Detroit Tigers: Top 10 Prospects Chat With Jon Paul Morosi

Detroit Tigers: Chat




Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2008.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
Hey there Jon, gotta get this question out of the way right off the bat: had Maybin, de la Cruz, Hernandez and Jurrjens not been traded, where would each of them be on this list? Also, where does Detroit's farm system rank overall now? (between 25-30, I would guess)
 A: 

Moderator: Thanks for your interest in the chat, everyone. I really appreciate you checking in. I figured I'd answer this question first, since I know a lot of you are curious about it. Here's how it unfolded. In late October, my rough draft of the top 10 included Maybin at #1, Jurrjens at #3, Hernandez at #4 and Trahern at #8. De La Cruz moved into the top 10 after Jurrjens and Hernandez were traded, but then he was of course traded, too. Miller had too many big-league innings to be included this year.

 Q:  TJ from Tampa Bay asks:
Had Maybin not been traded to FL, would it have been close between him and Porcello for the top spot?
 A: 

Moderator: I was pretty comfortable with Maybin at #1, even with Porcello's great potential and high ceiling. Maybin's tools are so overwhelming, even in light of how he struggled at times in the majors last year. We have to remember that he's the same age as a college junior. I went to the Arizona Fall League in October, and several scouts there said that Maybin was one of the best position players there — if not the best. That was good enough for me.

 Q:  Ace from Detroit, MI asks:
I was surprised that Jeff Larish was not the top hitting prospect based on his power projection and solid 2007 season. What made Scott Sizemore jump ahead of Larish this year?
 A: 

Moderator: Good question. Even though Sizemore played two levels below Larish last year, I believe he is the safer bet to be a consistent big-league hitter. He doesn't have Larish's power, obviously, but he walks more than he strikes out and has a real knack for making solid contact. He really impressed people in the Arizona Fall League. It will be interesting to see where he settles defensively. A lot of people project him at second base — and I think that's his most natural position — but he has acquitted himself well at shortstop when given the opportunity to play there. I still like Larish. His approach at the plate is unorthodox, and some scouts are turned off by that. But I look at his production and say, Hey, the guy keeps hitting. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt until that changes.

 Q:  Dave from Atlanta asks:
What do the Tigers see as Zach Miner's role on the team next year?
 A: 

Moderator: At this point, he will come to Lakeland with a chance to make the big-league bullpen, but that's not a given. He has minor-league options left, which could come into play. As long as Jim Leyland sticks with two left-handers — which is likely, but not certain — then the Tigers have room for five right-handers in the bullpen. Barring injury, Jones and Rodney are locks. So, that leaves three spots for Cruceta, Grilli, Bautista, Bazardo, and Miner. With the exception of Miner, all of them are out of options. So, Miner will probably need to be the clear winner for a roster spot in order to make the club. The same logic may apply to Ryan Raburn if the Tigers are unable to trade Brandon Inge. Raburn has an option left, and Marcus Thames does not.

 Q:  Ace from Detroit, MI asks:
Can you compare the ceilings of Rick Porcello and Andrew Miller. Who would you rather have?
 A: 

Moderator: It's hard to compare a high school right-hander with no professional experience with a college left-hander who's already been to the big leagues. Both project as future top-of-the-rotation starters. If I had to choose, I'd take Porcello. He's a four-pitch guy with remarkable command for a pitcher his age. He's only 19, but he could move quickly.

 Q:  Ace from Detroit, MI asks:
Are there any catchers in the system worth talking about?
 A: 

Moderator: One catcher, James Skelton, made the top 30. And there is some doubt as to whether he projects as a catcher in the long term. So, yes, catching continues to be a concern. Skelton is a hitter with some questions about his ability to catch everyday. He could end up being a great find. A lot of the minor league catchers have struggled to hit. Dusty Ryan has a rocket arm, but he batted .214 at Lakeland last year. Jordan Newton is a great athlete, but he needs to have a strong 2008 to move into the prospect discussion. One side note: I heard the Tigers had some interest in Oregon State catcher Mitch Canham with their sandwich pick last year, but the Padres took him a couple slots before.

