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-TPR Staff

So yeah, season over. I cried, I curled in the fetal position hoping it was all a dream, I tried to make a deal with the devil but he wouldn’t bite, I contemplated getting drunk, and all of the other stuff you do after a World Series loss.  But, while I’m not over it yet, I’m at least back to the functioning world.  So, with that being said, I thought that since this is a prospects site, why not take a look back at the prospects who made it to Detroit in 2012.

This is in no order other than what pops into my head, so yeah, here we go:

Avisail Garcia, RF

Garcia finally began to put his notable set of tools together this season, which resulted in good numbers at both Lakeland and Erie, and finally resulting in a late-season call up to Detroit.  While in Detroit, we witnessed Garcia’s great athleticism, good speed, rocket arm, and the fact that he looks a ton like Miggy.  The plate discipline is a work in progress, as is the power, but both of those facets of the game will come in time.  A lot of people are already penciling Garcia into the opening day 2013 lineup card, but I’d like to disagree with that.  Garcia is still very raw, and while he’s supremely talented, he needs to season some more in the minors.  He will get some seasoning in winter league, and some more in Spring Training, but I’m of the opinion that he needs another 1/2 season in AAA.  He’s the RF of the future in my view, but not the RF of 2013.

MLB Stats (Not Including Playoffs):

.319/.373/.319/692.  47 AB, 15 H, 0 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 7 R, 3 BB, 10 K

Drew Smyly, LHP

Smyly was my pick in Spring Training to win the 5th starter job (pats self on back) and did so by beating out guys like Duane Below, Adam Wilk, Casey Crosby, and Andy Oliver among others.  Smyly tore apart the world during his first several starts, showcasing the command and poise that saw him rocket through the minor leagues, while also striking out more batters than even I expected.  Injuries derailed his 2012 campaign at times, as well as a little bit of regression towards the mean, but overall I think 2012 was a great success for Smyly, and I’d be shocked if he wasn’t in the Tigers rotation to begin 2013.  He’s never been known for overpowering stuff, but he has a fastball that he can run up to 93-94 in bursts, a cutter that sits in the mid-80’s that is very effective against RHH, and a mix of other offspeed pitches including a curve, slider, and change that all can be very effective when thrown right.  Smyly does not have upside beyond a 3-4 starter, but considering the Tigers have one of the best top 3’s in all of baseball, if Smyly can be a very effective 4 starter, it’s a win in my book.

MLB Stats:

4-3, 3.99 ERA, 99 1/3 IP, 93 H, 33 BB, 94 K, 1.268 WHIP

Brayan Villarreal, RHP

Villarreal came into 2012 still retaining prospect status, although we had seen him in bursts during the 2011 season.  A converted starter, he more or less set the world on fire in 2012, showcasing a fastball that sat in the mid-high 90’s. touching 99 on several occasions, as well as a slider that flashed plus potential at times.  He struggled with command at times, as well as composure, but it was still a very, very successful season.  He was left off the postseason roster in favor of Rick Porcello, which ruffled a few feathers, but I think it was the right move, even in retrospect.  Some were calling for Villarreal to be made the closer this season, especially during the stretches when Jose Valverde, Phil Coke, and Joaquin Benoit all struggled, but I don’t see a closer profile.  He should enter the 2013 season as one of the late-inning’s guys, especially since he’s effective vs. RHB and LHB.  I expect he’ll be a key cog in the bullpen in 2013 and beyond, but not as a closer.

MLB Stats:

3-5, 2.63 ERA, 54 2/3 IP, 38 H, 28 BB, 66 K, 1.207 WHIP

Casey Crosby, LHP

Crosby has been well-known to Tigers fans for a few years now, showcasing the pure stuff that profiles him as a potential 2 starter, but his command and injury issues have held him back.  2012 was a successful season for him because it was the first time he was fully healthy for 2 consecutive seasons, even if the numbers aren’t mind-blowingly good.  He made a few starts with the Tigers in 2012, with middling results, but the fact that he was healthy enough and effective enough in AAA to get the callup speaks volumes to me about his future potential.  Some have called for him to move to the bullpen (a la Andy Oliver) which makes some sense if his command never comes under control, but as for this offseason and into 2013, I’d keep him as a starting pitcher.  He’ll start 2013 in AAA, and depending on how the Tigers go about solidifying their starting rotation this offseason, he’ll probably be the “6th starter”, so to speak, and will get the first look if injuries arise.  Also potential trade bait.

