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An 18th-round pick out of a Colorado high school in 2000, Sleeth opted to attend Wake Forest instead. He went 31-6 in three seasons, tying an NCAA record by winning 26 consecutive decisions. Sleeth entered 2003 as the top amateur pitching prospect and exited the draft as the first pitcher selected and third overall pick. Scouts considered him better than Bryan Bullington, who went No. 1 overall to the Pirates the year before. Sleeth didn't sign until August, receiving a $3.35 million bonus. By that time, the Tigers decided that he shouldn't make his pro debut until 2004. They didn't want him to work many innings last summer in any case, after watching 2001 first-rounder Kenny Baugh develop shoulder problems shortly after signing. Like Baugh, Sleeth pitched a lot of innings in college. After signing, he worked out with the major league club and then with Triple-A Toledo. Sleeth did pitch during instructional league and was impressive. Sleeth has far and away the highest ceiling among Tigers farmhands. He had one of the best fastballs available in the 2003 draft, both in terms of velocity and life. He usually pitches between 92-94 mph and touches 96. His fastball seems even firmer, however, because of its movement. It bores down and in on righthanders. It's a heavy ball. Sleeth throws both a power curveball and a low-80s slider. The curveball is the better breaking pitch, as he throws it in the high 70s and it features a lot of depth and bite. His slider improved last spring, though some scouts say it's a bit slurvy. His changeup has the potential to be an average major league pitch. Sleeth has a strong, projectable frame and was durable at Wake Forest. He's quiet and confident. When the Demon Deacons struggled behind him last spring, he remained poised. Though not demonstrative, Sleeth exudes competitiveness. To move quickly through the minors and to be effective in the majors, Sleeth will have to be more consistent with each of his pitches. His ability to repeat pitches is still questionable. He sometimes loses his delivery, causing him to throw across his body or leave pitches up in the strike zone. Sleeth also has to decide whether he wants to use three or four pitches. His slider is too similar to his curveball. If Sleeth had signed shortly after the draft and pitched last summer, he likely would start 2004 at Double-A Erie and be in line to reach Detroit by September. Now the Tigers won't push him quite that hard, so he'll probably make his pro debut at high Class A Lakeland. If he enjoys immediate success, the club won't hesitate to promote him to Double-A, and he still could make it to the majors this year. He has that type of ability and makeup, and Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski won't hesitate to bring deserving prospects to the majors.
Clevlen was a versatile high school athlete who could have played college football as a quarterback if not for his prowess on the diamond, where he starred as an outfielder and pitcher. He outdueled Expos 2002 first-rounder Clint Everts in the Texas 5-A playoffs shortly before signing for $805,000. A second-round pick, he has outperformed No. 8 overall selection Scott Moore, his teammate in each of his first two pro seasons. Clevlen is a fluid, natural athlete with a terrific swing. He's a selective hitter who uses the entire field. Low Class A West Michigan's notoriously pitcher-friendly Fifth Third Ballpark hurt his numbers last year, but he revealed his power potential on the road, hitting .290 with 10 homers in 70 games. He has good instincts, solid speed and a strong right-field arm. Clevlen's biggest fault as a hitter is that he can be too passive and fall behind in the count. He sometimes takes questionable routes on fly balls and has trouble with balls hit directly over his head. He'll begin this year in high Class A, where he'll again team up with Moore. Clevlen is on course to reach Detroit in mid-2006.
When the Tigers selected Zumaya in the 11th round of the 2002 draft, they figured he was just another high school righty with raw arm strength who would need time to develop. But his fastball suddenly gained velocity and he has progressed much faster than expected. He would have led minor league starters in strikeouts per nine innings last year (12.6) had he pitched enough innings to qualify. Zumaya's fastball consistently reaches the mid-90s, and he has hit 97-98 mph on several occasions, but that's not the only reason he gets so many strikeouts. He also has uncanny velocity on a nasty curveball, throwing it in the low 80s. He has a bulldog approach and takes to coaching well. Improved mechanics are the key to his improved stuff. Zumaya has a maximum-effort delivery, which led to back problems that knocked him out for six weeks last year. He sometimes drops his arm angle, causing his pitches to flatten out. He needs more consistency with his curve and a great deal of refinement with his changeup, which he doesn't throw often enough. If Zumaya stays healthy and keeps winning in high Class A this year, he could reach Double-A by midseason. His approach, power stuff and lack of a changeup could make him a closer in the long run.
