Sign Up! Join our newsletters, get a FREE e-Edition
Use the options to filter your search.
A South Florida native, Castellanos spent his first two years of high school at American Heritage High, where he played with 2008 Royals first-round pick Eric Hosmer and 2012 Red Sox first-rounder Deven Marrero on a team that won the 2008 national title, then played his final two seasons at Archbishop McCarthy High, which won the 2011 national championship the year after he left. The Tigers had Castellanos ranked near the top of their 2010 draft board but didn't expect to get the opportunity to draft him after losing their first-round pick for signing free agent Jose Valverde. But Castellanos slid amid reports that he wanted $6 million to sign, allowing Detroit to grab him with the 44th overall selection. He signed at the deadline for a supplemental first round-record $3.45 million. After leading the low Class A Midwest League with 158 hits in his first full season, Castellanos started 2012 as the third-youngest player in the high Class A Florida State League. He hit .405 in 55 games to earn selection to the FSL all-star game, but he already had moved up to Double-A Erie by the time the contest took place. He did get to play in the Futures Game, however, going 3-for-4 with a home run and a walk to win the game's MVP award. The bat he used in the game was taken to the Hall of Fame. One of the best pure hitters in the minor leagues, Castellanos has batted .316 while advancing quickly. With natural, loose, wristy actions, he's a rare righthander whose swing is described as pretty. He recognizes pitches well, lets balls travel deep and has no problems catching up to premium velocity. He makes loud contact and can hit all types of pitching. Castellanos has a tall, well-proportioned frame with wiry strength. His natural power is to right-center field, but he truly uses the entire ballpark. Of his 42 doubles and homers in 2012, 15 went to left field, 10 to center and 17 to right. Though more advanced pitchers got him to chase sliders away in Double-A, he has shown the ability to make adjustments. Overall, he has the upside of a .300 hitter who could hit 40 doubles and 20-25 homers annually. Defensively, Castellanos is still looking for a permanent home. He came up as a third baseman, and still might end up there eventually, but the Tigers moved him to right field at midseason. He has earned mixed reviews at third base. Some scouts think he has stiff actions and can be too timid on balls, often getting caught in between hops. Others felt he was solid at the hot corner with quick reactions and above-average arm strength. In mid-July, the Tigers shifted him to right field. He's still learning to read balls off the bat and to take clean routes on flyballs. With more experience, he could be an average outfielder. He has below-average speed but moves well for his size and runs the bases well. Moving Castellanos to the outfield makes sense in the short term. The Tigers have $116 million committed to Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Victor Martinez for 2013-14, tying up their infield corners and DH spot. Castellanos likely will start 2013 back in Double-A but it won't be long before he adds another impact bat to the middle of an already fearsome Detroit lineup.
Signed for $200,000 out of Venezuela, Garcia developed slowly in his first four pro seasons before taking off in 2012, when he moved from high Class A Lakeland to the majors. He made the Tigers' postseason roster, starting against lefthanded pitchers. Dubbed "Little Miggy" by his teammates for his physical resemblance to Miguel Cabrera, Garcia has a similar stance, set-up and swing to his fellow countryman. He doesn't have Cabrera's upside, but Garcia is loaded with tools and could become an average hitter with above-average power. He cut down on his strikeouts in 2012, but he's overly aggressive at the plate and rarely walks. He has the brute strength to get away with hitting pitchers' pitches and Garcia has a surprising athleticism considering his size. He's an average runner with good instincts who could be a 20-20 threat in the majors. At least an average defender in right field, he played 44 games in center in Double-A and has a strong arm. He'll need to improve his plate discipline, and he has the tools to be a solid regular with all-star potential.
Rondon's prospect status has risen nearly as fast as his weight. The organization's 2012 minor league pitcher of the year after finishing third in the minors with 29 saves, he weighed 190 pounds when he signed out of Venezuela in 2007 (where he initially tried out for teams as a catcher) but now tips the scales at nearly 300. Rondon hit 102 mph with his first pitch at the Futures Game in July, touched 103 during the season and normally works at 97-100 mph. Along with its top-of-the-charts velocity, his fastball has boring action and breaks its fair share of bats. Rondon worked in spring training to get more comfortable with his slider grip. He has tightened and improved his slider, but it still gets slurvy at times. His slider shows signs of becoming an average offering, as does his high-80s changeup with late sink. He made significant strides with his control and command in 2012, but both still have a long way to go and likely will always be an issue because of his lack of athleticism. He's fearless on the mound and will get a chance to close in Detroit in 2013.