 Q:  Luke from Des Moines asks:
How much did the Tommy John surgery affect Casey Crosby's ranking? Would he have made the top 10 if he was healthy? Thanks.
 A: 

Moderator: It was a factor, and the answer to your second question is yes. I had him slated for the back end of the top 10 before the surgery. I thought about his situation a lot. In the end, I was hesitant to rank a player in the top 10 who may not throw his first minor league pitch until 2009. Without question, though, Crosby is a prospect. He's a tremendous athlete, and I have heard very good things about his makeup. This is some difficult adversity to face early in his career, but it sounds like he is in a good position to fight through it.

 Q:  Luke from Des Moines asks:
What kept Brent Clevlen off the top 10? Will he ever refine his skills enough to become a regular for the Tigers? Thanks.
 A: 

Moderator: I've watched Clevlen since 2003, and I like him a lot. As you know, he has a great-looking swing and tremendous power when he makes contact. He just misses too much. I ranked him at #3 last year — ahead of guys like Jurrjens and Hernandez — but then he struck out 113 times in 90 games at Toledo. He simply didn't make the adjustment. Leyland has said that Clevlen might be the best defensive outfielder in the organization, but he needs to make more regular contact if he wants to establish himself in the majors. This has to be a really big year for him.

 Q:  Chad from Dallas asks:
It seems like the Tigers have an abundance of shortstop prospects. Which one of the three in the top 10 do you see ultimately winning the starting job?
 A: 

Moderator: Good question. As I see it, the Tigers have five players with big-league tools at shortstop: Iorg, Worth, Giarratano, Dlugach, and Ciriaco. Of that group, of course, Giarratano and Dlugach ended '07 on the DL after shoulder surgery. Giarratano should be able to participate in spring training. Dlugach might be ready early in the regular season. Iorg probably has the highest ceiling of the bunch. He's a physical shortstop. One Tigers official compared him to Tulowitzki. That's pretty good company. If he develops, I think he's the most likely starter of them all. Worth is a smooth fielder but won't hit for much power. In that respect, he's a little like Dlugach. Ciriaco has good tools, but he batted .224 and made 24 errors at West Michigan. He has the body frame to play third, where the organization has fewer prospects. It will be interesting to see where he ends up to start this season.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
How close did Chris Lambert come to making this list, and can he one day justify the expectations that were foisted upon him by the Cardinals in the Tigers' system?
 A: 

Moderator: Lambert wasn't a strong candidate for the top 10, but I think he's someone to watch this year. He was good enough for the Cardinals to take him in the first round four years ago, so there's clearly something there. In fact, I thought there was a decent chance someone would take him in the Rule 5 draft. The Tigers have had a good track record of taking someone else's early-round picks and making them into legitimate big-league pitchers. Seay, Miner and Grilli come to mind. Lambert doesn't have an overpowering fastball, but he could position himself for a big-league call-up if he pitches well at Toledo. I see him starting the season as a member of the rotation there.

 Q:  J.P. from Springfield asks:
In retrospect, do you think Detroit made the right decision to essentially cut their best minor league talent in exchange for two polished Major Leaguers who may or may not adapt well to the A.L.?
 A: 

Moderator: I think they did. They believe they have a chance to win a World Series in 2008 and/or 2009, and they're going for it. It's hard to blame them for that. They have developed a clear philosophy with respect to the draft. They are paying big money for top talent, regardless of the MLB slot recommendations. And that has allowed them to make the big trades. Without going over slot with Miller, they wouldn't have been able to make the Cabrera-Willis deal. And without going over slot with Porcello, they might not have been comfortable trading Miller. Everything fits together. The Tigers may not be able to take a player of Maybin or Miller's caliber every year, but I'm sure they expect to nurture their replacements by good scouting and player development.