Henkel was the key pitcher for Detroit in the January 2003 trade that sent Mark Redman to Florida and also netted Gary Knotts and Nate Robertson. Henkel pitched up to expectations in Double-A, but his season was marred by back spasms that forced him to miss numerous starts, including his scheduled Arizona Fall League stint. Henkel is a legitimate three-pitch lefthander. His fastball consistently touches 90 mph and while it doesn't have a lot of movement, he locates it well. His out pitch is a tight curveball--the best in the system-- that he commands well. His changeup is also effective and he throws it for strikes. He has a high three-quarters delivery that seems difficult for hitters to pick up. Henkel's health is a major question mark. He had Tommy John surgery at UCLA and came down with shoulder problems shortly after he signed in 2000, costing him velocity on what had been a 93- 95 mph heater. Even when he's going good, his teams hold their breath wondering if he's about to break down. Added to the 40-man roster this offseason, Henkel is good enough to pitch in the majors in 2004 if he can stay healthy. He'll start the year in Triple-A.
Giarratano had arguably the best all-around tools among college shortstops in the 2003 draft, and his all-star debut in the short-season New York-Penn League did nothing to detract from his claim. After hitting .238 for Tulane and .187 in the Cape Cod League in 2002, he improved dramatically at the plate last year. He stands out defensively and ranks just behind Anderson Hernandez among the system's infielders. Giarratano has plus speed for a shortstop and a strong, accurate arm. His hands and actions are also better than average. A natural righthanded hitter, he's more effective from the left side. He made a surprisingly easy transition from aluminum bats and should be able to hit for a solid average with gap power and a few steals. Giarratano handles the bat well but must improve his patience. He won't have much power, so he'll need good on-base skills. Giarratano entered the organization at a perfect time. The Tigers were disappointed by upper-level shortstops Omar Infante, Ramon Santiago and Anderson Hernandez in 2003. Even after trading Santiago for Carlos Guillen, Detroit will give Giarratano the chance to move quickly. He'll skip a level and play in high Class A this year.
The Tigers had no intention of going to arbitration with Randall Simon after the 2002 season, so they traded him to the Pirates for three players, most notably Kirkland. Because Kirkland signed in late May 2002, he couldn't switch organizations until a year later, so he began last season in extended spring training. Kirkland is an impressive hitter with a compact stroke and projectable power. He drives balls to all fields and has a decent idea of the strike zone. Defensively, he has average range and arm strength to go with good hands. He's a smart player who likes to compete. While Kirkland has topped .300 in each of his two pro seasons, he'll have to make more consistent contact to do well against more advanced pitchers. The accuracy of his throws varies, the main reason behind his 15 errors in 65 games last summer. Kirkland would have started 2003 in low Class A if not for the trade. He'll probably head there rather than high Class A this year because 2002 first-rounder Scott Moore is one level ahead of him.
Moore was drafted eighth overall in 2002 as a shortstop and spent his first pro season there in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. Scouts and Tigers officials projected him as a third baseman, and he moved there last spring. He spent three weeks in extended spring training learning the position before going to low Class A. Moore's calling card is his classic lefthanded stroke. When he makes contact, he hits the ball hard and shows considerable power potential. He has soft hands and good arm strength. Moore has struck out 141 times in 147 games as a pro, more the result of his inconsistent approach than his swing. He's overaggressive at times and not aggressive enough at others. He has trouble with the footwork at third base, which leads to bad throws and errors. He doesn't run well, especially for someone drafted as a shortstop. Moore looks like a one-dimensional player who will go as far as his bat will carry him, and he's going to have to make adjustments if it's going to carry him to the majors. The Tigers would like to move Moore to high Class A to begin 2004, but they question whether he's ready for the leap.
Granderson finished runner-up in the NCAA Division I (.483) and New York-Penn League (.344) batting races in 2002. After continuing to impress during spring training last year, he skipped a level and jumped to high Class A. Though his numbers weren't as good, he maintained his consistency against significantly better competition. Granderson has no trouble hitting for average with his short stroke, ability to make contact and willingness to use all fields. He has no glaring weakness in his game. He has gap power, runs OK and can play all three outfield positions. Though Granderson doesn't have any big holes, his only standout tool is his hitting. He's not a big home run or stolen base threat, and he fits best in left field, where he'll have to do more than hit for average. Because he puts the bat on the ball with ease, he doesn't draw a lot of walks and doesn't always wait for the best pitch to hit. Granderson will advance to Double-A in 2004 and could reach Detroit sometime next year. It remains to be seen whether he'll be a solid big league regular or just a good fourth outfielder.
