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Tigers Top Prospects

Pat Caputo: Pat Caputo compiled the Tigers top 10 prospects list and will field your questions about the organization.

 Q:  Jay Tiger from Grand Rapids asks:
Is Eric Munson a viable option at third base? He seems to have improved a bit with the bat this past year, but does he have the rangearm necessary for third base? Would the Tigers consider moving him in a trade?

Pat Caputo: The Eric Munson to third base move is, in my opinion, a pipe dream, His actions as an infielder are not very good. He goes after ground balls awkwardly. His long range future is at first base. There he is also a below average fielder. Scouts will tell you that. It was surprising he was named the best fielding first baseman in his league last year because is not his strong suit. He has a high ceiling as a hitter, though

 Q:  Erick from Columbus, OH asks:
The Tigers acquired David Espinosa and Noochie Varner from the Reds in the Brain Moehler trade. Neither of them made the Top 10 list. Is the Tigers farm system that deep or has Espinoa's and Varner's stock fallen that far? Thanks.

Pat Caputo: A little bit of both. Varner is more of a grinder than a tools guy. Espinosa was hurt last year and is limited defensively. Detroit will use him at second base. Detroit has good depth in its system. Both will be in the top 30, however, when the prospects book comes out.

 Q:  Tony The Tiger from Battle Creek, MI asks:
What happened to Mitch Melusky? He was such a highly touted prospect with Houston and then Detroit, only to let slip away as a 6 year FA.

Pat Caputo: he has a severe shoulder problem which has kept him from playing much in recent season. Even when healthy, he struggles defensively. His attitude is often questioned. He has one strength as a player, he can hit. But he has to be healthy to do that.

 Q:  Sean S. from Grand Rapids, MI asks:
Pat, Matt Coenen was a very intriguing pitcher this past year at West Michigan. Since it was his first full year, it wasn't surprising that his velocity was down a bit, and I expect it to improve. What do the Tigers think about his ceiling, and what does he need to work on to improve? His delivery is a little strange, so do you think that will be changed?

Pat Caputo: Coenen did well last year given the number of innings he threw. His velocity is disappointing. They had him at 93 mph touching 94 mph in college and he has been below 90 mph as pro. He has a good feel for pitching. Because he has good command for his age, his motion isn't an issue at this point. Because he is tall, repeating the same thing over and over, which coenen does, is a key. He cuts across the ball which adds life to his fastball (tailing away from righthanded hitters)

 Q:  Butch from Detroit, Michigan asks:
Who are the sleeper prospects in the Tiger system? Give us a list of the top prospects in the system that just missed out on being on this list.

Pat Caputo: Cody Ross, Jack Hannahan, Matt Coenen, Andres Torres just missed making this list. of that group, I think ross is a sleeper. He is short, so scouts don't like him that much. But he has some power, is a good outfielder and he grinds.

 Q:  Sean from Oklahoma asks:
Does Chad Petty have the stuff to be a starter with the Tigers? What are his strengths and weaknesses?

Pat Caputo: Chad Petty has all the tools to be major league starter some day. He throws hard enough, is athletic enough, has the makings of good enough off-speed pitches...the works. What he needs to do is work on his preparation between starts and his work ethic.

 Q:  Terry G from Washington, D.C. asks:
Do you foresee comebacks for Michael Woods, Ryan Rayburn, Matt Wheatland and Kenny Baugh?

Pat Caputo: those injuries were strange...Woods should recover fully, although it has to be a concern to have the same problem with both knees. Raburn returned quicker than expected and his tools were fine, but he was rusty when he played late last season. This year will be more telling. I have never gotten a real good explanation as to what is exactly wrong with Baugh's shoulder. He didn't throw as hard adverstised before getting hurt. That's a concern. Wheatland is probably the long shot of this group. There is looseness in his shoulder which is hard to bounce back from.

 Q:  Sammy from Carol Stream, IL. asks:
What happened to some of their draftees from the much hyped BA number one ranked draft from last year.

