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After an excellent summer on the showcase circuit, which included striking out five straight batters at the Aflac All-America Game, Turner positioned himself as a mid-first-round pick for the 2009 draft. He looked sharper and sharper as the spring progressed, boosting his stock to where he was the consensus top high school righthander available in a standout class of prep arms. His price tag and choice of Scott Boras as his adviser scared some teams off, but the Tigers aren't afraid to gamble in the draft and selected him with the ninth overall pick. He signed at the Aug. 17 deadline, getting a $4.7 million bonus--the highest ever for a high school pitcher--as part of a $5.5 million major league contract. Signing that late didn't allow Turner to make his pro debut in 2009, but he enters the system more polished than most high schoolers. His pitching coach at Westminster Christian Academy (St. Louis) was former all-star Todd Worrell, and ex-big leaguers Andy Benes and Mike Matheny also had sons on the team. Turner's older brother Ben formed the other half of his battery growing up and now catches for Missouri. If Turner hadn't signed, he would have attended North Carolina, which also had a commitment from Missouri's top prep pitcher in 2008, Royals righthander Tim Melville. At 6-foot-5 and 210 pounds, Turner has an ideal pitcher's frame and the stuff to match. He throws his fourseam fastball at 92-94 mph and will touch 97-98 multiple times per game. He gets good, late action on his fastball and locates it to both sides of the plate. He'll also mix in two-seamers on occasion. Turner's curveball isn't as good as his heater, but it projects as a future plus pitch. He throws it between 78-83 mph with good depth and sharp 12-to-6 break. His changeup should be a solid third pitch as he gets more experience with it. A good athlete, he has smooth mechanics and the ball comes out of his hand cleanly with explosive late life. Turner is still a little inconsistent with his curveball, though that's typical for high school pitchers, especially those that can blow fastballs by their competition so easily. His changeup will need to be refined if he's going to turn over pro lineups a few times every five days. Mostly, Turner just needs to pitch more and face quality competition. He made just one outing in the instructional league because he developed some shoulder stiffness and the Tigers shut him down. They were just being cautious, and there are no major concerns about his health. Detroit scouting director David Chadd historically favors college players. When he takes a high schooler with an early pick, he has made some terrific choices, including Jon Lester in the second round in 2002 (with the Red Sox) and Rick Porcello in the first round in 2007. Turner profiles as a top-of-the-rotation starter and likely will begin his pro career at low Class A West Michigan. He may not race to the majors as quickly as Porcello--who was regarded as a slightly better prospect at the same stage of his career--but Turner shouldn't require much seasoning either. He could be pitching in Detroit by the end of 2011.
The Tigers signed Crosby for $748,500 as a sixth-round pick in 2007, only to see him hurt his elbow in instructional league and require Tommy John surgery. Because he entered 2009 with just five innings of pro experience, they limited him to five innings or 75-80 pitchers per outing in low Class A. Crosby starred despite the short leash, going 5-2, 0.78 in the second half and drawing comparisons to Clayton Kershaw. Crosby has well-above-average velocity for a lefthander, sitting at 92-95 mph and getting as high as 98 with late life. He also throws a true curveball with sharp downward break and tight rotation. His curve has the potential to be a plus pitch, and when he misses with it, he misses down rather than in a hitter's wheelhouse. He also shows some feel for a changeup. He has some deception and uses his height and high three-quarters arm slot to throw on a steep downward plane. A very good athlete, he was an all-state wide receiver at his suburban Chicago high school. Crosby needs work on the consistency and command of all of his pitches. Because his offerings aren't fully developed, he relies on blowing his fastball by hitters. He lost a chance to work on his secondary pitches during instructional league, as he was shut down after a couple starts with shoulder tendinitis. Crosby has an electric arm and is one of the game's best lefthanded pitching prospects. Rick Porcello notwithstanding, Detroit typically moves its pitchers one step at a time, so Crosby figures to spend 2010 at high Class A Lakeland. If he can handle a full workload, he figures to accelerate his timetable.
