Sign Up! Join our newsletters, get a FREE e-Edition
When he was training with Carlos Guillen as an amateur, Franklin Perez was a strong-armed third baseman. But in reality, he was a pitcher who just hadn't found his true home yet. When he moved to the mound, he quickly showed a delivery and an aptitude that seemed somewhat remarkable for a newly minted pitcher. He quickly surpassed many more experienced pitchers in the 2014 international amateur class as a clean delivery and ability to work in the strike zone made Perez stand out. He missed a month early the 2017 season with a knee injury but still reached Double-A before his 20th birthday. The Tigers made him the signature acquisition in the Justin Verlander trade, although the Aug. 31 deal came late enough in the season that Perez never got into a game with a Tigers club. The Tigers have pitching prospects with higher ceilings than Perez, but none who combine stuff and feel like Perez does. For a young pitcher, Perez already understands many of the finer details of the craft. He responds quickly to instruction and shows an aptitude for adjustments. After working on a new grip for his slider in just one side session, he successfully took it into his next game. Perez generally sits 92-94 mph, although he can touch 95-96 at his best. There are some scouts who believe that he may end up throwing harder in his 20s because his delivery is clean and he has plenty of athleticism. What's most notable is he commands all four of his pitches. His 75-80 mph curveball is his best secondary pitch. He's long had an ability to spin it, with 12-to-6 break, and he's shown he can loosen it up as an early-count strike or tighten it as a swing-and-miss out pitch. His changeup is a potentially average pitch as well, with more deception than late fade. He's messed with a slider as well. It's hard (88-89 mph) with late movement. It could be described as almost a slutter, as it's in between a cutter and a bigger slider, but because of its power and late movement it's reasonably effective. Perez doesn't blow hitters away like a future No. 1, but he also doesn't have all that much left to refine to be a future middle-of-the-rotation starter. He'll head to Double-A Erie, but could be only a year away from Detroit.
The Tigers understandably never imagined when the 2017 college season began that Faedo might be on the board when they picked. After knee surgery during the fall, Faedo got off to a slow start for the Gators and started sliding down draft boards (he'd been considered a likely top 10 pick). But just as teams lined up their preference lists, Faedo began to dominate again. He was the Most Outstanding Player of the College World Series after posting a 0.32 ERA with 44 strikeouts in 27.1 postseason innings to lead the Gators to the title. The Tigers shut Faedo down when they signed him, as he already had thrown 123 innings during the college season. He will make his pro debut in 2018. At his best, Faedo has three plus pitches. He manipulates his 90-94 mph fastball as he can cut it, sink it or make it run. His low-80s slider was among the best in the college class as he can toy with its bite and depth depending on the situation. And his changeup falls off at the plate, giving him another swing-and-miss pitch. His stuff was not as firm early in the 2017 college season and he can get too reliant on his slider, but overall, it's a well-honed three-pitch package. While Faedo has a long arm action, he has average to above-average control. As an accomplished pitcher in the SEC, Faedo should move quickly, even if he's yet to make his pro debut. The cold weather of West Michigan in April makes the case to push Faedo to high Class A Lakeland. He projects as a solid No. 3 starter.
The son of an NBA player, Manning could have gone to Loyola Marymount to pitch and play forward on the basketball team. A $3.5 million signing bonus from the Tigers was a pretty convincing argument to give up basketball. Detroit held him back in extended spring training before sending him to the New York-Penn League. Manning wavered between dominant efforts and struggles both in short-season Connecticut and in a late-season cameo in low Class A West Michigan. When he's synced up his mechanics, Manning can dominate. But so far, Manning has been out of sync a lot. His arm slot unintentionally varied in 2017 from over the top to more of a high three-quarters delivery. He also varied from being direct to the plate to throwing across his body. He struggled with location as a result. In each of his first two outings with West Michigan he failed to make it out of the second inning. But when he put it together, he showed a plus 92-93 mph fastball that touched 95-96. His fastball has riding life up in the zone, or he can gear it down to locate it down and away to a righthanded hitter. His 12-to-6 above-average curveball looks like a second future plus pitch. Right now it's a late-count weapon that he buries while hitters flail helplessly, but he doesn't consistently throw it for strikes early in the count. His changeup is below-average. He needs to refine and develop it. As a tall, if athletic, righthander, Manning will continually have to work on the consistency of his delivery and he has to pick an arm slot. Ideally, Manning could develop into a front of the rotation ace, but if his control and changeup don't advance as expected he could also end up as a power reliever. He's ready to return to West Michigan for his first extended taste of full-season ball.