Pat Caputo: Injuries to Baugh, Woods and Raburn hurt. Preston Larrison is the real deal though. Coenen had a good year, too.

 Q:  Joe Moe from Grosse Pointe, MI asks:
What prospects in the low minors do you foresee being on this list in a year or two?

Pat Caputo: pitcher humberto sanchez who was at oneonta last season could move up. that's about it

 Q:  Dax from Lakeland,FL asks:
I really enjoyed watching the Lakeland Tigers this past season. What prospects can I expect to see in the refurbished Marchant Stadium this summer?

Pat Caputo: first baseman juan Tejada is a good looking hitter Pitchers Chad Petty and Matt Coenen are solid lefthanded prospects.

 Q:  Heath Hunt from Mulberry, Florida asks:
There was no mention of RHP Kenny Baugh in the Tigers top prospects. Is his injury so severe that he is no longer considered a prospect?

Pat Caputo: Baugh is in the top 20 when the prospects book comes out...Tigers officials say he will be ready for spring training, but obviously the injury had a bearing on the ranking. If he were healthy, Baugh would have been in the top 10

 Q:  JT Stud from Clarkston, MI asks:
Where will some of last year's draftees start the season? I know Moore and Clevlan will probably open up at West Michigan, but what about Sovie, Granderson, et al?

Pat Caputo: moore, clevlan and granderson will be at west michigan. Sovie will likely be at extended spring training and then open in the Gulf Coast League with Lakeland.

 Q:  James from Knoxville, TN asks:
Who are the top three hitting prospects in the system? Particularly, are Moore, Clevlen, and Juan Tejada major league regulars?

Pat Caputo: All three have potential to be major league regulars. Moore and Clevlen have excellent hitting mechanics and surpringly good grasp of the strike zone. They are good defensively as well. Tejeda is also advanced for a young hitter when it comes to knowing the strike zone. He is poor defensively, though.

 Q:  JT Stud from Clarkston, MI asks:
What are the scouts' takes on Ryan Raburn? He seems to have recovered quite well from his career-threatening injury. Can he surpass Hannahan on the minor league depth chart?

Pat Caputo: Raburn can hit. He is a good athlete, but has not adjusted to third base yet after playing center field and shortstop in college. He makes an incredible number of errors. Hannahan is already a major league fielder. As hitter, he doesn't have that much pop. He will have to hit for a high average and drive the ball a little better than he has to this point to be considered a major league-caliber regular. Raburn has the making of a big-time hitter, but there are major questions about his fielding.

 Q:  John from Toledo asks:
Why is Nook Logan a higher-rated prospect than Torres? What is the difference between the two? Also, with the success of Andy Van Hekken, where would Jeremy Johnson fit on this list of prospects?

Pat Caputo: Torres has bulked up when he needed to concentrate on playing "small ball.'' Logan is as fast as Torres and a much more fluid athlete.Johnson lacks that one pitch which set him apart. Van Hekken doesn't throw hard, but he has a very good breaking ball and an excellent feel for pitching.

 Q:  John from Toledo asks:
If you ignored their injuries, where would Kenny Baugh and Matt Wheatland fit on this list?

Pat Caputo: Both were talented enough to be in the Top 5

 Q:  Joe from Redford, Michigan asks:
I am interested in the potential of three pitchers who had impressive debuts and instructional league performances, Joel Zumaya, Matt Pender and Troy Pickford. What is your opinion of these three players?

Pat Caputo: pender has the best upside by far

 Q:  Jim from East Lansing asks:
Out of last years pitcher pick-ups, Paris, Pender, Pickford, Sanchez and Zumaya...Who would you rate as having the most potential? Also, do you think Wheatland is officially done?

Pat Caputo: it would not surprise me if wheatland is done

 Q:  Mick from Chicago asks:
Can Infante and Santiago start together on the same infield? Defensively yes, Offensively?

Pat Caputo: yes, infante would be the better second baseman because his throwing action is simiilar to a second baseman turning a double play anyway. And Santiago, who at one time had an exceptional throwing arm, has had major surgery on his shoulder

 Q:  Brandon from royal oak, Michigan asks:
Who is the hardest throwing starting pitcher in the tigers system??