MLB Stats:

1-1, 9.49 ERA, 12 1/3 IP, 15 H, 9 K, 11 BB, 2.108 WHIP

Bryan Holaday, C

Holaday was somewhat of an unknown to the average fan coming into 2012, but you better get to know him quick, since it looks like he will be the Tigers backup catcher in 2013.  Holaday is known for his glove, projecting to have plus D as he develops.  Also showcases a strong throwing arm, excellent leadership skills, and great game-calling ability.  His bat is weak, neither projecting for power nor average as a professional, but for the sake of the Tigers needing a RHH backup, he profiles well in that role.  He had a cup of coffee in the big leagues in 2012 when Laird and Avila each had their injury issues, showcasing a good ability to the work the count and his solid D.  He’ll never “wow” anyone, but as we’ve seen, solid backup catchers are incredibly valuable pieces.

MLB Stats:

.250/.250/.333/.583. 12 AB, 3 H, 1 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 3 R, 0 BB, 2 K

Jose Ortega, RHP

Ortega made his debut in 2012, throwing just 2 2/3 IP as a bullpen stop gap due to injury issues.  Ortega is a small-ish reliever who throws a fastball and slider, with the fastball sitting in the mid 90’s and the slider being a solid-averahe pitch.  He could end up being a MR on the club over the course of the next several years, but when he allows his fastball and slider to straighten out and get up the zone, he gets hit hard, and his command is severely lacking.

MLB Stats:

0-0. 3.38 ERA, 2 2/3 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 4 K, 1.50 WHIP

Duane Below, LHP

Below is a helluva story: Later round pick, hometown kid, etc, etc.  Below made the team out of Spring Training, and actually led the AL in wins for a couple weeks with 2, due to his relief appearances early in the season.  He had a pretty solid year, showcasing the long relief ability that makes him somewhat valuable.  He’ll never be more than a LR/mop up guy, with the ability to spot-start if need be, but regardless, he’s a great guy to have in the organization.

MLB Stats:

2-1, 3.88 ERA, 46 1/3 IP, 49 H, 8 BB, 29 K, 1.230 WHIP

Luis Marte, RHP

Marte made the Tigers out of Spring Training, but a late injury caused him to not be able to head north with the team, and he didn’t make his debut until later in the season.  With Marte, I think the Tigers have a legitimate 6th-7th inning middle reliever, but not much more than that.  His stuff isn’t particularly overpowering, but he has an ability to miss bats while not walking too many.  I’m thinking that he will make the team in 2013, but could easily be an up-and-down guy as well.

MLB Stats:

1-0, 2.82 ERA, 22 1/3 IP, 19 H, 9 BB, 19 K, 1.254 WHIP

 

As we’re all aware, the crowned jewel of the Tigers organization, Nick Castellanos, is playing the Arizona Fall League for the Mesa Solar Sox.  He’s been playing LF out there, which says a lot to me, namely that the Tigers are pleased with Avisail Garcia’s progress in RF, and that if Castellanos is going to stay in the OF, he’s going to play LF.  I’m currently working on a Nick Castellanos scouting report, and it includes how I think he projects at 3B, RF, and LF, respectively.

Also joining Castellanos in the AFL are 1B/3B/DH Aaron Westlake, C James McCann, RHP’s Luke Putkonen, Tyler Clark, and Michael Morrison, and LHP Matt Hoffman.

This post will focus mainly on the AFL guys, but I’ll also touch on some of the guys playing in various other fall leagues, notably the VZ and DR leagues.

Arizona Fall League-Mesa Solar Sox

Positional Players-

LF Nick Castellanos (20):

Stats: .239/.300/.391/691/11 Games.  46 AB, 11 H, 4 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 7 R, 4 BB, 17 K, 2 SB.

Thoughts: Obviously, Castellanos is scuffling a bit, most notably with the strikeouts.  It’s somewhat disheartening because the AFL is traditionally a hitters league, but at the same time, this is to be expected, seeing as he’s still adjusting to playing the OF, he’s probably dead tired/worn down from playing so much baseball this year, and at the same time, I’m sure he’s facing a lot of top end talent in terms of pitchers.  I’ve actually been in contact with a scout who has seen him play twice out there, and he’s told me that while his obvious plus-plus hitting skills shine through, he’d struggling some with commanding the strike zone, and is more content (at this point) with going down swinging instead of taking walks.  He’s incredibly young, still very raw, and learning a new position, so I have no issues reading nothing into his performance so far in the AFL.  Also, it’s important to remember that this is through only 46 AB’s, so it’s smaller than a small sample size.