Burrows blitzed through the Florida State League, leaving plenty of helpless hitters in his wake as he earned a spot in the Futures Game, where he struck out a pair of hitters in a clean inning. Double-A hitters proved tougher, as Burrows' less-developed secondary offerings allowed hitters to look for his fastball. Burrows has a better fastball than any of the Tigers' other top starting pitching prospects. He can blow hitters away with consistent 94-95 mph fastballs--he touched 98 in the Futures Game. Burrows has a high spin rate that makes it appear that his heater has a late hop, generating swings and misses. But if he's going to avoid eventually being moved to the bullpen, he'll need to improve his trio of below-average offspeed pitches. His below-average slider and curveball both are not consistent enough and they sometimes blend together, leading to the question of whether he'd be better off focusing on one or the other. His curve is a little ahead of his slider. It's loopy but it has 12-to-6 break. His changeup is further away and needs more separation and deception. If Burrows were 25 years old, it would be time to move him to the pen and let him rely heavily on his excellent fastball. But he'll pitch the 2018 season as a 21-year-old, so there's plenty of time to let him continue to work on improving his offspeed pitches in Double-A Erie.
Rogers was seen as one of the best defensive catchers in the 2016 college draft class, but he also was an easy out at the plate for most of his Tulane career (.233 career hitter with seven home runs in three seasons). With many scouts seeing him as a glove-only catcher, he fell to the third round despite impeccable defensive credentials. Rogers has proven a better hitter in pro ball and was a key part of the Justin Verlander trade. At the plate, Rogers is looking to drive the ball. He has a big leg kick to start his swing and takes a ferocious cut with a pull-heavy approach. When it works, he has the power to deposit pitches in the left field bleachers. When it doesn't he rolls over groundouts or hits a number of harmless pop outs. Evaluators generally see him as a below-average hitter with a lot of swings and misses and average bat speed. But his power-heavy approach also gives him a chance to hit 20-plus home runs. Combine that with his plus arm (he threw out 46 percent of base stealers) and his defensive skills and that could still be a valuable big leaguer. Rogers embraces the leadership role, moves well behind the plate and has a strong left hand, giving him chance to be an above-average receiver as well. Rogers is at least a big league backup catcher and if he can make semi-consistent contact he has a solid chance to be an everyday regular. He'll jump to Double-A Erie in 2018 and with his defensive polish, isn't all that far from Detroit.
The son of longtime big league center fielder Mike Cameron, Daz slid in the 2015 draft because of his asking price. He landed a $4 million bonus that matched that of Astros first-round pick Kyle Tucker. Cameron wasn't ready for the Midwest League in 2016, and a finger injury ended his season early. He was much better in his second try at full-season ball, impressing the Tigers enough to make sure he was included in the Justin Verlander trade. Cameron has a good understanding of the strike zone and recognizes pitches to hit, but early in his pro career he would fail to consistently square up hittable pitches, often fouling them off instead. His swing path proved to be too steep. Cameron has worked to keep the bat through the zone longer and it has paid off in better contact. Optimistic projections see Cameron as an average hitter, but that should be enough to be a regular as he has the strength and bat speed to hit 15-20 home runs in his prime. Cameron is an above-average defender in center field with an average arm and above-average speed. Cameron lacks a truly exceptional tool, but he's a hard worker and he has a well-rounded skill set. He's ready for high Class A Lakeland.
If not for Vladimir Guerrero Jr. or Fernando Tatis Jr.'s standout seasons, Paredes would have generated plenty of an attention as an 18-year-old shortstop who hit 11 home runs, drew walks and didn't strike out much. Along with Jeimer Candelario, he was acquired from the Cubs for lefthander Justin Wilson and catcher Alex Avila at the end of July. Even if his stats don't fully indicate it, scouts saw him as one of the better pure hitters in the Midwest League. He showed a consistent ability to square up balls, while showing pitch recognition, a whole-field approach and the plate discipline of an older, more experienced hitter before wearing down in August. He should be at least an above-average hitter and he has a chance to hit 15-20 home runs a season. Defensively, there's much less consensus. Paredes' thick trunk draws comparisons to Jhonny Peralta, but more often, players with Paredes' build end up moving to second or third base. With an above-average arm, soft hands and good instincts, he should be able to stick at either spot if he stays on top of his conditioning. Paredes' ultimate ceiling depends on how his body develops. If he doesn't get much thicker, Paredes could stick at a premium defensive position where his well-rounded offensive toolset will make him an asset. He should be one of the younger players in the Florida State League in 2018.
