Sign Up! Join our newsletters, get a FREE e-Edition
The Tigers surrendered their 2010 first-round pick after signing free-agent reliever Jose Valverde the previous offseason, so they didn't pick until the supplemental first round at 44th overall. When Castellanos slid in the draft amidst reports he was demanding $6 million to sign, the Tigers were elated when he was still available with their first pick and signed him for $3.45 million. After an outstanding pro debut in the low Class A Midwest League in 2011, he opened the 2012 season by hitting over .400 through his first 55 games in the high Class A Florida State League. Castellanos struggled the second half of the season at Double-A Erie, but the Tigers pushed him to Triple-A Toledo to open 2013, where he had a solid season despite a slow start and made his major league debut as a September callup. Castellanos' bat is his calling card. He's a natural, instinctive hitter with strong wrists who eschews batting gloves and unleashes a loose, righthanded swing. He lets the ball travel deep and the bat head stays in the zone a long time, which helps him hit to all fields and wear out right-center field. He finishes his slight uppercut stroke with a high finish and generates plenty of loft with good feel for the barrel. He starts his swing by dropping his hands but his above-average bat speed and compact stroke allow him to catch up to good velocity. He has solid plate patience, makes in-game adjustments and has trimmed his strikeout rate, leading scouts to project him as a potential .300 hitter. The split among scouts centers around Castellanos' power potential. He has average raw power and some scouts think there isn't much more size for him to put on, so they see him as a 15-20 home run guy, whereas others look at his long frame and see 25-plus longball potential. He faces the difficult task of breaking into the majors while manning a position he didn't play in 2013. Castellanos started his pro career at third base, but the Tigers shifted him to left field midway through 2012. With the offseason trade of Prince Fielder, shifting Miguel Cabrera to first base, Castellanos will return to third, where he projects as a fringy but playable defender. He's a below-average runner with limited range, decent hands and an average arm, but at the very least he should give Detroit better defense than Cabrera. The Tigers are counting on Castellanos to be their Opening Day third baseman. While he'll need a refresher course on defense, his bat is good enough to make a run at the American League Rookie of the Year award. He could be a perennial all-star depending on how much power he develops.
Travis was a three-year starter an Florida State and a strong offensive performer his final two seasons, but with his small stature he lasted until the 13th round of the 2012 draft and signed for $200,000. He already looks like a steal after ranking 13th among full-season minor leaguers in on-base percentage (.418) and second in average (.351) in 2013. Travis has a short, line-drive swing, good plate coverage and he goes with the pitch to use the whole field. He's a patient, disciplined hitter who draws his walks and waits for a good pitch to hit. After having a more spread-out stance in college, Travis is now more upright and has lowered his hands, with a shorter load to help him get to good velocity on the inner-third and stay inside the ball. He is strong and has surprising sock for his size, though he'll max out with average power at best, mostly to his pull side. His plus speed and quick-twitch athleticism gives him good range at second, where he has solid actions, an average arm and a smooth double-play pivot. He's a smart player and a grinder who gets the most from his tools. Travis still has his skeptics, but scouts highest on him believe he can be an everyday second baseman who hits at the top of a big league lineup. He'll graduate to Double-A Erie in 2014.
Had Rondon made one more relief appearance in Detroit, he would no longer be eligible for this prospect list. He would have easily surpassed that cutoff had he been more effective early in the 2013 season. After a sluggish spring training, Rondon opened at Triple-A Erie, got to Detroit in late April but scuffled in three appearances before getting sent back down. He returned for good in late June, pitching just once after Sept. 2 with what the club termed a tender elbow. Rondon is a jumbo-sized reliever with one of the game's best fastballs. He pushes 300 pounds on the scale and 103 mph off the mound. Rondon's fastball sits at 97-100 mph and bores in on the hands of righthanders, making him proficient at getting swinging strikes and groundouts. His high-80s slider was at its best late in the season but still gets slurvy and inconsistent on him. He made strides with his changeup and started using it more frequently when his slider wasn't working, but it's also inconsistent. His fastball gives him more margin for error with his below-average command, which he's steadily improved the last two seasons. Tigers officials believe Rondon may have put too much pressure on himself to win the closer job in 2013, but with the signing of Joe Nathan to a two-year deal he should be able to settle in as a set-up man in 2014, with the potential to close at some point in the future.