The Tigers didn't have a first-round pick in 2012 after signing Prince Fielder, so their top choice didn't come until 91st overall. Detroit went with Thompson, who turned down a commitment to Texas Christian to sign for $531,800. He pitched Rockwall-Heath High to the Texas 4-A championship, going 12-1, 0.73 on the mound and hitting .448 with nine homers as a first baseman. Thompson looks like a future rotation workhorse with his physical, proportioned frame. He throws fastballs that sit at 88-92 mph and top out at 95. His fastball has heavy life and he works on a steep downhill plane to the plate. His slider shows occasional tight bite and the flashes of being a plus pitch down the road, though it flattens out at times. He also shows feel for a changeup. Thompson held his velocity deep into games during his high school season, but he pitched 90 innings as a senior and started to wear down in pro ball. The Tigers shut him down in early August and kept him out of instructional league. His stuff and consistency should improve now that he's focusing on pitching. Thompson has the stuff, athleticism and work ethic to profile as a mid-rotation starter. After his abbreviated pro debut, he'll likely start 2013 in extended spring training before heading to short-season Connecticut in June.
Schotts wasn't a big name on the high school showcase circuit, but he shot up draft boards last spring thanks to his natural athleticism. He also starred as a safety and kick returner in football. A third-round pick in June who signed for $389,100, he hit .388 in his first month in pro ball before dislocating a finger and then cooling off. Schotts has excellent bat speed with a short, balanced swing. Thanks to his quick wrists and strong forearms, he has surprising pop for a smaller player. He has the potential to be a solid hitter with fringy home run power and plenty of doubles and stolen bases. He used his plus-plus speed to steal 16 bases in 42 pro games. A shortstop in high school, Schotts moved to center field after signing. The change better utilizes his speed and mitigates his below-average arm strength. He's a high-energy player who made a seamless transition to pro ball and a new position because of his work ethic and ability to retain information. Schotts has the tools and makeup to handle a full-season assignment to low Class A West Michigan as a 19-year-old. He needs to continue to get stronger and make adjustments to pro pitching but profiles as a first-division center fielder.
The Tigers scouted Vasquez for two years before signing him for $1.2 million, their largest bonus ever for a Venezuelan amateur. The youngest player in the Midwest League at the start of the 2012 season, he was overmatched by low Class A pitching as an 18-year-old. Following a demotion, he rebounded to lead the short-season New York-Penn League with 90 hits. Vasquez has an advanced approach at the plate and good pitch recognition for his age. He has explosive bat speed and a compact, balanced swing. He has a quiet load, creates natural leverage and has a knack for centering the ball. He shows advanced feel for driving pitches the other way and has power to all parts of the park. Most of Vasquez's value comes from his offense. He's a below-average runner who's still learning how to read the ball off the bat and take proper routes in the outfield. He's likely limited to left field--so the bat will really have to play--and he has a solid arm. Vasquez will get another crack at the Midwest League in 2013, when he'll still be one of the circuit's youngest players at age 19. As he adds strength, he projects as a solid hitter with plus power potential.
After batting .404 as a Baylor freshman in 2010, Collins became academically ineligible, so he transferred to Howard (Texas) JC. He became the 2011 national junior college player of the year after topping NJCAA Division I in hits (105), doubles (34) and home runs (19) while ranking second in batting (.488) and RBIs (82). He has continued to hit in pro ball, jumping to high Class A for his first full pro season and ranking among the Florida State League leaders in several categories. Collins has a thick, muscular build and a compact stroke. He has a patient, polished approach at the plate. He knows how to work the count well and uses the entire field, making consistent hard contact. While his power is geared more toward doubles than homers, he has strength in his swing with solid average bat speed. Collins has average foot speed and good instincts on the bases, as evidenced by his 20 steals in 23 attempts in 2012. He's an average defender with solid arm strength on the outfield corners. He's a hard-nosed player. Collins may not have profile power for a corner outfielder, which could make him more of a fourth outfielder than a regular. His pure hitting ability, on-base skills, gap power and grinder mentality could make him a poor man's Jason Kubel. Collins will begin 2013 in Double-A.