One of the top signees in the Blue Jays' 2011 international class, Lugo has gotten used to the realities of pro baseball as he's been traded around the trade deadline twice in the past three seasons. The first time he went to the Diamondbacks for Cliff Pennington and in 2017, the D-backs included him in the trade that also sent Jose King and Sergio Alcantara to the Tigers for J.D. Martinez. Lugo is trying to straddle a tricky paradox. He's a solid third baseman defensively, but he'll have to get to his power more often to really fit at third base. Scouts are less confident he can be an average defender at second base, where his above-average hit and average power would be a better fit. Lugo has plenty of bat speed and above-average hand-eye coordination. He recognizes pitches quickly out of the hand and has steadily turned himself into a very tough out. But that has come at the expense of power. He has above-average raw power, but he has a hit-first approach come game-time at the expense of power. Lugo has a plus arm which plays very well at third and good hands, but his first-step quickness is modest. He's a below-average runner. Lugo isn't all that far away from competing for a big league job. The former shortstop could end up at second or third base depending on team need. He doesn't have exceptional upside, but he has a good chance at a solid big league career.
Stewart ranked among the top 10 in NCAA Division I in home run rate during his junior year of college and he's shown similar power with a wood bat. He's easily led the organization in home runs in each of his two full seasons and ranks second in the minors with 58 home runs over the past two years. Like most power hitters in 2017, he strikes out, but not excessively. He is prone to chase out of the zone because he's looking to do damage whether early or late in counts. He does have some zone awareness and when he stays within himself, he can generate power from a relatively compact swing. Stewart is a little pull happy, but he has the ability to drive the ball out to all fields. Stewart is a below-average runner who is unlikely to be more than a below-average hitter, but with 25-30 home run power given regular at-bats. The concerns about Stewart revolve around when he's wearing an outfielder's glove. He has worked hard to improve his defense, and he has seen some improvement, but he's still well below-average. Most scouts say it's unrealistic to see him as anything better than a future 40 defensively on the 20-to-80 scouting scale. He's limited to left field by a well below-average arm. Stewart's best position is designated hitter, but few teams break in rookies at DH. To play left field regularly, he'll have to be a prodigious hitter to make up for his defensive limitations, which adds to his risk. Stewart either is an everyday regular or a minor leaguer, but his swing gives him a chance to be a productive power hitter.
There's little question that Soto has a big league arm, but he's yet to do much to quiet the speculation that in the long run he'll end up pitching out of the bullpen. Soto has one of the best arms in the Tigers' farm system. Soto sits 95-96 mph from the left side and his slider has enough power and shape to project as at least an above-average pitch as well. But Soto doesn't have a great idea of where the ball is going when it leaves his hand. His cross-body delivery helps contribute to his below-average control--he's walked 4.6 batters per nine inning over the past two seasons. Soto's changeup has a long way to go and its rudimentary nature leads more talk of relieving in the future. Soto has learned how to work out of trouble because he has had a lot of trouble he's worked out of already. Soto most likely ends up as a valuable bullpen arm with two pitches that can eat up lefties and enough stuff to be able to face righthanders. But there are enough glimpses of more for the Tigers to keep working on developing him as a starter when he returns to Lakeland.
Funkhouser had to wait longer than expected to become a pro. He was expected to be one of the best pitchers in the 2015 draft class, but his stuff took a step back and his control wavered as April turned to May. He slid to the back of the first round (35th overall) and turned down the Dodgers to return for his senior season. The same issues repeated as a senior and he slid to the fourth round. Since signing he's looked more like first-round talent he'd showed earlier in his Louisville career, but the durability he's always shown deserted him in 2017. The Tigers shut him down with elbow soreness and say he's recovered well without surgery and expect him to be ready for 2018. Before he went on the DL, Funkhouser proved he could beat hitters with his 92-96 mph fastball that shows quality life. He uses his slider too much, but it is a plus pitch at its best and he has a fringy bigger curveball that works as a surprise early-count change of pace. His changeup is unlikely to ever be a weapon, but it can be average as it has enough separation and his fastball is good enough that hitters can't wait for the change. Funkhouser's control is much better than it was late in his college career and he shows average command when he's really locked in. He should head back to Lakeland, but a midseason promotion could be in the offing if he performs as he has so far.
