Tigers Prospects 2-10
Age: 22. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 215. Drafted: Evansville, 2001 (2nd round). Signed by: Harold Zonder.
Background: Projected as a first-round pick in 2001, Larrison had a disappointing junior year at Evansville and scouts began to question his competitive nature. The Tigers were delighted to get him in the second round. After a shoulder ailment early in 2002, he overmatched Class A Florida State League hitters in the second half. He went 7-3, 1.25 in his final 12 starts.
Strengths: Larrison has an outstanding changeup and sets it up with a heavy, 91-93 mph sinker. Not only is his changeup deceptive and lively, but hes also able to throw it for strikes anytime during the count.
Weaknesses: At this stage, Larrisons breaking ball doesnt match the quality of his fastball and changeup. His shoulder woes cost him a month early in the season and raised some durability concerns. He dominated the Cape Cod League in 2000 but couldnt back it up the following spring, so he must prove he can carry his success from 2002 to 2003.
The Future: Larrison will join Bonderman in the Double-A Erie rotation to begin 2003. If he fares well, Larrison will quickly move up to Triple-A Toledo. He could see Comerica Park by the end of the year.
3. Franklyn German, rhp
Age: 23. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 265. Signed: Dominican Republic, 1996. Signed by: Santiago Villalona (Athletics).
Background: Part of the Jeff Weaver trade with the Athletics and Yankees, German had 30 saves between three levels and two organizations in 2002. Signed as a 16-year-old out of the Dominican Republic, he made slow but consistent progress before a breakthrough in winter ball after the 2001 season.
Strengths: German combines a 96 mph fastball with an excellent splitter. If he gets ahead in the count, hitters generally have no chance against the splitter. He averaged 12.2 strikeouts per nine innings and didnt allow a homer in 2002. For a large pitcher, Germans mechanics are smooth and consistent. Hes athletic for his size.
Weaknesses: German is a two-pitch pitcher without a good offspeed pitch, so he has to work as a short reliever. At times, he struggles to throw strikes.
The Future: German pitched well after the Tigers called him up last September. Hell probably open 2003 as a set-up man for Matt Anderson, and he could take over if Anderson gets hurt or is ineffective.
4. Omar Infante, ss/2b
Age: 21. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 150. Signed: Venezuela, 1999. Signed by: Ramon Pena.
Background: After leading all shortstops in the upper minors with a .302 average in 2001, Infante slipped to .268 in Triple-A in 2002. He hit just .221 through early May before going on the disabled list with a back injury. He also had a tough time overcoming the death of his father. That came three years after his brother Asdrubal, who pitched in the Tigers system, was shot to death in a robbery.
Strengths: A fluid infielder, Infante has good range and excellent actions. He played second base during a September callup and made the switch without a hitch. He turns the double play well. At the plate, Infante drives the ball the opposite way with authority. Hes a dedicated and hard-working player with an intense approach.
Weaknesses: Infante isnt going to hit for power, so hell have to get on base. He must prove he can pull an inside pitch or major league pitchers will work him tight all the time. Infante needs to be more consistent in the field. He lacks the speed of a typical big league shortstop.
The Future: Infante played well in September and should make Detroits Opening Day roster as the starter at either middle-infield spot.
5. Eric Munson, 1b/3b
Age: 25. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 228. Drafted: Southern California, 1999 (1st round). Signed by: Dennis Lieberthal.
Background: The third overall pick in the 1999 draft, Munson was a catcher at Southern California but thats no longer an option. A back injury in 2000 slowed his progress considerably. He was hitting .196 midway through 2002 but heated up after the Tigers traded for fellow first baseman Carlos Pena in July.
Strengths: Munson has a classic lefthanded hitting stroke. He has exceptionally quick hands and generates a lot of bat speed, giving him plus power to all fields. He shows patience at the plate, drawing a good number of walks.
Weaknesses: Munson struggles when he becomes pull-conscious, and there are extended periods when he strikes out too much. Some coaches and scouts question his drive. Though managers rated him the International Leagues best defensive first baseman and he has improved, hes not much more than adequate.
The Future: Before his second-half turnaround, Munson was on the verge of wearing out his welcome in Detroit. With a logjam at first base, he spent the offseason learning to play third base. If Munson becomes more consistent, the Tigers will get his bat in their lineup.
6. Scott Moore, ss
Age: 19. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 180. Drafted: HSCypress, Calif., 2002 (1st round). Signed by: Rob Wilfong.
Background: Detroits first-round draft choice last June, Moore drew comparisons to Eric Chavez and Chipper Jones while emerging as the top prospect in Southern California. He signed quickly for $2.3 million, the third-highest bonus in club history. Despite wrist and back problems, he performed well in his pro debut in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League.
Strengths: Moore has a smooth lefthanded stroke and considerable power potential. He already has a live bat that will enable him to move to third base if needed. As an infielder, he shows soft hands and above-average arm strength. He does not have normal shortstop speed, but hes a solid average runner.
Weaknesses: Like most young hitters, Moore could use a little more patience at the plate. His range as a shortstop is below-average and almost certainly will prompt a move to the hot corner.
The Future: Moore will begin his first full season at low Class A Michigan as a shortstop. Thats a position of considerable depth in the Detroit system, but Tigers officials would rather keep him at shortstop as long as possible. They dont want to move him to the hot corner and then possibly shift him back down the road.
7. Nook Logan, of
Age: 23. B-T: B-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 180. Drafted: Copiah-Lincoln (Miss.) JC, 2000 (3rd round). Signed by: Gary York.
