2012 Detroit Tigers Top 10 Prospects

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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, 2011.

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1. Jacob Turner, rhp
2. Nick Castellanos, 3b
3. Drew Smyly, lhp
4. Casey Crosby, lhp
5. Andy Oliver, lhp
6. Brenny Paulino, rhp
7. Rob Brantly, c
8. Alex Burgos, lhp
9. James McCann, c
10. Avisail Garcia, of
Best Hitter for Average Nick Castellanos
Best Power Hitter Nick Castellanos
Best Strike Zone Discipline Jamie Johnson
Fastest Baserunner Ismael Salgado
Best Athlete Tyler Gibson
Best Fastball Bruce Rondon
Best Curveball Casey Crosby
Best Slider Shawn Teufel
Best Changeup Jacob Turner
Best Control Adam Wilk
Best Defensive Catcher James McCann
Best Defensive Infielder Dixon Machado
Best Infield Arm Dixon Machado
Best Defensive OF Avisail Garcia
Best Outfield Arm Avisail Garcia
Catcher Alex Avila
First Base Miguel Cabrera
Second Base Ramon Santiago
Third Base Nick Castellanos
Shortstop Jhonny Peralta
Left Field Brennan Boesch
Center Field Austin Jackson
Right Field Avisail Garcia
Designated Hitter Victor Martinez
No. 1 Starter Justin Verlander
No. 2 Starter Jacob Turner
No. 3 Starter Doug Fister
No. 4 Starter Max Scherzer
No. 5 Starter Rick Porcello
Closer Jose Valverde
Year Player, Pos 2011 Org
2002 Nate Cornejo, rhp Tigers
2003 Jeremy Bonderman, rhp Tigers
2004 Kyle Sleeth, rhp Tigers
2005 Curtis Granderson, of Yankees
2006 Justin Verlander, rhp Tigers
2007 Cameron Maybin, of Padres
2008 Rick Porcello, rhp Tigers
2009 Rick Porcello, rhp Tigers
2010 Jacob Turner, rhp Tigers
2011 Jacob Turner, rhp Tigers
Year Player, Pos 2011 Org
2002 Scott Moore, SS Cubs
2003 Kyle Sleeth, RHP Out of baseball
2004 Justin Verlander, RHP Tigers
2005 Cameron Maybin, OF Padres
2006 Andrew Miller, LHP Red Sox
2007 Rick Porcello, RHP Tigers
2008 Ryan Perry, RHP Nationals
2009 Jacob Turner, RHP Tigers
2010 Nick Castellanos, 3B Tigers
2011 James McCann, C 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
Nick Castellanos, 2010 $3,450,000
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Detroit Tigers

Last year, the Tigers returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2006. While they lost to the Rangers in the American League Championship Series, the makeup of the AL Central and Detroit's major league roster should mean it won't have to wait five years for its next postseason appearance.

The Twins and White Sox tumbled in 2011 and have bleak outlooks in 2012. The Indians improved, though they were still just an 80-win team with significant questions. Better days are ahead for the Royals and their enviable stash of high-upside youngsters, but they don't look ready to go toe-to-toe with Detroit.

Homegrown ace Justin Verlander was dominant for the Tigers in 2011, winning the AL pitching triple crown and MVP and Cy Young awards. Yet it was Detroit's offense, which ranked fourth in the majors in scoring, that carried the team.

Miguel Cabrera is on track to become the greatest Venezuelan-born hitter of all time. Victor Martinez and Jhonny Peralta produced in their first seasons under multiyear deals with the Tigers. Draft finds Alex Avila (fifth round, 2008) and Brennan Boesch (third round, 2006) have turned into pleasant offensive surprises, with Avila becoming an all-star last season.

Detroit's farm system is heavier on pitchers than position players, though getting those pitchers acclimated to the big leagues hasn't been easy. Jacob Turner and Andy Oliver both pitched in the majors in 2011, as did a handful of homegrown relievers, though none found much immediate success. Former top prospect Rick Porcello will be just 23 in 2012, but he's coming off two mediocre seasons and already is arbitration-eligible.

Turner, No. 1 on this list for the third straight year, could play a role at the back of the rotation at some point this year, though some scouts aren't sure he's ready quite yet. He's a prime example of the Tigers' willingness to invest in the draft, signing a $5.5 million big league contract as the ninth overall pick in 2009. So is the system's best position prospect, third baseman Nick Castellanos, who set a supplemental first-round record with a $3.45 million bonus in 2010.

Draft spending has paid off for Detroit in the past, especially in the first round. Verlander (2004) and Porcello (2007) received lucrative deals, as did Cameron Maybin (2005) and Andrew Miller (2006), the key pieces used to get Cabrera from the Marlins in a December 2007 trade.

The Tigers broke from that blueprint in the 2011 draft, however, ranking next-to-last by spending just $2.9 million. Detroit didn't have a first-round pick in its first draft under scouting director Scott Pleis. The team also has a new farm director. Mike Rojas held the position for less than a year before becoming the big league bullpen coach in July, and infield instructor Dave Owen was promoted to replace him two months later.

Detroit has benefited from its growing international presence, which has yielded several of the best prospects in its system, including Latin American righthanders Brenny Paulino, Bruce Rondon and Ramon Lebron and outfielder Avisail Garcia. The Tigers used a pair of Venezuelans, third baseman Francisco Martinez and righthander Lester Oliveros, in deadline deals to get playoff heroes Doug Fister from the Mariners and outfielder Delmon Young from the Twins.

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