Detroit Tigers: Top 10 Prospects With Scouting Reports

Detroit Tigers: Scouting Reports




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, 2009.

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Detroit Tigers

Any analysis of the Tigers' 2008 season begins with what transpired at the Winter Meetings over two days in December 2007. Detroit stunned many at the Opryland complex by acquiring Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis from the Marlins for a package of six prospects, with the previously untouchable Cameron Maybin and Andrew Miller among them. The message was clear: After winning the American League pennant in 2006, then missing the postseason in 2007, the Tigers would settle for nothing less than a World Series championship in 2008.

Instead, they finished last in the American League Central. Their $139 million Opening Day player payroll, the second-highest in baseball, was the most ever for any team in baseball history to finish with a losing record.

"I thought we had a club that would compete to win a championship, and it's apparent we were significantly off on that, which is my responsibility," club president and general manager Dave Dombrowski said. "I'm embarrassed that you have a very large payroll and you don't do well. Now what we need to do is go out and try to fix it."

The disappointment was especially wrenching because of how much of Detroit's future had been mortgaged on the lost season. In addition to giving up Maybin and Miller, they also dealt standout prospects Jair Jurrjens and Gorkys Hernandez to the Braves for shortstop Edgar Renteria. While Jurrjens led National League rookies with 13 victories and Hernandez continued to progress through the minors, Renteria played poorly in the field and had one of his worst years at the plate.

In terms of wins and losses, the farm system didn't have a banner year, either. Righthander Rick Porcello was the lone Tiger to make Baseball America's preseason Top 100 Prospects list, and the only Tiger to make one of BA's minor league Top 10 Prospects lists after the season. Only low Class A West Michigan reached the postseason.

One year after signing Porcello, lefthander Casey Crosby and shortstop Cale Iorg to well-above-slot bonuses, Detroit was more conservative in the 2008 draft. The Tigers spent $3.7 million on signing bonuses—down from $7.9 million in 2007—and didn't exceed Major League Baseball's slot recommendations for any pick.

Despite all the bad news, Detroit officials were encouraged by the development of many prospects during the 2008 season, particularly some of their pitchers.

Porcello reinforced his status as one of the top arms minor league baseball. Though he was much younger than many hitters he faced, he led the high Class A Florida State League with a 2.66 ERA in his pro debut. The Lakeland bullpen behind him boasted several intriguing arms, including 2008 draft picks Ryan Perry, Cody Satterwhite and Robbie Weinhardt. Strike-throwing righthander Casey Fien and sidearmer Rudy Darrow have a chance to make the Tigers' Opening Day roster in 2009. Crosby made a rapid return from Tommy John surgery and was very impressive in instructional league.

Outfielder Matt Joyce hadn't played above Double-A prior to 2008 but batted .252/.339/.492 in 92 big league games. The system is otherwise light on impact position players, with Iorg the only Tigers farmhand widely projected by scouts to become an everyday player in the majors.

1.  Rick Porcello, rhp   Born: Dec. 27, 1988B-T: R-RHt: 6-5Wt: 200
 Drafted: HS-West Orange, N.J., 2007 (1st Round). Signed by: Bill Buck.
Rick PorcelloBackground: Universally regarded as the top high school pitcher in the 2007 draft, Porcello slid to the Tigers at No. 27 overall because of signability concerns. A strong student, Porcello committed to North Carolina but agreed to terms with Detroit shortly before the Aug. 15 deadline. He signed a $7 million major league contract, matching Josh Beckett's record for guaranteed money for a high school pitcher and including a club-record $3.58 million bonus. Porcello is rapidly justifying the investment. Just one year removed from a decorated career at Seton Hall Prep in West Orange, N.J., he led the high Class A Florida State League with a 2.66 ERA in his 2008 pro debut. The only hitch came in August, when he missed two weeks with tonsillitis. His grandfather Sam Dente played for the Indians in the 1954 World Series.

