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.
Hey, everybody! Happy Friday! Thank you
for subscribing to BaseballAmerica and for taking the time to read our
prospect lists. I have to give a big shoutout to BA's resident Tigers
fan, Nathan Rode, as today is his birthday!
Grant (NYC): Which Tigers' top 10 list looks more promising to you — this year's, or last year's?
A great place to start and there's a lot
of turnover from last year's list. You have two players from last
year's list on a new team (Turner & Brantly), Smyly graduated and
four guys whose prospect status slipped (Oliver, Paulino, Burgos &
McCann) replaced by the seven new guys/risers (Rondon, Thompson,
Schotts, Vasquez, Collins, Suarez & Wilk). If I had to rank a Top 10
based on both lists combined, based on where the players stand right
now, it would look like this: Castellanos, Turner, Smyly, Brantly,
Garcia, Rondon, Thompson, Schotts, Vasquez & Collins. You'll notice
that the top 5 there are all guys from last year's list and the bottom
five are all new for this year's version. Long story short, I would take
last year's list over this one, though that's not a knock on the new
guys to the list this year. I really like some of those guys.
Ben (Leland Grove): In this year's Handbook, you gave a BA grade of 55-Extreme to Avisail Garcia. Safe to assume you'd give him a higher grade now?
Ben! You know, Jaypers gets all the
hype, but Ben from Leland Grove is just as prevalent in the chat queue.
Actually, Garcia's grade hasn't changed, but his value has gone up
because there's less risk attached now. I turned him in as a 55/Medium.
The tools are exciting, but the low walk rate is worrisome.
Nancy (New York): Is Brenny Paulino still one for us to keep an eye on? Is he in your 30?
Paulino was very exciting last year and
pushed his way into the top 10. This year was a lost year, though, as he
had shoulder soreness and then minor surgery. So he was obviously a
tough guy to rank as it's an unknown as to how he'll bounce back. I kept
him in the top 30 though because of his upside.
@Jaypers413 (IL): Thanks as always for the
chat, Conor. I see you have Castellanos back at 3B on the lineup card. I
assume this means you believe the "Miggy experiment" will eventually
fail? Will Castellanos continue to play OF in the minors next season?
Yeah, I think that's a fair assumption.
Cabrera wasn't great at third base this year and he's not going to be
any better as a 33-year-old. It made sense to move Castellanos when they
did, though, so that he doesn't have to learn a new position on the fly
in the big leagues. Having versatility is never a bad thing. The key to
all this is Victor Martinez. When he becomes a free agent, that frees
up the DH spot for Cabrera and Castellanos can slide back over to third
Frank (Chicago): Daniel Fields — prospect or suspect at this point? Still in your 30?
He's a suspect, but is still in the top
30 because the Tigers system is thin. Fields is athletic and a very good
fielder (the best defensive outfielder in the system), but I don't
think he'll ever hit enough to be an everyday player. He's still
relatively young for his level, but I think his future role will be as a
Ben (Leland Grove): Is it time to write off Andy Oliver as a future starter? Did he fall out of your list of 30 entirely this year?
I wouldn't give up on him just yet
because power lefthanders are so rare. But the walks are certainly a big
concern. At this point, I wouldn't bet on Oliver having a long career
as a starter, but I wouldn't give up on him just yet. He is still firmly
in the top 30.
Harry (Grand Rapids, MI): Does Dean Green have any standout tools to you?
He doesn't have any above-average tools.
It's all going to come down to Green's bat. He can really square the
ball up and shows average power potential, but was mainly limited to DH
this year with some elbow soreness.
Mike (Tampa, FL): Obviously Castellanos and
Garcia will make the BA top 100, but do you believe Rondon's pure stuff
gets him a slot at the back end?
I haven't started putting together my
personal Top 100 list yet, but the BA Grade we do for the Prospect
Handbook make that process a lot easier. I think Addison Reed was the
only reliever to make the list last year, but I could see Rondon being
in the 75-100 range.
Eric (Detroit, MI): Would you consider McCann
to be the top catching prospect in their system right now? About how far
is he from Comerica Park? (in terms of skills, not geographically)
Yeah, McCann is the the top catcher in
the system. His defensive skills and leadership are good enough to get
him to the big leagues and the bat will determine whether he can be a
starter or will fit better as a backup. He did not hit well this year,
but it was his first full season out of college and he spent half the
year in Double-A, so I'll give him a pass. I think he's at least a year
and a half away from Detroit.
John (Detroit): Conor, you put Adam Wilk at #10 which to me is a little ridiculous. Who was close in that 10-15 range?
What's ridiculous about that? He wasn't
good in his three starts for the team, but led all Tigers minor leaguers
in strikeouts and has a really good feel for pitching. He's better than
what he showed, obviously. And he's one of the few prospects in the
system who profiles as a starter. I'm not sure the Tigers will ever give
him the chance, but I think Adam Wilk will have a solid career
somewhere. And it's not like the rest of the system was beating the door
of the Top 10 down. The guys who just missed profile as relievers or
have big questions to answer: Can Andy Oliver throw enough strikes to be
effective? Can James McCann hit enough to be a big league regular?
Greg (Ohio): So will Detroit give a guy like Jake Thompson time to develop? Or will it be the Porcello plan?