Crosby has had one of the best arms in the system since signing for $748,500 in 2007. He hurt his elbow in instructional league right after he was drafted and missed most of 2008 after Tommy John surgery. Then he missed most of 2010 with swelling in the joint. Healthy for the last two seasons, he made his big league debut in June when Doug Fister went on the disabled list with a ribcage strain. Crosby has better stuff than most lefthanders. When he's on, he has a 91-94 mph fastball that tops out at 96 and a power curveball in the low 80s. He has learned to back off his fastball a bit and save a little extra for when he really needs it. He also has shown the ability to add and subtract from his curveball. Crosby has tinkered with his grip--now using a three-finger grip--and made improvements with his changeup. He backspins the pitch well, which creates deception, but it's still fringy. He has reduced the effort in his delivery and taken a more direct line to the plate, though his control still needs work. If Crosby can throw enough quality strikes, he has the stuff to be a solid No. 3 starter. The Tigers currently have a crowded rotation, so he figures to start 2013 in Triple-A or in the big league bullpen.
Suarez made the leap to full-season ball in 2012, his fourth professional season. He was one of the best all-around infielders in the Midwest League, ranking second in the league in hits (147) and fielding percentage at shortstop (.971) and playing in the circuit's all-star game. Suarez has a short, quick stroke and works himself into hitter's counts. He barrels balls consistently and can drive them to the gaps, but he sometimes gets too pull-conscious and needs to work on using the middle of the field more often. His on-base skills stand out more than his below-average power. Suarez has smooth defensive actions, soft hands and a plus arm, but his range at shortstop is limited by his fringe-average speed. He's able to compensate in the field because of his above-average instincts for the game. He's steady and makes plays on all the balls he gets to, though he can get a little too comfortable at times in the field. He played errorless ball in 15 games at second base for West Michigan. Suarez's instincs also show on the bases, where he's a good baserunner and can read pitchers. He wore down toward the end of the year, so he'll need to do a better job preparing for the grind of a full season schedule. While he might be a little stretched at shortstop, Suarez still is Detroit's top prospect at the position. He'll spend 2013 in high Class A.
At Cypress (Calif.) High, Wilk played with Josh Vitters and Tigers minor leaguer Mike Morrison while setting school records for career wins (23) and ERA (1.50). He went undrafted, however, and spent three years at Long Beach State before signing for $68,000 as an 11th-rounder in 2009. He's the 11th 49ers pitcher selected in the last 11 drafts to make the big leagues, joining the likes of Jered Weaver and Jason Vargas. A classic pitchability lefthander, Wilk doesn't blow hitters away with his 86-89 mph fastball but can run it up to 91 when needed. He has an average slider and the ability to change its shape and speed, throwing it anywhere from 79-85 mph. He has an average changeup with a 10 mph differential from his fastball and occasionally uses a curveball as a show-me pitch. Wilk's biggest asset is his excellent command and feel for pitching, which allowed him to lead Detroit farmhands with 128 strikeouts in 2012. He's a student of the game and shows excellent poise on the mound. While he's been roughed up in his brief big league stints, Wilk has the command and moxie to pitch at the back of a big league rotation. He compares favorably with Tommy Milone.
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 overall. They took McCann, who signed for $577,900, continuing their affinity for players from the Southeastern Conference. Of the 224 SEC players drafted from 2010-12, the Tigers picked 23 of them, by far the most of any team. Some scouts viewed McCann as a fringy receiver coming out of Arkansas, but he has improved in that regard and is now the system's best defensive catcher. He has worked hard to improve his blocking, framing and footwork. He has solid arm strength and threw out 43 percent of basestealers last year. He's a leader on the field with a take-charge attitude, and pitchers love throwing to him. McCann's defensive skills are good enough to get him to the big leagues, but his bat is a question. Using a long, flat swing path with an opposite-field approach, he has hit an anemic .227/.272/.304 in pro ball. He's a well below-average hitter with gap power at best and he's a 20 runner on the 20-80 scouting scale. With his defensive skills and makeup, McCann should at least be a useful big league backup. He'll probably return to Double-A to open 2013.