 Q:  J.P. from Springfield asks:
What kept D.J. LeMahieu from signing, and what is your evaluation of him?
 A: 

Moderator: LeMahieu, for those of you who don't know, was the Tigers' 41st round pick last year. He was an infielder at Brother Rice HS in suburban Detroit and is at LSU now. I think LeMahieu was pretty set on attending college. Especially after the Tigers spent so much on Porcello, Crosby, and Iorg, there wasn't much of a chance that they could pay LeMahieu, too. I heard last week that he should start at shortstop for LSU as a freshman — quite an accomplishment. We'll see where he stands in the '10 draft.

 Q:  Ben from Leland Grove asks:
Larish - future DH, or is there any position available for him in the forseeable future? Tick...tock...tick...tock...
 A: 

Moderator: Or you could think of it this way: If Larish hits at Toledo, he may be one injury away from the majors this year. If Guillen gets hurt, Larish could come up. If Cabrera gets hurt, Guillen could shift to 3B and Larish could come up to play 1B. If Sheffield gets hurt, Larish could come up to be the left-handed part of a DH platoon with Thames. (Of course, the Tigers may be able to opt for Hessman in these instances. Leyland really likes Hessman.) Larish has some experience in LF, too, but I don't think the Tigers have any plans to move him there now. For now, I think Larish just needs to go to Toledo and hit. If he does that, he will end up in Detroit eventually. Keep in mind that he isn't on the 40-man and has three options left. The Tigers have no reason to rush him.

 Q:  Ace from Detroit, MI asks:
Where do Virgil Vasquez, Preston Larrison and Jordan Tata rank in the top 30? I know Larrison was thought of as a posisble Rule 5 pick.
 A: 

Moderator: Tata and Vasquez are in the teens. Larrison is in the 20s. You're right. Larrison was a Rule 5 candidate. He has a power sinker, but he needs to throw more strikes. He threw 12 wild pitches in 58 2/3 innings last year, which is alarming. If he would have shown more consistent command last year, he probably would have been called up during the Tigers' bullpen shortages. Tata has better pure stuff than Vasquez, but he wasn't called back to the majors in September. Vasquez was. For both of them, the 2008 theme will be finding ways to get big-league hitters out when they need to throw a strike. Vasquez allowed 7 home runs in 16 2/3 innings last year in Detroit.

 Q:  sportznut from Clinton Township, MI asks:
Would you say Skelton is the Tigers catcher of the future, and if not, is there any other catcher in the system worth mentioning?
 A: 

Moderator: Skelton is the closest thing the Tigers have to a catcher of the future in the minors right now ... but I'm not sure how significant that is. Even if Skelton makes great strides defensively, he will not be ready to catch in the majors next year, which is how quickly the "future" may arrive, with Pudge Rodriguez and Vance Wilson set to enter free agency. Frankly, if the Tigers don't trade Brandon Inge, he might still be their catcher of the future. But he could be traded at any time, so it's hard to count on that. If they trade Inge and then fail to re-sign Rodriguez, their 2009 catcher is almost certainly someone who's not with the organization now. The Rangers and Mariners have some depth there, so we'll have keep an eye on trade discussions with them.

 Q:  sportznut from Clinton Township, MI asks:
Where would the Tigers system have ranked before the Renteria, Willis, and Cabrera trades? Where do they rank now?
 A: 

Moderator: I'm not sure where they would have placed before the trades, but I can say that BA is ranking them in the back end of the 20s now.

 Q:  sportznut from Clinton Township, MI asks:
Is Kyle Sleeth officially finished?
 A: 

Moderator: Not necessarily, but I don't think the Tigers can reasonably count on him as part of their future plans. He had a great spring, then he was hit by a line drive in one of his first appearances at Erie and never really recovered. He dropped down to Lakeland and had a 7.62 ERA there. He's not on the 40-man roster anymore, so he would need to receive an invite in order to participate in big-league spring training. We'll see if that happens. Sleeth is a very classy, likeable guy. I know a lot of people in the organization are pulling for him.

