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, 2009.
What's up, everybody? Thanks for
spending part of your Friday afternoon with me chatting about Tigers
prospects. This was my first Prospect Handbook assignment and I had a
great time putting it together. Even though I'm listening to the new
Jay-Z album, I'm definitely in a Motor City State of Mind, so let's do
JAYPERS (IL): Could we get your thoughts on
the Granderson trade as a whole? Also, does A-Jax have anywhere near
the potential Granderson had at his age?
This seems like a fitting way to kick
things off, as it's been one of the biggest deals of a very busy
offseason that's seen many star players getting new zip codes. I like
the deal for the Yankees, as Granderson is a great player that will fit
perfectly in their park. I know it must be tough for Tigers fans to see
the face of the franchise shipped out of town because too much money
was tied up with Bonderman, Willis and Robertson. That being said, I
like what the Tigers got back for Granderson and Edwin Jackson. I don't
expect Austin Jackson to be on Curtis Granderson's level, but when you
add in Max Scherzer, Daniel Schlereth and Phil Coke, it's a nice
package. With the potential to have around $60 million come off the
books after this season, the Tigers are looking to the future.
Darren (Detroit): What is the best-case
timetable on Jacob Turner's progression through the system? Can he be
as effective as Porcello as quickly?
Porcello was the exception, not the
rule. Turner is very talented and has good polish for a high school
pitcher, but I think he'll be on a slower timetable than Porcello.
Brad Broughman (Lansing, MI): Did the Tigers
overpay Daniel Fields? Everything that I saw had him rated as a 2-3
round pick and the Tigers gave him first round money.
No, I don't think so. Because what's
the alternative? Taking a sixth-round talent for slot? Sometimes you
have to pay a little more to get kids to skip school. Sometimes it
works and sometimes it doesn't, but it's a good strategy and I feel
like the draft is an undervalued market. The Tigers are aggressive in
spending in the draft and I really like that about them.
Michael Stern (Rochester NY): Any concerns
about Crosby and Turner's arms? I see they were both shut down
Instructional League. Who has the higher ceiling of the two - and more
importantly perhaps -
who has the better future health going forward. If they both
work out, that will be some rotation the Tigers will have with
these 2 studs and Verlander and Porcello, Future is looking very bright
in Detroit. Thanks for the chat.
Hi Michael. It sounded like the Tigers
were being very cautious with the two when they were shut down. I think
Turner has the higher upside, but they are very close. I would give
Turner the better health going forward, as Crosby's already had Tommy
John surgery. Both should be ready for spring training.
Lila (Detroit): How close did Ryan Strieby come?
Strieby came very close, actually. He
would have made the top 10 if not for the Granderson trade, which added
two players ahead of him and bumped him out. While he's not in the
upper-echelon of first base prospects, he has big power and is in that
second tier for me. It'll be interesting to see how he does with a
healthy wrist in Triple-A, but the Tigers don't really have a spot for
him. Reports on his defense in the outfield were not good.
Kenny (Irvine, CA): Scott Sizemore ranked
10th? I find that ranking surprising. Is that due to how strong the
Tigers system is or the fact that Scott got injured at the end of the
It's more due to the strength of the
system. Sizemore's a good player. He's an above-average player, but his
other tools are average at best and his defense is fringy at second
base. He plays the game hard, which helps his tools play up a little
bit, but I like the other nine players better than him.
Reid (Toronto): Gustavo Nunez had a decent
year with the bat. Will he hit enough to be a major league regular, or
is he more of a bench guy with a good glove and speed?
Nunez was the guy that kept moving up
the list the more people I talked to. His defense and speed give him
the chance to be at least a quality bench player. He's not going to be
a power guy and needs to learn to work the count better, but I think
he'll hit enough to play everyday.
John (Detroit): I was surprised not to see
Brennan Boesch on the list after his big year. Did he just miss the top
10 and do you expect him to repeat the numbers he put up this past year?
Hi, John. Boesch did have a nice year,
leading the Eastern League in home runs and more than doubling his
minor-league total in the process. He did make the 30, but not close to
the 10. The power is for real, but it's generated from a stiff,
mechanical swing. On top of that, Erie's park is a bandbox. Their
three-year park factor ('06-'08) found here
is 1.12, putting them right behind notorious Cal League launching pads
like Lancaster (1.14) and High Desert (1.13). When you factor in his
.318 on-base percentage (.314 over his minor-league career), I think he
ends up as a platoon guy, at best.
JAYPERS (IL): Did Brayan Villarreal come close to making your list? What's the scoop on his game?
Villarreal made the 30, but he's in the
15-20 range. His fastball is in the 93-94 mph range and, as you
probably saw, he has the best slider in the system. He's working on his
changeup, but profiles better as a bullpen guy.