A former Georgia Tech point guard recruit, Jackson signed with the Yankees for a theneighth- round-record $800,000 in 2005. He had a mixed performance when he reached Triple-A in 2009, hitting .300 but showing little power and slumping in the second half. He came to Detroit in December as part of the three-team trade that sent Curtis Granderson to New York and Edwin Jackson to Arizona. Jackson brings his athleticism to bear defensively in center field, where he glides to balls with good range, and offensively, where he repeats his swing to produce gap power. He has shown the ability to hit for average, batting .300 or better in three of his five pro seasons. He's a tick above-average runner underway who has improved his basestealing ability. His arm strength is above average for center field and allows him to play right field as well. In an attempt to hit for more power, Jackson lost his rhythm, stopped making contact and had just nine extra-base hits in the second half of last season. He has hit just 30 homers in 565 pro games, and he's likely to have average power at best. He's not selective enough to take walks consistently, and he needs a better two-strike approach. Jackson had reached a crossroads with the Yankees but will get the opportunity to replace Granderson in center field for the Tigers. He may be better suited to hit at the top of the lineup than Granderson was.
The NCAA tried to make an example of Oliver in May 2008, suspending him for having an adviser present during negotiations with the Twins two years earlier, when they drafted him in the 17th round out of high school. Oliver sued the NCAA, was reinstated for the 2009 season and received a $750,000 settlement. He had an up and down junior season at Oklahoma State, but the Tigers loved his live left arm and gave him a $1.495 million bonus as a second-round pick. Oliver throws harder than most lefthanders, pitching at 92-94 mph and occasionally reaching the upper 90s. He throws strikes and gets average movement with his four-seam fastball, and Detroit is having him add a two-seamer and emphasizing pounding the bottom of the strike zone. He pitches with clean mechanics and an easy arm action. Part of the reason Oliver struggled last spring was that he was essentially operating with just one pitch, throwing 95 percent fastballs in some starts. He had shown a good curveball in the past but it was virtually non-existent. He also has a cutter/slider and a changeup, but he needs to throw them more to maximize his effectiveness. Oliver also has a few kinks to iron out in his delivery. He sometimes opens up too early and tends to land a little hard on his heel. The Tigers made some tweaks to help him use his strength and leverage more efficiently. If Oliver develops his secondary stuff, he has the potential to be a frontline starter. If not, he could wind up as a closer. After getting some experience in the Arizona Fall League, he could make his pro debut in high Class A.
The son of former NFL lineman and ESPN analyst Mark Schlereth, Daniel overcame Tommy John surgery in 2006 to go 26th overall in the draft two years later. Ten months after signing with the Diamondbacks for $1.33 million, he was in the big leagues. Arizona shipped him to Detroit in December in a deal that brought Edwin Jackson to the desert. Schlereth has the potential to be a rare power-pitching lefty closer. He has a 93-96 mph fastball with riding life, and he can buckle knees with his hard 82-84 mph curveball. Though he didn't need it in college, he also flashes a changeup that dives and floats. He's intense on the mound and wants the ball late in games. Schlereth struggled in the big leagues because he battled his command. He couldn't maintain a consistent release point, hurting his ability to locate his pitches. He needs to throw more strikes, and batters shouldn't tee off on his swing-and-miss stuff if he does. As soon as Schlereth works out his control issues, he'll be pitching in the late innings for the Tigers.
The Tigers drafted both of assistant GM Al Avila's sons in 2008, Alex in the fifth round and Alan in the 47th. They signed Alex, who was in his first year as a full-time catcher, and he reached Detroit last year in surprisingly quick fashion. Not only did he get the call in August when the Tigers needed an extra catcher and lefty bat, but he responded with five homers in 61 at-bats. Avila can catch up to good fastballs and drive the ball to all fields, projecting as a possible .280 hitter with 15 homers in the big leagues. He has improved tremendously in a short time as a catcher, and one scout who saw him in 2009 couldn't believe Avila was the same guy he saw in college. He's agile and has solid catch-and-throw skills, and he led the Double-A Eastern League by throwing out 44 percent of basestealers last season. He has tremendous makeup and instincts after growing up around the game. Avila has yet to prove he can handle lefthanders, hitting .234/.316/.360 against them in 175 minor league at-bats. As is the case with most catchers, he's a below-average runner. Avila leapfrogged Dusty Ryan on the organizational depth chart and profiles as solid regular. He'll likely split time with Gerald Laird in 2010 as he prepares to become Detroit's full-time catcher in 2011.