 Q:  JAYPERS brother from NYC asks:
Jeff Gerbe had a solid year during the regular season but struggle against tougher competition in the AFL. Was it simply a result of him wearing down or were his numbers in WM inflated against lesser comp?
 A: 

Moderator: I considered Gerbe for this list, and I remember ranking him on one of my midseason top 10s for the Free Press last year. I think very highly of him, and I know the Tigers do, too. They sent him to Arizona last fall to work out of the bullpen, which I thought was a great move. He's a sinker guy who throws harder out of the bullpen than as a starter. He's a little like Zach Miner in that regard. I also think pitching in relief would be easier on his shoulder, which has caused him problems over the past couple years. If he has a good spring, I could see him pitching out of the bullpen at Erie. He's definitely someone to watch.

 Q:  Bertram from Taiwan asks:
What can you tell us about Luis de la Cruz? It sounds like the tools are there. How close was he to the list? Thanks for the chat!
 A: 

Moderator: I'm going to assume that you're referring to Sandy De La Cruz, from the DSL Tigers. I don't know much about him. But he had good numbers in the DSL at age 20, so he's worth watching.

 Q:  Ace from Detroit, MI asks:
Who in the 2008 draft might slip to the Tigers because of signability concerns?
 A: 

Moderator: Hard to say at this point, but I talked with David Chadd earlier this week, and he's optimistic about the overall strength of the draft this year.

 Q:  JAYPERS brother from NYC asks:
Who are some sleeper candidates that we should be keeping our eye as both breakout players this year and some younger ones maybe down the road?
 A: 

Moderator: Charlie Furbush and Duane Below are similar, in that they are left-handers from northern states — i.e., they don't have a lot of innings on their arms — who have posted good numbers in the minors. That's a good sign. The Tigers had some good depth in last year's draft, apart from the guys we listed in the top 10. Justin Henry and Kody Kaiser have already showed that they can hit. And I have to mention Clete Thomas here. He made the top 30 — in the mid-teens, in fact — but he deserves special mention here. He can run, defend and play multiple outfield positions. He also bats left-handed. Guys like that tend to earn call-ups when people are injured. He's a guy to keep an eye on in spring training.

 Q:  Don from Rosemont, IL asks:
What are your thoughts on a couple of outfielders that played at West Michigan: Jeramy Laster and Brennan Boesch? Laster in particular has a pretty solid power-speed combo, but can he make enough contact to be considered as an everyday player?
 A: 

Moderator: It's interesting that you asked about both of them. That was one comparison I really thought a lot about. I ended up ranking them back-to-back in the mid-20s. Laster was a raw high school draft pick in '03. Boesch was a more polished pick from a big-time college program in '06. And yet they were both born in the same month (April '85) and were teammates last year, which lends to a true comparison. Laster had the better numbers last year. He has plus-plus raw power, and he's matured a lot over the past season. His performance against better competition in Hawaii was a big reason why he made the top 30. Boesch is a steady hitter, but his swing got a little long at times in '07. I think he'll make the adjustments and continue progressing. Overall, he's a little bit like Joyce.

 Q:  Brendan from Midland, Mich. asks:
You wrote that it would come as no surprise if Yorman Bazardo opened the season as Detroit's fifth starter. Considering the Tigers just signed Dontrelle Willis and Nate Robertson to three-year deals, isn't the rotation pretty much set without Bazardo?
 A: 

Moderator: Yes, it is. I wrote that before the big trade, when the Tigers' fifth spot was open. Now, there are no openings, so look for Bazardo to compete for a bullpen job. He's out of options, so Detroit will take a long look at him in spring training.

 Q:  JAYPERS brother from NYC asks:
I've heard some chatter about catcher Joe Bowen. Is the a legit prospect and where does he stand in the Tigers catching depth chart?
 A: 

Moderator: Bowen has made some progress, but it's hard to say whether he is a standout among the other catching prospects at this point. But he's only 20, so he does have youth on his side. A good season for him would involve hitting more consistently for a full-season affiliate.

 Q:  Drew from Toledo asks:
Of the prospects you list, it seems only Bazardo and Cruceta have a shot at the big leagues in 2008. Who else is closest? Anyone outside the Top 10 close?
 A: 

Moderator: Depending on their performance in the minors, Sizemore, Hollimon, Larish or Joyce could earn a call-up this year if someone is injured. The same goes for Clete Thomas. Some players in the teens — Tata, Clevlen, Vasquez, Giarratano — have already been to the majors, so they could be candidates for call-ups again this year.