The Tigers forfeited their first-round draft pick in 2012 for signing Prince Fielder, so they had to wait until pick No. 91 for their first selection, which they used on Thompson. After staying back in extended spring training the first two months of 2013, Thompson reported to low Class A West Michigan and had a solid season. Thompson throws three average or better pitches, operating off a low-90s fastball that can touch 95 mph. He delivers the ball with a steep downhill plane, mixing a harder four-seamer with a livelier two-seamer that has solid sink and tail. Thompson's low-80s slider has tight bite when it's on, though it can flatten out on him. It's a potential plus pitch that he commands well. Thompson has shown feel for an average circle-changeup that could tick up higher, but he hasn't used it much yet. He also introduced a mid- to high-70s curveball in 2013 that improved as the season progressed, but it's still a new pitch. Thompson wore down after his high school season in 2012 and the Tigers let him throw just 83 innings in 2013, so he'll have to prove he can handle a larger workload. If he can, he's a potential mid-rotation starter whose next stop is high Class A Lakeland.
After being the ace of USA Baseball's Collegiate National Team in 2012, Crawford struggled to a 3-6, 3.84 mark as a junior at Florida, but in a 2013 draft thin on college starters, the Tigers picked Crawford with the 20th overall pick and signed him for $2,001,700. He was Detroit's first first-round pick since 2009. Between his fastball and his breaking ball, Crawford has two plus pitches. He throws 92-96 mph sinkers with heavy life that makes it difficult for hitters to lift, and he maintains his velocity deep into his starts. He adds and subtracts from his plus slider, cranking it up to the high 80s at times. His changeup is better than it was when he got to Florida but remains a below-average pitch. Crawford tends to fight his delivery and has trouble repeating his release point due to a wrist wrap, which causes inconsistent command. Scouts are split on whether Crawford fits best as a starter or as a two-pitch power reliever. He should head to one of Detroit's Class A affiliates in 2014.
Knebel followed the Huston Street career path, going from undrafted high schooler to immediate success at Texas, where he ranked second in NCAA Division I with 19 saves as a freshman in 2011. After two more seasons as one of the best closers in the nation, Knebel went to the Tigers with the No. 39 pick in the 2013 draft and signed for $1,433,400. He then looked electric for short-season Connecticut in his pro debut and pitched in the Arizona Fall League. Knebel has high-octane stuff, firing 91-98 mph fastballs for strikes with downhill plane and explosive late life. His low-80s hammer curveball has power, tight spin and late break, earning a few 70 grades and plenty of swings and misses. Knebel doesn't have much need for a changeup, but he's shown feel for that pitch too. He has a max-effort delivery with a short, funky arm stroke and head tilt, but he throws strikes. Deception in his delivery helps hide his release point from hitters. Given his stuff and ability to throw strikes, Knebel could move quickly through the system as a potential closer, though some Tigers officials want to try him in the rotation. He appears destined for high Class A Lakeland in 2014.
When the Tigers signed Suarez out of Venezuela in 2008, they were taking a flier on a low-level player who was 5-foot-9 but had good feel for the game. After signing, he grew taller, gained muscle and his stock jumped. Suarez started 2013 at high Class A Lakeland but after a hot start the Tigers promoted him to Double-A Erie, where he held his own. Suarez has a quiet approach with a short, flat swing from both sides of the plate that allows him to keep the bat head in the zone a long time. He makes frequent contact but also shows solid plate patience, though his swing got inconsistent in Double-A when he would get too uphill trying to launch the ball. Suarez has below-average power, so he's at his best staying inside the ball and working the gaps. Some scouts see him as an offensive-oriented utility man, but others think he made significant strides on defense and consider him a potential above-average defender at shortstop. He has a plus arm, a quick release, good footwork and soft hands, though he can still get careless at times. He's a below-average runner, however, and some scouts question his range, preferring him at second base. Suarez continues to surpass expectations each year, and he has a chance to be an everyday shortstop in the majors.
Leyba played for the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program that won the junior division championship in 2011 in Minneapolis before signing with the Tigers for $400,000 the next year on July 2. Leyba proved more advanced than expected in his pro debut in 2013, leading the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League in OPS (1.023) as a 17-year-old. Leyba stands out more in games than he did in a tryout setting. He has a polished hitting approach for his age, controls the strike zone and hits line drives to all fields. He showed surprising power, though he'll probably be more of a doubles threat who maxes out around 10 home runs. Leyba split time between second base and shortstop with Willy Adames, a more athletic Dominican shortstop, but the former's speed, range and arm all grade out around average, with a quick release, good footwork and smooth hands. Leyba could end up at second base, but he's a sound enough defender to be given every opportunity to stay at shortstop. Leyba's next test will be the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League.
