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, 2009.

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1. Jacob Turner, rhp

2. Casey Crosby, lhp

3. Austin Jackson, of

4. Andy Oliver, lhp

5. Daniel Schlereth, lhp

6. Alex Avila, c

7. Gustavo Nunez, ss

8. Wilkin Ramirez, of

9. Daniel Fields, ss

10. Scott Sizemore, 2b

Best Hitter for Average Scott Sizemore
Best Power Hitter Ryan Streiby
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Scott Sizemore
Fastest Baserunner Daniel Fields
Best Athlete Daniel Fields
Best Fastball Casey Crosby
Best Curveball Jacob Turner
Best Slider Brayan Villarreal
Best Changeup Tyler Conn
Best Control Austin Wood
Best Defensive Catcher Alex Avila
Best Defensive Infielder Gustavo Nunez
Best Infield Arm Cale Iorg
Best Defensive Outfielder Austin Jackson
Best Outfield Arm Casper Wells
Catcher Alex Avila
First Base Miguel Cabrera
Second Base Scott Sizemore
Third Base Brandon Inge
Shortstop Gustavo Nunez
Left Field Wilkin Ramirez
Center Field Austin Jackson
Right Field Daniel Fields
Designated Hitter Ryan Streiby
No. 1 Starter Justin Verlander
No. 2 Starter Rick Porcello
No. 3 Starter Jacob Turner
No. 4 Starter Max Scherzer
No. 5 Starter Casey Crosby
Closer Ryan Perry
Year Player, Position 2009
2000 Eric Munson, 1b/c Athletics
2001 Brandon Inge, c Tigers
2002 Nate Cornejo, rhp Out of baseball
2003 Jeremy Bonderman, rhp Tigers
2004 Kyle Sleeth, rhp Out of baseball
2005 Curtis Granderson, of Tigers
2006 Justin Verlander, rhp Tigers
2007 Cameron Maybin, of Marlins
2008 Rick Porcello, rhp Tigers
2009 Rick Porcello, rhp Tigers
Year Player, Position 2009
2000 Matt Wheatland, rhp Out of baseball
2001 Kenny Baugh, rhp Astros
2002 Scott Moore, ss Orioles
2003 Kyle Sleeth, rhp Out of baseball
2004 Justin Verlander, rhp Tigers
2005 Cameron Maybin, of Marlins
2006 Andrew Miller, lhp Marlins
2007 Rick Porcello, rhp Tigers
2008 Ryan Perry, rhp Tigers
2009 Jacob Turner, rhp Tigers
Jacob Turner, 2009 $4,700,000
Rick Porcello, 2007 $3,580,000
Andrew Miller, 2006 $3,550,000
Eric Munson, 1999 $3,500,000
Kyle Sleeth, 2003 $3,350,000
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Detroit Tigers

The Tigers spent most of the 2009 season looking down on the rest of the American League Central. They moved into first place on May 10 and held a seven-game lead after they won their first six games in September. Detroit then went just 11-16 the rest of the way, allowing the red-hot Twins to catch them on the final day of the season and force a one-game playoff.

That game turned out to be an epic 12-inning affair that Minnesota won 6-5. The loss was a bitter disappointment for the Tigers, obscuring many of the positive developments that happened during the season.

Eight players made their major league debut with Detroit before rosters expanded in September, led by Rick Porcello, who ranked No. 1 on this list a year ago. The Tigers drew the ire of Major League Baseball when they gave Porcello a $7 million big league contract as a first-round pick in 2007, matching the record guarantee for a high schooler established by Josh Beckett. The investment already has proven justified, as Porcello jumped from high Class A to win 14 games as a rookie and make a strong start in the final loss to the Twins.

Detroit also expedited the development of a pair of 2008 draftees. First-rounder Ryan Perry spent the entire season in the big league bullpen, striking out 60 in 62 innings and looking every bit like the club's closer of the future. Fifth-rounder Alex Avila, who joined the club in August to add another catcher and lefthanded bat, delivered five homers in 61 at-bats.

After setting a franchise record by spending $136 million on player salaries in 2008 and opening last season with a $115 million payroll, the Tigers entered the offseason looking to reduce their expenditures for 2010. Detroit has committed $65.5 million alone for the salaries of Magglio Ordonez, Carlos Guillen, Jeremy Bonderman, Dontrelle Willis and Nate Robertson, whose recent performance has rendered them virtually unmovable.

As a result, the Tigers had to deal one of their most popular players and one of their most effective starters. At the Winter Meetings, they sent Curtis Granderson to the Yankees and Edwin Jackson to the Diamondbacks in a three-team trade that brought back outfielder prospect Austin Jackson and Phil Coke from New York and Max Scherzer and Daniel Schlereth from Arizona. The Tigers' hope is that Jackson, Scherzer and Schlereth will team with Miguel Cabrera, Porcello and Justin Verlander to give them a solid core around which they can build a contender at reduced rates.

Detroit may be trying to save money at the major league level, but it wasn't afraid to spend to acquire young talent in 2009. The Tigers went from the second-lowest draft bonus total ($3.7 million) in 2008 to the third-highest (a club-record $9.4 million) last summer. They gave a $4.7 million bonus (the largest ever for a high school pitcher) as part of a $5.5 million big league contract to first-rounder Jacob Turner, $1.495 million to second-rounder Andy Oliver and $1.625 million to sixth-rounder Daniel Fields.

Turner, Jackson, Oliver and Schlereth claim four of the top five spots on this list. The only prospect on the top five who was with the organization before 2009 is lefthander Casey Crosby, who signed for $748,500 as a fifth-round pick in 2007 and has recovered from subsequent Tommy John surgery.

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