ScottAZ (Phx, AZ): the report says Fields may
be "too big" for SS, but he is listed at 6'2", 200lbs, which is about
normal it seems for this generation of bigger, more offense oriented
SS. How much bigger do they predict he will get necesitating a move?
While there are a lot of shortstops
that are currently that size, not many of them were already that size
coming out of high school. Fields is very athletic, but he'll probably
get a little bigger which might move him off the position. There are
better defenders in the system and if you look at the Tigers history of
shortstops, they definitely value defense at the position.
Terry (The Big D): Surprised you didn't find a spot for Melvin Mercedes. He looked impressive to many from what I hear. Explain?
Mercedes is an interesting pitcher, but
he has only thrown 27 innings in the states. He has a good fastball,
but his secondary stuff is still raw and he's just not in the same
class as those guys in the Top 10 yet.
Ben (Leland Grove): Did Wade Gaynor make the top 30? Thoughts on him?
Gaynor had a nice college career,
becoming the first Western Kentucky player to have a 20-20 season and
ranking third in D-I total bases (behind only 2010 prospect Bryce
Brentz and the Mariners' second-overall pick, Dustin Ackley). The
Tigers are trying to calm Gaynor's swing down a bit, as he has a lot of
pre-swing hand movement and a big leg kick. He's a good athlete and a
hard worker and did make the back third of the list.
Kyle (Dallas, TX): Do you see Austin Wood helping the big league club this season? Does he have a shot of being a closer one day in the bigs?
Hi, Kyle. I really wanted to get Austin
Wood into the 30, but he was bumped out at the 11th hour. As you can
see, he has the best control in the system and the Tigers really like
his combination of stuff and makeup. I expect him to move quickly and
one executive told me not to be surprised if he's even pitching in
Detroit this year—though that was before the team acquired Daniel
Schlereth and Phil Coke. I don't see Wood as closer material, but he
should be a solid lefthanded reliever.
Nick (DC): It seams as if the Tigers have a
number of impressive young arms, from the majors on down is this the
best pitching organization in baseball?
Hi, Nick. The Tigers do have a lot of
quality arms in their Top 30. But, a lot of them are already in a
bullpen role or project to be a reliever down the line, so I can't say
they have the best collection of pitchers in the minors. If I had to
pick one organizations pitching prospects, I'd go with Tampa Bay or
Nick (DC): Robbie Weinhardt had a strong
finish in the AFL after a rough start, what is his future and how close
was he to making this list?
Weinhardt was great in the Arizona Fall
League, leading the circuit in strikeouts. He profiles as a quality
setup man and could be in Detroit at some point this year Like Strieby,
he just missed out on the Top 10.
Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware): Of the top 30 Tiger prospect guys in the 2009 Handbook who jumped up the most slots? Who plummetted the most?
Good question, Karl. I won't factor in
guys that weren't eligible for the list last year (like Turner). The
guy that jumped up the most would be Alex Avila, going from No. 20 in
2009 to No. 6 this year. The guy that dropped the most is Luis Marte,
who was No. 17 a year ago and got edged out of the 30 this time around.
Ace (Detroit, MI): Hi Conor,
It appears that about 6 of the top 10 prospects could see signficant
playing time this year. Would you agree or disagree with that
I think you're being optimistic, Ace.
Jackson looks to be the everyday center fielder, Schlereth will be in
the bullpen and Sizemore at second base, so there's three. I think
Avila will split time with Laird and I think Ramirez needs more time in
Triple A, and those are the only guys I expect to play in the big
leagues in 2010.
Ace (Detroit, MI): Where would you rank the Tigers farm system in the AL Central?
Good question, but I think they'd be
last. The Top 10 got a nice boost from a strong draft and the
Granderson trade and, to the Tigers' credit, their system would look a
lot better with Porcello in it, but that's what a system's for—getting
guys to the big leagues. I would line them up like this: Cleveland,
Minnesota, Kansas City, White Sox and then Detroit.
Warren (Texas): How is Detroit's Latin America program working out in your opinion? Are there any future studs in the DSL for the Tigers?
Thanks for the chat!
The Tigers aren't big spenders in Latin
America, but they do a good job of getting a good bang for their buck.
These three players didn't crack the Top 30, but keep an eye on
outfielder Steven Moya, second baseman Alexander Nunez and third
baseman Francisco Martinez. Also keep an eye on catcher Gabriel Purroy,
who was in the VSL.
Michael Stern (Rochester NY): Cale Iorg? Still considered the SS of the future? He had
a dismal year at the plate last season - low average, lots
of strikeouts. Do scouts and the Tigers think he'll hit enough to make it?