Strengths: Porcello has all the stuff to be a frontline pitcher in the major leagues. His four-seam fastball has reached 97 mph, but his best pitch is a heavy two-seamer that averages 92 mph and ranges up to 95, with boring action in on the fists of righthanders. With his sinker and tall, athletic body, Porcello is reminiscent of Roy Halladay. Like the Blue Jays ace, Porcello often keeps the ball on the edges of the plate and down in the zone, and he gets a lot of groundouts. Though he has little pro experience, his fastball command is already better than average. He also has shown good feel for his changeup and can throw it in any count. At the Tigers' suggestion, he shelved his slider last season in order to focus on his curveball, and the results were encouraging. Detroit placed him on a 75-pitch limit for each start, and Porcello easily adapted by enticing more swings early in the count. He had an impressive stay in instructional league, a tribute to his strength and endurance. Porcello has earned consistent praise from club officials and teammates alike for his work ethic, humility and ability to assimilate instruction. He's poised beyond his years and has strong, competitive makeup.

Weaknesses: Porcello overthrew his 12-to-6 curve at times and therefore struggled to command it. During instructional league, though, he demonstrated an ability to throw his curve for strikes. He should strike out more hitters once the curve is fully developed, but it's difficult to argue with the success he had while pitching to contact. He got nearly 2.5 groundball outs for every air out, an impressive ratio.

The Future: At the time Porcello was drafted, many said he was the best high school pitcher since Josh Beckett. After one full season, it's hard to argue with that opinion. Porcello should start 2009 at Double-A Erie, and it's possible—like Beckett in 2001—that he'll reach the majors before the end of his second full pro season. The Tigers rotation was a major weakness in 2008, and their emphasis on winning now could push Porcello to Detroit by midseason. By all indications, he'll have an important role with the big league staff by 2010 at the latest.
 
2008 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Lakeland (HiA)
8
6
2.66
24
24
0
0
125
116
7
33
72
.244
 
2.  Ryan Perry, rhp   Born: Feb. 13, 1987B-T: R-RHt: 6-4Wt: 200
 Drafted: Arizona, 2008 (1st round). Signed by: Brian Reid.
Ryan PerryBackground: Perry was a shortstop when he enrolled at Arizona, but left as one of the hardest throwers in the amateur ranks. He has relatively little experience as a pitcher—and missed half his sophomore season because of injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident—but his electrifying arm sets him apart. He reached 100 mph on radar guns before and after signing with the Tigers for $1.48 million as the 21st overall pick in the 2008 draft.

Strengths: Perry is a tall, imposing figure on the mound, with tremendous arm strength and dominant stuff. His four-seam fastball sits at 97-98 mph. He recently has developed a mid-90s two-seamer with sink and can put hitters away with a power slider in the high 80s. Loose, easy arm action adds to his appeal. He has strong makeup and wants the ball.

Weaknesses: Inconsistent command prevented Perry from succeeding as a starter at Arizona, and in his pro debut he tended to throw the ball over the heart of the plate when he fell behind in the count. His delivery is clean, but his front shoulder opens early on occasion. He has a changeup in his repertoire, though it's not fully developed.

The Future: The Tigers plan to let Perry continue developing as a reliever, and he projects as a possible closer. Given the inconsistency of the Detroit bullpen last season, he could reach the majors in 2009.
 
2008 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Tigers (R)
0
0
0.00
2
0
0
0
2
0
0
0
4
.000
Lakeland (HiA)
1
2
3.86
12
0
0
4
11.2
15
0
7
12
.300
 
3.  Cale Iorg, ss   Born: Sept. 6, 1985B-T: R-R Ht: 6-2Wt: 190
 Drafted: Alabama, 2007 (6th round). Signed by: David Chadd.
Cale IorgBackground: One of Detroit's above-slot signings in the 2007 draft, Iorg missed two college seasons while serving on a Mormon mission to Portugal. Iorg's tools and pedigree—his father Garth and uncle Dane played in the big leagues—made the Tigers comfortable signing him out of the sixth round for $1,497,500.