1B/3B/DH Aaron Westlake (23):

Stats: .179/.179/.359/.538/9 Games. 39 AB’s, 7 H, 1 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 5 R, 0 BB, 10 K

Thoughts: Westlake came out of the gate horrendously, but has picked it up in recent days, leading to an upward trend in his overall stats.  He’s been playing mostly DH for Mesa, but has the ability to play 1B and even 3B to some degree.  He underachieved this year at WMI, and will assumably move to Lakeland in 2013 and be the everyday 1B or DH, seeing as Dean Green will probably go to Erie.  He’ll have to mash at Advanced-A, however, because as someone who will begin 2013 at 24 years old without any real defensive value to speak of, his prospect status hinges on his ability to hit.  Right now he’s an org guy for me, but there’s some offensive value there if he can pick it up in 2013.

C James McCann (22):

Stats: .278/.316/.278/.594/7 Games.  18 AB, 5 H, 0 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R, 1 BB, 4 K.

Thoughts: Obviously this is an extremely small sample size being only 18 AB’s, but it’s good to see McCann making decent contact and getting solid results, especially after being significantly overmatched at AA in 2012.  He’s the Tigers best catching prospect in my view, and profiles as a defensive-minded backup catcher.  He could make it to Detroit in 2014 based solely on defense.  He profiles as a 55-60 defender with a 50-55 arm, solid athleticism behind the plate, and outstanding leadership skills.  For me, the bat will never play anywhere above average, but if he can hit .250 with decent pop as a backup catcher, that’s an incredibly valuable commodity, especially if Avila continues to struggle against LHP, which he probably will.  I’d expect to see McCann begin 2012 back at AA, ideally with Castellanos, Collins, Fields, Perez, Saurez, and Green as positional players, making Erie an excellent place to scout.  /adds Erie, Pennsylvania to list of Summer 2013 road trip locations.

Pitchers-

RHP Luke Putkonen (26):

Stats: 0-1, 4.50 ERA, 10 IP, 10 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 1.30 WHIP, 2.00 GO/AO

Thoughts: Putkonen has been starting for Mesa, which confuses me to some degree.  I wrote up a scouting report on Putkonen a few weeks back, which you can find here, where I profiled Putkonen as being able to have moderate success as a reliever, but that he shouldn’t go anywhere near starting.  Simply put, his stuff plays significantly better as a 1-2 innings reliever than as a starter.  Regardless, he’s been OK as a starter in the AFL, the strikeouts are down but the groundballs are up, which is always a good sign for a pitcher who throws a heavy sinking FB like Putkonen does.

RHP Tyler Clark (23):

Stats: 0-0, 19.64 ERA, 3 2/3 IP, 8 H, 8 ER, 5 BB, 5 K, 3.55 WHIP

Thoughts: Clark was absolutely dynamic as a Lakeland Flying Tiger this season, and his performance earned him a late season promotion to Erie, where he got hit around a little bit.  He was somewhat of a surprise send to the AFL, but considering his success at Lakeland, I’m assuming the Tigers wanted to see if the late-round pick was for real.  Clark is a guy who profiles as a middle reliever at best, but could be valuable.  He’s getting absolutely punished in the AFL, but it’s only been 3 2/3 IP so I’d take his performance with a grain of salt.

RHP Michael Morrison (24):

Stats: 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 6 2/3 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 0.75 WHIP

Thoughts: Morrison had a pretty solid year at Erie, showcasing a fastball that can reach into the mid 90’s with solid life, and a slider that has the ability to generate swings and misses in the low 80’s.  He has command issues, which are evidenced by his walk totals both at Erie in 2012 and now in the AFL.  He’s a Tommy John survivor, who is showing great strides as he works his way back.  Profiles as a potential 6th-7th inning reliever, and we may see him in Detroit as early as 2013 if some things fall into place.

LHP Matt Hoffman (22):

Stats: 0-0, 4.76 ERA, 5 2/3 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 5 BB, 7 K, 1.94 WHIP

Thoughts: I see Hoffman as a LH Michael Morrison, with a fastball that can be dialed up to the mid-90’s but is better thrown in the low 90’s to maintain command, a potential plus breaking ball that can generate swings and misses, and a 6th-7th inning ceiling as a prospect.  Being left-handed, Hoffman has a higher upside than Morrison, and being that he pitched all of 2012 in AAA at only 22 years old, he will probably find himself in the top 30-35 of most Tigers prospects lists.  Like Morrison, we could easily see Hoffman in Detroit in 2013 if certain things fall into place, and quite frankly, it wouldn’t blow my mind if Hoffman makes the team out of spring training.