Perez signed with the Tigers for $237,000 when the 2007 international signing period opened, then never hit above .270 in any of his first five minor league seasons. Nevertheless, the Tigers summoned him to Detroit in 2012 when Jhonny Peralta went on paternity leave, and he got his first big league hit off Alfredo Simon. Perez broke out in 2013, hitting .300 in the upper minors and spending most of the second half of the season with the big league club. He's a grinder and an instinctive player who endears himself to managers. He has good bat speed with a short, line-drive stroke and keeps the barrel in the zone a long time. He has good plate coverage and uses the whole field. Perez doesn't have much power, expands his strike zone early in the count and doesn't walk much, though he has a good two-strike approach. He's an average runner and an efficient basestealer because he gets good jumps. Perez has split time between second base and shortstop, and most scouts feel he's a better fit at the keystone. He's an athletic player with an average arm, solid range, good actions and is generally sure-handed. The Tigers' offseason trade for second baseman Ian Kinsler puts Perez's role in doubt for 2014. He could play every day at Triple-A Toledo, serve as a utility man or be traded to a team that sees him as an everyday player.
Vanderbilt has become a factory for lefthanders over the past decade, most notably for 2012 American League Cy Young Award winner David Price and the Braves' Mike Minor. Ziomek became the school's eighth lefty drafted in the top three rounds since 2004 when the Tigers selected him in the second round in 2013 and signed him for $956,600. He pitched briefly in the short-season New York-Penn League, with all four of his starts limited to two innings to keep his workload down. Ziomek doesn't have one put-away pitch but his stuff is steady across the board, including a fastball that parks at 88-92 mph and hits 94. He showed an above-average changeup in 2012 in the Cape Cod League, where he pitched well after a down year as a sophomore, but it was an inconsistent pitch his junior year. His slider can be an average pitch, with more sweep than bite. Ziomek is an athletic pitcher with some mechanical hickeys, including a wrap in his arm action and a crossfire delivery, which may contribute to inconsistent command, but it does enhance deception. Ziomek doesn't wow scouts with stuff but has the potential to fit into the back of a rotation. He could be ticketed for high Class A Lakeland in 2014.
When the Tigers signed Victor Martinez as a free agent following the 2010 season, they surrendered their 2011 first-round pick as compensation. They used their top pick, No. 76 overall and in the second round, on McCann, who signed for $577,900. McCann reached Double-A Erie in 2012 and spent the entire 2013 season repeating the level, showing steady skills with a defensive-oriented profile and durability. Intelligent behind the plate, he earns high marks both inside and outside the organization for his ability to handle a pitching staff. His speed is well-below-average, but he moves well behind the plate, is a good receiver and does a nice job framing pitches. He has an average arm and controls the running game, throwing out 37 percent of basestealers in 2013. McCann's bat hasn't progressed as quickly as the Tigers had hoped, but he had his best season in 2013. He doesn't swing and miss excessively, but he has a bat wrap that creates length to his stroke, and his power is below-average. McCann's defense will have to carry him to the big leagues, with perhaps enough skill at the plate to carve out a career as a second-division catcher.
After having Tommy John surgery as a senior in high school, VerHagen went undrafted and spent his freshman year at Oklahoma before transferring to Navarro (Texas) JC and helping the school win its first Junior College World Series. He ended up at Vanderbilt in 2012, when the Tigers drafted him in the fourth round. He had a solid 2013 season and reached Double-A Erie in June. He delivers his stuff with downhill angle and good extension from an extra-large, 6-foot-6 frame. His best pitch by far is his fastball, which parks at 91-95 mph and can reach 97. VerHagen's fastball has late, heavy sink, and he can add cutting action or tailing life to it. His fastball produces a wave of groundballs, but his lack of secondary weapons explains his low strikeout rate. The Tigers see promise in his curveball, but it's below-average and he tends to get around the ball rather than stay on top of the pitch, while his changeup is also below-average. He throws slightly across his body but generally is around the strike zone, though a wrist wrap and stiffness in his long arm action concern some scouts. VerHagen is the team's best upper-level starter, but his fastball could play up in the bullpen.