Clark was Detroit's biggest breakout prospect in 2012. A 24th-round pick who signed for $20,000 in 2010, he held Florida State League hitters to a .137 average and two homers while recording a 0.63 ERA and 59 strikeouts in 43 innings. Clark pitches with a funky delivery with a little pause at his balance point and a quick leg kick as he comes to the plate. That adds deception to a fastball that can sit at 92-94 mph and get as high as 98. Even better than the velocity on his fastball is its natural cutting movement. Clark's best secondary pitch is an 87-89 mph cutter with tight break and three-quarter tilt. He also has a solid changeup and a decent curveball that he's working to feel more comfortable with. Clark is a hard worker and spent the fall in the Arizona Fall League. If he continues to perform in 2013, he could see the big leagues by the end of the season.
Mercedes reminds the Tigers of Bruce Rondon because of his size, stuff and fearlessness. Another pitcher approaching 300 pounds, Mercedes intimidates hitters with his 93-98 mph fastball. His heater shows sink when he throws down in the zone, and he can elevate it and blow it by hitters too. Mercedes throws his short slider in the upper 80s. It's a fringy pitch that occasionally shows the potential to be an above-average offering, but it hasn't progressed much over the past few years. Mercedes had Tommy John surgery in 2010 and pitches with well below-average command. He has an aggressive delivery with a fast arm. He has the stuff to be a dominant set-up man if he can improve his control and develop a complement to his fastall. Added to Detroit's 40-man roster in November, he'll spend 2013 in high Class A.
VerHagen played with Jake Thompson, Detroit's top 2012 draft pick, at Rockwall-Heath HS (Heath, Texas) for one season before pitching for three different colleges in three years. He went to Oklahoma as a freshman, helped Navarro (Texas) JC win the Junior College World Series as a sophomore and attended Vanderbilt as a junior. He pitched well down the stretch for the Commodores, earning a fourth-round selection and $392,500 bonus. VerHagen throws a fastball that operates at 92-94 mph and tops out at 97. He has a big, strong frame, but some scouts don't like his arm action because of a wrist wrap and stiffness. He had Tommy John surgery as a senior in high school. Because of his arm action, VerHagen has a tendency to get under his curveball at times. The pitch shows hard 12-to-6 break when he gets on top of it. His changeup is a work in progress. VerHagen never has shown a reliable secondary pitch or consistent command, so his ability to remain a starter is questionable. He has pitched as both a starter and a reliever in college and pro ball, and the Tigers will keep him in the rotation for now. He finished his pro debut in high Class A and likely will return there to begin 2013.
Moya was born in Puerto Rico but signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2008. He's a physical monster who draws body comparisons to Dave Winfield. With his 6-foot-7 frame, Moya obviously has long limbs--which come with pros and cons. They add length to his swing, which leads to problems making contact, though he was able to shorten his stroke last year and cut his strikeout rate to 24 percent of his at-bats, down from 39 percent in his previous tour of the Midwest League. He also learned to use the opposite field, leading to the belief that he could be an average hitter. On the positive side, his size gives him excellent leverage and above-average power potential. Moya has surprisingly good athleticism and is an average runner. He has the plus arm strength necessary for right field, but his season ended in June when he needed Tommy John surgery. The recovery time isn't as long for position players as it is for pitchers, and he was ahead of schedule in the fall. Moya should be ready for spring training and could remain in Lakeland with the high Class A team.
Ortega didn't reach full-season ball until 2010, his fourth year as a pro, and he has recorded a 5.99 ERA in Triple-A during the last two seasons. Nevertheless, he always has had a big arm and made his major league debut last year. Managers rated his fastball the International League's best in 2012. It sits at 95-98 mph with tremendous movement and grades out as at least a 70 pitch on the 20-80 scouting scale. His mid-80s slider has explosive life too and gives him a second plus pitch. Ortega hasn't had much success because his control and command are poor. He has a thin, wiry frame with some effort in his delivery. If he can learn to slow things down and realizes he can take a little off his fastball without losing effectiveness, he should be able to throw strikes more consistently. Ortega has the upside of a set-up man, and his consistency will determine how much big league managers will trust him in key situations.
