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Turner was a dominant high school pitcher both for Westminster Christian Academy (St. Louis) and on the showcase circuit. At the 2008 Aflac All-American Game, he struck out five straight hitters. While at Westminster Christian, he benefited from the tutelage of pitching coach Todd Worrell, a former all-star closer, and also soaked up knowledge from ex big leaguers Andy Benes and Mike Matheny, who had sons on the team. Though Turner's signability worried some clubs, the Tigers were undeterred and drafted him with the ninth overall pick in 2009. They lured him away from a North Carolina commitment with a $5.5 million big league contract that included a $4.7 million bonus, a record at the time for a prep pitcher. He pitched well at two Class A stops during his first season in pro ball in 2010, then pitched in the Futures Game and made an emergency start in Detroit last July. The first high school pick from the 2009 draft to reach the majors, he returned for two more starts in September. Turner is still just 20 and extremely polished for his age, showing remarkable feel for pitching and maturity. Big and athletic, he repeats his smooth delivery well and is a prolific strike-thrower, averaging just 2.2 walks per nine innings as a pro. He works from a three-quarters arm slot and gets good angle on his two- and four-seam fastballs. Turner sits at 90-94 mph and touches 95 with late, heavy life, which helps him keep the ball on the ground and in the park. His fastball usually isn't a swing-and-miss pitch but his curveball and his changeup both can miss bats and grade from average to plus. His curveball is a high-70s hammer at times though still inconsistent, and he leaned on it more than his changeup when he got to the big leagues. Some scouts think his changeup could end up being as good or better than his curve. He sells his changeup with deceptive arm speed and, while in the minors, showed a willingness to throw it even when behind in the count. Turner has a tall, slender frame and will have to continue to strengthen his body to endure the grind of the long pro season. He has had minor elbow and shoulder stiffness early in 2011, but he recovered easily and never has had any major health concerns. Detroit is looking for a fifth starter and Turner could compete for that job in spring training. He wasn't quite ready when the Tigers called him up in July, but he cruised at Triple-A Toledo after they sent him back down. The most likely scenario is that Turner opens 2012 in Triple-A and arrives in the majors quickly if he gets off to a good start. While he doesn't have the pure stuff of an ace, he has the repertoire and command to be a No. 2 or 3 starter in the big leagues. While he didn't reach Detroit quite as fast as fellow high school first-rounder Rick Porcello, Turner has better stuff and a brighter future.
The Tigers lost their 2010 first-round pick after signing Jose Valverde as a free agent prior to the season but still landed one of the top players on their board with their first selection (44th overall). Castellanos slid due to his bonus demands, then signed at the Aug. 16 deadline for a supplemental first-round record $3.45 million. After a slow start in April, Castellanos led the low Class A Midwest League with 158 hits in 2011. Castellanos has a good swing and hitting instincts, gets great extension and uses the opposite field well. Though he hit .312 last year, he also struck out 130 times, in part because he tends to chase pitches He showed more plate discipline and a better approach as the season went on, making in-game adjustments and staying inside the ball better. Castellanos isn't a major home run threat yet but barrels the ball well and tied for second in the MWL with 36 doubles. Once he gets stronger, pulls more pitches and adds more backspin, he should have at least average power and perhaps more. A high school shortstop, he's learning to play third base. He has solid speed, moves well and while there's length to his arm stroke his throws have good carry. Castellanos has all-star potential but needs at least two more years before he's ready for Detroit. He'll head to high Class A Lakeland in 2012.
Smyly parlayed his extra leverage as a draft-eligible sophomore into a $1.1 million bonus as a second-rounder in 2010. Making his pro debut in 2011, he reached Double-A Erie in July and allowed just six earned runs in eight outings. After the season, he threw 17 shutout innings for Team USA at the World Cup and Pan American Games. Smyly has an advanced understanding of how to attack hitters, which allows his average stuff to play up. He throws his fastball at 87-92 mph with slight tailing life, commanding it down in the zone to get grounders. He uses both a curveball and a slider, with scouts split on which is more effective. He also has a splitter-like changeup and a mid-80s cutter that helps him against righthanders. Smyly repeats his easy delivery and maintains a consistent high three-quarters arm slot, making it difficult for hitters to figure out what he's throwing. He redshirted in his first season at Arkansas with a stress fracture in his elbow and missed six weeks early last year with a sore arm, so he has to prove he can handle a starter's workload. The Tigers aren't afraid to fast-track their pitching prospects, and Smyly's polish and performance merit a swift rise. A future No. 3 or 4 starter, he could open 2012 in Triple-A and finish it in the big league rotation.