The Tigers have developed Ortega as a pure relief prospect since the day he signed in 2006. He has progressed slowly with an explosive fastball and erratic control. After getting to the major leagues for the first time in 2012, he began 2013 at Triple-A Toledo before getting back to Detroit in May, staying there for a month but finishing the year in Triple-A. His money pitch is his fastball, which comes out of his hand at 94-98 mph and crosses the plate with vicious life. It's a hard, heavy pitch with late movement through the zone, enabling him to blow it by hitters or get weak groundballs. When it's on, his 84-88 mph slider gives him another plus pitch with late tilt. His problem continues to be that he's more thrower than pitcher. He has trouble repeating his violent, max-effort mechanics and crossfire delivery, making it difficult to find the strike zone. Ortega has the pure stuff to be a high-leverage reliever, but he must find control first.
Betancourt's polish can be traced to his upbringing. His uncle, Edgardo Alfonzo, played 12 seasons in the big leagues from 1995-2006, mostly as a Mets third baseman. Betancourt trained with Roberto Alfonzo, Edgardo's brother and a former Mets scout, before signing with the Tigers for $200,000 in August 2011. He hit well in his pro debut in the Rookie-level Venezuelan Summer League in 2012 before making a strong impression in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in 2013. Betancourt doesn't swing and miss often--he had the GCL's second-lowest strikeout rate--thanks to his hand-eye coordination and feel for the barrel. He stays within his swing and maintains a line-drive, middle-of-the-field approach. He puts a lot of balls on the ground, doesn't have much pop now and doesn't project to be a big power threat, so his game will center around putting the ball in play and getting on base. Betancourt is a fundamentally sound defender who makes good decisions in the field, understands where he needs to be and has a good sense of timing along with an adequate arm. He's a fringy runner and isn't a quick-twitch, rangy shortstop, so there's a chance he slides over to second base. He's advanced enough to head to low Class A West Michigan in 2014.
Born in Puerto Rico, Moya grew up in the Dominican Republic and signed as an international free agent in 2008. Moya, who missed six weeks early in 2013 with a separated left shoulder, has an enormous frame with long arms and plenty of lift in his swing. He has plus raw power and can drive the ball over the fence to any part of the park when he gets his arms extended. Moya has trouble tapping into his power in games because of his free-swinging approach and long swing with plenty of holes. His 6-foot-6 frame gives pitchers a large strike zone, and he doesn't help himself by chasing pitches, leading to few walks and high strikeouts. Moya is athletic for his size and surprises people with average speed. Even after Tommy John surgery ended his 2012 season in June, Moya still has a plus arm. He has the tools to be a solid right fielder, but he gets poor reads off the bat. The Tigers love Moya's upside if everything clicks, so they put him on the 40-man roster in November to protect him from the Rule 5 draft, but everything about his game remains raw.
Mercedes hasn't started a game since the Tigers signed him for $200,000 out of the Dominican Republic in March 2008. He ran his fastball up to 94 mph as a 17-year-old, and he has seen his velocity jump since then to 93-99 with plus life. His high-80s slider usually is an average pitch with short break, though it will show flashes of being a plus pitch. He still needs to sharpen his fastball command, but his control has been improving, and he walked just 2.4 batters per nine innings in 2013. In spite of his fastball, Mercedes doesn't strike out many hitters. Improving his slider would help, but his long arm action allows hitters to pick up the ball out of his hand early. He had Tommy John surgery in 2010 and has a lot of effort in his delivery, recoiling after he delivers the ball, which puts extra stress on his arm. He has a hefty build, so some scouts would like to see him improve his conditioning. After a strong 2013 campaign, Mercedes should make his major league debut in 2014. He has high-leverage potential if he can figure out a way to miss more bats.