Other Prospects in Various Fall/Winter Leagues

RHP Melvin Mercedes (21) (Dominican Winter League):

Stats: 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 2/3 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, .50 WHIP

Thoughts: Do I have any thoughts? He’s thrown 2/3 of an inning. Had a great year at West Michigan, earned a late season promotion to Lakeland, and will presumably start 2013 in Lakeland’s bullpen.  2012 was his first season back from Tommy John, and the results are very encouraging.  From what I saw (I saw him for 1 inning at WMI) he has a legitimate late innings ceiling.  His fastball on that day sat 93-94, and he hit 96 once (by my radar gun), with a very easy delivery that has some deception, allowing it to seem significantly faster to hitters when combined with the late life on the pitch.  I only saw 2 sliders, which were 80 and 81 MPH respectively, but they both showed solid two-plane break with the potential to be a plus pitch.

OF Justin Henry (27) (Venezuelan Winter League):

Stats: .271/.373/.354/.727/13 Games.  48 AB, 13 H, 4 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 7 RBI, 9 R, 7 BB, 3 K, 1 SB

Thoughts: Henry is your prototypical 4A/5th OF type.  He plays solid D in the OF with the ability to play 2B or 3B, runs pretty well, makes good contact, doesn’t strike out that much, has little to no power to speak of, etc.  He could see some time in Detroit if injury takes its toll (a la Quintin Berry) but I don’t think he’s in any danger of making a roster out of Spring Training.  Overall, a very good guy to have in the organization that has the potential for the occasional cup of coffee in the show.

2B/SS Niuman Romero (27) (Venezuelan Winter League):

Stats: .308/.351/.408/.755/13 Games.  52 AB, 16 H, 5 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 7 RBI, 8 R, 4 BB, 10 K, 1 SB.

Thoughts: Romero is a great guy to have in the system, but he’s a non-prospect or “org guy” if you prefer.  There have been glowing reviews of Romero’s leadership and coaching ability, so I’m almost sure we’ll see him make the transition to the bench once he decides to hang up the cleats.  May see him in AAA in 2013, considering he tore up AA in 2012, especially since a few legitimate prospects will be fighting for playing time at 2B and SS in AA.

2B/SS Hernan Perez (21) (Venezuelan Winter League):

Stats: .313/.353/.313/.665/8 Games.  16 AB, 5 H, 0 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 3 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 SB

Thoughts: Perez is playing somewhat sparingly this fall, but is making his limited at bats count, even if it’s with no power at all.  We saw him in Detroit for all of 2 AB’s in 2012, where he showcased his good speed by beating out an infield single.  He profiles as a utility guy for me, but if that bat comes alive at all, he may end up being our 2B of the future.  He brings a plus glove and a plus arm to 2B, to go along with above-average range and speed.  His bat is the issue, and I’m not sure he’ll ever hit enough to play everyday.  I guess think of him as a significantly more valuable Ramon Santiago, someone who plays sparingly and is used as a late-innings defensive replacement or pinch runner, but still belongs on a major league roster.  I’d assume we’ll see him at 2B in Erie in 2013, seeing as he did pretty well at Lakeland.  Ideally, he’d be paired with Dixon Machado while Saurez marinates at Lakeland for awhile, but knowing how the Tigers like to push their prospects, I certainly wouldn’t be shocked to see Perez and Saurez as the keystone combination to start 2013 at AA Erie

SS Eugenio Suarez (21) (Venezuelan Winter League):

Saurez hasn’t played much at all so far, recording only 2 AB’s.  Not sure as to the reason, but I won’t speculate.  Saurez has been dubbed by some as the Tigers SS of the future, but I’m not entirely convinced that he will hit enough to play everyday.  He had a great year at WMI in 2012, and I’d like to see him start 2013 at Lakeland, but I think he’ll end up at Erie.  Either way, he’s a top 10 Tigers prospect for me, and I’m excited to get the opportunity to watch him.