 Q:  Seth from Central Coast asks:
What current or past MLBer does Sizemore compare well to? Is it fair to say he could be a Mark Loretta type player?
 A: 

Moderator: Very good comparison.

 Q:  Seth from Central Coast asks:
What is Porcello's ETA in Detroit? Does he have a chance to be up there in 2009, or is he more of a long-term project?
 A: 

Moderator: As always, it depends on health and performance. I'd be surprised if he moves through the system as quickly as Verlander did, for the simple reason that Verlander had three years of collegiate experience and Porcello has none. I think at some point in the 2010 season would be more realistic, but it's hard to say for sure. He is the type of pitcher who could defy projections.

 Q:  Eric from So Cal asks:
There have been a lot of positive things said about Porcello but I was curious to hear what you would identify as the single thing that will sperate him from the many talented prospect that we see go through the minors but never quite reach the level of success that is projected for them.
 A: 

Moderator: He throws four pitches and commands them all. I don't know of many other 19-year-olds who can do that.

 Q:  Warren from Texas asks:
Where do the once well-thought of Wilkin Ramirez andCody kirkland now stand? thanks for the chat!
 A: 

Moderator: Ramirez actually had a reasonably successful 2007 season, in that he remained healthy and gained more experience in the outfield. I think he will be back at Erie to start '08. Kirkland has great tools, but he struggled again. He's much better than the .202 average and 28 errors he had last year. The Tigers would love for him to start performing, because third base is their next-weakest position after catcher.

 Q:  Lee Oppenheimer from Grand Rapids, Mi. asks:
Is there still a future in the organization for Brent Clevlen, and is Mike Hernandez on the prospect radar at all?
 A: 

Moderator: Clevlen has to make more contact. That's it, really. He's already an above-average big-league defender. Thanks for reminding me about Hernandez. I forgot to mention him in response to the "sleeper" question earlier. He's a great story. The Tigers signed him out of a tryout camp — which almost never happens to a right-handed-hitting outfielder. He just hits. He doesn't really have a defensive position, which is his biggest weakness. He should be at Erie this year.

 Q:  Mike C from Lynchburg asks:
Where do you see Porcello landing in the Top 100 prospects?
 A: 

Moderator: Hard to say, since I don't work with the national list. But I think he's a good bet to be on there somewhere, since he was one of the best players to come out of the '07 draft.

 Q:  MJ from Valpo asks:
Brandon Hamilton...I think this guy is a big-time sleeper, even though he's #10. Do the Tigers think he could develop into a #1-type? Even a high-end #2? Who might he be comparable to right now in the bigs? And is he really that far behind Porcello? Thank you!
 A: 

Moderator: I think he's more of a middle-of-the-rotation starter, but I really like what I've heard about him. Good body, good stuff. A few people have told me that his breaking ball is even better than Porcello's. He can sit in the low 90s with his fastball, which will be good enough if he can develop a third pitch. He's working on a splitter now. It's hard to say where he will pitch this year, but he's got a lot of potential.

 Q:  John Dark from Moline, IL asks:
Given the four middle infielders on Detroit's top 10 list and given major leaguers already contracted for years, what can Tony Giarratano expect beyond a utility infield future? Is Giarratano still on the 40-man roster simply because of stipulations of his original signing? Thanks.
 A: 

Moderator: The main thing for Giarratano is to stay healthy. At this point, really, all the projections for him are on hold. It's been so long since he last played — July 2005 — that the Tigers need to take a step back and look at what they have with him. I can say that Leyland likes Santiago a great deal in a utility role. There are no stipulations keeping Giarratano on the 40-man right now.