For years, Crosby has tantalized with his stuff but been equally frustrating for his inability to harness it or stay healthy. Shortly after the Tigers signed him for $748,500 as a fifth-round pick out of high school in 2007, Crosby hurt his elbow at instructional league and missed nearly all of 2008 following Tommy John surgery. He barely pitched in 2010 due to swelling in the joint. In May 2013, Crosby missed two weeks with a left shoulder impingement but didn't pitch after June 17 after more shoulder soreness and to have a bone spur removed from his left elbow. At his best, he throws 91-94 mph and touches 96 with heavy life. He changes speeds on his power curveball, dialing it up to the low 80s at times for his out-pitch. He's shown some feel for a changeup, but it's mostly a fringe-average offering. Crosby can miss bats and get groundballs, but aside from health his biggest impediment has been an inability to throw strikes. He has tinkered with his delivery to try to improve his control, but he walked a career-worst 6.2 batters per nine innings at Triple-A Toledo in 2013 and has a career mark of 4.88 BB/9 in the minors. A shift to the bullpen appears imminent in 2014.
Catch him on the right night and Valdez will look like he should be pitching in the back of a big league bullpen. He has good arm speed, is extremely strong and has wipeout stuff, including a 93-98 mph fastball with plus life. He has a plus slider, a pitch he'll throw in the mid-80s at times or zip it up to 87-89 mph at others. Between two Class A stops in 2013, Valdez struck out 12.2 batters per nine innings, but he also walked 6.2 per nine. His lack of control and advanced age (23) in Class A can be partially attributed to his development path. He signed at an older age than most Dominican pitchers (19) in 2009, then at the end of July 2010 he was suspended for 50 games after testing positive for Boldenone while he was in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League. Valdez has sound arm action and a solid delivery, which might help him turn the corner with his control. He could pitch in high-leverage situations if he ever figures it out.
Entering his age-28 season in 2014, Lennerton doesn't have much gap between his present and future ability. He starred for Oregon State at the 2007 College World Series, was a 33rd-round pick in 2008 and didn't begin his pro career until he was 23. Lennerton has made slow, steady progress since then, improving his hitting approach, adding power and becoming a smooth defender. Lennerton is a smart, patient hitter who walks frequently. His lefty swing has good balance, and he rarely mis-hits a ball. He keeps the bat head in the zone a long time, which helps him hit the ball over the fence to all fields despite having only average raw power. Lennerton doesn't have much speed but he has worked his way into a plus defender at first, with sure hands, good actions and reads off the bat along with an average arm. He finished his first season at Triple-A Toledo in 2013 and the Tigers placed him on the 40-man roster to avoid exposing him to the Rule 5 draft. With Miguel Cabrera at first base and Victor Martinez at DH, Lennerton's path is blocked for now.
Collins was one of the biggest disappointments for the Tigers in 2013, especially after he hit so well in spring training and nearly made the big league team. Instead, the Tigers assigned him to Double-A Erie and he struggled, seemingly trying to hit his way to Detroit with every swing. Normally lauded for his mature hitting approach, Collins' swing got longer and more uphill as he tried swinging for the fences, flying open early and going into pull mode. He ended up hitting 21 home runs after just seven in 2012, but his strikeout rate nearly doubled from the previous season, going from 12 percent to 23 percent, as his overall production slipped. Collins still takes his walks, but he needs to find a better blend of hitting for average and power that's more conducive to the former, because his power is average at best and won't carry him. He has a strong, stocky frame with below-average speed and an average arm that could play in either corner-outfield spot. Collins' stock is down from a year ago, but he's an intriguing candidate for a bounce back year at Triple-A Toledo.
Alvarez turned pro in 2005 when he signed with the Red Sox out of Venezuela. Boston traded him to the Marlins following the 2009 season to acquire outfielder Jeremy Hermida. Alvarez pitched well for the Marlins in the low minors, but his strikeout rate dipped at Double-A in 2011, and he signed with the Tigers as a minor league free agent at age 23 after the 2012 season. Detroit made a shrewd signing, as Alvarez jumped to Triple-A Toledo and performed better than ever and made his major league debut in June 2013. Sitting at 88-90 mph and touching 92, Alvarez lacks plus velocity, so he needs to command his fastball down and keep the ball on the ground. He keeps hitters honest with a plus changeup, which he throws with the same arm speed and release point as his fastball. His best breaking ball is a fringy low-80s slider with sweepy action, and he'll sprinkle in a below-average curve on occasion. Alvarez could be a No. 5 starter or a swingman, though with the Tigers' rotation depth, his best chance to stay in Detroit might be as a reliever.