Background: Drafted out of junior college as a shortstop, Logan was moved to center field in instructional league after his first pro season. The Tigers also have made him a switch-hitter. Hes a prolific basestealer, finishing second in the low Class A Midwest League with 61 in 2001 and leading the Florida State League with 55 in 2002.
Strengths: Logan has excellent speed and good instincts as a basestealer. His wheels also made his transition to center field go easily. He covers a lot of ground and throws well. Logan made strides as a hitter during the second half of 2002, making more consistent contact and beginning to bunt for hits.
Weaknesses: Logan needs to get stronger. He rarely turns on a pitch and pulls it. He needs to understand his speed and defense are his tickets to the majors. Logan must learn to bunt better and hit the ball on the ground more consistently to take advantage of his quickness. He makes too many errors in center field.
The Future: The Tigers long have had a void in center field, and Logan is the primary candidate to fill it. Hes probably two more years away though, and hell begin 2003 in Double-A.
8. Brent Clevlen, of
Age: 19. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 190. Drafted: HSAustin, Texas, 2002 (2nd round). Signed by: Tim Grieve.
Background: Clevlen tore up the 2001 Area Code Games but couldnt quite live up to that performance as a high school senior. Mentioned as a possible pick in the middle of the first round, he lasted until the second and agreed to an $805,000 bonus. An all-district quarterback, he also pitched and outdueled No. 5 overall pick Clint Everts (Expos) in the Texas 5-A playoffs.
Strengths: For a high school player, Clevlen is a polished hitter. He can hit the ball to all fields and battles pitchers throughout the count. He can turn on a ball with power. A right fielder, he has sure hands and a strong arm.
Weaknesses: Clevlen has average speed at best. His range in the outfield is limited because he sometimes gets bad jumps and takes poor routes to balls. Hes a good but not great athlete, so his bat will have to carry him to the majors.
The Future: Like Moore, Clevlen will make the jump to low Class A in 2003. West Michigans Fifth Third Ballpark is tough on hitters and theyll both be young for the Midwest League. Neither may put up huge numbers in 2003, but theyre both a big part of Detroits future.
9. Anderson Hernandez, ss
Age: 20. B-T: B-R. Ht.: 5-9. Wt.: 150. Signed: Dominican Republic, 2001. Signed by: Ramon Pena.
Background: Because he was 18 when he signed out of the Dominican Republic in April 2001, Hernandez has been pushed through the system. He made his pro debut in the Gulf Coast League and jumped to Lakeland for his first full season. Hernandez has handled the challenges well.
Strengths: A brilliant fielder, Hernandez is the best defensive shortstop in the organization. Thats saying something with Omar Infante and Ramon Santiago on hand. Hernandez has excellent range, extraordinary arm strength and soft hands. As a hitter, he held his own in 2002 despite being young for the Florida State League. More quick than fast, he has average baserunning speed.
Weaknesses: A switch-hitter, Hernandez seldom turns on pitches or pulls the ball with authority. He hits everything to the opposite field, particularly while hitting lefthanded. He also needs a better understanding of the strike zone. For all of his brilliance with the glove, Hernandez still makes too many errors. He tends to sulk after poor performances.
The Future: Hernandez will be one of the youngest regular position players in Double-A at age 20. Hell move as quickly as his bat allows.
10. Chad Petty, lhp
Age: 21. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 200. Drafted: HSWest Farmington, Ohio, 2000 (2nd round). Signed by: Lou Laslo.
Background: Petty has pitched well since recovering from the arm problems he experienced during his first spring training in 2001. He has gone 21-11 the last two seasons, being named the top prospect in the Gulf Coast League in 2001 and holding up for 28 starts in low Class A in 2002.
Strengths: Petty throws 89-91 mph consistently with some movement on his fastball. He has a fine breaking ball for a young pitcher, a cross between a curveball and a slider. Hes athletic and has a good feel for pitching. Durability is no longer a question now that he does a better job of staying in shape.
Weaknesses: Pettys changeup is weak and will need a lot of work. There are concerns about the way he prepares on the days hes not pitching. There are times when Petty loses command of his fastball, and he will have to cut down on his walks. He hits a lot of batters and throws too many wild pitches.
The Future: Petty will move up to high Class A in 2003. The Tigers feel no sense of urgency to rush him and want to give him time to mature.
Best of the Rest
Though he put together another solid season, hitting .280-19-72 in Double-A, the jury is still out on outfielder Cody Ross. He has some power, runs the bases well and is a good corner defender with a strong, accurate arm. But his potential remains in question because of his size (5-foot-11, 180 pounds) and his lack of a standout tool.
Third base is wide open in Detroit, and Jack Hannahan leaped to the forefront of the organizations plans after he had a stellar pro debut following his third-round selection in 2001. But he has yet to hit for consistent power and floundered after being promoted to Double-A in 2002.
A pair of lefthanders have the potential to crack the big league rotation. Matt Coenen went 14-8 in low Class A in 2002, showing a solid average fastball, good cutter and advanced feel for pitching. Andy Van Hekken, stolen from the Mariners in 1999 for Brian Hunter, pitched a shutout against the Indians in his first big league start. His lack of velocity didnt prevent him from going 50-22 in the minors, but he was down to 84 mph in September. Only time will tell if he can be as effective in the majors.
There are concerns within the organization that speedy center fielder Andres Torres has bulked up too much. Hed be better served if he learned how to play small ball rather than building strength.
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The Top 10 Prospects lists are based on players' projected long-term worth and on 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 Opening Day 2003.
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