 Q:  Grant from Cincinnati asks:
Does Michael Hollimon project to play everyday soon for the Tigers. Even with Polanco under contract? Do you project him as a solid everyday or a guy who could be an All-star who is capable of hitting 20 HRs with 80 RBIs while stealing 15 bags a year.
 A: 

Moderator: Good question. And a tough question. To me, his best infield position is second base, even though he has more experience at shortstop. But if Giarratano isn't ready to start the season, then Hollimon could in theory be Toledo's starting shortstop. It's hard to say at this point. I think his best long-term value is as a super-utility player. He played some outfield with Team USA, and I think that was a good experience for him. The more versatile he is, the better the odds he finds his way to the big leagues, because he can definitely hit. I saw him hit a home run during a Fall League game that is probably somewhere over Texas right now. And he has a tremendous attitude, which would help him in a part-time role.

 Q:  Dave from Motownsports.com asks:
John, no Charlie Furbush? He was excellent after he signed last year.
 A: 

Moderator: I think Furbush has some great potential. (See my response to the "sleeper" question.) We'll see where he stands after his first full season.

 Q:  Dave from Motownsports.com asks:
Where does Kody Kaiser rank, and what position will he play?
 A: 

Moderator: One of Kaiser's best attributes is defensive versatility. He played 2B, SS, 3B and the OF for Oneonta last year. He's got a lot of strength in a small body frame.

 Q:  Josh Fisher from Morgantown WV asks:
So where does Crosby check in? I know he is hurt and hasn't thrown or will throw a Pro pitch for a while but when the draft was going down he was kind of plan B in case Porcello didn't sign. Just a little surprised he didn't make the list after they traded away so much talent.
 A: 

Moderator: He's in the mid-teens, for the reasons I mentioned earlier.

 Q:  Jeff from Colorado asks:
Did Brent Dlugach make the 30? do the tigers still consider him a prospect?
 A: 

Moderator: He's right around 20. Leyland loved him during spring training last year. If he had stayed healthy, I happen to think he would have been called up when Guillen was hurting in the middle of last season. As with Giarratano, health is the key. He's definitely a prospect.

 Q:  Luke from Des Moines asks:
Did Putkonen get any support for the top 10?
 A: 

Moderator: I've heard some good things about Putkonen, but he wasn't a strong candidate to make the top 10.

 Q:  D. Cornell from Madison, WI asks:
Are the Tigers still high on Audy Ciriaco? If he has a HUGE YEAR with the bat in 2008, could he be their #1 SS Prospect?
 A: 

Moderator: Ciriaco has tools, but now the Tigers have a lot of shortstop prospects ahead of him. He has a big, strong body frame, so an eventual move to third base would not shock me.

 Q:  JAYPERS brother from NYC asks:
Ron Bourquin was the Tigers #20 prospect and a 2nd rd pick but he still has yet to make it out of short season. Is he officially a draft bust or does he still have the tools to be a big leauger?
 A: 

Moderator: Bourquin had a bad start at Lakeland, and then hit for a good average (with little power) at Oneonta. I think it's too early to call him a draft bust, but he needs to perform in 2008. This is a crucial year for him.

 Q:  Rick Senften from Canton, Ohio asks:
I never quite understand the three-year projections. BA projects Edgar Renteria as shortstop in three years with Cale Iorg as the third baseman. I understand that it's a stretch to imagine Miguel Cabrera staying at third, especially if his weight and conditioning become issues again, but I also find it hard to believe Renteria will be able to stick at short by age 36, especially given that he looks like he's slowing down at 33. I guess my questions are: How do you guys come up with these, and can Cale Iorg be the answer at shortstop?
 A: 

Moderator: The future projections can be a challenge, because we can only work with players currently in the organization. Iorg can certainly be the answer at shortstop. I've heard good things about his defensive tools, and I think he could play SS as well as 3B. The thinking there is that he would be a good enough athlete to play either position.

 Q:  Richard from Detroit asks:
How would you compare Bazardo with Vasquez? What role do you see Vasquez playing for the Tigers in '08?
 A: 

Moderator: Bazardo has better stuff — specifically, a harder fastball and better out pitch. His changeup just drops at the plate. On his best days, it's almost as good as Rodney's. I think Vasquez will start the year at Toledo, but he could earn a call-up at some point during the year. He has some big-league experience now, which will help him going forward. He has a good feel for pitching, too. He just needs to locate better and develop his breaking ball. If he does those two things, he'll have another chance to pitch in the big leauges.