When the Tigers signed Castro for $29,000 in March 2011, he weighed only 140 pounds but showed plus speed and the ability to consistently put the barrel on the ball. He continued to display those tools during a strong debut in the Rookie-level Venezuelan Summer League in 2011, which persuaded Detroit to have him make the jump to the United States in 2012. He didn't disappoint, ranking third in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League with 14 doubles and fifth with a .311 batting average. Even with his slender frame, Castro generates good bat speed and is more than just a slap hitter. He's aggressive at the plate yet has a sound approach. He can turn on inside pitches or flick his wrists at pitches on the outer half to drive the ball to left field. He needs to get stronger and still doesn't project to have much more than gap power. Castro's speed makes him a stolen-base threat and his athleticism helps him in the field, but defense doesn't come as naturally to him as hitting. He's still raw at second base and has fringy arm strength. Castro is advanced enough to handle the jump to Class A this year at age 19.
Robertson may wind up being one of the bigger steals in the 2011 draft. The first player ever selected from Coahoma (Miss.) CC, he went in the 29th round and signed for $15,000. He has a physical frame with long arms and legs plus tremendous athleticism for his size. That athleticism allows him to throw with a smooth, effortless delivery and the ball jumps out of his hand. His fastball took a step forward this year in 2012 as he used his legs more in his delivery, and it now sits at 94-96 mph and tops out at 98. His fastball shows heavy sink and armside run at times, and he shows the potential to have future average fastball command. Robertson relies heavily on his heater because his secondary stuff is still a work in progress. He throws a short slider in the mid-80s that breaks more like a cutter than a true slider, and he's still trying to develop feel for his changeup. The Tigers love Robertson's toughness and throwback demeanor on the mound and are excited about his upside. If Robertson can make strides with his secondary pitches like he has with his fastball, he has the potential to be a mid-rotation starter. If not, he'll have value as a power reliever. After two summers in pro ball, he's ready for a full-season assignment in 2013.
Expectations have been high for Lobstein ever since the Rays made him the 47th overall pick in the 2008 draft and gave him an over-slot $1.5 million baseball. After touching the low 90s on the showcase circuit prior to his senior year of high school, he hasn't displayed that type of velocity since. He has reached Double-A and developed into a consistent innings-eater, but that wasn't enough for Tampa Bay to protect him on its 40-man roster after the 2012 season. The Mets took him in the major league Rule 5 draft and sold him to the Tigers in a prearranged deal. Per Rule 5 guidelines, Detroit must keep him on its major league roster throughout 2013, or else put him on waivers and offer him back to the Rays for half his $50,000 draft price. Lobstein has learned how to pitch with a below-average fastball. He throws with flawless mechanics and has good feel for pitching. His fastball resides in the upper 80s and is more notable for its movement and deception. His upper-70s curveball has sharp downward break, and he uses a solid changeup to keep hitters off balance. He doesn't project as more than a back-of-the-rotation starter unless more velocity kicks in, but Lobstein does have the craftiness to pitch in the majors.
The son of a former minor leaguer of the same name, Kobernus is a baseball rat who plays the game hard. His career has been marked by a succession of nagging injuries, and 2012 was more of the same. He came out of the chute healthy, but a thumb injury sidelined him for some of May and June, and when he returned to action his timing was off, causing him to press. Then he was hit by a pitch on July 26, resulting in a cracked rib that ended his season. The Nationals left him off their 40-man roster and saw him taken in the major league Rule 5 draft by the Red Sox, who immediately shipped him to the Tigers in a prearranged trade for infielder/outfielder Justin Henry. Kobernus' best tool is his speed, which easily rates as a 70 and sometimes flashes 80 on the 20-80 scouting scale. He's a smart, aggressive baserunner who puts pressure on defenses by stealing and taking extra bases. When he's in a groove at the plate, Kobernus swings at strikes and hits hard line drives all over the field. He got into hack mode during the second half of 2012, getting out in front on pitches and struggling to control the strike zone. He projects as an average hitter with well below-average power, though he should drive his share of extra-base hits into the gaps. Kobernus' hands are a bit stiff at second base, but he has an average arm and makes most of the routine plays. Detroit acquired him with the idea that he can help the major league club as a speed-oriented utilityman. He has to stick on the major league roster for the entire season, unless the Tigers are willing to place him on waivers and offer him back to Washington for half of his $50,000 draft price.