Strengths: Scouts like Iorg's physicality and explosiveness. His batting stance has been compared to that of a young Nomar Garciaparra, and he has the raw power to hit 15-20 homers annually. His range and arm strength are average or a tick above, and they play up because of his good instincts. His speed is solid-average.

Weaknesses: At times, the two-year layoff is evident in Iorg's play. Despite a relatively compact swing, Iorg had 111 strikeouts at high Class A Lakeland, a sign that his pitch recognition must improve. His intense makeup sometimes works against him. Iorg lost developmental time with a strained throwing shoulder in 2008 but made up at-bats in instructional league.

The Future: Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski already has predicted that Iorg will become an all-star, and he looks like the club's best homegrown infielder since Travis Fryman. Iorg will move up to Double-A and needs more minor league seasoning, though his raw ability could push him to Detroit by season's end.
 
2008 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Lakeland (HiA)
.251
.329
.405
383
61
96
15
7
10
47
35
111
22

4.  Casey Crosby, lhp   Born: Sept. 17, 1988 B-T: R-LHt: 6-5 Wt: 200
 Drafted: HS—Maple Park, Ill., 2007 (5th round). Signed by: Marty Miller.
Casey CrosbyBackground: An all-state pitcher and wide receiver at his suburban Chicago high school, Crosby has seen his pro career start slowly. It took the commissioner's office two weeks  to grant final approval for his above-slot $748,500 bonus in the 2007 draft. Then he hurt his elbow in instructional league and missed virtually all of 2008 while rehabilitating from the Tommy John surgery. When he appeared in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League less than nine months after the operation, he displayed first-round stuff.

Strengths: Crosby has a strong, lean body and electric left arm. His fastball averages 94 mph and climbs as high as 97 mph with late life. At this point, he has better command of his four-seamer than his two-seamer. He has improved the arm action on his 84-85 mph circle changeup. His delivery offers some deception. The mere fact that he pitched at all in 2008 speaks to his athleticism.

Weaknesses: Crosby lacks polish because he has so little pro experience. He throws a curveball and sweepy, hard  slider that at times he throws as hard as 87 mph, but they're mediocre, and the distinction between them is blurred. He must learn to repeat his pitches more consistently.

The Future: The Tigers love Crosby's competitive fire and believe he could develop into a quality big league starter. He'll open with one of their Class A affiliates in 2009.
 
2008 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Tigers (R)
0
0
0.00
3
3
0
0
4.2
4
0
3
2
.211
 
5.  Jeff Larish, 1b/3b   Born:Oct. 11, 1982B-T: L-RHt: 6-2Wt: 200
 Drafted: Arizona State, 2005 (5th round). Signed by: Brian Reid.
Jeff LarishBackground: Larish is a polarizing player among scouts. He has made steady progress through the system, hitting 67 homers in his three full minor league seasons, and acquitted himself well in his big league debut.

Strengths:  Larish's greatest asset is raw power to the pull field. Though there's virtually no load with his hands, he can crush fastballs over the inner half of the plate. He's not a threat to steal but has decent speed and good awareness on the bases. He's already an average defender at first base and he could become a plus defender in time.

Weaknesses: Larish tends to wait for a perfect pitch to hit, which can work against him. He finds himself in a lot of 0-2 counts, and better pitchers were able to exploit his passivity. His detractors don't like his unorthodox batting stance, in which he turns his head to face the pitcher and keeps his hands still prior to the pitch. He has yet to show that he can hit quality strikes over the outside corner, and he struggles with breaking pitches.

The Future: With Miguel Cabrera entrenched as their long-term first baseman, the Tigers had Larish play third base (which he played as a freshman  at Arizona State) in the Arizona Fall League. His rust showed, but his work ethic gives him the chance to become decent at the spot. Barring an injury or trade, Larish likely will start 2009 in Triple-A.
 