 Q:  Dean from Madison asks:
What can you tell us about Duane Below? He had a great year at Low A, but all the scouting reports say his stuff isn't enough for the bigs. What has to happen for him to be a SP in the majors? Thanks!
 A: 

Moderator: Below isn't a hard thrower, but left-handers don't need to throw hard to be effective. He led the Midwest League in strikeouts, which says something about the quality of his breaking ball. He's very competitive and doesn't have a lot of mileage on his arm yet. I believe he has a chance to pitch in the majors. He just needs to locate very well and develop a third pitch.

 Q:  Jeff from Colorado asks:
Justin Henry had a solid debut with Oneonta. With good speed, contact skills, and on base ability, do you see him possibly reaching the big leagues in a utility role?
 A: 

Moderator: That's a good report on Henry. He makes great contact from the left side and can move around the diamond defensively. Runs well, too. I agree that he projects as a utility player. I expect him to start the season at West Michigan, but Lakeland could be a possibility before the season is over. Henry has great makeup, which will help him develop.

 Q:  Jordan from Atlanta asks:
Tata had a few terrible outings in the big leagues last year, but he seems as though he still has the tools to be a solid starter in time. Why does it seem that everyone has kind of gotten down on this guy?
 A: 

Moderator: I don't think everyone is down on him. The Tigers have kept him on the 40-man roster, and I still think he could be a good pitcher in the majors. His fastball has that natural cutting action. He's more valuable as a starter, but he might be better out of the bullpen. I could see him coming on in relief and throwing those cutters to right-handers with a good amount of success. For now, though, I expect him to be in the Toledo rotation.

 Q:  Derek from Kalamazoo, MI asks:
Will the Tigers have any supplemental picks in the 2008 draft?
 A: 

Moderator: No. They didn't offer Sean Casey arbitration — his contract prevented it — and they re-signed Rogers and Jones.

 Q:  Dave from Charlotte, NC asks:
Jon, does Brett Jenson have the stuff to make it to the big leagues as a specialty reliever of something more.
 A: 

Moderator: Jensen is an interesting guy. He doesn't throw very hard, but he has the funky delivery working in his favor. I think he projects as a right-handed relief specialist. I'll be interested to see how he performs at Double-A, if he gets there this year.

 Q:  Steve C. from Northern Va. asks:
Did the success of the Tigs' '07 draft allow the Tigs to trade so many top prospects? In a sense, they assumed that this draft could partially replenish a lot of the depth they traded.
 A: 

Moderator: I think that was part of the thinking, yes. At the very least, having Porcello made it easier to part with Miller.

 Q:  Mike from 2166 Pennsylvania asks:
I saw the catchers question earlier, and was wondering about Jeff Kunkel. He was the Best Defensive Catcher last year in this preview, and was wondering what you thought about him?
 A: 

Moderator: Kunkel is a solid defender with all the intangibles. He's smart and handles pitchers well. Like a lot of the Tigers' minor league catchers, though, he has yet to distinguish himself with the bat. Like a lot of the catchers who played at Class A last year — Ryan, Newton, Bowen, Thomas — he needs to show a lot of improvement offensively, the way Skelton did in '07.

 Q:  roger from ft. worth, texas asks:
How close was Justin Henry to making the top 10 list after a fine season in rookie ball?
 A: 

Moderator: He wasn't a final candidate for the list, but he's definitely a player to watch in 2008 for the reasons I mentioned earlier.

 Q:  Michael from Baltimore asks:
What do the Tigers think of Wilkin Ramirez? He has had some injuries and moved to OF, but they concsidered his talent close to Maybins. He has not hit as well as Maybin had, but do they still hold out hope for him to be better at the plate hitting and walking?
 A: 

Moderator: Ramirez has very good tools, but he's still inexperienced in the outfield. He's in the mid-teens of my top 30. He's been in the system since 2003, and, even though he's been hurt for a lot of that time, the time is drawing near for him to perform. I think he will go back to Erie, with an emphasis on refinining his defense and improving his plate discipline.

