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The Tigers have more pitching depth than they have had in years.
The Tigers have targeted pitchers at the top of each of the past three drafts, and it’s paid off with Alex Faedo, Matt Manning and Beau Burrows. Add in trade acquisition Franklin Perez and the organization has its best group of arms in years. Detroit now has future starters to go with its always deep group of potential power relievers.
Paced by Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez, the Tigers’ lineup has been potent for years. The foundation of the next great lineup isn’t here yet. Detroit does have some up-the-middle prospects who could be big league regulars, but there are few players in the system who project as potential above-average hitters. Outfielder Christin Stewart is the best slugger in the system but most of the team’s top positions prospects lack star power.
Notable Graduations: OF JaCoby Jones (6) and SS Dixon Machado (14).
Track Record: 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, Perez quickly showed a delivery and an aptitude that seemed somewhat remarkable. He surpassed more experienced pitchers from the 2014 international amateur class, and his clean delivery and ability to work in the strike zone made Perez stand out. He signed with the Astros for $1 million in 2014 and, despite missing a month with a knee injury, he reached Double-A Corpus Christi before his 20th birthday in 2017. The Tigers made him the signature acquisition in the Justin Verlander trade with Houston, though the Aug. 31 deal came late enough in the season that Perez never got into a game with the Tigers. Scouting Report: The Tigers have pitching prospects with higher ceilings than Perez, but not one who combines stuff and feel like Perez. While he is less likely to be an ace, Perez also is about as safe a bet as a teenage pitcher can be to become a big league starter. For a young pitcher, he already understands many of the finer details of his 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, though he can touch 96. Some scouts believe he may end up throwing a little harder in his 20s because his delivery is clean and he has plenty of athleticism. What's most notable is that Perez commands all four of his pitches. His 75-80 mph curveball is his best secondary pitch. He has long had an ability to spin it with 12-to-6 break, and he has shown he can loosen it as an early-count strike or tighten it up as a swing-and-miss out pitch. His changeup is a potentially average pitch as well, with more deception than late fade. His newly-added slider comes in at 88-89 mph with late movement. The Future: Perez doesn't blow hitters away like a future No. 1 starter, but he also doesn't have much to refine to be a future mid-rotation starter. He had knee problems in 2017 that are worth keeping an eye on, but he has present above-average stuff and advanced control for his age. He'll head to Double-A Erie in 2018 but could be only a year away from Detroit.
Track Record: The Tigers never imagined when the 2017 college season began that Faedo, the Florida ace who ranked as the top collegian available, might be on the board when they picked at No. 18. After knee surgery during the fall, Faedo got off to a slow start and started sliding down draft boards, but just as quickly, he 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 innings to lead the Gators to the title. Scouting Report: At his best, Faedo has three plus pitches. He manipulates his 90-94 mph fastball and can cut it, sink it or make it run. His low-80s slider was among the best in the college class, and he can toy with its bite and depth. 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 he offers a well-honed three-pitch package. While Faedo has a long arm action, he has average to above-average control. The Future: The Tigers held Faedo, who projects as a strong No. 3 starter, out of games in 2017 after a long, eventful college season. He probably will make his pro debut at high Class A Lakeland in 2018.
Track Record: The son of an NBA player, Manning could have gone to Loyola Marymount to pitch and play basketball. The Tigers convinced him otherwise with a $3.5 million bonus after taking him ninth overall in 2016. They held him back in extended spring training in 2017 before sending him to the short-season New York-Penn League. Scouting Report: When his mechanics are synced, Manning can dominate, but as with many tall pitchers, that's not always the case. His arm slot 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 at low Class A West Michigan late in 2017, but when he put it together showed a plus 92-93 mph fastball that touched 96. His fastball has riding life up in the zone and can also be located down and away to righthanders. His above-average 12-to-6 curveball looks like a second future plus pitch. It's a late-count weapon that he doesn't consistently throw for strikes. His changeup is below-average. The Future: Manning has ace potential, but if his control and changeup don't advance, he could end up in the bullpen. He's ready to return to West Michigan.
Track Record: After being taken 22nd overall out of high school in 2015, Burrows blitzed through the high Class A Florida State League in 2017, leaving plenty of helpless hitters in his wake. He earned a spot in the Futures Game, where he struck out a pair of hitters in a clean inning. Burrows' less-developed secondary offerings allowed Double-A hitters to look for his fastball. Scouting Report: 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 heat. Burrows throws a high-spin fastball that has late hop and generates 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. Neither his slider nor curveball are consistent enough, and they sometimes blend together, suggesting he should focus on one or the other. His loopy curve is a little ahead of his slider, showing 12-to-6 break. His changeup needs more separation and deception. The Future: Burrows will be just 21 in 2018, so he has plenty of time to work on his offspeed pitches at Double-A Erie.