A workhorse at Alabama, Turnbull has not gotten the chance to serve a similar role in pro ball because of a variety of maladies. He's averaged less than 100 innings per year in his three pro seasons. After shoulder problems cost him significant time in 2016, Turnbull missed time in 2017 with elbow soreness. None of these injuries has required surgery. When he's been on the mound, he's shown quality stuff with a 92-96 mph heavy fastball, an average high-80s power slider that has modest depth and a sporadic but promising 11-to-5 curveball that is at least average at its best. He can locate a get-me-over curve in early counts and also has a harder curve to try to finish off a batter. He could use his fringe-average changeup a little more often. Turnbull shows some ability to manipulate his fastball, as he can cut it in addition to sinking it. Turnbull's command needs further improvement as he is wild in and out of the zone and nibbles a little too much. Turnbull has the stuff to be a back-end starter with a fallback option as a reliever with a blistering fastball. He'll head back to Double-A Erie in 2018 needing to prove he can stay healthy and further refine his command.
McMillan battled some very ill-timed tendinitis in his throwing shoulder during his senior season at Live Oak, Fla.'s Suwannee High. That led a number of teams to decide it would be better to let him head to Florida, but the Tigers stayed on him. They went far beyond slot value in the fifth round to sign him for $1 million. McMillan responded by putting together one of the best seasons in the Gulf Coast League, although he fell a few plate appearances short of qualifying for league leaderboards. McMillan's approach was more advanced than the pitchers he faced. He spit at sliders off the plate, laughed at buried curveballs and connected consistently when pitchers did throw in the zone. He was equally happy to slap the ball around the field as he was to take a walk. Scouts are confident in McMillan's potentially plus hit tool, but they are much less confident in his ability to drive the ball. He needs to add strength as his power potential is well below-average. McMillan was considered more polished defensively than offensively in high school. He's an advanced receiver for his age and although his arm was only average in his pro debut, it could play up in the future as he puts the tendinitis in the rear-view mirror. The Tigers' West Michigan manager in 2018 will be Lance Parrish, who would be a perfect mentor for the young catcher.
A four-year starter at Creighton, Gerber has proven an excellent 15th-round senior sign for the Tigers. He led the organization with a .304 batting average and was on the verge of a promotion to Triple-A when an oblique strain forced him to the DL for six weeks. Gerber did make it up to Toledo for the final week of the season. Gerber is one of the purest hitters in the system. His bat comes through the strike zone on a level path, which leads to a lot of contact and more line drives than long flies. He's a plus hitter with 15-20 home run potential. If he were a little better in center field, he would profile as an everyday regular. But as a fringe-average defender in center, he is more likely to end up as a productive fourth outfielder who can play all three outfield spots with an above-average arm. He's an average runner. The Tigers added him to the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. Gerber will head to Toledo to start 2018, but he's a viable call-up option if the Tigers need an outfielder.
Jimenez was an effective reliever for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic and he followed that up by making his big league debut just a week into the season. He went up and down between Triple-A and the major leagues with the exception of May when he went on the disabled list with a back injury. Jimenez dominated with Triple-A Toledo largely on the basis of his fastball, but every time he returned to Detroit he found his wildness and lack of a consistent slider led to too many big innings. Jimenez's 94-96 mph plus fastball is effective but not good enough unless his inconsistent slider improves. Jimenez's slider flashes above-average, but too often it flattens out. He also has to prove it's more than just a chase pitch, because big league hitters laid off of it and waited for him to come back to the fastball. He will mix in a fringy changeup exclusively against lefthanded hitters. Jimenez's control is also below-average. If Jimenez improves his control or refines his slider, he has the stuff to be a seventh/eighth-inning reliever, but he can't succeed long-term without doing one of the two. He's worked to get into better shape to prepare for a pivotal 2018 season.