Pat Caputo: probably bonderman

 Q:  Randy Westbrooks from Milan, MI asks:
Overall the Tigers minor leagues has more depth and potential than it's had in many years. These guys could have been on your top 10 list too: Curtis Gunderson, high average hitter not much power, Kenny Bough, Matt Wheatland and Micheal Woods all hurt for the 2002 season. Should be back in 2003. Recently on the radio you didn't seem to think that Munson could play 3B in the major leagues. I don't think he'll be any worse there than either Palmer or Young. Now that Trammell is Manager and it is possible that Fick will be traded, Torres, Ross, Lombard, and Kingsale could get a lot of playing time in 2003. I don't know that there's really a question here. Some comments about the Tigers. I think they are on the right track. It has taken the team too long to get there. It will be at least two years for the Tigers to start looking like a baseball team.

Pat Caputo: I really like the players the Tigers got in exchange for weaver. All are potential regulars and all will get there fast, even Bonderman, who is advanced for his age. it is a definite starting point and sign dombrowski and his people know what they are doing

 Q:  TG from Virginia asks:
Curtis Granderson was left off your list. Why?

Pat Caputo: he's in the top 20 in the book...he is lacking of tools other than hitting for average. He has some power potential, but is not athletic. He has a great makeup, but that guarantees nothing.

 Q:  Joe from Grand Rapids, MI asks:
What is your opinion of three prospects the Tiger's received in the Brian Moehler and Randall Simon trades, David Espinosa, Noochie Varner and Adrian Burnside?

Pat Caputo: all have a chance, but none is a sure thing. each was thought of highly at one time in their previous organization, but slipped a bit. That is why they were available. Espinosa, in my opinion, has the highest ceiling if his back is ok

 Q:  Dan from Detroit asks:
Look into your crystal ball and tell me in 5 years what kind of player Scott Moore will be. What current major leaguer would you compare him to?? Thanks Pat

Pat Caputo: i see him as an every day third baseman hitting about .290 with 20-to-25 home runs and between 80 and 90 rbis. he is pretty impressive

 Q:  Sean S. from Grand Rapids, MI asks:
Pat, Michael Woods seems to be the top second baseman in the system, and his OBP is exactly what the Tigers are missing. How concerned are the Tigers about his injury history, and what are the Tigers realistically expecting out of him over the next two years.

Pat Caputo: woods has competition at second base because infante, Santiago and hernandez are so good defensively and only one can play ss. They don't seem to think it will keep happening, that he was just unlucky last year. Woods has quick hands and generates a lot of batspeed. There is some potential there as a hitter. He is rough around the edges in just about every way, however, and needs to play games to develop. That is where the injuries last year really hurt.

 Q:  Tyler Hoon from Southfield,MI asks:
I have heard scouts compare Curtis Granderson to Jacque jones, is that a fair comparison?

Pat Caputo: he has a similar batting stroke, but is not nearly as athletic

 Q:  Heath from Clawson, MI asks:
How is kenny Baughs rehab going?? Where do you think he will start the year?? AA AAA??

Pat Caputo: If he is 100 percent healthy, baugh will start at erie

 Q:  Chris from London, Ontario asks:
What can we expect from Cody Ross in 2003?

Pat Caputo: Ross is a good player and likely will post similar numbers at Triple-A to the ones he did at Lakeland Erie. Although young, he won't be overmatched

 Q:  Sean S. from Grand Rapids, MI asks:
Pat, What are the main differences that you have noticed in how the farm is being handled between Dombrowski's current regime and the old one under Randy Smith. It just seems that Dombrowski understates prospects in the system when talking to the media, while Smith was always touting "the future." Does Dombrowski intend to expand the Tigers interest in signing foreign amateur players? They've never really been in a bidding war for any of the top Latino players.