RHP Victor Larez (25) (Venezuelan Winter League):

Stats: 0-0, 1.00 ERA, 9 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 1.00 WHIP

Thoughts: Larez had a very good year at Advanced-A Lakeland in 2012, but at 25, he was playing as an older guy.  Probably a solid org arm with minimal middle relief upside

RHP Bruce Rondon (21) (Venezuelan Winter League):

Stats: 2-0, 2.25 ERA, 4 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 1.00 WHIP

Thoughts: Everyone has heard of Rondon right now.  He’s the Tigers “closer of the future”, the large RHP with a rocket launcher attached to his right shoulder.  Lights up radar guns to the tune of 102-103 MPH, consistently sits 97-99, promising off speed pitches, and the potential to be an absolute shutdown closer.  Pitched his way through High-A, AA, and AAA in 2012, and was knocking on the door to Detroit in August.  I see him pitching in Detroit in 2013, maybe even making the roster out of spring training, but not closing yet, seeing as the Tigers philosophy has been to go with the “established closer” mantra.  Rondon has reported attitude issues, so hopefully those have been cleaned up, since I’m pretty sure Leyland won’t tolerate that kind of crap (presuming that Leyland is back in 2013).

 

And that’s it for me.  Hope you all found this informative.  As a reminder, please, PLEASE don’t read much into these numbers.  They are all ridiculously small sample sizes, and don’t really mean much in the grand scheme of things.  Hope you’re all as excited about our merger with Bless You Boys as we are.

As always, feel free to comment on this post, contact us on twitter @TigersProspects, or contact me directly on twitter @B_Sakowski.

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Go Tigers!!!!

 

Awhile back, when we were just getting TPR going, Jordan and I were playing around with the idea of interviewing more established scout/prospect-type writers, with the hopes of gaining valuable insight into not only the prospects of the Tigers, but into the world of prospecting itself.  The first name that came to my mind was James R. Chipman, formerly on Motor City Bengals and now Lakeland correspondent for TigsTown.com.  Jay has been incredibly helpful to me in particular as I’ve traveled along this writing path, and he’s the first guy I think of to tweet/DM/email whenever I have a question.  Having just today been appointed lead minor leagues/prospect writer at BlessYouBoys.com, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that I wouldn’t have gone this far without Jay’s guidance and words of wisdom.

Without further ado, I present our interview with James R. Chipman:

-TPR: Do you think Dixon Machado will ever hit enough to be an every day SS in the majors?

James R. Chipman: It was an absolute treat watching Machado on a regular basis last season. Realistically, the odds of him being an “everyday” shortstop are against him though. At least to this point, the bat just hasn’t come around enough yet to suggest that he can hit enough to play regularly in the show.

Let’s not negate how special young Dixon is though. After all, Machado won’t even turn 21-years-old until the end of February. His defensive skill set will continue to be his calling card. Machado features outstanding range, great footwork, soft hands and a cannon for an arm. If he can bulk up a bit and learn to hit with even a smidgen of power, his chances will increase.

-TPR: How much will Brenny Paulino’s missed season affect his growth going forward? Do you think he has top of the rotation potential?

James R. Chipman: Missing an entire season is never a good thing for a prospect. That being said, it’s also not the end of the world. Only time will tell how Brenny Paulino responds to his shoulder surgery and absence from the field. I’m not terribly concerned though and I don’t think you should be either. After all, age is on his side, he’s only nineteen.

As for his “top of the rotation potential”, there are many variables now. Can he still consistently throw the heat? Can he do so pain free? Can he polish his secondary offerings? Time will tell.

-TPR: Who are you higher on between Tyler Gibson and Tyler Collins?

James R. Chipman: Hands down: Tyler Collins. I observed Collins on a regular basis and quickly became a fan of his talent and work ethic. He comes through in the clutch, he’s patient, and he features solid gap power and decent speed. From an offensive standpoint, he reminds me a bit of Andy Dirks.

Don’t write off Tyler Gibson though. His true colors didn’t exactly shine through last season’s mediocre numbers. Gibby is a legit five-tool prospect. Give him some time.

-TPR: Will Eugenio Suarez be the Tigers’ every day SS in 2014?

James R. Chipman: I am intrigued and I look forward to observing Suarez once he’s promoted to Lakeland. That’s a very aggressive statement that you made though. To hold true, you’re assuming that Suarez is promoted to Class-A Lakeland next year—-Machado will likely repeat Lakeland–and that he will pass through AA-Erie and Triple-A Toledo as well. Anything is possible I guess. Then again, I don’t necessarily see Suarez “starting” on a regular basis in Detroit period.

-TPR: Will Avisail Garcia be ranked a top 100 prospect this offseason? Also about Avi, will he ever pull the ball or hit for power?

James R. Chipman: He should be. I know if I were generating a Top 100 list Garcia would easily make the cut.