Garcia left his mark on the Miami record book, setting a school record and tying the ACC record with 43 saves. Some scouts saw him as a potential starter thanks to his three-pitch mix, but the Tigers liked his makeup and moxie in a lock-down back-of-the-bullpen role. Garcia has lived up to those expectations by leaping through four minor league levels in his first full pro season. Garcia's delivery is a little long in the back and he finished into a stiff front leg, but he has shown an ability to repeat it. Garcia's 92-96 mph fastball is an effective above-average pitch, but it's his plus slider that makes hitters sweat. His changeup dives away from bats with late fade, giving him three average or better pitches. Garcia seems to thrive on pressure. Triple-A was his first taste of anything less than dominance. He'll head back there to start 2018, but he could make it to Detroit this year.
One of the new trends in trades is the quest to dig deeper and deeper into farm system to find a gem that a team is willing to include in a deal. That explains why the Tigers asked for King on the basis of what he showed in less than 75 pro games. One of Baseball America's Top 20 Dominican Summer League prospects from 2016, he was one of three players the Tigers acquired in the trade that sent J.D. Martinez to the Diamondbacks. King is skinny and physically undeveloped at this point and he knows it, which is why he slaps the ball and relies on his near top-of-the-scale speed. His swing has some length and modest bat control, but it's realistic to think that he'll improve it if he gets stronger. He doesn't have the strength yet to really manipulate the barrel and his plate discipline needs to improve. King has an average arm but he does need a longer release to generate that velocity, which leads a number of evaluators to say that in the long run he'll have to slide to second base or center field. If he stays rail thin, King could end up as speedy, versatile utility infielder/outfielder able to play shortstop in a pinch. But if he fills out, he could end up as a top-of-the order table-setter with a plus hit tool and well below-average power.
In a system that has plenty of high-velocity bullpen arms, Moreno has the best. Moreno sits in the high 90s and can get to 100 mph regularly. That velocity comes out of his hand easily with only modest effort. He can drive that fastball down in the zone with good plane or elevate it up in the zone. After throwing a curveball earlier in his career, he's adopted a slider that has made steady improvement. It's fringe-average right now, but with the quality of his plus-plus fastball, if he can even get it to average it will be good enough. He has a below-average changeup to keep lefties honest, but he doesn't always maintain his arm speed with it so the deception is lacking. Moreno lands on a stiff front side in his delivery and finishes with some recoil. That helps explain why his control is well below-average. When Moreno throws strikes, he succeeds, but too often he is working from behind in the count. Even with a less-than-ideal delivery, Moreno repeats it consistently enough to give hope that he can develop into a useful power reliever as he misses plenty of bats. But he'll get to that ceiling only with significant improvements.
Castro has been a slow developing prospect as he spent two years in the now-defunct Venezuelan Summer League and missed all of 2015 recovering from Tommy John surgery. He didn't make it to full-season ball until this year, but he showed promising stuff and some feel pitching for low Class A West Michigan. There's an impressive fluidity to Castro's delivery as one part flows smoothly into the next. At his best, Castro has a 92-96 mph fastball with plenty of life. It shows cut and tail, and he can work it to both sides of the plate. He also has a hard curveball that has a chance to be at least above-average. There are some evaluators who see it as a future plus pitch. Castro was left unprotected in the Rule 5 draft and went unpicked because he's still so far away. But he has the building blocks of a future back-end starter or useful reliever.
The Tigers' rebuild hit full speed when Justin Verlander was dealt to the Astros. That helped make further decisions like trading away Ian Kinsler easier to make and Hernandez is a key part of that trade's return. Hernandez, who signed as a 16-year-old for $125,000, put on about 20 pounds from the 2016 season, and the added weight and strength was reflected in his fastball velocity, which sat 93 mph with good movement and touched 96 mph in the Rookie-level Arizona League in 2017. Hernandez has a good feel for his changeup, which he can throw to lefthanded and righthanded batters as an average pitch. He has a nice, loose arm and impressed with his competitive nature and work ethic. Hernandez's primary focus coming out of his first full season in the U.S. is to improve his inconsistent curveball, which has good shape but is a little slow. The pitch, which Hernandez learned in the instructional league in 2017, was in the low 70s this season; it needs more arm speed and conviction. It's too soon to determine whether Hernandez projects as a starter or a reliever. Hernandez doesn't turn 19 until after the start of the 2018 season, but may get a shot at full-season ball with low Class A West Michigan.