Crosby signed for $748,500 as a fifth-round pick in 2007, then hurt his elbow during instructional league that fall. Tommy John surgery sidelined him for most of 2008 and swelling in his elbow cost him most of 2010, though he didn't require a second operation. His 132 innings in Double-A last year exceeded his previous total of 122 in three pro seasons. Crosby throws two- and four-seam fastballs, working at 92-94 mph with the ability to hit 96. His size helps him get good downhill plane, which leads to swings and misses and groundouts. His curveball flashes plus potential with sharp bite and depth, though at times it can get slurvy. He throws his changeup with good arm speed and sink. Crosby still needs to make significant strides with throwing strikes. He tried to be too fine with his pitches against Double-A hitters. He needs to repeat his mechanics better, and his athleticism should help him make adjustments with his lower half in his delivery. Staying healthy for a full season was a significant step for Crosby, though his health and control issues still may land him in the bullpen. The Tigers will continue to develop him in hopes he can become a No. 2 or 3 starter, though it's possible he could reach the majors in 2012 if used as a reliever. Protected on the 40-man roster in November, he'll advance to Triple-A.
Oliver sued the NCAA in 2008 after it suspended him for having an adviser while negotiating with the Twins when they drafted him out of high school. Reinstated after winning the lawsuit, he received a $750,000 settlement and signed for $1.495 million as a second-round pick in 2009. He has pitched in the majors in each of his two pro seasons, but hasn't shown the control or command to survive there. Oliver's best pitch is his 92-96 mph fastball, though his inability to command his heater is one of his biggest obstacles. He couldn't overpower big league hitters, who pounded him when he couldn't locate his fastball. He once had a plus curveball in college, but he now has a below-average slider that doesn't fool lefties. His changeup is inconsistent but shows flashes of becoming an average pitch. The Tigers haven't helped Oliver by rushing him to the big leagues before he was ready. He tinkered too much with his pitches after getting sent back down to Triple-A last June. Like Casey Crosby, Oliver is a power lefty who needs to throw more strikes Scouts seem more optimistic about Crosby's chances to do so. Without a reliable breaking ball, Oliver's bullpen utility might be limited, so Detroit would like him to figure out how to command his fastball and become an effective starter.
When Paulino was an amateur in the Dominican Republic, he had a mid-to-high 80s fastball and had trouble finding the strike zone. The Tigers saw a tall, skinny righthander with an extremely loose arm and the chance to add considerable velocity, so they signed him for $100,000. His velocity has soared since then, and he emerged as one of the top pitching prospects in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in 2011. Paulino has grown taller and gained weight since signing, helping him add roughly 10 mph to his fastball. After touching 95 mph in his 2010 pro debut, he sat at 92-95 mph last year and peaked at 97 while holding his velocity deep into outings. Because his frame has more room to add strength, some scouts believe he could throw even harder in the future. His four-seam fastball has good life, generating swings and misses when he throws it in the strike zone. Paulino's curveball has made strides but is still inconsistent, and his changeup is still below average. His control improved markedly in 2011, though it still has a ways to go and he's prone to bouts of wildness. His long arms help him get angle and leverage from his three-quarters arm slot. Paulino has the frame and arm speed to become a starter with a power arsenal. He'll need to refine his secondary pitches and control to reach his ceiling. Years away from the majors, he'll make the jump to low Class A in 2012.
Brantly's performance has been up and down since he signed for $330,300 as a sophomore- eligible third-round pick in 2010. He was mediocre at low Class A West Michigan in his pro debut but much improved when he opened last season there. He struggled after a July promotion to Lakeland, then hit .388 in 15 Arizona Fall League games. An offensive- oriented catcher with a short lefthanded swing, Brantly has a balanced approach and makes consistent contact to all fields, though he lacks patience. His swing is geared more toward line drives than loft, but he has enough strength to hit 10-15 homers per season. Though he's a well below-average runner, Brantly is athletic for a catcher. He has solid catch-and-throw skills and still is working on his game-calling, blocking and receiving. His quick release helps his average arm play up, and he threw out 36 percent of basestealers last season. The Tigers project Brantly as an everyday catcher, though others see a batfirst backup. He still has to prove he can hit high Class A pitching, but the Tigers may push him to Double-A.
