2021 Detroit Tigers Midseason Top 30 Prospects Update
Nearly four years after what many believed to be the beginning of the Tigers’ rebuild, the organization is finally beginning to see some of the fruits of its labor.
Tigers vice president of player development Dave Littlefield knows the organization’s journey better than most. To him, the progress is encouraging.
“I think some of the really good news is the fact that (Casey) Mize and (Tarik) Skubal are starting to get some traction at the major league level,” Littlefield said. “Manning is now taking his first steps with a few starts and so those are very positive things.
“(Gregory) Soto continues to progress, and some of the other younger guys have gotten some opportunity and we'll see that improve, I believe, based on their talent. It's always a challenge at the major league level coming from the mound. It's oftentimes a step forward and a couple back, but we're starting to see in Jake Rogers and some of the others that I mentioned that there's some very positive things. I think that's a really good sign.”
The Tigers continued to bolster their pitching in the 2021 draft when they selected 18-year-old righthander Jackson Jobe third overall.
“I sat in on the meetings and the scouting staff, the front office and analytics (departments) all seem to be very excited,” Littlefield said. “What we saw on film and in discussion, everybody's on board in the feeling that we really helped the organization.
“Now we're in the process of trying to get the players signed and get them down to Lakeland for physicals and get their feet on the ground in professional baseball. It's always an exciting time to add talent.
Top 10 Prospects
1. Spencer Torkelson, 3B/1B
Age: 21. Team: Double-A Erie
Navigating the expectations placed on a No. 1 pick, Spencer Torkelson’s introduction to the regular season was far from smooth, hitting .222/.389/.315 through his first 15 games at High-A West Michigan. Torkelson hit his first career home run on May 22 and hasn’t looked back, heating up and eventually earning a promotion to Double-A Erie three weeks later. While the question remains as to whether the Tigers will groom the 21-year-old at third or first base long term, Torkelson has clearly hit his stride and the Tigers couldn’t be happier.
2. Riley Greene, OF
Age: 20. Team: Double-A Erie
Greene’s maturity belies his age, evident by how well he handled transition during his rookie season in 2019 when the Tigers promoted him over three affiliates. Detroit opted to challenge Greene again in 2021 with an assignment to Double-A Erie and he has performed well, leading the team in five offensive categories. Greene was one of the Tigers’ representatives at the MLB Futures Game.
3. Matt Manning, RHP
Age: 23. Team: Triple-A Toledo
Manning has endured a stop-and-start development path since the Tigers took him in the first round of the 2016 draft. His patience was finally rewarded this year, when the 6-foot-6 righthander made his MLB debut on June 17. The 23-year-old struggled in his first taste of the majors, posting a 6.95 ERA through his first five starts.
4. Jackson Jobe, RHP
Age: 18. Team: TBD
NEW While some expected Detroit to go with a position player in the 2021 draft, the Tigers opted instead for Jobe, the clear-cut top high school pitcher in the class. Jobe operates with a four-pitch arsenal that includes a plus fastball and an above-average changeup. But it’s the slider that’s the jewel in many scouts’ eyes—a potentially 70-grade pitch already with impressive spin rates. Scouts are even optimistic Jobe’s high-70s curveball, which is just slightly above-average, could continue to progress thanks to its developing shape and his continued physical maturation.
5. Dillon Dingler, C
Age: 22. Team: Double-A Erie
Dingler was one of the quieter up-and-coming names in the Tigers’ system, but his play with High-A West Michigan put him squarely on the radar. He boasts a plus-plus arm behind the plate, drawing defensive comparisons to current Tigers catcher Jake Rogers, and is a natural athlete. He uses that athleticism at the plate as well to access natural raw power. Dingler looks like a potential building block for the Tigers in the long run.
6. Gage Workman, SS
Age: 21. Team: High-A West Michigan
Labeled as “sneaky-good” by one National League scout, Workman, much like Dingler, is known for his dedicated work ethic. Workman shared an infield with Spencer Torkelson in college and was thought of as a solid, athletic defender with a chance to stick at shortstop but more likely to settle in at third base. So far, Workman has stuck at shortstop and impressed the Tigers defensively. Workman has raw power but his hit tool hasn’t quite caught up yet, although the Tigers believe he made some strides at Low-A Lakeland prior to a promotion.
7. Ty Madden, RHP
Age: 21. Team: TBD
NEW The Tigers doubled down on pitching for their first two selections of the 2021 draft, taking Madden after he fell to No. 32. With that selection, Detroit had collected two of the top 12 players available in the draft, per Baseball America’s rankings. Madden’s fastball sits comfortably at 94-96 mph, and the 6-foot-3, 215-pound righthander also works with a potentially plus slider and above-average curveball and changeup. Concerns about Madden’s pitch data set off a brief slide down the board.
8. Izaac Pacheco, INF
Age: 18. Team: TBD
NEW The Tigers made the 6-foot-4, 225-pound Pacheco their third-round selection this year, enticed by the plus-plus raw power in his lefty bat. That impressive power came with an ample amount of swing and miss on the showcase circuit last summer, but Pacheco alleviated some of those concerns following a consistent senior season at Friendswood (Texas) High. Pacheco played shortstop in high school and works with above-average defensive tools, including a plus arm. He’s likely to transition to third base as a professional, where his filled-out frame is likely better suited and he has above-average potential.