Signed for $100,000 in 2009, Paulino pitched well in his U.S. debut in 2011 and claimed the No. 6 spot on this list a year ago. But he missed the entire 2012 season with arm problems and had minor shoulder surgery in June. When he's healthy, Paulino flashes tantalizing upside with his tall, projectable frame and quick, loose arm. His fastball operated at 92-95 mph in 2011, peaked at 97 and held its velocity deep into outings. His fastball showed good life and he could throw it by hitters up in the zone. His other pitches weren't nearly as impressive, as his curveball was inconsistent and his changeup was below-average. Paulino's long arms allow him to pitch with a steep downhill plane. He showed better body control in 2011, but his command still needed work. The Tigers are going to take it slow with Paulino and ease him back in 2013, so he may begin in extended spring training before heading to Connecticut in June. If he regains the stuff he had before he got hurt, he has the potential to be a mid-rotation starter.
The Tigers are one of just four teams with a Venezuelan academy, and consequently they are one of the more active teams in the nation. They signed Briceno there in March 2009 and kept him in the Venezuelan Summer League for two years before bringing him to the United States in 2011. He has pitched exclusively as a starter the past two years and has the stuff to remain in that role. He works with a 92-93 mph fastball that features above-average sink, touches 95 regularly and sometimes reaches 97. He also has an average changeup and shows flashes of an average slider. He has below-average command right now, but it has the potential to be average. If Briceno's slender build can't handle a rotation workload, he also would be an asset in a big league bullpen. His frame and stuff remind some club officials of Ramiro Mendoza. Briceno hasn't posted a sub-5.00 ERA since his 2009 pro debut but he'll probably get his first full-season assignment this year.
The Tigers were able to deal Rob Brantly to the Marlins in July as part of a package for Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante because they had catching depth. Like Alex Avila, Brantly, James McCann and Bryan Holaday, Casali was a catcher drafted in the top 10 rounds out of a major college program. He signed for $40,000 as a Vanderbilt senior taken in the 10th round in 2011. While with the Commodores, he proved he could handle quality arms, as nine pitchers he worked with eventually were drafted in the first five rounds. Casali has solid defensive tools across the board, and they play up because of his natural leadership and work ethic. He threw out 33 percent of basestealers in 2012 and committed just four passed balls in 87 games. At the plate, he puts together quality at-bats, works the count and uses a short, simple swing. With his bat control, he'll hit for a decent average, and he has enough pop to make things interesting. Like most catchers, he has well below-average speed. Casali profiles as a solid backup catcher at the major league level.
Holaday made a name for himself at Texas Christian by being one of the few collegians to homer off Stephen Strasburg, and by leading the Horned Frogs to their first-ever College World Series appearance in 2010. Holaday started his pro career in high Class A and hasn't posted an OPS higher than .665 at any of his stops, but he spent most of 2012 in Triple-A and made his big league debut in June when Alex Avila strained a hamstring. Holaday has a thick, sturdy build and solid catch-and-throw skills. He isn't flashy behind the plate, but he gets the job done. His arm is average and he threw out 34 percent of International League basestealers last year. He has decent footwork and handles pitchers well. Holaday's bat will determine his ultimate role. He has strength and average raw power, but his pure hitting ability is well below-average, just like his speed. His upside is similar to that of Gerald Laird, whose free-agent departure from Detroit this offseason could create a big league opening for Holaday.
After he spent four and a half years as a starter, the Tigers moved Putkonen to the bullpen midway through the 2011 season. He arrived in Detroit less than a year later, arriving last April and becoming one of eight former Tar Heels to debut in the majors in the last two seasons. Becoming a reliever gave a boost to Putkonen's fastball. He worked from 89-94 mph as a starter, but he's now throwing 93-95 mph and topping out at 97. His heater has heavy life that makes it even more effective. Putkonen also mixes in a hard 79-81 mph curveball and uses a splitter as a changeup. He has a smooth, easy delivery but just fringy control, mainly because of the long levers in his tall frame. He could work on showing a more aggressive demeanor on the mound. Putkonen profiles as a solid seventh- or eighth-inning guy in a big league bullpen and could fill that role in Detroit this year.