Yeah, it was a brutal year for Iorg. I
know the Tigers still hold out hope for him, but they're not counting
on him as the shortstop of the future. How could you when the bat is
that far away and he hasn't taken any real steps forward? He's a great
athlete and is solid defensively, so he could develop enough to become
a role player, but I wouldn't bet on him ever hitting enough to hold
down an everyday job. I would say next year is a make-or-break year for
him and he should repeat Double-A.
Alex (Grand Rapids): Any Tigers going to make your Top 100 list?
I can't speak for the official BA list,
as it hasn't been put together yet. I'm still ironing out my personal
list just for kicks and it has Turner and Crosby in the 30-40 range and
then Austin Jackson near the bottom.
Morgan (Michigan): Oliveros wasn't on the 40 man roster when the rule 5 draft started, did we get lucky that no one picked him up?
He wasn't eligible because he signed a 2006 contract.
Michael (Fenton): DD and Chadd love power arms, would they pass on one if Yardy Cabrera is there when we draft in the 1st round?
Good question, Michael. Cabrera's a
tough guy to get a read on because he's significantly older than 99
percent of high school players, but the Tigers do like him. He's
basically grown up at Tigertown, as his dad is a hitting coach in the
organization. If you haven't already, check out a feature we published
this summer on Cabrera:
Derek (Flint MI): JV, Porcello, Scherzer, Turner and Crosby. Can that be the best rotation in all of MLB?
It'd have to be in consideration. But,
a lot can happen between now and then. Just look back at the projected
2010 rotation from the 2007 Handbook: Verlander, Miller, Bonderman,
Steve (North Carolina): What are your thoughts
on Luke Putkonen? He is a tall lanky pitcher who throws hard. It seems
he put of decent numbers this year.
Finally healthy, Putkonen had a real
nice year and made the Top 20. His fastball's a tick above average and
he gets a fair share of groundballs. He throws both a curveball and a
slider and the Tigers are trying to get him to pick on and focus on it.
He's one of the few pitchers outside the Top 10 that projects as a
starter, but more of a back-end guy.
John (Flint MI): would Robles make the Top 10 if he was still here? was the a steal for the M's?
No, Robles probably would have been in the 13-18 range, but I really liked that trade for the Mariners.
Steve (Holland, MI): How does the numbers
Casper Wells put up in the AFL translate to how the Tigers view him;
does he make the Top 15-20 organization wise? And does the arrival of
Jackson effect his chances?
I don't think the Tigers really cared
about his numbers in the AFL, they just wanted to see him get playing
time after missing part of the year with injuries. Wells is a tweener
(not enough glove for CF, not enough bat for a corner) and profiles as
a fourth outfielder for me, so Jackson's arrival doesn't really affect
John (Toledo): Wilkin Ramirez seems to have
the habit of mastering each league he plays in, given enough time. Of
course, "master" is relative — he still strikes out a lot — but is he
capable of moving up to Detroit this year, or will he spend another
year with us in Toledo?
I think Ramirez should at least start
the season in Toledo. He needs to work on his approach at the plate and
routes in the outfield. Having Guillen, Jackson, Magglio and Raburn
buys him some time to do that.
David (Michigan): Tyler Stohr on the radar?
Yep, 20-25 range.
Michael (Baltimore): I was wondering what your
thoughts were, and the thoughts of people you talked to, on Avisail
Garcia? He was very young when he was summoned to West Michigan. He
seemed to hold his own, but the stats were not pretty. Can we expect
more power from him this seaosn?
A lot of Garcia questions today. He was
one of the youngest players in the Midwest League this year — and
looked it at times. But he's a good athlete with a quick bat and some
power projection. He profiles best as a right fielder and might repeat
Low A, as the Tigers jumped him there from the VSL, but he's an
interesting prospect, for sure.
Nick (DC): Conor, if you had to pick a sleeper in the Tigers system for 2010 who would it be?
My sleeper within the 30 is first
baseman James Robbins, who I fought to keep on the bottom of the list.
Outside the 30, I like young righthander Ramon Lebron who gets his
fastball up to 97.
bo (louisville): what is the word on physically huge pitcher scott green out of kentucky? has he dropped of the radar?
Still on the radar, still huge, still in the 30, but got hurt this season.
Adam (Michigan): Casey Kelly or Jacob Turner?
I might be in the minority, but I'd take Turner.
Pony (Chicago): What can the Tigers expect from Sizemore this year?
Here's my prediction on Sizemore's 2010 line: .270/.365/.420
Thanks everybody for all the great questions. Click here
to pre-order your 2010 Prospect Handbook directly from Baseball America
for a supplement that includes each team's 31st prospect. Also, check
us out on Twitter @baseballamerica. Have a great weekend! J.J. Cooper
will be here on Monday with the Royals Top 10.