After hitting .245/.304/.272 in high Class A in 2008, Nunez was much improved after taking a step back to West Michigan last season. He emerged as the system's best infield prospect, with the lone negative a July suspension for what the Tigers deemed "conduct detrimental to the organization." Nunez is a very good defender with smooth actions, fluid footwork and one of the best arms in the system. He has good bat control, grinds out at-bats and finds a way to get on base and score runs. His speed rates a 65 on the 20-80 scouting scale and he led Detroit farmhands with 48 steals last year. Despite the suspension, the Tigers regard him as a hard worker with great makeup. Nunez has a tendency to jump at the first pitch and get behind in the count. He's undersized and doesn't project to hit for much power. After getting caught stealing 25 times, he needs to work on getting better reads and jumps. At shortstop, he sometimes lets the ball play him instead of being more aggressive. One scout from outside the organization compared Nunez to Orlando Cabrera wit
Signed out of the Dominican Republic as a third baseman in 2003, Ramirez moved to left field in 2007 and made his way to the majors last season. He homered off Matt Harrison in his first big league game, but for the most part came back to earth bit after having the best minor league season (.303/.371/.522) of his career in 2008. Although he's still a bit raw, Ramirez continues to show off tantalizing five-tool ability. Both his power and speed grade as above-average and he could be a 25-25 man in the majors. He has the bat speed to catch up with major league fastballs and the swing to hit .280-.300. Ramirez has a swing-hard-in-case-you-hit-it approach, so his power comes with a lot of strikeouts. His stroke can get a bit long at times and he's pull-oriented, leaving him exposed to breaking balls off the plate. He fits best in left field because he's still learning to play the outfield, but he has a strong arm. He needs to take better routes on flyballs and get better jumps on the bases. Detroit doesn't have an established left fielder, but Ramirez could use some more seasoning at Triple-A Toledo. He could push for a regular job in the majors by the end of 2010.
Fields grew up around baseball, as his father Bruce won three minor league batting titles and reached the big league briefly with the Tigers and Mariners. He was Detroit's big league batting coach in 2003, when he let Daniel take batting practice at Comerica Park and the 12-year-old wowed onlookers by homering with a wood bat. The Tigers lured Fields away from a Michigan commitment with an over-slot bonus of $1.625 million after selecting him in the sixth round last June. Fields is a quality athlete with the strength and natural lift in his lefthanded swing to hit home runs. Though he's a below-average runner out of the box, he grades out as plus underway. He runs the 60-yard dash in 6.6 seconds and has the instincts to steal bases. His arm rates as average to a tick above. Detroit also praises his makeup and work ethic. Though he'll get every opportunity to stay at shortstop, Fields is big for the position and doesn't have a quick first step. He'll have to work hard to remain there, but most scouts project that he'll have to shift to third base or the outfield. The best athlete in the system, Fields excites the Tigers with his power-speed combination and good bloodlines. He'll get his pro career started in low Class A.
A rare second-base prospect who was actually drafted at the position, Sizemore has batted .296 since signing as a fifth-round pick in 2006. He represented the Tigers at the Futures Game in 2009, when he easily handled the transition to Double-A and Triple-A and earned a spot on the 40-man roster. Sizemore is a blue-collar grinder who comes to the park ready to play every day. He has a compact swing and a knack for putting the barrel on the ball. His hitting ability grades as his lone plus tool, but his instincts help the rest of his game play up. He has average speed and a knack for stealing bases, succeeding in 21 of 25 attempts last season. The Tigers played Sizemore at shortstop in his pro debut, but gave up on that experiment after one season. Even at second base, his range is fringy and his arm is just adequate. He has trouble turning the double play, though he has shown improvement. Sizemore broke his left ankle on a double-play pivot in the Arizona Fall League in October. Expected to be healthy for spring training, he's the frontrunner to take over for departed free agent Placido Polanco in Detroit. Sizemore profiles as a steady if not spectacular regular.
Strieby started his college career at Edmonds (Wash.) CC before transferring to Kentucky, where he was the Southeastern Conference player of the year in 2006. He broke Lakeland's franchise home run record with 29 in 2008, and he was on pace to break the Florida State League mark before a broken hamate bone in his left hand shut him down. He hasn't been able to show off his above-average power as much as he'd like since, as the injury continued to bother him last year. He missed three weeks to have a second surgery, nixing a trip to the Arizona Fall League. A sturdy 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds, Strieby stands out with his power. Double-A Erie's Jerry Uht Park measures just 312 feet down the left-field line, while players routinely bounce balls off the hockey arena just beyond the wall, Strieby hits balls over the building. He has the bat speed to turn around major league fastballs. For a big man, he stays inside the ball well and can hit to all fields, but there are holes in his swing and he's an average hitter at best, projecting to hit around .250 in the major leagues. With Miguel Cabrera at first base in Detroit, Strieby has worked in left field, but scouts don't see that as a viable option because he has below-average athleticism and speed. His best shot at regular playing time with the Tigers is probably as a DH. Added to the 40-man roster in the offseason, he's ready for Triple-A.
