasso, Okla., 2004 (34th round) • Signed by: Steve Taylor|
|Background: Trahern was headed to Oklahoma out of high school, but when the Sooners fired pitching coach and recruiting coordinator Ray Hayward (a former Tigers scout), he changed his mind. Trahern signed for $160,000 as a 34th-round pick and has made steady progress in 2½ years as a pro. He has had tough luck, ranking in the top 10 in each of his Class A leagues in ERA and losses the last two years.|
Strengths: Trahen's best pitch is a low-90s sinker that he throws for strikes. Hitters have trouble lifting it, as evidenced by his 3.3 ground/fly ratio in high Class A. His slider is an average pitch that he also keeps down in the zone to get ground balls. A two-way star on an Oklahoma 6-A state championship team, he's athletic and repeats his delivery well.
Weaknesses: He hasn't shown the ability to get hitters to consistently swing and miss, averaging just 4.8 strikeouts per nine innings as a pro. Trahern will throw a four-seamer with more velocity up in the zone but does so very infrequently. His changeup needs more work after lefthanders hit .289 against him in 2006.
The Future: The consistency of his sinker and quality of his makeup bode well for Trahern's chances to reach the majors. He'll probably spend much of 2007 in Double-A.
|9.||Jeff Larish, 1b Born: Oct. 11, 1982 • B-T: L-R • Ht: 6-2 • Wt: 200|
|Drafted: Arizona State, 2005 (5th round) • Signed by: Brian Reid|
|Background: Expected to be one of the first college hitters drafted in 2004, Larish slumped instead and turned down a $650,000 offer from the Dodgers in the 13th round. He finished fourth in NCAA Division I with 23 homers (including a College World Series-record tying three in one game) in 2005 before signing for $220,000 as a fifth-rounder. He ranked third in the Florida State League in both extra-base hits (54) and walks in his first full season.|
Strengths: Larish has strength and leverage in his swing, enabling him to hit the ball out of any part of the park. He's also very patient at the plate, willing to take a walk if a pitcher won't give him something he can drive. For a first baseman, he has good athleticism and arm strength.
Weaknesses: Larish's swing can get long and he can get too pull-conscious. As with many hitters on Detroit's current big league roster, strikeouts and a lower batting average will be the tradeoff for his power. He has trouble with changeups away and sliders at his back toe. He's a below-average runner.
The Future: With Chris Shelton collapsing in the second half and Sean Casey becoming a free agent, the Tigers have no long-term solution at first base. Larish could fill that hole at some point in 2008, but for now he's headed to Double-A.
|10.||Scott Sizemore, ss/2b Born: Jan. 4, 1985 • B-T: R-R • Ht: 6-0 • Wt: 185|
|Drafted: Virginia Commonwealth, 2006 (5th round) • Signed by: Bill Buck|
|Background: Sizemore has had more success with wood bats as opposed to metal. He hit .303 in the Cape Cod League in 2005 and .327 in his pro debut, but just .300 at Virginia Commonwealth in between. That slump dropped him to the fifth round last June, but the Tigers were glad to sign him for $197,500 after he had a strong workout at Comerica Park.|
Strengths: Sizemore, who led the short-season New York-Penn League in runs and hits, projects as an offensive second baseman in the mold of Mark Loretta. He's at his best when he uses a short swing and a gap approach, and he went back to that after trying too much to hit for power last spring. He has average speed and arm strength.
Weaknesses: Though he played surprisingly well at shortstop when the Tigers needed him there at Oneonta, Sizemore is more likely an adequate second baseman who needs to improve his footwork and range. Some scouts have projected him defensively as a third baseman, which would put more pressure on his bat.
The Future: Sizemore's strong summer makes him the system's top middle-infield prospect for now. He may open 2007 in low Class A with a chance for a promotion at midseason.
|Complete Index of Top 10 Prospects|
|Pre-Order the 2007 Prospect Handbook|
30 scouting reports on every team
Maybin: Andrew Wooley
Miller, Jurrjens, Larish: Cliff Welch
de la Cruz: Kevin Pataky
Hernandez: Jerry Hale
Trahern: Steve Moore
Sizemore: Mike Janes