Pat Caputo: Dombrowski kept the farm system and scouting staffs essentially intact. The Tigers have a good latin american scout in ramon pena and have done better there in recent years (infante, Santiago, etc.)You're right, Smith did overstate the Tigers' progress in the minor leagues. They did make considerable progress in that area under his watch, but not as much as he made it sound. The system was in horrible shape when Smith took over because of bad drafting. The drafts have been better in recent years.

 Q:  Alan Trammell from cooperstown asks:
How are Kenny Baugh and Matt Wheatland progressing with their rehabs? Also, What are scouts saying about Matt Pender, was he a steal from this years draft? Thanks.

Pat Caputo: pender is a good prospect, but calling him a steal would be overstating it. Baugh is expected to be ready for spring training. He did some throwing on the side during the instructional league. Wheatland is more iffy. His shoulder problem is similar to that of Mitch Meluskey's

 Q:  Albert from New York asks:
Any chance Franklyn German beats out Matt Anderson outright for the closers job? If he does, do you think he'll have immediate success as he had in the minors?

Pat Caputo: yes...German had a great year and seems on the brink, while Anderson's makeup is coming underfire after being in a bitter, bizzzare clubhouse the last couple seasons. It's possible Anderson will be traded at some point if he proves himself healthy

 Q:  Sam from Birmingham, MI asks:
What do you think the chances are of Anderson Hernandez passing Omar Infante and Ramon Santiago on the depth chart and starting for the big league club?

Pat Caputo: it depends on his bat. Trust me, Hernandez is a brilliant fielder. Better than both Infante and Santiago. But Infante and Santiago are way better hitters.

 Q:  Rod from Iowa City, IA asks:
Thanks for the opportunity to pick your brain a bit! I saw Chad Petty pitch a couple of thime this last year when West Michigan was in Cedar Rapids. He seemed to have good command, but stamina was a bit of an issue as he failed to make it out of the 6th inning in both starts. The bad 6th cost him the victory in both cases. Is this the reason that the Tigers are moving him so slowly, or did I just catch him on a couple of good days? Thanks!

Pat Caputo: he needs to work on conditioning and preparation, but has everything else going for him.

 Q:  Vaden Murray from Novi, MI asks:
Catcher Maxim St. Pierre has been with the Tigers Arizona Fall League team the last two years. I see him listed in prospect books or articles as a good young prospect but they never really go into detail WHY he is. Never having had a chance to see him play in person, the only information readily available on him is his statistics, which aren't particularly good right now. What tools does he possess that the Tigers management feels warrants one of their 6 AFL spots two years in a row?

Pat Caputo: He made a lot of progress last year. He will be in the top 30 in the prospects book this year. He throws well, is a pretty good receiver and improved as a hitter. He is the best catcher in Detroit's system right now. His ceiling isn't that high, though. He isn't as gifted as Brandon Inge, for example

 Q:  Derick Champagne from Richmond VA asks:
What are your thoughts on Brandon Inge?

Pat Caputo: I like him as a hitter better than most scouts do. He is a strong and will hit with some power. Obviously, he is good defensively. He was bothered more by a shoulder injury last year than people know

 Q:  Cris from Los Angeles asks:
Hi, thanks for taking my question. I'm an A's fan and when I heard about the trade last season, I thought the A's gave up too much when they threw Bonderman into the deal. Now that time has past, are you of the same opinion? Did we give up too much? Cootos on the Tigers for getting 3 solid players.

Pat Caputo: As I said earlier, this trade could be enough to get the Tigers on track. I like all three players a lot. I don't understand oakland's thinking in making it. If pena were eligible for the list, he would be in the top four.

 Q:  Ryan Baker from Cleveland, OH asks:
Pat, Has Nate Cornejo's star faded so much that he fell from the top 10, or has he logged too many innings to still qualify? In a system as weak as the Tiger's I would've expected to see him here.

Pat Caputo: he is not eligible. Cornejo still has the tools which made him a 20-game winner in 2001, but he has to mature. He hasn't handled the pressure of the major leagues as well as he should. But 6-foot-5, 230-pound pitchers with nasty sinking fastballs don't grow on trees. He is still young and there is time.

Moderator: that's all pat has time for today...thanks for the questions

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