After turning down the Astros as a 38th-round pick in 2007, Weinhardt was a $15,000 bargain for the Tigers the following year as a senior sign out of Oklahoma State, where he roomed with Andy Oliver, Detroit's 2009 second-round pick. After transferring from Hill (Texas) JC, Weinhardt was a swingman for the Cowboys as a sophomore before becoming a full-time reliever in his final two years of college. The bullpen role suits him best, and he has yet to start a game in pro ball. Weinhardt creates deception with a low, almost sidearm, slinging arm action. But he's not all smoke and mirrors, as his lively fastball sits at 92-94 mph and touches 95 every time out. He also has a hard, late-breaking slider and a changeup. Weinhardt capped off 2009 by leading the Arizona Fall League with 29 strikeouts in 18 innings. Some club officials wanted him in the big league bullpen at the end of last season, so it will be no surprise if he makes the team out of spring training this year.
Iorg has good bloodlines, as his father Garth and uncle Dane both played in the big leagues. After a solid 2005 freshman season at Alabama, he spent two years in Portugal on a Mormon mission, but the Tigers believed enough in his talent to pay him $1.5 million as a sixth-round pick in 2007. Iorg has an athletic, physical frame and unquestionable tools. An above-average shortstop with plenty of range and arm strength, he's more advanced as a defender at this point. He has good bat speed, a nice swing and can put on a show in batting practice, but his hitting ability hasn't shown up consistently against live pitching. His career batting line as a pro is an underwhelming .235/.299/.364. He hit worse than that in 2009, and his anemic results last year were actually inflated by Erie's cozy home park, as he hit .205/.266/.307 on the road. His pitch recognition isn't good and he often gets himself out by swinging through pitches outside the strike zone. Iorg is a skilled defender, but the development of his bat will determine whether he becomes an everyday player or a utilityman. He batted .217 in the Arizona Fall League, so he'll return to Double-A to open 2010.
Satterwhite struggled as a starter during his junior season at Mississippi, allowing the Tigers to get an electric arm in the second round of the 2008 draft. Detroit liked him better as a closer anyway, and he had shown he could handle that role in his first two years with the Rebels and with Team USA. Satterwhite has an overpowering fastball, sitting at 94-96 mph and dialing it up to 98 at times with late, nasty sink. He also throws a good slider that has a chance to be an above-average pitch. He'll flash a changeup from time to time, but he's mostly a two-pitch guy. Satterwhite has the big, physical presence teams like on the mound. While his frame helps him throw hard, he has long arms and legs and a lot of moving parts in his delivery, which causes him some command difficulties. He walked 27 batters and threw 12 wild pitches in 49 innings last year. He also had some shoulder soreness that limited him to three appearances in the final month and kept him out of the Arizona Fall League, though he's expected to be ready for spring training. If he stays healthy, Satterwhite has the stuff to pitch at the back of a major league bullpen. If his control improves, he could be an all-star closer, though some scouts believe his inability to repeat his delivery will limit him to a set-up role.
The Dodgers originally signed Figaro in 2004 but released him after his first pro season. The Tigers signed him the following spring and he joined his cousin, Fernando Rodney, on their big league pitching staff last year. Figaro probably didn't gain many fans in Detroit, as he was thrust into the spotlight and was one of the goats in the Tigers' late-season collapse, but he has the stuff to warrant another chance. He has a power arm, with a sinker that sits at 92-95 mph and tops out at 98. He throws two hard breaking balls: a curveball that peaks at 80 mph, and a mid-80s slider that can get a little short and look more like a cutter at times. He also throws a changeup, but he doesn't use it much because it's his fourth-best offering. Figaro's offspeed stuff and command can be inconsistent, but he has a power arsenal and can get swings and misses with three of his pitches. While he has spent most of his career starting, the Tigers have a crowded rotation, so he could come out of the bullpen and get an occasional spot start until things clear out. Otherwise he'll move into the Triple-A rotation. He has the ceiling of a back-end starter.