I would think they'd give him time to
develop because there isn't going to be a need to rush him. Verlander's
signed for two more years. Scherzer & Porcello are under team
control for two more years. Fister for three more years and they'll
likley sign a free agent pitcher and still have Drew Smyly. So the
Tigers rotation is pretty well set for the time being.
Mike (Michigan): Is there any reason to believe
Dixon Machado could ever get strong enough to be a light-hitting, slick
fielding stop gap at SS, at least? Or is his ceiling as a utility guy?
Well, there is potentially good new on
that front. Machado stayed in Florida this winter to work with the
Tigers' strength and conditioning staff to address just that. If he
can't drive the ball more then, you're right, his upside is as a utility
Mike (Michigan): Is there cause for concern
with Castellanos with his approach? Or is his pitch recognition/patience
better than his current BB and K rates would indicate?
I'm not worried about Castellanos
because his hitting skills are so good. He's one of the best pure
hitters in the minor leagues and will grow into some power. Yes, he's an
aggressive hitter, but he definitely has pitch recognition. He lets the
ball travel deep and has shown the ability to make adjustments.
Robert (Secaucus, NJ): Did the Tigers essentially get a first-round talent with Jake Thompson in the 2nd round?
No, I wouldn't say that. We had Thompson
ranked No. 139 on our BA500. We rank those lists based on long-term
potential and don't consider signability, so when you factor that in,
the Tigers got him right around where we thought he'd go.
Steve (Orlando,Fl): Why the odd projections on
the '16 Tigers starting players? Peralta at 2B? Schotts in CF &
moving Jackson to LF? I serious doubt either will happen.
The future lineups are just a way of
showing how the depth in the system merges with the roster's current
construction. For teams that spend money in free agency or are active on
the trade market, like the Tigers, then, no, the future projected
lineups don't wind up being "correct" a lot of the time. I guess we
tried to get rid of them a while back and there were a lot of
complaints...but if the chats are any indication, it seems like they
cause plenty of complaints from staying in, too!
Brian C (Detroit): Are there any pitchers outside of the top 10 and usual suspects (Oliver, Paulino) that we should be watching?
Melvin Mercedes could be Bruce Rondon
2.0 and I'm very intrigued by Montreal Robertson because of his size,
athleticism and a fastball that tops out at 98.
Matt (Minnesota): Who do you like better: Harold Castro or Hernan Perez? Do either have the upside as potential league average guys at 2b?
I like Castro better. Perez can play
shortstop, as he did for the Tigers this year as an emergency callup,
but he fits better at second base. With Castro, I just think he has a
better chance to hit than Perez, which would give him a better chance to
be a starter. I think Perez's upside is as a utility player.
Kelly (St. Cloud, MN): Could you give us a rundown of Joe Rogers? Thanks.
Rogers was the team's fifth-round pick
out of Central Florida. His fastball sits in the 91-93 mph range and he
mixes in a solid-average curveball. With his size and stuff, he's a
little bit like Phil Coke.
Mike (Minnesota): Fair to say that Schotts has a
higher ceiling, while Collins has a higher floor? Also, does Schotts
have enough arm to play CF at the higher levels, or is he more likely to
settle in LF?
Yeah that's fair to say. Arm strength
doesn't matter as much in center field as it does at shortstop, so I
think Schotts will be fine out there. I like Schott's bat, but I don't
think he's going to have profile power for LF. If he has to move off of
center field, second base would be the likely destination.
@Jaypers413 (IL): What did evaluators have to say about Steven Moya's year in the MWL? How did he look in the OF?
Moya has some exciting tools. He's more
athletic than most guys who are 6-foot-7, so he's a good outfielder and
he's able to use his long arms for leverage at the plate. He missed the
second half of the season after having Tommy John surgery, but the
recovery time isn't as long for position players as it is for pitchers
and he should be ready for spring training.
DH (Pittsburgh): How confident are you that
Castellanos will play 3B? Don't you think the addition of T.Hunter means
they can put him back in minors at 3B for a year and a half or so?
I didn't have anybody from inside or
outside the organization bag on Castellanos' defense. Nobody raved about
it, but it sounds like he's solid there. And you're right - Hunter does
give the Tigers more time with Castellanos. But, since he's now
familiar with the outfield, they have options.
Aaron (Big D): Besides power, what else does Aaron Westlake have to offer? Top 30 prospect to you?
Power is about it, and even then it's
doubles power, not home run power. I left him off the list because it's
tough to get excited about a 23-year-old first baseman in the Midwest
League with nine home runs and a 20 percent strikeout rate.
nick (delmar, ky): What is the prospect status of wade gaynor? What is his ceiling?
It was a solid year for Gaynor. He has a
little bit of power and team officials really love the way he plays the
game. But he's more of an org guy at this point. He's very big, so he's
better at first base or DH than 3B and he doesn't have enough power to
be an everyday player at those positions. His swing can get a little
long and uphill.
@Jaypers413 (IL): I'm a fan of projectable lefties. Does Logan Ehlers fit the bill to you? What offerings does he bring to the table?
Not really. Like I mentioned earlier,
the Tigers don't have a lot of prospects that project as starters. At
6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, I think Ehlers is what he is. His fastball sits
at 90-91 and he could have an average slider and changeup.
Ok, that's it for me. Thanks for all the
great questions and thanks again for subscribing to Baseball America!
I'll be back for some discussion on the Seattle Mariners system in a
couple weeks. If you want to preorder the Prospect Handbook and get your
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— Have a great weekend!