Garcia can pull the ball. Will he do it at that level consistently? Meh, I don’t know, probably. Anything is possible. Garcia is still young and I see no reason why he won’t continue to sharpen his tools. One thing is certain, I guarantee he hits for more power. His BP sessions in Lakeland were amazing. The power is there, don’t forget, Avi won the Home Run Derby in the FSL last season.

-TPR: What should Tiger fans expect reasonably from Steven Moya?

James R. Chipman: Power. Lots of power.

It’s a shame that his season was cut short. I am interested to see how he responds to the Tommy John surgery.

People need to be more patient though. His development will take time. I fail to understand why everyone is hell bent on rushing these guys. Be excited. Just stop placing unrealistic expectations and arrival times on some of these young prospects.

-TPR: Been hearing reports of Will Clinard having a wipeout cutter. Is this someone to keep an eye on going forward?

James R. Chipman: I haven’t seen him in action yet. Honestly, I can’t even tell you much about him except for what I’ve read. He has a big frame and a solid low-90s fastball with late life. Baseball America likes him and scouts seem interested too. He’s on my radar.

-TPR: Have you had a chance to watch Austin Schotts or Jake Thompson?

James R. Chipman: Yes. I am big on both of them too.

-TPR: Does Drew VerHagen profile better as a reliever or starter? 

James R. Chipman: VerHagen was solid for Lakeland down the stretch in the rotation. I expect the Tigers to continue developing him as a starter. Long term, I see him profiling better as a reliever though.

-TPR: Does Hernan Perez profile as anything above a utility guy?

James R. Chipman: I believe Perez profiles as more of a utility infielder. Regardless, those who haven’t seen him yet will be very impressed. He handles the bat well, runs well and is gifted defensively.

-TPR: Will Bruce Rondon be closing any time during 2013?

James R. Chipman: Yes. Bruce Rondon “should” be closing out games for the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens next season.

Rondon is oozing with all of the qualities that you look for in a stud late-inning reliever. We’re all aware of that though, right?

With all due respect, I think the secondary offerings need polishing. If and when he’s added to the roster next season, it’s bridging the gap to the ninth. I just can’t see the Detroit Tigers handing the keys to the Cadillac–closing out games–to an inexperienced rookie.

-TPR: Hua Wei Lo is a converted position player. I’ve heard he has a live arm, but is there any projectability as a pitcher there?

James R. Chipman: I had the opportunity to watch him once last season. The extent of his “projectability” is debatable amongst the scouts. I think he’s worth keeping an eye on to a certain extent. He didn’t crack TigsTown’s Top 50 and he wouldn’t crack mine this season either.

-TPR: How projectable is Danry Vazquez? He was obviously overmatched at A-, but fared much better at Connecticut, which, given his age, is still impressive. 

James R. Chipman: Vasquez is the epitome of a top prospect. He is very projectable. That being said, he is only eighteen-years-old. It’s only reasonable to expect him to stumble a bit during his journey. 

-TPR: After the 4th round, did the Tigers get any worthwhile prospects in this year’s draft?

James R. Chipman: I believe that there are several worthwhile prospects in that bunch. Relievers Joe Rogers, Jordan John, Julio Felix and even Will Clinard come to mind. Position prospects Devon Travis and Jake Stewart are intriguing as well.

 

So there you have it. Many thanks to Jay for taking the time to answer some questions for us, and if you have the means to do so, a subscription to TigsTown.com is strongly recommended. Paul, Mark, and James (amongst others) do an outstanding job over there.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the big news that came out today.  I had approached Kurt at BYB a few months ago, before TPR even existed, about possibly contributing to BYB in the area of minor leagues/prospects.  Kurt was very gracious, but said that they weren’t looking for anyone at that time.  Today, I received an email from Kurt , offering me the position of Deputy Editor/Lead Minor Leagues and Prospects Writer at BYB.  I was completely shocked, and unspeakably excited/thrilled.  Kurt was kind enough to allow the entirety of the TPR staff to join the BYB family as well.  The way this “merger” will work is that TPR will essentially be added to BYB as a module of sorts.  We will still be known as Tigers Prospect Report, but now it will be Tigers Prospect Report at Bless You Boys.  Immensely increased exposure, ridiculously better formatting, and scores of newfound opportunities await us at BYB, and I cannot wait to get started.  We will continue to strive to bring you all the very best minor league/prospects/scouting coverage that is possible, and sincerely hope you will join us on this new journey.