Cabrera's father Alex Cabrera played for the Diamondbacks in 2000 before becoming a prolific power hitter in Japan. Signed by the Pirates for $100,000, Ramon won the Florida State League batting title with a .343 average in 2011. After he turned in a lackluster encore in Double-A last year, Pittsburgh traded him to the Tigers for Andy Oliver. Cabrera can put the bat on the ball consistently and hit for a solid average, but he doesn't contribute much offensively beyond that. While he doesn't strike out much, he also doesn't walk a lot. He didn't receive his father's power genes and hasn't hit more than three homers in any of his five pro seasons. Cabrera made strides defensively in 2012, especially from a receiving standpoint. However, his throwing is still erratic and he has difficulty controlling the running game. He threw out just 20 percent of basestealers last season. As expected with a catcher, he's a well below-average runner. Cabrera profiles as a backup catcher in the major leagues, and he'll have to battle Curt Casali and Bryan Holaday to eventually win that job in Detroit.
The report hasn't changed on Machado, whom the Tigers signed 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. He has added about 30 pounds since then, but his frame is still slight. He remained at the team's training base in Lakeland, Fla., in the offseason to work with strength coaches and try to add a little more punch to his all-Judy approach. Machado had the lowest OPS (.534) of any Florida State League regular last year, and his .252 slugging percentage actually represented a five-point increase from 2011. He makes contact and draws walks, but that's the extent of his offensive contributions. Defense is Machado's calling card. He has graceful agility and excellent athleticism in the field. He's a treat to watch with his soft hands, above-average arm strength and acrobatic play. He has three plus tools in his fielding, arm and speed, but his bat will have to evolve for him to have any chance at being an everyday player in the big leagues. He has 20 power on the 20-80 scouting scale, so a utility player in the mold of Wilson Valdez is Machado's most likely ceiling. Detroit added him to the 40-man roster in November even though he may need to repeat high Class A.
The Tigers immediately signed Perez for $237,000 when the 2007 international signing period opened. After showing little offensively in his first four pro seasons, he batted .302/.318/.397 in the Arizona Fall League in 2011 to earn a spot on 40-man roster. His addition came in handy when Detroit needed him for an emergency callup when Jhonny Peralta went on paternity leave in early June. He's more physical than Eugenio Suarez or Dixon Machado, with a chance to hit for average and the strength for gap power. He doesn't walk much, however, and Perez's other tools will always be ahead of his offense. He can fill in at shortstop but is a better second baseman. His arm strength is also a plus, but he still needs more consistency to be considered an above-average defender. He has quick-twitch athleticism in his tightly wound frame, along with excellent instincts. He has above-average speed and led all Tigers farmhands with 27 steals in 2012. If his bat comes around, Perez could be a nice utility player similar to current Tiger Ramon Santiago.
De La Rosa is yet another big-bodied Tigers righthander who's years away from the big leagues. He made his U.S. debut in 2011 as part of a Gulf Coast League club that would place 11 players on this list. De La Rosa has a heavy 92-93 mph fastball and can run it up to 96 on occasion. His fastball has late boring life and he loves to challenge righthanders inside, running his heater in on their hands. His slider and changeup are below average right now. His slider has plenty of velocity at 81-85 mph and shows flashes of being an average pitch in the future. He slows his delivery and his arm down on his 78-81 mph changeup, but he does have some feel for commanding the pitch. De La Rosa has loose, easy mechanics but will need to sharpen up below-average control and work on controlling his emotions on the mound. He doesn't strike out as many hitters as one might expect from a pitcher with his arsenal. He could develop into a No. 4 starter, though some scouts believe he'll ultimately wind up in the bullpen. He'll pitch in West Michigan's rotation this year.
It's impossible to know what Fields' career might look like now if he hadn't been pushed to high Class A after signing for $1,625,000 out of high school in 2009. It makes for interesting game of "what if" because his production never has matched his intriguing tools. While he hit just .266/.318/.357 in his third stint at Lakeland last year, he was still relatively young for his level and played well when he advanced to Double-A in August. Expectations for Fields' bat have diminished. He's a below-average hitter but has a professional approach and knows how to use the whole field, lessons imparted by his father Bruce, a former Tigers outfielder and hitting coach. Daniel has strength and above-average raw power, but it doesn't translate into games because he doesn't make enough contact. He's a good athlete who played shortstop in high school. He has solid speed and is learning to read pitchers, resulting in a career-high 23 steals in 2012. He takes good routes and has average arm strength in center field. Fields still is young enough to develop into a regular, but a more realistic projection is that he could become a useful fourth outfielder. He'll open this season back in Erie.