A lat strain ruined Pinto's 2017 season. He had spent the first half of the year at extended spring training, but he dominated the New York-Penn League and earned a promotion to low Class A West Michigan after just eight excellent outings. In his first appearance for West Michigan, he strained a lat muscle and was shut down for the rest of the season. Scouts who saw one of those rare Pinto appearances came away very impressed. He overpowered New York-Penn League hitters by working arm-side and glove-side with an overwhelming plus-plus 94-99 mph fastball. He has a slider that is already a 40-45 pitch on the 20-to-80 scouting scale because of his arm speed. Pinto's command is what's most notable. His fastball gets plenty of run but he still managed to locate it consistently. He progressed remarkably. Two years earlier, he walked more than a batter an inning and in his nine appearances in 2017, he didn't walk a batter and was rarely behind in counts. Pinto has to stay healthy and improve his breaking ball, but he has the stuff to finish off games one day. He's ready to head back to low Class A West Michigan. With the friendly pitching environment of West Michigan and his stuff, he could earn a lot more attention in 2018.
Greiner is the biggest catcher in baseball. He's officially listed at 6-foot-6, which has long been considered by many to be too tall for a catcher--no one that height has ever had significant big league career as a catcher. Greiner has a good chance be the first. Greiner is unlikely to ever be a big league regular, but he's also highly likely to have some sort of big league career as a catcher with some clear limitations. Despite his size, he's actually an average receiver thanks to excellent flexibility. His above-average arm plays as well, as he's long been able to slow down running games--he threw out 37 percent of base stealers in 2017. Greiner has a decent understanding of his strike zone, but it's a big zone that he struggles to fully cover. Also, he too often lets pitchers get ahead of him, and his approach isn't well suited for defensive two-strike swings. When Greiner connects, he has average power, but he's a below-average hitter who will struggle to square balls up consistently. As one might expect, he's a below-average runner who goes base to base.
After impressing in the summer league Northeast Collegiate Baseball League in 2015, Foley struggled early and late in his junior season at Sacred Heart, which pretty much ruined his draft chances. But Tigers area scout Jim Bretz kept an eye on him in his return to the NECBL, where he showed better stuff in a relief role. Since he went undrafted as an eligible junior, he was free to sign as an undrafted free agent without having to wait to be drafted again. Foley's stuff was even better in his first full season with the Tigers, as he started sitting 97-98 and touching 100-101 mph with a hard, above-average slider and a changeup that played as average (in part because hitters had to gear up for the fastball). Unfortunately for Foley, he blew out his elbow in early July. He'll miss more than half of 2018 as he rehabs from Tommy John surgery. There have been studies that show that pitchers velocity sometimes jumps right before a significant elbow injury, so there's no surety that Foley will be tickling triple-digits again when he returns, but even if it diminished a little, he still would be one of the best relief prospects in the Tigers' organization.
After signing for $550,000, Perez was the most promising prospect in the Tigers' 2016 international class, and he's exceeded those expectations so far. He has some of Jose King's burst and athleticism, but with a chance to be a strong hitter with more gap power. He's already made strength gains since signing with more to come, and he uses his legs now in his swing. He's a hit-first prospect with good hand-eye coordination, hands and strong wrists to spray the ball around the field as a switch-hitter with a plan at the plate. He walked more than he struck out in his Dominican Summer League debut. Defensively he has a very good chance to stick at shortstop with a quick first step, hands that work, advanced feel and an average arm. He played some second base as well in his pro debut, but that's for versatility more than anything else. Perez gets too aggressive at times right now and makes too many errors, but that's something he should refine as he gets more innings.