When Fields signed for $1.625 million out of high school as a sixth-round pick in 2009, he was athletic but raw. Yet Detroit skipped Fields over the low Class A Midwest League and sent him straight to high Class A Lakeland in 2010 as a 19-year-old, where he understandably looked over his head. After three straight seasons in Lakeland, Fields went to Double-A Erie and put together the best season of his career. Adding size and strength over the last few years has helped, giving him more quickness to his swing. While Fields' offensive production improved, his strikeout rate went up, as his uppercut stroke leaves him with holes. He uses the whole field, with a tick above-average raw power. Fields, whose father Bruce returned to the organization in 2013 as roving hitting instructor, is a fringy runner whose basestealing acumen has improved. He gets good reads off the bat, but he has a fringy arm and isn't a true center fielder. His best defensive fit might be left field, but he doesn't have the bat to be an everyday player. Triple-A Toledo will be the next step.
The Rays had high hopes for Lobstein when they drafted him out of high school in the second round of the 2008 draft and signed him for $1.5 million. His stuff never ticked up like Tampa Bay hoped, however, and they chose not to protect him on the 40-man roster after the 2012 season. The Mets took Lobstein in the Rule 5 draft and sold him to the Tigers, who worked out a trade with the Rays just before the 2013 season to retain him, sending catcher Curt Casali to Tampa Bay. Lobstein has easy mechanics, a loose arm action and the ball comes out of his hand cleanly, but he lacks the arm speed for an average fastball, settling in at 85-90 mph. He doesn't have an out pitch, so scouts are split on his best secondary offering, but most prefer his changeup, an average pitch with solid fade. He throws a slider and a curveball, but they're fringy. Lobstein's lack of velocity gives him little margin for error, so he has to work down, keep the ball away and spot his fastball to have success. Like Jose Alvarez, Lobstein could be a No. 5 starter or a swingman, though some scouts think he'd have more success as a reliever if he doesn't have to go through a lineup multiple times.
An Indiana all-state tight end and defensive end in high school, Thompson's size and athleticism made him attractive to some college football programs, but he chose to play baseball at Louisville instead. He led the Cardinals to the 2013 College World Series, then signed for $549,400 as the fourth of seven consecutive college pitchers the Tigers selected to start their draft. Thompson uses his behemoth size and long arms to produce downhill plane on a fastball that camps at 90-93 mph and can hit 95 with occasional cutting action, though it can get straight. His low-80s slider has slurvy action. It's an average pitch that low-level hitters will chase out of the zone, though more discerning hitters will hold back. His changeup is a below-average pitch that he doesn't use much. Thompson has a good delivery with smooth arm action and hides the ball well behind a high leg lift to add deception. The Tigers view him as a starter and will develop him that way, though some scouts have him pegged for bullpen. He should be ready for high Class A Lakeland.
Reininger's brother J.D. played seven years as a professional, much of it in indy ball. The younger Reininger went undrafted out of high school, but his velocity jumped as a Hill (Texas) JC sophomore, and he starting touching 93 mph. The Tigers signed him for $153,000 out of the eighth round in 2013. Reininger had a stellar pro debut at short-season Connecticut, where he pounded the bottom of the zone with heavy low-90s fastballs. With a skinny frame and a loose arm, Reininger could throw even harder in the future once he gets stronger. A two-way player in junior college, he's a good athlete who repeats his delivery and doesn't walk many batters. His ability to throw strikes and keep the ball on the ground creates a lot of quick, efficient innings. With a solid-average slider, a serviceable changeup that could be a future average pitch and a get-me-over curveball, Reininger's repertoire is deep enough that he could move into a starting role next year, though some scouts like him better as a reliever who could move quickly. He's ready for low Class A West Michigan in 2014, with the polish for an early-season promotion to high Class A Lakeland if he gets off to a strong start.
At Texas Christian, Holaday helped the Horned Frogs make their first College World Series appearance in 2010, when the Tigers drafted him in the sixth round and signed him for $115,000. After making his major league debut in June 2012 when Alex Avila strained a hamstring, Holaday opened 2013 at Triple-A Toledo but again found himself in the big leagues in June when Avila went on the disabled list. The Tigers sent Holaday back to Toledo after he appeared in four games, then brought him back up in August and used him sporadically as a September callup. Holaday's defense is ahead of his hitting. He's a smart catcher with an average arm who controlled the running game in Triple-A, throwing out 41 percent of basestealers. He's a dependable receiver with the solid hands and footwork. Holaday doesn't have the bat to be an everyday catcher. He has a long, slow swing with an uppercut path and a pull-oriented approach with below-average power. He also needs to tighten his strike-zone discipline. Like most catchers, he's a well-below-average runner. If Holaday could bring a little more to the table at the plate, he could stick around as a backup, a role he's expected to fill behind Avila in the big leagues in 2014.