9. Joey Wentz, LHP
Age: 23. Team: Double-A Erie
Wentz arrived in the Tigers’ system in 2019 via Atlanta in the Shane Greene trade and has encountered a slew of challenges. Some thought Wentz was on track to make his big league debut last year, but Tommy John surgery in March 2020 derailed that possibility. Wentz was sent on a rehab assignment in late May and activated at Double-A Erie a month later, where he posted a 1.75 WHIP through 18.1 innings.
10. Roberto Campos, OF
Age: 18. Team: Rookie-level Florida Complex League
Campos signed for $2.85 million in 2019 and was viewed as one of the most intriguing prospects to watch in Detroit’s system. He made his stateside debut this season in the Rookie-level Florida Complex League. There’s buzz surrounding the 6-foot-3, 200-pound outfielder’s natural athleticism and power, giving Tigers player development plenty to work with in the years to come.
11. Daz Cameron, OF
12. Ryan Kreidler, INF
NEW Kreidler’s development has been a bit of a slow burn since the Tigers selected him in the fourth round of the 2019 draft, but his performance this year for Double-A Erie could jump-start his progress. Kreidler’s tools won’t jump out initially but scouts who have gotten extended looks at Kreidler come away impressed with the hit tool. His power production has jumped this year but so has his strikeout rate (32.6%).
13. Bryant Packard, OF
14. Daniel Cabrera, OF
15. Parker Meadows, OF
16. Colt Keith, INF
17. Alex Lange, RHP
18. Derek Hill, OF
19. Zack Short, SS
20. Trei Cruz, SS
21. Abel Bastidas, SS
22. Kody Clemens, 2B
23. Andre Lipcius, INF
NEW Lipcius has kept scouts guessing with his offensive production. The University of Tennessee infielder was taken as the Tigers’ third-round pick in 2019. He showed flashes of power at the plate, but he was known more for his defensive feel throughout his move from first to shortstop to third prior to the draft. Despite a two-point climb in his strikeout percentage since reaching Double-A, his effortless feel for the infield makes it hard to not keep an eye on him.
24. Reese Olson, RHP
NEW Selected by the Brewers in the 13th round out of the 2018 draft out of high school in Georgia, Olson has moved a level every year since turning pro. Scouts see him as a potential No. 5 starter or swingman with a full four-pitch complement and feel to pitch. His curveball is his best offspeed offering. None of his stuff is electric but nothing is lackluster, either. The combination of strikes and decent stuff should get him to the big leagues.
25. Alex Faedo, RHP
26. Adinso Reyes, INF
27. Jacob Robson, OF
28. Paul Richan, RHP
29. Cristian Santana, INF
30. Jose De La Cruz, OF
10 MLB Prospects Excelling Against Older Competition In 2021
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Now that he’s finally gotten on the field, OF Roberto Campos has gotten to show off his tools. How quickly he’ll move is a question, but he’s got a very high ceiling.
Infielder Gage Workman’s defense hasn’t been questioned, but the boost in power at the plate is creating some buzz. As long as the 21-year-old is able to maintain consistent contact, the value of a switch-hitter with power is an addition any organization would readily welcome.
Prior to his Tommy John surgery, LHP Joey Wentz’s progress had the fan base chomping at the bit to see how much he would accomplish. He struggled in the first two months of the year in his return, but has looked better in July.
RHP Franklin Perez just can’t stay healthy. Since coming to the Tigers as the cornerstone of the trade that sent Justin Verlander to the Astros in 2017, Perez has been held to 26.2 innings and now finds himself on the 60-day injured list once again.
SS Wenceel Perez was once viewed as one of the top position prospects in the organization, but his development has hit a snag. Perez’s strikeout rate is trending up and there are concerns about his fluidity in the field. Still just 21, there’s time to polish these things, but he’s facing an uphill battle amid a growing glut of infielders in Detroit’s system.
The Tigers took 1B Reynaldo Rivera in the second round in 2017 as a potent power bat, but he simply hasn’t hit. He’s slashing .192/.267/.385 with a 35% strikeout rate while repeating High-A. Rivera was also suspended for a banned substance in 2019.
LHP Tarik Skubal and RHP Casey Mize entered the season as the crown jewels among the Tigers’ pitching prospects. Both have graduated and have put the final pieces of their development together as part of the big league rotation.
The Tigers selected Akil Baddoo in the major league phase of the 2020 Rule 5 Draft and have watched him blossom into a Rookie of the Year candidate. Through July 28, his .848 OPS was third best among qualified rookies.
Infielder Isaac Paredes spent most of the season at Triple-A Toledo but was called up to Detroit on July 22. He’s since added the at-bats needed to move out of prospect consideration. He’s also on the injured list with a right hip strain. Hurting
Since finishing third in the Double-A Eastern League with 134 strikeouts in 2019, RHP Alex Faedo can’t seem to catch a break. The 25-year-old was shut down in August 2020, along with Matt Manning, for a “slight” forearm strain before the official decision to have Tommy John surgery in December.