 Q:  Al from Detroit asks:
Now that Hrenandez and Maybin have gone, who in the Detroit system most resembles their comination of speed, batting and fielding skills?
 A: 

Moderator: Hard to say. I don't think there's anyone that quite resembles that package in the system right now.

 Q:  Jason from Salem, OR asks:
I've been waiting for this chat for some time to ask about Edward Reynoso. What do you know about him? His stats in the DSL (yeah, I know it's the DSL, but still!) were absolutely amazing. Do his numbers match his tools? What's his ceiling/upside?
 A: 

Moderator: I've received a lot of questions on Reynoso, so here's my attempt to answer them all ... You're right. He had unbelievable numbers last year with the DSL Tigers: 9-0 with a 0.76 ERA in 13 starts. I haven't seen him myself, but the BA Almanac lists him at 6-0, 150 pounds, and 19 years old. So, he's young, and he's probably not as big as he's going to be. Clearly, he's proven himself at that level. I'd expect a move to the GCL Tigers or perhaps West Michigan this year, depending on how he looks during spring training.

 Q:  Jason from Salem, OR asks:
What's the word on Alexis Espinoza? Big tools and high ceiling? Can you let us in on what you know about him!
 A: 

Moderator: Espinoza was a standout hitter for the VSL Tigers last year, with a .268/.353/.587 line. And he just turned 19. He still strikes out much more than he walks, but the power potential is there (12 home runs). I would expect him to play for the GCL Tigers or maybe West Michigan this year.

 Q:  Robert Haight from Grand Rapids, Michigan asks:
Where does the organization need to do to become andstay in the top10 of farm systems? thank you for your time.
 A: 

Moderator: The Tigers might be in the top 10 now, if it weren't for their three big trades over the past two off-seasons. Their top 10 might have included Maybin, Jurrjens, Hernandez, Trahern, De La Cruz, Humberto Sanchez, and Kevin Whelan, in some order, along with three others.

 Q:  Derek from Kalamazoo, MI asks:
Can you talk about Alexis Espinoza and Lester Oliveros .. Specifically, where do you think they will play now that they are stateside? West Michigan? Or is that too fast of a jump. Where did Gorkys Hernandez play his first year in the states? Thanks!
 A: 

Moderator: I talked a little about Espinoza a moment ago ... Oliveros is in a similar position: He's proven himself in the VSL, and now the most natural step would be pitching for the GCL Tigers, Oneonta, or West Michigan. For reference, Hernandez didn't play his first full season in the minors until 2007, when he was 19. He played for the DSL Tigers in 2005 and the GCL Tigers in 2006.

 Q:  Rob from Canada asks:
Why is Hollimon always ranked behind Sizemore? I realize projectability and age play into it, but Hollimon has been more productive at higher levels so far. Shouldn't he at least be given the benefit of the doubt on this one?
 A: 

Moderator: It was a close call, but Sizemore's strong performance in the AFL put him over the top. It really could have gone either way. I see both of them as big leaguers down the road.

 Q:  Robert Haight from Grand Rapids, Michigan asks:
Thank you for all the chats you had over the years. Are there any good looking prospects that will be coming from the Venezuela/Dominican programs? The Tigers never mention much about their teams there. Thank you
 A: 

Moderator: Thanks again for all the questions ... This will be the last one. As we talked about before, Edward Reynoso had a great year in the DSL. He's a command-and-control left-hander whose curve and change could allow him to have success as high as West Michigan this year, although he may end up with the GCL Tigers or Oneonta. Espinoza has great raw power and will likely play in the GCL this year. Lester Oliveros projects as a reliever for now. He throws in the low 90s with good command. He had 19 saves in the Venezuelan Summer League. The Tigers have also been impressed with Luis Salas, who has shown good offensive and defensive tools in Venezuela. He also has a chance to play in the states this year. Thanks again for all the questions. Have a great weekend, everyone!