Detroit Tigers: Top 10 Prospects

Detroit Tigers

Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2008.

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Jon Paul Morosi
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1. Rick Porcello, rhp
2. Cale Iorg, ss
3. Scott Sizemore, 2b
4. Michael Hollimon, 2b/ss
5. Yorman Bazardo, rhp
6. Jeff Larish, 1b
7. Matt Joyce, of
8. Danny Worth, ss
9. Francisco Cruceta, rhp
10. Brandon Hamilton, rhp
Best Hitter for Average Scott Sizemore
Best Power Hitter Jeff Larish
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Scott Sizemore
Fastest Baserunner Freddy Guzman
Best Athlete Cale Iorg
Best Fastball Rick Porcello
Best Curveball Brandon Hamilton
Best Slider Rick Porcello
Best Changeup Yorman Bazardo
Best Control Virgil Vasquez
Best Defensive Catcher Dusty Ryan
Best Defensive Infielder Danny Worth
Best Infield Arm Kody Kirkland
Best Defensive Outfielder Matt Joyce
Best Outfield Arm Brent Clevlen
Catcher James Skelton
First Base Carlos Guillen
Second Base Placido Polanco
Third Base Cale Iorg
Shortstop Edgar Renteria
Left Field Miguel Cabrera
Center Field Curtis Granderson
Right Field Matt Joyce
Designated Hitter Magglio Ordonez
No. 1 Starter Justin Verlander
No. 2 Starter Rick Porcello
No. 3 Starter Dontrelle Willis
No. 4 Starter Jeremy Bonderman
No. 5 Starter Nate Robertson
Closer Joel Zumaya
Year Player, Position 2007
1998 Juan Encarnacion, of Cardinals
1999 Gabe Kapler, of Out of baseball
2000 Eric Munson, 1b/c Astros
2001 Brandon Inge, c Tigers
2002 Nate Cornejo, rhp Out of baseball
2003 Jeremy Bonderman, rhp Tigers
2004 Kyle Sleeth, rhp Tigers
2005 Curtis Granderson, of Tigers
2006 Justin Verlander, rhp Tigers
2007 Cameron Maybin, of Tigers
Year Player, Position 2007
1998 Jeff Weaver, rhp Mariners
1999 Eric Munson, 1b/c Astros
2000 Matt Wheatland, rhp Out of baseball
2001 Kenny Baugh, rhp Marlins
2002 Scott Moore, ss Orioles
2003 Kyle Sleeth, rhp Tigers
2004 Justin Verlander, rhp Tigers
2005 Cameron Maybin, of Tigers
2006 Andrew Miller, lhp Tigers
2007 Rick Porcello, rhp Tigers
Rick Porcello, 2007 $3,580,000
Andrew Miller, 2006 $3,550,000
Eric Munson, 1999 $3,500,000
Kyle Sleeth, 2003 $3,350,000
Justin Verlander, 2004 $3,120,000
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Detroit Tigers

The Tigers are clearly in the midst of a win-now era, after back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 1987-88. The farm system, supported by an ample draft budget, is shouldering great responsibility in their pursuit of sustainable success.

Detroit has needed quality prospects for the major league roster and trades, and the supply of talent has been good. The emergence of Curtis Granderson, Justin Verlander and Joel Zumaya fueled the Tigers' 2006 World Series run. Their depth was tested during 2007, when they tried gamely, though unsuccessfully, to reach the postseason for a second consecutive year.

With injuries to key players, several prospects made their major league debuts, led by star-in-the-making Cameron Maybin and righthanders Eulogio de la Cruz, Jair Jurrjens and Virgil Vasquez. Others with very little big league experience entering the season, such as lefthander Andrew Miller, righthander Yorman Bazardo, catcher Mike Rabelo and outfielder Ryan Raburn, were relied upon at various times.

During the offseason, the Tigers used many of those players to bolster their big league club via trades. They addressed their biggest need less than 24 hours after the World Series, when they dealt Jurrjens and fleet center fielder Gorkys Hernandez to the Braves for all-star shortstop Edgar Renteria. That was merely a prelude to an eight-player blockbuster at the Winter Meetings.

Detroit's willingness to surrender Maybin and Miller allowed it to pry both Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis from the Marlins. The Tigers also included de la Cruz, Rabelo and righthanders Dallas Trahern and Burke Badenhop. Now they'll have seven former all-stars in the 2008 lineup, not to mention three in their rotation.

Those deals, along with the trade that sent three pitching prospects to the Yankees for Gary Sheffield after the 2006 season, have had an obvious effect on the system.

Detroit has attempted to fill any gaps in their farm system by spending big in the draft. On Aug. 15, the first uniform signing deadline day in draft history, the Tigers invested $9.4 million to sign righthander Rick Porcello (first round), lefthander Casey Crosby (fifth), shortstop Cale Iorg (sixth) and lefthander Matt Hoffman (26th).

The expenditure demonstrated Tigers owner Mike Ilitch's willingness to sustain a winning team. And the club has scouting director David Chadd, whose draft picks during his tenure with the Red Sox included Jonathan Papelbon and Dustin Pedroia. Similar over-slot spending landed Maybin and Miller, without whom the Cabrera/Willis trade would have been impossible to pull off.

"You can spend your money toward talent in various ways," Detroit general manager Dave Dombrowski said at the deadline. "One place we can compete—and I feel like we do an outstanding job—is scouting at the amateur level, and developing those players."

The Tigers are enjoying record revenues, having just drawn more than three million fans for the first time in franchise history, and their player payroll is on its way upward of $125 million, which would be another club record. The system is unlikely to offer any immediate help after the rash of trades, though that's also less important with all the additional veteran talent that has been brought on board.

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