The Tigers picked Reyes with the top pick in the 2017 Rule 5 draft. It wasn't the first time he had been moved. The D-backs acquired Reyes from the Braves prior to the 2015 season as the second half of a two-part deal that sent Trevor Cahill to Atlanta. Reyes has tremendous hand-eye coordination and bat-to-ball skills that rival just about anyone in the organization. But those attributes sometimes work against him as his ability to make contact can sometimes lead to him swinging at--and putting in play--pitches out of the zone. Reyes' biggest knock remains his lack of power; in four years at full-season levels he has yet to post a slugging percentage north of .416. Coaches believe he can tap into more power if he can become a more disciplined hitter but it might never be a big part of his game. He's a good competitor and puts together tough at-bats. He's an above-average runner and thrower, making him a solid defender in right field, and though he hasn't played much center field some scouts believe he's at least playable there. With the Tigers, Reyes likely has to prove he can slide to center in a pinch to stick all season as a backup outfielder. Long-term, he and Michael Gerber fill a similar role and Gerber has more power, so he's got to keep developing to stick around.
The Tigers loaded up on shortstops in the J.D. Martinez trade. Of the three shortstops Detroit acquired, Alcantara is the best defensively but also has the least offensive potential. Alcantara is a true shortstop who could be an above-average defender with an above-average arm. Alcantara isn't a speedster--he turns in fringe-average run times, but he has a quick first step, good hands and enough range. Alcantara can handle shortstop defensively, but he'll have to prove he can hit enough for it to matter. He has a contact-oriented approach, but his swing doesn't really use his legs. Alcantara is not a home run threat at all, but he needs to get to the point where outfielders at least worry about him hitting it over their head. As a defense-first, light-hitting shortstop, Alcantara could develop into a second-division regular, but he's more likely to end up in a utility infielder role.
Part of the return in the December trade that sent Ian Kinsler to the Angels, Montgomery has long impressed with his feel for the game and his ability to get the most out of his somewhat modest tools. Montgomery's season was cut short by injury in early August, so the Angels sent him to the Arizona Fall League to get some more at-bats. A three-year starter at Ohio State who signed for $150,000, Montgomery is a gap-to-gap hitter with a tick below-average raw power and well above-average speed, though he does have a tendency to get a little reckless on the bases--he has been thrown out in 12 of 40 steal attempts in two seasons. Montgomery provides above-average defense at all three outfield spots with a solid-average arm in both strength and accuracy. Montgomery projects as an extra outfielder in the big leagues whose defense a
As the son of long-time player and now scout Orsino Hill, Derek has grown up around the game, but injuries and inconsistency at the plate have hampered the Tigers' 2014 first-round pick. Hill missed time in 2014 with a back injury, half of 2015 with a nagging quadriceps injury and then was shut down in August of 2016 with an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery. Hill is a plus-plus defender with plus-plus speed who is confident and aggressive at running down balls in the gaps. That speed also plays on the basepaths, but that aggression doesn't translate to the plate. Hill has enough bat speed and his hands work well, but too often his hips open up too soon and he pulls off pitches. He's gaining strength, but his swing isn't geared toward driving the ball. At this point, his most likely path to the big leagues is as a useful backup outfielder who can play all three spots. Hill will need to be added to the 40-man roster after the 2018 season, so this is a big test for him as he heads to Lakeland.
Sodders' father Mike was Baseball America's first College Player of the Year in 1981 and a first-round pick of the Twins that same year. The younger Sodders has consistently impressed more with his knack for pitching than any plus pitch. Sodders' path to the big leagues is as a back-of-the-rotation lefty who has a fringe-average fastball (88-92 mph), average changeup and a fringe-average but improving slider. All of them play up because of plus control and his ability to throw all the pitches at any point in the count. Sodders has dominated lower-level hitters and he keeps the ball in the ballpark, which is vital for a touch-and-feel lefty. His strikeout rate plummeted after his promotion to high Class A and he doesn't currently have a true out pitch. The jump to Double-A is going to be a big test for him, much like teammate Tyler Alexander found out in 2017.
Baez had the frame to add weight and a decent mid-to-high 80s fastball when he signed for just under $50,000. Since then he's developed as hoped. Baez's broad-shouldered frame now is near ideal as he has size and strength. His delivery finishes with a little bit of recoil, but he repeats well. As he's filled out, his fastball has turned into a 94-96 mph above-average pitch. But Baez's biggest weapon is a fosh changeup. Not many pitchers have been able to master the fosh, which is like a split-change but with a different grip. Baez has mastered it, and it has both excellent separation and late dive like a splitter. His slider is below-average and needs to get better. Baez's two present above-average pitches and fringe-average control give him a path to the big league bullpen, but he'll need to improve the slider significantly if he wants to remain a starter long-term.