The Tigers believe they landed a first-round talent when they got Sborz with the 40th overall pick last June. He had one of the best pure arms in the draft, and it cost $865,000 to sign him away from a commitment to Arizona State. He looked raw in the Gulf Coast League but pitched better during instructional league. Sborz is a true power pitcher. He has a 93-95 mph fastball and a hard, sharp-breaking slider that often touches 80. He has a strong frame with room to grow, so there's more velocity in there. Some scouts project that he could put up triple digits on the radar gun. Sborz is a thrower, not a pitcher. He has a violent delivery and doesn't repeat his arm slot or pitches well. He struggles to throw strikes and has no semblance of a changeup. Some teams were concerned about his immaturity, but the Tigers say his behavior has been good. Sborz showed enough during instructional league to possibly earn a spot in low Class A this year. Detroit will use him as a starter to give him innings, but his explosive fastball and lack of offspeed stuff could lead to a future as a closer.
The 11th overall pick in 2001, Baugh pitched well in Double-A that summer and seemed on the verge of joining Detroit's rotation. But shoulder problems surfaced that August, requiring arthroscopic surgery to repair a labrum tear. He missed all of 2002 and didn't look the same when he returned last year. Baugh knows how to pitch. He has excellent command of his fastball and can work it to any quadrant of the strike zone. His curveball might be his best pitch and was more consistent than ever in 2003. He also has a good changeup, giving him the chance to have three average pitches. His makeup and work ethic are excellent. Baugh didn't light up the radar gun before he got hurt, usually pitching at 90 mph, and his velocity was down to 85-88 in 2003. The movement on his fastball is also ordinary, so it can get hammered if he doesn't locate it with precision. There also are obvious concerns about his shoulder. Baugh will begin 2004 in Triple-A. How far he goes depends on his ability to stay healthy and regain arm strength.
After two years regaining his health and hitting stroke, Raburn's stature rose during instructional league when he moved from third base to second. He dominated in his pro debut in the New York-Penn League in 2001, but dislocated his hip that offseason in an all-terrain vehicle accident. Raburn, whose brother Johnny is an outfielder in the Brewers system, has struggled in game action since returning late in the 2002 season. But at the end of 2003 and during instructional league, he found his quick, compact swing, which offers lots of power potential. He stings the ball to all fields and has a good idea when it comes to the strike zone. Though he's fairly athletic, moves well and has decent hands, he was a poor defensive third baseman. He struggled with his footwork on throws and made too many errors. A center fielder at University of Florida before transferring to junior college, Raburn seems to have found a home at second base. He was remarkably solid there during the fall, and some scouts say he has the ceiling of a Jeff Kent. Raburn likely will advance to Double- A because Michael Woods will have to repeat high Class A.
The Tigers beat out several teams and spent $300,000 to sign Ramirez out of the Dominican Republic last February, and it appears at this point to be a good investment. He's a big, strong, righthanded hitter who idolizes Manny Ramirez (no relation), and he has copied many of his mannerisms. Ramirez struck out frequently during his pro debut in the Gulf Coast League but when he did connect, he showed power to all fields. He's advanced for a teenager, as he hits offspeed stuff surprisingly well and doesn't chase many pitches out of the strike zone. He has average speed and arm strength, but he's raw defensively. He led GCL third basemen with 21 errors in 48 games. Detroit likes Ramirez' makeup and may jump him to low Class A to begin 2004.
The Tigers popped Shelton out of the Pirates system with the first pick in December's major league Rule 5 draft. Given Shelton's track record for hitting, many teams were surprised that Pittsburgh left their minor league player of the year unprotected. After leading the low Class A South Atlantic League in on-base and slugging percentage in 2002, he did the same in the high Class A Carolina League last year. He also added batting and home run titles en route to winning the CL MVP award. A 33rd-round pick in 2001, Shelton was ticketed for a backup role in short-season ball that summer before an injury to another player gave him an opening as a starter. He may not excite scouts with his stocky build, but he can hit all pitches to all fields, both for power and average. He also works the count well and draws lots of walks. Shelton's biggest need is to find a position. He's subpar defensively and can't run. He doesn't move well behind the plate or at first base, and he threw out just 25 percent of basestealers last year. In many ways, he's similar to the Pirates' Craig Wilson, who came up through the minors as a catcher. Shelton also tried third base and left field in instructional league with the Pirates. If he keeps hitting, his lack of athleticism will be overlooked. The Tigers have been disappointed with Carlos Pena so far and don't have much in the way of first-base prospects, so they'll make every effort to keep Shelton. If he doesn't stay on their 25-man roster all year, they have to slide him through waivers and then offer him back to Pittsburgh for half the $50,000 draft price. Detroit retained all three of its major league Rule 5 picks a year ago and should be able to do the same with Shelton.