Cabrera's father Alex played for the Diamondbacks in 2000 before becoming a big power hitter in Japan. Father and son were able to play against each other in the 2013 Venezuelan League, where 41-year-old Alex posted monster numbers for La Guaira while Ramon caught for Caracas. Ramon originally signed with the Pirates for $100,000 in 2008, then joined the Tigers in December 2012 when Pittsburgh traded him for lefthander Andy Oliver. Cabrera yo-yoed between Double-A Erie and Triple-A Toledo in 2013, settling in at the former with a solid offensive performance. He seldom swings and misses, with a contact-oriented swing that helps him hit for a high batting average. Cabrera improved his walk rate last year but has just 20 power and is a slow runner. With a swing path lacking loft, along with his maxed out body, he'll never have a double-digit home run season. Cabrera caught just 50 games in 2013 and his defense remains below-average, especially controlling the running game, as he caught 26 percent of basestealers. While their body types are different, Cabrera has the upside to contribute a performance along the lines of Josh Thole.
The Tigers are one of the active teams when it comes to signing Venezuelan players, as they're one of the few organizations with an academy remaining in the country. In 2011, they signed a shortstop Javier Betancourt for $200,000 and Fuentes for $210,000, then put them together the next season in the Rookie-level Venezuelan Summer League, with Fuentes splitting time between shortstop, second base and third base. The two came over to the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in 2013, with Fuentes playing exclusively third base. He doesn't have the smoothness or advanced baseball sense of Betancourt, but his tools are louder. Fuentes is athletic, has good bat speed and had a solid U.S. debut. He does use the middle of the field, but he needs to improve his plate discipline to get himself better pitches to hit. He'll flash gap power that should grow with more strength, but it's not a big part of his game. Fuentes' home-to-first times are average and he's an above-average runner underway. He has the arm strength and quick release to play on the left side of the field, but the game speeds up on him defensively. The Tigers tend to push their players, so Fuentes could head to low Class A West Michigan in 2014.
Drummond took an unorthodox path to pro ball, going unsigned three times after being drafted and attending four colleges before landing with the Tigers. An unsigned Brewers 34th-round pick out of high school in 2008, Drummond went to Arizona State but transferred to Orange Coast (Calif.) JC before the 2009 season even started. He transferred to San Diego in 2010, where he redshirted. He pitched two seasons for the Toreros, going unsigned as a Nationals 34th-round pick in 2011 and an Athletics 38th-rounder in 2012. When he became ineligible at San Diego, he transferred to NAIA Arizona Christian as a senior, but he couldn't get eligible there either, so major league teams had to evaluate him throwing bullpens. The Tigers jumped on Drummond in the sixth round of the 2013 draft, signing him for $60,000. He throws 92-96 mph with sink, tail and downhill angle that helps him generate groundballs. When it's on, his plus slider is an out-pitch, though it sometimes flattens out on him. He has a below-average curveball and shows some feel for changeup, but he'll mostly need the fastball and slider out of the bullpen. He's generally around the plate with some funkiness and effort in his delivery, hiding the ball well behind a high leg lift. As a reliever entering his age-24 season, Drummond should open at high Class A Lakeland in 2014.
Detroit's two big signings from the 2012 international signing period were Adames and fellow Dominican shortstop Domingo Leyba. Signed for $420,000, Adames was the Tigers' most expensive international signing that year, and while he didn't match Leyba's sparkling 2013 debut in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League, there were plenty of promising signs in his first season. Adames lacks Leyba's all-around baseball instincts and knack for making contact, but Adames is a better athlete and a more physical player. He still is ironing out his swing to hit for a higher average, but he has a very patient approach, evidenced by him drawing the second-most walks (56) in the DSL. He has gap power presently, with the size and bat speed to project for more once he adds size and strength. He's around an average runner and is raw as a baserunner. Adames got most of his repetitions at shortstop, occasionally playing third base, and showed good hands and a strong arm, though like many young infielders he still needs to cut down on mistakes. Adding size could be a double-edged sword for Adames, as it should help his power but could push him to third base. He should head to the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in 2014.