Thanks for reading, and as always, Go Tigers!

 

Last week I posted the TPR Awards, which went team-by-team through the Tigers system, denoting a Hitter and Pitcher of the year at each level.  Winners included such names as Austin Schotts, Jake Thompson, Tyler Collins, Nick Castellanos, Avisail Garcia, and Bruce Rondon.  For this post, we as a staff have made our selections for overall hitter and pitcher of the year, which takes into account all of the individual winners from last week.

Brian:

Hitter of the Year-Nick Castellanos, 3B/RF, Lakeland/Erie

There wasn’t a better hitter in all of the minor leagues for the first couple months of 2012 than Castellanos, who absolutely shredded A+ pitching at the age of 20, still 2-3 years “young” for that level.  He showed increased power, contact, and walks at High-A, while striking out less and showing at least marginal improvement at 3B.  Castellanos was promoted to AA Erie, where he started strong again, continuing to hit for increased power.  He slowed significantly down the stretch, struggling to make contact which was due, in part I’m sure, to his position change (he moved to RF for the 2nd half).  Castellanos was quoted as saying that the biggest difference between A+ and AA was that pitchers were able to command their stuff on the edges of the zone better, which led to his increased strikeout numbers and drop in contact.  He’ll start 2013 in Erie (hopefully), and it would shock me if we don’t see him in Detroit some time next summer.

Pitcher of the Year-Bruce Rondon, RHP, Lakeland/Erie/Toledo

It was hard for me to justify selecting anyone other than Rondon, but candidates such as Adam Wilk, Jake Thompson, and others were certainly worthy of consideration.  I just couldn’t ignore the strides that Rondon made this season.  He increased his strikeouts, decreased his walks, and was much more efficient as a pitcher while he climbed all the way to AAA in 2012.  He has an 80 fastball with 80 movement, a promising slider, and a potential changeup as well.  His command is terrible, but as a general rule, if the pitch is going 100+ MPH, spotting it at the knees on the black isn’t all that vital to success.  Rondon will have an opportunity to earn a bullpen job in 2013, but I don’t see him closing until 2014.

Jordan:

Hitter of the Year-Nick Castellanos, 3B/RF, Lakeland/Erie

Well, this one was easy. Nick put together two of the best months in recent memory, hitting .405/.461/.553 in Lakeland, proving he was far too good for the level. While he only managed a .678 OPS in AA ball upon promotion, his .320/.365/.451 combined line, with 46 XBH gives the Tigers an interesting conundrum come 2013. With Miguel Cabrera at third base for the next two years, will Castellanos break into the Tigers every day lineup at some point next season? I think it’s possible, given the uncertainty of the corner OF spots going forward.

I would, however, like to see Nick improve his plate discipline, as he only walked 14 times in 341 AA plate appearances. He seems like the type of hitter whose power will improve, as he hasn’t even grown into his “man” body yet. On an unrelated note, while the move to the OF is good for the short term, I think that ultimately, Nick is more valuable as a third baseman for the Tigers in the future.

Pitcher of the Year-Adam Wilk, LHP, Toledo

Jacob Turner would have been a pretty easy choice for this award if he were still in the organization. I would love to give the award to Bruce Rondon, however, starters are much more valuable than relievers, and Adam Wilk threw three times as many innings as Rondon, while putting up similar numbers. Actually, Wilk walked 28 in 149.2 innings, while Rondon walked 26 in 50 innings.

The much maligned soft-tosser had a fantastic year for the AAA Mudhens. In his aforementioned 149.2 innings, wilk allowed only 123 hits, surrendered a measly 28 base on balls (1.7/9 IP) and struck out 128 (7.7/9 IP). While his numbers were excellent in AAA, I just don’t believe that he’s got enough to get outs at the big league level. Wilk probably needs to develop something to keep hitters, especially right handers, from diving out over the plate. I know he’s got a cutter, but in order to succeed, his cutter needs to be his best pitch. The good news for Wilk, however, is that the Tigers don’t really have a “LOOGY”, and Wilk could compete with Darin Downs, Andy Oliver, Duane Below, and whomever the Tigers bring into next season for that role.

Jeremy:

Hitter of the Year-Avisail Garcia, RF, Lakeland/Erie

Garcia was named the Tigers’ Minor League Player of the Year and with his numbers, it’s easy to see why.  Between Lakeland and Erie this season, he hit .299/.333/.455/.789 with 14 homers and 58 RBI.  Garcia is a legitimate five-tool prospect.  The 6’4’’, 240-pound Venezuelan can hit for average, is working on his power (he threw in 17 doubles), can field, can throw (see ALDS Game 2), and can run (8 triples and 23 steals in the minors this season).  He’s not very disciplined (18 walks, 95 strikeouts in 513 plate appearances) but that will come in time.