There's a lot of debate among scouts and baseball officials when it comes to Ross' tools. Yet there's no denying his solid, consistent production throughout the minor leagues. He made his major league debut last July, and after a September callup he hit a grand slam off Cleveland's Cliff Lee. Later in that game he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee while legging out a bunt. Scouts who like Ross see him as a poor man's Craig Biggio or Bobby Higginson. He's tough and has surprising power for someone his size. Scouts who aren't high on him see a smallish player with more heart than tools. He doesn't run like Biggio did in his prime or have Higginson's pull power. He has good outfield instincts and can play in center, but he fits better in right with his strong, accurate arm. Ross isn't selective and will have to tighten his strike zone against big league pitchers. His grit has helped him during his rehabilitation, which has gone well. Ross will get a shot to make the Tigers during spring training but likely will begin the season in Triple-A.
Sanchez had surgery to remove scar tissue from his arm as a freshman at Rockland (N.Y.) Community College in April 2001, but the Tigers took him anyway that year as a draft-and-follow in the 31st round. When he flashed first-round talent at Connors State the following spring, they signed him for $1 million. Sanchez reminds scouts of Roberto Hernandez because he has the same build and arm action. He can intimidate hitters with his fastball, which sits at 92-93 mph and has plus-plus heavy sink. His curveball is improving and is an above-average pitch at times. Sanchez didn't dominate as expected last season because his mechanics kept going awry. When that happens, he can't command his pitches. Because he's not athletic, he has trouble repeating his delivery. Sanchez has yet to develop an effective changeup, so his future may be in relief. He remains a long-term project and will begin 2004 in high Class A.
A couple of years ago, the Tigers considered Rodney one of the best young prospects in the organization. Then they discovered that he was born in 1977 rather than 1981, so "young" no longer applied. Rodney remains a prospect, however, because he throws 98 mph consistently and has had success as a closer at the higher levels of the minors. He also throws an above-average changeup and a serviceable slider. In two extensive stints in the major leagues, Rodney has been hit hard because of poor pitch selection and location. Time after time he has gone to his changeup as an out pitch and left it up and over the plate. Though his fastball has plenty of heat, it's straight and arrives on a flat plane. In order to stick as a big leaguer, Rodney must learn to work his fastball around the edges of the strike zone to set up hitters for his changeup. Detroit, which didn't have a pitcher with more than five saves last year, will include Rodney in its closer competition this spring.
Larrison picked up the victory at the 2003 Futures Game, but he arrived at the minor league all-star contest with a 5.32 ERA and in the midst of a three-month winless drought. It was a rare highlight for Larrison, who plummeted from his No. 2 ranking on this list a year ago. Going back to his college days, he has struggled to maintain success from season to season. Projected as a first-round pick entering his junior season in 2001, he didn't perform well under the pressure of his draft. He pitched well in high Class A in 2002 before laboring last year in Double-A. It's not a matter of stuff. Larrison has good command of a heavy 92 mph sinker and a plus changeup. But he can't put away hitters because he doesn't have an effective breaking ball. His fastball and changeup arrive on the same plane, another reason he's easy to hit. He was out of shape and needs to concentrate on physical conditioning. After nearly making Detroit's staff out of spring training in 2003, he pressed too much and tried to be too fine with his pitches, falling behind in the count too often. Though he was added to the 40-man roster in November, he'll have to pitch well this spring to avoid returning to Double-A.
Let the debate over his ultimate value rage. Connolly topped the minors in ERA and fell one victory short of tying for the minor league lead last year, but he did it with a plus-plus changeup and excellent command. Skeptics point to his 83-88 mph fastball and below-average curveball and wonder how he'll be able to succeed at higher levels. Those who believe in him say he can locate any of his pitches wherever he wants and has such superb feel that he could become a No. 5 starter. Connolly, whose brother Mike pitches in the Pirates system, spent 2002 pitching in his hometown (short-season Oneonta) with no hint of this success. He doesn't project to throw any harder, so a key for him will be improving his curve. In addition to his lack of velocity, there are concerns about Connolly's athleticism and whether he'll be able to control his weight. He'll have to prove himself all over again this year in high Class A.