Burgos pitched the JC of Florida to the 2010 Junior College World Series, earning juco all-America honors and then signing for $152,100 as a fifth-round pick. He didn't realize the offseason preparation needed to be physically ready for pro ball, so the Tigers held him back in extended spring training last year until June, after which he was one of the Midwest League's best pitchers. Burgos has a small frame and fairly average stuff, but he mixes five pitches to keep hitters off balance. He throws an 87-93 mph fastball with two-seam action and commands it well. He has nice feel for his changeup, a plus pitch at times. Burgos also has a pair of fringy breaking balls in his curveball and slider, and he also owns a cutter. He eventually may go to just one breaking pitch to focus on its development. He held lefties to a .152/.211/.205 line in 2011. While Burgos has a tiny frame, he's lefthanded and has enough stuff to remain a starter. If he refines his pitches, he has the upside of a No. 3 starter, but more realistically he'll be a No. 4. He'll open 2012 in high Class A.
The Tigers gave up their 2011 first-round pick as compensation for free agent Victor Martinez, so their first choice didn't come until No. 76. They took McCann, who signed for $577,900, which was exactly $100,000 over MLB's slot recommendation. While he isn't as advanced offensively as Rob Brantly, McCann gets better reviews for his work behind the plate. He has a strong frame, a solid arm and leadership and game-calling skills. Some scouts who saw him as an amateur labeled him a fringy receiver, but the Tigers believe he's solid in that regard. McCann's bat is his biggest question. His swing can get long and he has trouble catching up to good velocity. He projects as a .260 hitter who can take advantage of mistakes and produce gap power. He's a below-average runner. McCann doesn't have any standout tools, but he has the skills to become a big league regular if his bat develops. If not, his defense makes him a backup option. Where Detroit sends Brantly will affect McCann's 2012 assignment, but he figures to spend his first full pro season in Class A.
Garcia was one of Detroit's top international signings in 2007, receiving a $200,000 bonus. He hit well in the Rookie-level Venezuelan Summer League in his 2008 pro debut, but that was the last time he produced good offensive numbers. The Tigers have pushed him aggressively and he has batted .271/.298/.391 in three seasons in the United States. While scouts haven't come around yet on Garcia's hitting ability, he draws their interest with his big frame and his tools. The ball jumps off his Garcia's bat in batting practice, where he shows above-average raw power, though he does it more with strength than pure bat speed. He showed more usable power in 2011 as he learned to get himself better pitches to hit, but he still has a long ways to go in that area. Garcia has poor pitch recognition and struggles against breaking balls, which will limit his on-base percentage and result in a high strikeout rate. He has the physical ability to be a plus defender in right field, running well for his size and possessing an arm that earns 70 grades on the 20-80 scouting scale. Garcia was born eight days before the Padres' Rymer Liriano, a toolsy outfielder who finally put his offensive game together in low Class A last year. The Tigers hope for a similar breakout for Garcia in 2012, when he would be best served returning to high Class A. They protected him on their 40-man roster in November.
Lebron has been a project since he signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2006. He made strides with his stuff and his command in 2011 until a shoulder injury ended his season in early July. When healthy, Lebron has a strong fastball/changeup combination. Though he doesn't have the same velocity or life on his fastball as West Michigan teammate Bruce Rondon, Lebron has a quick arm and a 92-96 mph heater. He backs it up with a potentially above-average changeup that he throws with the same arm speed as his fastball. Lebron keeps his wrist and fingers relaxed when he throws his changeup, which allows him to finish the pitch and give it sink at the end. He also throws a below-average slurve that has curveball rotation and slider angle. Lebron throws across his body, which hampers his control and command as well as puts stress on his arm. The effort in his delivery does add some deception, though, especially to his changeup. Lebron did a better job last year of corralling his emotions on the mound after spiraling out of control in previous seasons. Lebron has the stuff to profile as an impact reliever, though he'll need to learn to throw more strikes to reach that potential. He'll head to high Class A in 2012.