A former 14th-round pick, Wells didn't emerge as a prospect until 2008, his fourth pro season. He made the Midwest League all-star and Arizona Fall League all-prospect teams, and he joined the Mariners' Greg Halman as the only minor leaguers to reach 25 homers and 25 steals. Wells' hope for a strong encore was dashed when he broke the hamate bone in his left hand in the first week of the 2009 season, had surgery and didn't return until June 9. Hamate injuries can sap power, but Wells homered in his first game back and ended the season with 15 longballs. However, he also struck out in 27 percent of his plate appearances because his swing gets long and he doesn't have much of a two-strike approach. He also didn't show the same prowess on the basepaths that he did the year before. Wells is an above-average runner and sound defender with a cannon arm. He showed a low-90s fastball on the mound back in his college days at Towson. He'll try to recapture his 2008 form in Triple-A this season. Even he can't cut back on his strikeouts, he still has enough tools to play in the majors as a platoon or fourth outfielder.
After signing for $200,000 out of Venezuela as a 16-year-old, Garcia spent 2008 in the Rookie-level Venezuelan Summer League. He then made the leap to West Michigan for most of 2009, showing how much the usually conservative Tigers believe in his tools. He looked his age at times last year--both at the plate and in the field--but keeps a level head and loves playing the game. Garcia has a quick swing and good raw power for an 18-year-old. He also has plus speed and arm strength and has no discernible physical shortcoming. He still has a lot to learn in all aspects of the game, however, from plate discipline to basestealing jumps to outfield routes. Garcia has grown taller and added muscle since signing, and he now fits best in right field. He should have enough bat for the position if he can refine his approach. After playing briefly in high Class A last May, he'll return there to start 2010.
Villarreal was an overlooked arm in his first few years in the system, and shoulder surgery didn't help his cause. After putting together an impressive 2009 season in low Class A, he finally started to get noticed. He began the year in the West Michigan bullpen before moving to the rotation for the second half of the season and finishing with numbers similar to Casey Crosby's. Villarreal doesn't quite have Crosby's stuff, but it's still very good. He throws a 93-94 mph fastball that he can locate to all quadrants of the strike zone, and he can pump it up to 97 on occasion. His slider is the best in the system, and he's working to hone a changeup. Villarreal pitches with good tempo, remains under control and has an authoritative presence on the mound. He profiles better as a reliever in the long run, but will continue getting starts and logging innings to help develop his pitches. He's slotted to spend all of 2010 in high Class A.
Gayhart was Rice's best outfielder and hit near the top of the lineup as a junior in 2008. He pitched in only four games, but that was enough to get him noticed, and the Tigers signed him as a pitcher for $125,000 in the 13th round. He dominated Class A hitters and held his own in Double-A during his first full pro season. Gayhart's fastball works at 92-93 mph with good life, and he holds that velocity on back-to-back days. Being relatively new to pitching, his secondary stuff has further to go than is the case with most 23-year-old pitchers. His slider improved significantly last year, and he flashes a changeup that has a chance to be effective. Gayhart is a hard worker and has impressive makeup. He attends all of the organization's classes for Latin players so he can give them support and learn Spanish. Gayhart got extra opportunity to work on his secondary pitches late in the year, when he took the mound as an emergency starter and the Tigers kept him in the Erie rotation to log more innings. He could start again this season in Double-A, but his long-term profile is as a reliever.
Born in Illinois, Putkonen grew up in suburban Atlanta, a hotbed for amateur baseball talent. He went undrafted out of high school and ended up at North Carolina, where he missed the 2005 season due to Tommy John surgery. The Tigers made him their third-round pick in 2007 and he has moved at a snail's pace since because of more arm problems. He missed nearly two months with a shoulder strain that required surgery in 2008, so he didn't reach low Class A until nearly two years after he was drafted. The towering righthander has long arms and legs but a smooth, effortless delivery that almost lulls hitters to sleep. He throws on a good downhill plane that generates a lot of grounders. Putkonen showed better poise on the mound last season, and his stuff was up a tick as well, as his fastball operated at 92-95 mph. He throws both a curveball and a slider, and he also has a feel for a changeup. Detroit would like to see him focus on one breaking ball and his better option is his slider, an 80-82 mph pitch with some bite that misses bats. Putkonen had a strong second half in 2009, encouraging the Tigers that he can become a big league starter. He'll move up to high Class A this year and try to accelerate his progress.