Unlike Omar Infante, Ramon Santiago and Anderson Hernandez, Kelly was a young shortstop who didn't disappoint the Tigers in 2003. Kelly was the high Class A Florida State League's all-star shortstop--though he played just 20 games there and served a utility role at Lakeland in deference to Hernandez--and held his own following a promotion to Double-A. His biggest assets are his knowledge of the strike zone and his ability to put the ball in play. In an organization where hitters tend to strike out too much and don't draw enough walks, his approach is refreshing. Tall and rangy, he has sure hands but lacks the range to be an everyday shortstop in the big leagues. He has solid-average speed and covers ground better at third base. However, Kelly doesn't have anywhere near the pop necessary to play regularly at the hot corner in the majors. Unless he develops a power stroke, which appears unlikely at this point, his future lies as a utilityman. Added to the 40-man roster this offseason, he could make his big league debut late in 2004.
Converted from a center fielder into a shortstop and turned into a switch-hitter after his first pro season, Logan continues to intrigue the Tigers. His speed grades as a 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale, and he's a sure-handed, instinctive center fielder with an average arm. But it's still not clear whether he'll ever hit enough to become a factor in the major leagues. His numbers have been remarkably consistent during his three years in full-season ball, and that's not a good thing. His lack of strength is the main problem, as he can't pull the ball or hit it the opposite way with authority from either side of the plate. His plate discipline also is weak, and the bottom line is that he can't get on base enough to take advantage of his speed. At 24, Logan no longer is young in baseball terms. He spent the offseason at Detroit's spring-training base in Lakeland, Fla., trying to build up his strength. The Tigers will find out if his hard work pays off this year in Triple-A.
Along with Kody Kirkland, Novoa and lefthander Adrian Burnside were the players acquired from the Pirates for Randall Simon. The reason the Tigers wanted Novoa remains the reason why they're confident he'll be part of the big league staff in the near future. He's a tall righthander who consistently throws between 93-95 mph with nice sink on his fastball. He also has a quick-breaking curveball that some scouts refer to as a slurve. Novoa commands both pitches well. He's also developing a splitter that hasn't become a factor yet. Novoa was used as a starter last season, but doesn't have a useable changeup and is essentially a two-pitch pitcher. In all likelihood he'll be a set-up man in the majors, but he'll probably pitch out of the Double-A rotation in 2004 to give him more innings to work on a third pitch.
De la Cruz has pitched well the last two years in the Gulf Coast League but has been hammered in brief stints in the New York-Penn League. He enjoyed being thrust into the closer's role in 2003, excelling thanks to his fastball. He hits 96 mph consistently and made strides last season in terms of getting ahead in the count with his heater. He also has a good feel for pitching and the competitive nature needed to finish games. De la Cruz has the makings of a good breaking ball, though it has only intermittent success at this early stage of his development. He needs to refine his secondary pitches and his command. Because he's short, he's at a disadvantage because his fastball comes at hitters on a flat plane. He showed enough last year that he may begin 2004 in low Class A.
The Tigers look at getting a high school prospect with Rainwater's arm strength in the fourth round of the 2003 draft as a pleasant fallout of the "Moneyball" craze for college players. Detroit officials said in past years, Rainwater could have gone as high as the second round. Rainwater capped his high school career by tossing a no-hitter in the Louisiana 4-A semifinals and then coming back the next day to strike out six of the seven batters he faced to save the finale. Because he worked so hard, the Tigers kept him on tight pitch counts in the Gulf Coast League. He reached 95 mph during the spring but sat at 89-92 mph in his pro debut. He's relatively refined for a high school pitcher, but his fastball command and his offspeed pitches are inconsistent. There's some concern within the organization about his lack of athleticism, and Detroit would like him to shed weight and get in better condition. He could start this year in low Class A.
Mejia failed to establish himself in low Class A in both 2002 and 2003, but he took off after a demotion to the Gulf Coast League last June. He led the GCL in hitting and slugging while finishing second in stolen bases. The downside is that he was old for a complex league at 20. Mejia has good physical tools. He has above-average speed and can drive the ball with authority to all fields. Primarily a second baseman in the past, he moved to shortstop in the GCL. His hands are suspect and his arm isn't strong or accurate, so the Tigers may try him in the outfield in 2004. His future probably lies as a utilityman. Mejia still has to prove he can hit and control the strike zone above the lowest levels of the minors. Detroit hopes his third try at West Michigan will be the charm.