Rondon initially tried out for teams as a catcher in Venezuela before his trainer moved him to the mound. He threw in the high 80s when the Tigers signed him in 2007, but his fastball has soared as he has gained nearly 100 pounds since signing. There are few hitters more uncomfortable to face than Rondon, both because of his electric fastball and his lack of any clue where it's going. His fastball regularly clocks in the mid-90s, ranging from 95-101 mph. It's overpowering not just for its velocity, but also its boring, heavy life. He also throws a slurvy 81-86 mph slider with occasional hard bite. It's effective against lower-level hitters but will need to get shorter and quicker to work against better competition. Rondon struck out 34 percent of the batters he faced in 2011, but he also issued 34 walks, hit five batters and threw 11 wild pitches in 40 innings. He has a max-effort delivery, gets amped up and overthrows, which causes him to lose his release point and his control. Repeating his delivery is difficult because of his lack of athleticism and his weight, which ballooned close to 300 pounds before he shed some excess baggage. Rondon always will be heavy because of his frame, but he'll need to keep his weight in check to reduce his risk of injury. He doesn't need pinpoint command to be successful, but he does need to find the plate in order to realize his potential as a late-inning reliever. He'll advance to high Class A this year.
Collins hit .404 in 89 at-bats as a Baylor freshman in 2010 before getting declared academically ineligible. He continued to hit after transferring to Howard (Texas) JC, winning national junior college player of the year honors and leading NJCAA Division I in hits (105), doubles (34) and homers (19) while ranking second in batting (.488) and RBIs (82). The Tigers drafted Collins in the sixth round last June, but he made a pit stop in the Texas Collegiate League--where he ranked as the No. 1 prospect--before signing for $210,000. He posted a .902 OPS in his pro debut, then put up similar numbers in the Australian Baseball League during the winter. Collins has some length to his swing, but he finds a way to get the barrel to the ball routinely. He has a quick bat and uses an all-fields approach. Strong and stocky, Collins has average power but not the prototypical pop for a left fielder. His above-average speed allows him to play center field in a pinch, though he still needs to improve his reads and routes. His arm is below average. Some scouts wonder whether Collins is a tweener, but he may end up having enough bat to be an everyday player. He could hit his way to high Class A in his first full pro season.
A blood-clotting issue forced Westlake to redshirt at Vanderbilt in 2008 and made him draft-eligible as a sophomore two years later. He starred in the Cape Cod League that summer but ultimately didn't sign with the Blue Jays as a 22nd-rounder. He returned to Vandy in 2011 and helped the Commodores to their first-ever College World Series appearance by hitting .344 with a team-high 18 homers. He had a modest pro debut after signing for $310,000 in the third round, missing time late in the summer with a concussion. The Tigers believe Westlake will develop into a power-hitting first baseman. He has a large frame, good strength and can hit the ball out to all fields. He has a smooth stroke, though it gets long at times when pitchers disrupt his timing. He's a patient hitter who would benefit from being more aggressive against fastballs when he's ahead in the count. Westlake is a below-average runner and an adequate defender at first base. He has solid hands, though his glovework needs improvement. He'll play the 2012 season at age 23, so he could get fast-tracked and sent to high Class A.
Villarreal made just one start in his 2007 U.S. debut before he needed Tommy John surgery. He got back to full strength by 2009, and two years later he made the Tigers' Opening Day roster as a reliever. He struggled with Detroit and didn't have much more success when he was demoted in May. Despite a down 2011, Villarreal has a quick arm that produces plenty of velocity. He sits at 90-95 mph with his fastball as a starter, and operates at 93-95 mph when he comes out of the bullpen. He uses both two- and four-seamers, and he gets cutting action at times when he overthrows and gets around the ball. Villarreal also throws a power slider at 86-88 mph, though it has a tendency to break too early, allowing hitters to pick it up. His changeup is a below-average pitch that he rarely uses as a reliever. Whatever his future role, his command will have to improve. His most likely path back to the big leagues is through the bullpen.
An outfielder at Oklahoma powerhouse Owasso High, Hoffman got on the mound as a senior and ran his fastball up to 92 mph. He lasted until the 26th round of the 2007 draft because of his strong college commitment to Oklahoma, but he signed with the Tigers for $175,000. A full-time reliever since 2010, Hoffman added velocity with the move to the bullpen and now throws 90-95 mph fastballs from a low three-quarters arm slot. He has developed better feel for his slider, which has tight break and good tilt, though it can flatten out and leave him vulnerable to lefthanders. They batted .306 against him in Triple-A last season, and he'll have to do better to cut it in a major league bullpen. Hoffman also mixes in an effective changeup as well. He doesn't have the stuff to miss many bats, but his fastball and ability to keep the ball down allow him to induce groundouts. Hoffman still has somewhat of a crossfire delivery, but he has improved his direction to the plate. His command can waver when he peels off in his delivery, so he has worked to control his momentum going forward. Sent to the Arizona Fall League after the season, he had to leave with a tired arm. Detroit still added him to its 40-man roster and could give him his first big league callup in 2012. His ceiling isn't high, but he could become a useful lefty reliever.