Sborz won a gold medal with USA Baseball's youth team in 2001 and had a standout high school career in northern Virginia, pitching his way into the second round of the 2003 draft. Though he still hasn't reached the majors after seven pro seasons, he still has some prospect value. Though he missed much of the 2006 (shoulder), 2007 (elbow) and 2009 (oblique) seasons with injuries, the Tigers added him to their 40-man roster in November. When he's healthy, Sborz has some of the best stuff in the system. He throws a heavy fastball around 94 mph, and he can get it up to 98 at times. He also throws a hard curveball at 79-84 mph. Strictly a two-pitch guy, he has a lot of effort in his delivery, which contributes to control and health woes. He reached Double-A (and Triple-A) for the first time in 2009, and if he remains healthy he could be another power arm in the Detroit bullpen. He could earn his first big league callup this year if he performs well at Toledo.
Stohr went in the sixth round of the 2008 draft, making him the highest pick from North Florida since Todd Dunn was a Brewers supplemental first-rounder 15 years earlier, Stohr first put himself on the map in 2007 as a closer in the Cape Cod League, where his father Keith (now a scout with the Cubs) used to manage. Stohr has a loose arm that delivers 93-94 mph fastballs with little effort. The ball jumps out of his hand, and his pitches have late life. He'll also mix in a two-seam fastball with good sink, a true curveball with deep break and a cutter that gets up to 88 mph. Stohr needs to get stronger, because he loses 2-3 mph off his pitches when he works on consecutive days. He also faded in the second half of 2009, posting a 5.46 ERA after the all-star break. The Tigers would like to see Stohr tighten his command and show greater confidence on the mound because he has what it takes to be a middle reliever in the big leagues. He'll move up to high Class A in 2010.
Mercedes is a behemoth who gained about 50 pounds in the first year after he signed, though it looks like he'll be able to carry that amount of weight. He led the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League with 26 appearances and 16 saves in his U.S. debut last season. Mercedes throws a heavy fastball that parks at 92-93 mph and peaks at 95. He also throws a true slider in the low 80s. At times it has good tilt and misses bats, but at others it just spins without much break. Mercedes still is working to learn a changeup and almost never throws it in games at this point. Because his control is erratic, his outings tend to be interesting. Mercedes has the resilience to pitch on consecutive days and recover quickly from bad performances. If he can do a better job of throwing strikes and locating his pitches, he has a future as a late-inning reliever. He's ticketed to return to low Class A after getting a cameo there to finish 2009.
In 2009, Gaynor became the first player in Western Kentucky history to record a 20-20 season. He helped the Hilltoppers finish second in NCAA regional play, the best season in school history. He ranked third in Division I with 196 total bases, trailing only No. 2 overall pick Dustin Ackley (North Carolina) and top 2010 prospect Bryce Brentz (Middle Tennessee State). Gaynor's performance pushed him into the third round of the draft and earned him a $392,400 bonus. He can put a charge into a ball and had no problems putting balls in the seats at Comerica Park during a predraft workout. As a pro, he has looked impressive during batting practice but significantly less so against live pitching. There's a lot of noise in his swing that the Tigers are trying to calm down. He has a lot of preswing hand movement and uses a big leg kick, causing him to be late on balls. Gaynor has a big, physical body and is more athletic than most players his size, featuring average speed. He's not flashy, but he makes all the plays at third and has an average arm. His speed is average to a tick above, but it's his raw power that gets him noticed. Gaynor is a hard-nosed player with a strong work ethic, so if he can quiet his swing and utilize his power, he could develop into a big league regular. Given his struggles in his pro debut, he may open 2010 in low Class A.
Boesch put up uninspiring numbers in his first three seasons before leading the Eastern League in homers in 2009. Scouts who saw him last year were skeptical, however, saying his numbers were inflated by Erie's cozy ballpark, where he hit 19 of his 28 longballs. Boesch does have considerable raw power, but it's produced with a stiff, mechanical uppercut swing. He has bat speed, but his stroke can get long and has an arm bar that results in a lot of holes. He has particular difficulty pulling his hands in when pitchers come inside with fastballs. Boesch is a fringe-average runner but moves well for his size, and he has an adequate arm that's playable in right field. He struggles against lefthanders and may not be more than a platoon player, especially if he doesn't improve his approach and ability to make contact. He'll get his first Triple-A opportunity in 2010.