2008 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Toledo (AAA)
.250
.341
.477
384
49
96
20
2
21
64
50
109
0
Detroit
.260
.306
.375
104
12
27
6
0
2
16
7
34
2
 
6.  Wilkin Ramirez, of   Born: Oct. 25, 1985 B-T: R-RHt: 6-2Wt: 190
 Signed: Dominican Republic, 2003. Signed by: Ramon Pena.
Wilkin RamirezBackground: Originally signed as a third baseman, Ramirez struggled with his defense and his health before moving to left field in 2007. His intriguing tools finally translated into consistent success in 2008, as he enjoyed the best season of his career.

Strengths: Ramirez has a strong, muscular frame. His calling card is his combination of extra-base power and above-average speed, rare for a corner outfielder his size. He has a relatively upright batting stance, with a controlled stride and smooth righthanded swing. His arm strength is a plus. He's a confident player who carries himself well on the field.

Weaknesses: For all Ramirez's offensive ability, his inability to recognize breaking pitches has slowed his progress and explained a poor showing in his brief stay at Triple-A Toledo. His play in left field has improved, though he's still a subpar and at times disinterested defender. He doesn't have the instincts of a natural outfielder and probably won't be able to play center or right field.

The Future: If he learns how to hit breaking balls, Ramirez could be an everyday player and possibly a 20-20 man in the big leagues. But if he does not make more regular contact, it will be difficult for the Tigers to overlook his defensive limitations.
 
2008 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Erie (AA)
.303
.371
.522
433
74
131
24
7
19
73
43
138
26
Toledo (AAA)
.083
.132
.111
36
2
3
1
0
0
0
1
11
1
 
7.  Scott Sizemore, 2b   Born: Jan. 4, 1985B-T: R-RHt: 6-0Wt: 185
 Drafted: Virginia Commonwealth, 2006 (5th round). Signed by: Bill Buck.
Scott SizemoreBackground: Sizemore's strong performance in the 2007 Arizona Fall League, where he batted .356 and played solidly at shortstop, seemingly put him in line for a breakthrough season in 2008. However, he played in just 53 games before breaking the hamate bone in his left wrist in early June.

Strengths: Sizemore has a short, compact swing that enables him to hit singles and doubles and avoid strikeouts. He's a grinder who draws comparisons to Placido Polanco, whom he ultimately may succeed as Detroit's second baseman. Much like Polanco, he has a knack for getting the barrel of his bat on the ball. He recognizes pitches well and rarely has bad at-bats. He's an average runner who has shown the instincts for stealing bases in the lower minors.

Weaknesses: Moved to second base in 2007, Sizemore is still just a so-so defender. His arm is adequate and his range is nothing special. He's willing to work and is making progress, however. Near the end of spring training last year, the Tigers started him on a program to improve his lateral movement and first-step quickness. His line-drive stroke isn't conducive to hitting home runs.

The Future: Sizemore should be ready for spring training, but lingering tenderness in the wrist has been a concern. As long as he does not suffer any more setbacks, he should begin 2009 in Double-A.
 
2008 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Lakeland (HiA)
.286
.365
.409
203
32
58
11
1
4
20
24
44
14
 
8.  Cody Satterwhite, rhp   Born: Jan. 27, 1987B-T: R-RHt: 6-4Wt: 205
 Drafted: Mississippi, 2008 (2nd round). Signed by: Jim Rough.
Cody SatterwhiteBackground: Satterwhite had first-round ability but dropped to the second round of the 2008 draft when he struggled as a starter at Ole Miss. The Tigers, who signed him for $606,000, like his power arm better out of the bullpen anyway. He has had more success in that role and closed for Team USA in the summer of 2007.

Strengths: Satterwhite's four-seam fastball is regularly clocked at 94-97 mph and has good movement. His arms and legs are so long that it seems as if he's on top of the hitter by the time he releases the ball. There's deception in his high three-quarters delivery. He has a lean, athletic build.