Florida for his sophomore season and transitioned into a closer role there. The son of Cubs pro scout Keith Stohr, Tyler signed with the Tigers for $150,000 as a 2008 sixth-round pick. Tommy John surgery derailed him in 2010, but he made a successful return last year, reaching Double-A and claiming a spot on the 40-man roster. At his best, Stohr has one of the more impressive arsenals in the system. After throwing 90-94 mph early in 2011, he ratcheted his fastball up to 93-97 with good life by midsummer. His slider also improved as the year progressed, getting faster and sharper and becoming a solid offering. There's some effort in Stohr's delivery, which impedes his fastball command. He needs to throw more strikes, though getting another year removed from elbow surgery should help. Once his control improves, he should be able to fill a middle-relief role in Detroit.
One of the most aggressive teams in Venezuela, the Tigers scouted Vasquez for two years before signing him for $1.2 million in 2010. That was their largest expenditure ever on a Venezuelan amateur and one that surprised many other teams that were skeptical of his profile. Detroit was more enthusiastic about his bat than any club and was gratified to see him hold his own in the Gulf Coast League last summer at age 17. Vasquez has broad shoulders, a high waist and a skinny frame. He handles the bat well and has a good idea of what he's doing at the plate for his age, hitting line drives to all fields. Gaining strength will be critical for Vasquez, who doesn't have much pop right now. He'll need more than gap power to profile as a corner outfielder, and several scouts question whether he could develop it after seeing him as an amateur. A below-average runner, Vasquez played right field in his pro debut. His fringy arm may be a better fit in left field, though he could develop more arm strength as he matures physically. The Tigers could jump him to low Class A as an 18-year-old, though he'd still be one of the youngest players in the short-season New York-Penn League if they more conservatively sent him to Connecticut.
Loy had a reputation as one of college baseball's best defensive shortstops after taking over as Texas' starter as a freshman in 2009, and he enhanced his pro profile by batting .342 last spring. The Tigers selected him in the fifth round and signed him for $212,000. While his improved offense helped, they drafted him for his defense. Loy has excellent footwork, solid range to both sides, sure hands and a strong arm. He makes the routine plays as well as the flashier ones. Loy controls the strike zone well, but his bat is still a question mark for many scouts. He hit two home runs in three years with the Longhorns and has very little power. He's an adept bunter who fits best at the bottom of a lineup. He won't be a big basestealing threat, but he has average speed and is a smart baserunner. Loy will open his first full pro season at one of Detroit's Class A affiliates.
The Tigers have been among the most aggressive draft spenders but were unusually conservative in 2011. The only player they really splurged on was Gibson, who fell to the 15th round because he was strongly committed to Georgia Tech. The son of Mercer head coach Craig Gibson, Tyler signed at the Aug. 15 deadline for $525,000, the second-highest bonus in Detroit's draft class. He has a smooth lefty stroke with good bat speed. He's a balanced hitter who has added strength to his broad-shouldered frame and hits with good leverage. Area scouts were split on his power potential, with some believing he'll have plus pop and others chalking his high school production to overmatching poor competition. Gibson played shortstop in high school and would have stayed there in college, but he moved to center field in pro ball. He'll have to learn the position and refine his instincts, but his plus speed should give him the range needed for the position. He has fringy arm strength. Talented but raw, Gibson will start 2012 in extended spring training before heading to Connecticut in June.
A native of Britton, Mich., about an hour southwest of Comerica Park, Below climbed from the 19th round in 2006 to the majors last July. Signed for $15,000, he was the organization's 2007 minor league pitcher of the year after leading the Midwest League with 13 wins and 160 strikeouts. He succumbed to Tommy John surgery in June 2009 but zoomed was back on the mound at the start of the 2010 season. Some club officials believe his elbow reconstruction and rehab helped Below rededicate himself to his craft. While many pitchers struggle with their command following Tommy John surgery, he came back throwing more strikes than ever. Below's stuff is average at best, but he throws strikes and has good feel for pitching. He throws an 88- 93 mph fastball, a high-70s curveball that's average at times and a slider that can get slurvy. His best pitch is a changeup with sink. After spending most of his career as a starter, Below transitioned to the bullpen after making two big league starts. He fits best as a No. 5 starter or swingman.