Track Record: 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. He was a key part of the trade that sent Justin Verlander to the Astros in August 2017. Scouting Report: At the plate, Rogers looks 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 his swing works, he has the power to deposit pitches in the left-field bleachers. When it doesn't, he rolls over ground outs or hits a number of harmless pop outs. Evaluators generally see Rogers 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 power with his plus arm (he threw out 46 percent of basestealers in 2017) and his defensive skills and Rogers could be a valuable big leaguer. He moves well behind the plate and has a strong left hand, giving him chance to be an above-average defender. The Future: Rogers is at least a big league backup catcher. If he can make semi-consistent contact, he could be a regular. He'll jump to Double-A Erie in 2018.
Track Record: The son of long-time big league center fielder Mike Cameron, Daz slid in the 2015 draft because of his asking price. He landed a $4 million bonus from the Astros, matching that of Houston first-round pick Kyle Tucker. He wasn't ready for the low Class A Midwest League in 2016, and a finger injury ended his season early. He was much better in 2017, impressing the Tigers enough to make sure he was included in the Justin Verlander trade with Houston. Scouting Report: Cameron has a good understanding of his strike zone and recognizes pitches to hit, but early in his career he would fail to consistently square hittable pitches. His swing path proved to be too steep. Cameron has worked to keep his bat through the zone longer and it has paid off with better contact. Optimistic projections see Cameron as an average hitter, but that should be enough to be a regular because 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. The Future: Cameron lacks a truly exceptional tool, but he's a hard worker and has a well-rounded skill set. He's ready for high Class A Lakeland.
Track Record: Overshadowed by Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Fernando Tatis Jr. in the low Class A Midwest League in 2017, Paredes was notable in his own right 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. Scouting Report: Even if his stats don't indicate as such, Paredes was one of the better pure hitters in the MWL. He showed a consistent ability to square 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 has a chance to hit 15-20 home runs per season. Defensively, there's much less consensus. 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 stick at either spot if he stays in shape. The Future: Paredes' ceiling depends on how his body develops. If he doesn't get much thicker, he could stick at a premium defensive position, where his well-rounded offensive tool set will make him an asset.
Track Record: One of the top signees in the Blue Jays' 2011 international class, Lugo has gotten used to the realities of pro baseball after being traded twice in the past three seasons. 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. Scouting Report: Lugo is a solid defensive third baseman, but he'll have to get to his power more often to really fit the profile there. Scouts are less confident he can be an average defender at second base, where he began playing at Double-A Erie after the trade. His above-average bat and average power would be a better fit at second. Lugo has plenty of bat speed and above-average hand-eye coordination. He recognizes pitches quickly and has steadily turned himself into a tough out. He has above-average raw power, but he has a hit-first approach in games. Lugo has a plus arm, which plays at third base, and good hands, but his first-step quickness is modest. He's a below-average runner. The Future: Lugo isn't far away from competing for a big league job. The former shortstop could end up at second or third base. He doesn't have exceptional upside, but he has a good chance at a solid career.
Track Record: Stewart ranked among the top 10 in Division I in home run rate during his junior year at Tennessee and he's shown similar power with a wood bat. He has easily led the Tigers organization in home runs in each of his two full seasons. Scouting Report: Like most power hitters in 2017, Stewart strikes out, but not excessively. He is prone to chase because he's looking to do damage whether early or late in counts. He has 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. He is a below-average runner who is unlikely to be more than a below-average hitter, but with 25-30 home run potential. The concerns about Stewart revolve around his defense. He has improved in left field, but he's still well below-average. Scouts say it's unrealistic to see him as better than a future 40 on the 20-80 scouting scale. His well below-average arm limits him to left field. The Future: To play left field regularly, Stewart will have to be a prodigious hitter. He either is an everyday regular or a minor leaguer, but his swing and selectivity give him a chance to be a prodigious power hitter.
Track Record: Few question that Soto has a big league arm, but he hasn't done much to quiet speculation that in the long run he'll end up pitching out of the bullpen in the majors. He spent four years in short-season ball before making it to low Class A West Michigan in 2017. Scouting Report: Soto has one of the best arms in the Tigers' system. He 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, and he has walked 4.6 batters per nine innings over the past two seasons. Soto's changeup has much farther to go, and its rudimentary nature leads further to reliever talk. Soto has learned how to work out of trouble because of his poor control. The Future: Soto most likely ends up as a valuable bullpen arm with two pitches that can eat up lefthanders and enough stuff to be able to face righthanders. But the Tigers see enough glimpses of more to continue working to developing him as a starter when he returns to high Class A Lakeland in 2018.
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