Not many 48th-round picks make it to the major leagues. Then again, not many 48th-round picks have power like Ryan does. Signed as a draft-and-follow out of Merced (Calif.) JC in 2004, Ryan staked a claim to Detroit's starting catching job when he hit .315/.370/.548 during a September callup in 2008. But the Tigers traded for Gerald Laird that offseason, and Ryan since has been leapfrogged by Alex Avila. Ryan projects more as a backup than a regular, but his power off the bench could be useful. He went just 4-for-26 (.154) with Detroit last season, but one scout who saw him in the majors said he hit balls as far as Miguel Cabrera did during batting practice. Ryan's swing can get long and has some loop to it, which leads to difficulty making consistent contact, as does his pull-oriented approach. Big and lumbering, he doesn't move well laterally and is slow getting out of his crouch to make throws from behind the plate. He threw out just 25 percent of basestealers in 2009 and is just adequate defensively. Laird and Avila will handle the Tigers' catching duties in 2010, so Ryan faces more time in Triple-A.
Several interesting players were selected in the 20th round of the 2006 draft. Righthanders Brad Boxberger and Billy Bullock didn't sign, instead heading to college and becoming premium picks in the 2009 draft. Outfielder Domonic Brown turned pro and has become the Phillies' top prospect. While Fien can't match their prospect status, he beat them all to the big leagues, pitching 21⁄3 hitless innings of relief against the White Sox in his debut last July 26. Fien works primarily off his fastball, throwing a four-seamer at 91-93 mph and mixing in a two-seamer for more sink. He'll flash a promising slider but it's inconsistent, and his changeup lags behind his other pitches. Once he refines his secondary pitches, sharpens his command and learns to read hitters' swings, he'll get a longer look in Detroit. He profiles as a middle reliever.
Green missed the entire 2006 season at Kentucky after having Tommy John surgery and pitched just 18 innings for the Wildcats the next spring. The Red Sox took a chance on him in the 15th round, watched him star in the Cape Cod League and offered him $800,000. He turned them down and returned to school, which proved to be a costly decision when he struggled as a redshirt junior. He signed with the Tigers for $373,000 as a third-rounder in 2008 and hasn't made a lot of progress since. He tried to hide a shoulder injury last season, but the Tigers shut him down in late July. A physical specimen at a chiseled 6-foot-7 and 240 pounds, Green has an imposing presence on the mound. When he's right, his fastball sits at 94-95 mph and bumps 97 on a steep downward plane. He also has an 87-88 mph cutter and an adequate changeup. Green battles his command, so he gets hit harder than someone with his stuff should. He has worked just 54 innings in pro ball, none above Class A, at age 24, so 2010 figures to be a crucial year for him. If he's healthy, he'll start the season in Double-A.
Teams were split on Robbins heading into the 2009 draft. Some liked him as a pitcher because he showed a heavy 86-90 mph fastball from the left side, while others preferred him as a hitter. His commitment to Washington State, where he would have played both ways, muddled the situation further. He lasted 30 rounds but ultimately signed for $235,000. The Tigers like his power potential and will make him a full-time hitter. He's a big, strong kid who swings with authority. He has good bat speed and the ball jumps off his bat. With a stout, pudgy frame, Robbins never will be confused with an elite athlete, and the Tigers already have shifted him to first base. He has an above-average arm and is learning the nuances of the position. Robbins has more speed than most 6-foot-1, 232-pounders, and he even played some center field in high school. He should be able to maintain good conditioning if he works at it. He'll jump to low Class A for his first full pro season.
A fourth-round pick who signed for $245,700, Gomez was the second of 26 Puerto Rican players drafted in 2009, a standout year for the island's baseball talent. He didn't perform well in the spring before the draft, nor after turning pro. Gomez is athletic and already bigger than his cousin Alex Cintron, who has played parts of nine seasons in the big leagues. His 6-foot-4 frame draws comparisons to a young Alex Rios and gives Gomez lots of room for projection. He's a switch-hitter whose swing works better from the left side at this point. He's more of a gap-to-gap hitter with the potential for 25 doubles and 10 homers per season. Currently a shortstop, Gomez may outgrow the position once he fills out his 6-foot-4 frame. He has a solid arm and plus speed, running the 60-yard dash in 6.6 seconds, so he may end up in center field. Every aspect of Gomez's game is a work in progress, so he'll start 2010 in extended spring training before reporting to short-season Oneonta in June.