Wilk was the ace on a bad 2009 Long Beach State team, going 7-4, 2.78 for a sub-.500 club. He has gone from an 11th-rounder signed for $68,000 that June to the Tigers' minor league pitcher of the year in 2010 to making his big league debut last May. He rose through the system on his feel for pitching more than his pure stuff. Wilk has the best control among Detroit farmhands and is one of the most prepared pitchers in the system. He's disciplined, knows how to read swings and understands how to mix and locate his pitches to keep hitters off balance. Wilk needs those attributes because his stuff is mostly below average. His fastball ranges from 85-88 mph when he starts, ticks up slightly when he relieves and touches 89-90 mph on occasion. His cutter is his best weapon. Hitters don't have an easy time picking up on its rotation, and it rides in on the handle against righties and hits the end of the bat against lefties. He also mixes in a decent changeup and a fringy curveball. Wilk gets the most out of his limited stuff and could help the Tigers as occasional fifth starter or reliever.
It took four seasons, but Marte finally mastered Double-A in 2011 and earned a September callup to Detroit, where he held opponents scoreless in three of his four appearances. After the season, he pitched well in the Dominican League. He spent his first four years in pro ball as a starter to give him the innings to work on all of his pitches, but he has taken well to relieving since changing roles in 2010. He throws his fastball at 89-92 mph and it seems faster because it has late life through the zone. His slider is his best secondary pitch, grading as plus at its best, though it tends to get slurvy. He also has a below-average changeup that he doesn't use as much now that he's a reliever. After he was erratic in his first season coming out of the bullpen, Marte showed improved control in 2011. The Tigers have plenty of power arms in their bullpen, but he could give them a different look. He'll get a chance to win a middle-relief job in spring training.
A teammate of Matt Hoffman's at Owasso (Okla.) High, Flynn won just eight games in three years at Wichita State, missing 2010 while academically ineligible. Despite his lack of dominance, a 6-foot-8 lefthander with plus velocity is hard to ignore. The Tigers made him the first pitcher they drafted last year, signing him for $125,000 in the seventh round. Flynn's fastball ranges from 88-93 mph and touches 96 with solid life. His heater jumps on hitters quickly because of his size, which also helps him get steep plane on his pitches. Flynn threw a soft, loopy curveball in college until Shockers pitching coach Brent Kemnitz taught him a slider midway through his final season. The pitch has short, cutter-like action at times and the depth of a true slider at others. He still throws the curveball as an occasional show-me pitch and also has a changeup that has yet to develop into a reliable weapon. The Tigers believe Flynn has more projection than a typical college draft pick and will send him to high Class A to begin his first full pro season. If everything comes together, he might develop into a No. 3 starter.
The Tigers signed Machado as soon as he became eligible on July 2, 2008. He was 16 at the time and looked much younger because of his 130-pound build. While he's still a slight-framed teenager, his defense has developed as Detroit hoped. Managers rated him the best defensive shortstop and best infield arm in the Midwest League in 2011, his first year in full-season ball. Machado has good body control, smooth hands and excellent defensive instincts. He shows fine range to both sides and a plus arm with accuracy. He reads hops well and has better decision-making skills in the field than many young shortstops. Machado isn't a burner on the basepaths, but he's an intelligent baserunner with average speed. Whether he'll ever hit is the bigger question. He has 20 power on the 20-80 scouting scale and registered just three extra-base hits in 429 at-bats last season. He added two more in the Arizona Fall League but went just 8-for-68 (.118) there. Machado's swing path is solid and he uses his hands well at the plate, staying inside the ball and using the opposite field. He doesn't strike out much and walks at a surprising clip given his present inability to hurt pitchers. Additional strength will be crucial for Machado, who will advance to high Class A in 2012.