Weaknesses: Satterwhite's secondary pitches currently rate as below-average. His slider climbs up to 84-86 mph and has downward tilt, but he doesn't command it well. He doesn't locate his changeup well either. An inability to repeat his delivery is the main reason for his inconsistency, but he made improvements in that regard during instructional league.

The Future: Satterwhite has the stuff to set up or close and seems likely to continue developing as a reliever. He'll probably start his first full season at Double-A. If he makes progress with his consistency, he could end the year in Detroit.
 
2008 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Tigers (R)
0
0
0.00
3
0
0
1
2.1
4
0
1
2
.400
Lakeland (HiA)
0
0
4.42
17
0
0
2
18.1
16
0
12
22
.232
 
9.  Dusty Ryan, c   Born: Sept. 2, 1984B-T: R-RHt: 6-4Wt: 220
 Drafted: Merced (Calif.) JC, D/F 2003 (48th round). Signed by: Tom Hinkle.
Dusty RyanBackground: A torn meniscus in his right knee cost Ryan three months in 2007, and he batted .182 in Hawaii Winter Baseball. His big arm and questionable bat prompted a meeting with team officials last spring, when they discussed the possibility of moving him to the mound. He decided to stick with catching, had his best season as a pro and impressed during a September callup.

Strengths: Incorporating a toe tap as a timing mechanism and repositioning his hands resulted in a smoother, more direct swing that unleashed Ryan's prodigious raw power. He's still known for his plus-plus arm and threw out 46 percent of big league basestealers.

Weaknesses: As a tall catcher, Ryan has trouble blocking some balls in the dirt. In his 15 games in the majors, Detroit pitchers threw 14 wild pitches. His transfer on throws is also a little slower than it could be. Offensively, he looked vulnerable to the sharper breaking balls he saw in the big leagues.

The Future: With improved receiving skills, Ryan could become the Tigers' everyday catcher fairly quickly. It's still possible that he could return to Triple-A for more development.
 
2008 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Erie (AA)
.253
.340
.476
296
46
75
17
2
15
50
38
95
2
Toledo (AAA)
.315
.370
.548
73
12
23
7
2
2
13
6
27
0
Detroit
.318
.380
.500
44
6
14
2
0
2
7
5
13
0
 
10.  Guillermo Moscoso, rhp   Born: Nov. 14, 1983B-T: R-RHt: 6-1Wt: 160
 Signed: Venezuela, 2002. Signed by: Ramon Pena.
Guillermo MoscosoBackground: Aside from Rick Porcello and Casey Crosby, the lesser-known Moscoso may have the highest ceiling of any starter in the system. He had shoulder surgery in 2005 and missed the first six weeks in 2008 with shoulder soreness. When healthy, he threw a perfect game at short-season Oneonta in 2007 and flourished en route to Double-A last season.

Strengths: Moscoso has a quick arm and a fastball that reaches 91-92 mph with late riding action that makes it a swing-and-miss pitch. He can also use his fastball to handcuff hitters and force easy popouts. His delivery has some deception and hitters have trouble reading his pitches. He's aggressive in the strike zone and confident on the mound.

Weaknesses: Moscoso shows a curveball and changeup, but neither is as effective as his fastball. His shoulder problems have limited him to no more than 91 innings in a pro season, which raises the question of whether he would be better suited for the bullpen. It might be easier to keep him healthy as a reliever.

The Future: Some club officials say Moscoso resembles former Tigers prospect Jair Jurrjens, a flattering comparison. If he can stay healthy and develop his secondary pitches, Moscoso could be a No. 3 or 4 starter in the majors. He could reach Detroit at some point in 2009.
 
2008 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Lakeland (HiA)
2
3
2.42
15
6
0
1
52
36
4
13
72
.196
Erie (AA)
3
1
3.12
6
6
0
0
34.2
24
4
8
50
.190

Complete Index of Top 10 Prospects
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Photo Credits: Cliff Welch (Porcello, Iorg, Sizemore)
Chris Proctor (Perry, Satterwhite)
Rodger Wood (Ramirez, Moscoso)
Steve Moore (Larish)