Shaken by the death of his father and struggling with other off-field issues, Hernandez had a disappointing season in 2003. He remains the best defensive infielder in the system, with exceptional range, extraordinarily fluid movements, a cannon arm and soft hands. But just when it was expected he would step up his offensive production, it declined while he repeated high Class A. Hernandez lacks strength and plate discipline. He seldom pulls the ball and he swings at way too many bad pitches. He has plus speed but doesn't reach base enough to use it. There also are concerns surrounding his makeup. Hernandez' career is at a crossroads and he'll have to rebound in 2004, probably in Double-A. Last year's third-round pick, Tony Giarratano, has already moved way past him as the system's top shortstop.
Eckenstahler is 27, an elderly age for a prospect, and he has pitched just 23 innings in the majors. Signed as a fifth-year senior draft-and-follow out of Illinois State, he doesn't project as either a starter or a late-inning reliever. But he could have a big league career in middle relief because he's a 6-foot-7 lefthander with a 90 mph fastball. He has a somewhat deceptive motion that hitters have difficulty picking up, and he has enough slider and command to go once through an order. When Eckenstahler struggles, it's because he tends to nibble too much. He's effective against righthanders, so he's not limited to a situational role. Sometimes compared to Graeme Lloyd, he should break camp with the Tigers. Though he worked just 16 innings for Detroit in 2003, his 2.87 ERA was the lowest on the big league staff.
After seven seasons in the Dodgers system, Urdaneta signed with the Indians as a minor league free agent in November. A month later, the Tigers took him in the third round of the major league Rule 5 draft because they clocked him at 98 mph in the Venezuelan League. They carried three Rule 5 picks though the entire 2003 season, but after actively signing free agents this offseason, it will be harder to keep all three of their Rule 5 choices in 2004: first baseman/catcher Chris Shelton, situational lefty Mike Bumatay and Urdaneta. After saving 32 games in 2002, Urdaneta couldn't repeat that success in Double-A last year. While he complements his fastball with a hard slider, he has trouble repeating his pitches, doesn't throw enough strikes and doesn't miss enough bats. Urdaneta's velocity alone makes him a worthwhile gamble, but he has to be put on waivers and offered back to Cleveland for half the $50,000 draft price if Detroit can't give him a roster spot all season.
Another major league Rule 5 pick, Bumatay was targeted by the Tigers as a situtational lefthander and has a better chance of sticking with the big league club than Luis Urdaneta. Bumatay was selected from the Rockies, who had taken him from the Pirates in the 2002 minor league Rule 5 draft. He got hit hard in Double-A at the beginning of last season, but righted himself after a demotion and was untouchable over the last three months. His deceptive delivery is tough on lefties. Bumatay's best pitch is a 72-75 mph curveball, and he backs it up with an 87-89 mph fastball and an average changeup. His fastball runs in on lefties, while his changeup sinks. Bumatay isn't afraid to throw inside to righties, and his fastball picked up 1-2 mph last year. His biggest need is to improve his command. His stuff won't overmatch big league hitters by any means, so he'll have to locate his pitches to succeed. Colorado nearly protected Bumatay on its 40-man roster and probably would take him back if Detroit can't keep him on the big league roster.
Tejeda has hit for average and produced runs since arriving in the United States in 2001, leading the Midwest League with 106 RBIs in 2002. He has good knowledge of the strike zone and puts the ball in play consistently. Yet most scouts say Tejeda lacks the pop to be an impact player in the majors and may not reach that level. He has a long, slow stroke and has yet to show any pull power. He also lacks speed and is a liability on defense, especially with his poor footwork and range. Unless he starts yanking pitches out of the park, Tejeda will have to hit for an even higher average and produce even more runs to make it to Comerica Park. He'll start 2004 in Double-A.
The Tigers were thrilled when Woods was available to them with the 32nd overall pick in 2001, when he beat out Southern teammate Rickie Weeks (who would become the No. 2 overall pick in 2003 for the Brewers) for the Southwestern Athletic Conference batting title. After a solid pro debut, Woods injured his knee in his first game in 2002 and required arthroscopic surgery. He came back later that season, only to hurt his other knee, and his career has been a struggle ever since. Woods still has the quick hands that attracted scouts to him in the first place, but he hits the ball with a lot of topspin and his drives tend to die in the gaps. If he's going to be a big league hitter, he'll have to get more lift on the ball. While he draws a lot of walks, he'll also have to make more consistent contact. Woods has average speed and the hands and arm to play second base, though he's not always fluid defensively. Converted third baseman Ryan Raburn has moved past Woods, who'll head back to high Class A.
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