Eichhorn's father Mark pitched 11 seasons in the big leagues using a submarine delivery before coaching his son's team to the 2002 Little League World Series. The Diamondbacks drafted Kevin out of high school in the third round in 2008 and signed him for $500,000, and he spent most of his first three seasons as a pro in Rookie ball. In January 2011, Arizona traded him and lefthander Ryan Robowski to get Armando Galarraga from the Tigers. Eichhorn's pitches get varying reviews from scouts, though his stuff mostly grades out around average. He throws from a high three-quarters arm slot and is a good athlete with a sound delivery, which is why he has walked just 2.1 batters per nine innings in his career. Eichhorn throws two- and four-seam fastballs anywhere from 86-92 mph. He has heavy sink on his two-seamer, which helps him get plenty of grounders. He has good feel for his average changeup, which has sink and fade and could become a plus pitch down the road. He throws a big curveball with good depth, but it gets loopy and easier for hitters to pick up. If he can create more power for his curveball, it could jump ahead of his changeup. Eichhorn has little margin for error and gets too careful with his stuff at times. Ticketed for high Class A in 2012, he has the potential to be a back-of-the-rotation starter.
The Tigers have aggressively pushed Fields more than any player in the system. The son of former Tigers hitting coach and current Indians coach Bruce Fields, Daniel gave up a Michigan commitment to sign for $1.625 million as a sixth-round pick in 2009. Detroit threw him into the fire by sending him to high Class A at age 19 for his pro debut, and he predictably struggled. He repeated the Florida State League in 2011 and regressed, though he still was one of the circuit's youngest players. Fields shows some ability to work the count but swings and misses too often. He has average raw power that doesn't play in games because of his lack of contact, and he was more of a gap-to-gap hitter last year. Fields was praised for his athleticism coming out of high school, but scouts now wonder if he has the ability to play a premium position. Drafted as a shortstop, he moved to center field as a pro and may be a better defensive fit in a corner. He's an average runner with a fringy arm. The 2012 season will be critical for Fields to reverse his slide and reclaim his prospect stock. He's still not ready to advance to Double-A.
Suarez spent his first two years playing in the Venezuelan Summer League and was the Tigers' VSL player of the year in 2010. He made his U.S. debut last year, dominating the Gulf Coast League for two weeks before earning a promotion to Connecticut. Suarez is notable more for his baseball instincts than his raw tools. He has grown two inches since signing but still isn't a physical player. He needs to develop a better two-strike approach but he has quick hands and could become an average hitter with fringy power. Suarez shows flashes of quality defense at shortstop with good range up the middle and a strong arm, but he also committed 24 errors in 70 games last year. Like many young shortstops, he needs to learn to not force throws or rush the double play. He's an average runner. Suarez may not be an everyday player but he has enough potential to be a utility player in the big leagues. He'll step up to low Class A this year.
Ortega didn't reach full-season ball until 2010, his fourth year as a pro, but he ended that campaign in Double-A. He spent the entire 2011 season in Triple-A, where his numbers went backwards. A reliever his entire career, Ortega shows promising arm strength but inconsistent secondary pitches and erratic command. He has a small frame with good strength for his size and a quick arm that delivers fastballs from 94-97 mph. He needs to improve his slider, which has short, tight action at times. It gives him a second power pitch when it's on but often gets slurvy. He mixes in a below-average changeup on occasion. Ortega has effort and a head whack in his delivery, which hampers his command. He has a tendency to get amped up and overthrow for the radar gun, which magnifies his control issues. If he can develop average fastball control and tighten his slider, he has middle-relief potential. He'll start 2012 back at Toledo.
When the 2007 international signing period opened on July 2, the Tigers immediately signed Perez for $237,000. While he never has produced much at the plate, he showed some improvements last year and batted .302 in the Arizona Fall League. Detroit protected him on its 40-man roster in November. Perez was one of the Midwest League's better hitters in the first half, batting .306/.349/.427 before wearing down afterward. When he's going well, he's a line-drive hitter with gap power. He's not much of a home run threat but has good pop for a middle infielder and doesn't strike out too much. He has fringy speed but can steal a few bases thanks to his instincts. Perez can play shortstop but spent most of 2011 at second base in deference to Dixon Machado at West Michigan. Perez has fine instincts, sure hands and a strong arm. He's not especially rangy, so he's probably a better fit at second base. He'll need to get stronger to handle the grind of a full season. It's hard to project Perez as a big league regular given his modest track record at the plate, but he eventually could fit a utility role. After two years in low Class A, he's ready for Lakeland.
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