Pitcher of the Year-Bruce Rondon, RHP, Lakeland/Erie/Toledo

Rondon is the closer of the future for Detroit.  He spent 2012 with Lakeland, Erie, and Toledo, going 2-1 with a 1.53 ERA and 29 saves.  He allowed only 32 hits and recorded 66 strikeouts over 53 innings.  Rondon’s fastball regularly hits 100 mph and his off-speed stuff is improving.  The 26 walks in 53 innings is a little worrisome (especially the 7 he issued in 8 innings at Toledo), but it’s not like it’s something he can’t tame.  Rondon will probably be in Detroit by the middle of next season.

Travis:

Hitter of the Year: Avisail Garcia, RF, Lakeland/Erie


Garcia made the biggest jump of any Tigers minor league hitter in 2012. Going from High-A Lakeland all the way to the Big Leagues. Which, no one saw coming. At Lakeland, Garcia hit .289 with eight doubles, five triples, eight home runs, 36 RBIs and 14 stolen bases. Upon his promotion to Double-A Erie, Garcia continued to produce. Hitting .312 with nine doubles, three triples, six home runs, 22 RBIs and nine steals for Erie. With the Tigers in 23 games and 47 at bats, Garcia hit .313 with 15 total hits, all being singles and three RBIs. He didn’t show off his extra base power but, that’ll come in time as he learns how to hit in the majors. Garcia had also produced in the Tigers postseason run thus far too. Hitting .308 with four hits and three RBIs. Avisail is a very exciting looking prospect because of the tools he possess speed, power, arm strength and lots of star potential. Look for him to make a run at the Tigers right-field starting job in the Spring of 2013.

Pitcher of the Year: Bruce Rondon, RHP, Lakeland/Erie/Toledo

Rondon is another guy who made a big jump in 2012. Going from Lakeland to Erie to Toledo. Along the way, Rondon racked up 29 saves in 53 innings while striking out 66. He also represented the Tigers along with Nick Castellanos in the MLB Futures Game in Kansas City. While pitching in the Futures Game, Rondon reached 102 mph on the radar gun. Bruce is a big guy at 6-foot-2 240 pounds (at least). He posses a fastball that sits around 95 mph regularly and can reach 102 mph at times. His 3/4 arm slot gives him some deception and a slider that can be wild at times because of the added movement from his arm action. Rondon is another exciting Tigers prospect who could make an impact for the Tigers in 2013.

Like Mark from TigsTown (@TigsTownMark), I’m going to begin my scouting reports from now on by listing where I got my information from, as well as a “bare-bones” projection of sorts, which I will term “BBP” (for bare bones projection, obviously).

Basis of Report:

-Personal Observation (film study, in-person viewing)

-Personal Observations from other scouts, told to me in person

BBP:

7th-8th inning reliever, potential shut down set up man.

Background:

Began career in 2006, pitching for the Tigers affiliate in the Venezuelan Summer League.  He spent the vast majority of his minor league time as a starter where he was solid, but not spectacular, and as we have seen, the move to the bullpen has paid big dividends.  Villarreal slowly but surely worked his way up through the minors, spending 2006 in the VSL, 2007 in the GCL, 2008 split btwn GCL and WMI, 2009 with WMI, 2010 split btwn Lakeland and Erie, and making his professional debut in 2011.  He posted solid numbers throughout the minors, but wasn’t going to challenge anyone for a spot in the Tigers rotation.  One scout I spoke to said “I saw him in 2009 with the Whitecaps, and immediately thought that he should move to the pen.  He just didn’t have a legitimate 3rd pitch, and the fastball wasn’t what it is now.”  25 years old right now, will turn 26 in May of 2013

Body/Makeup:

Villarreal stands 6′ tall and weighs about 170lbs ( per www.Baseball-Reference.com/players/v/villabr02.shtml ).  He has a slender build, which doesn’t usually fit the profile of a flame-throwing RHP, but Villarreal has very sturdy and strong legs which allow him to generate very good velocity.  Makeup (or composure) is solid but occasionally comes into question.  Normally he doesn’t have an issue, but once in awhile we’ve witnessed him get flustered, usually following an untimely walk or base hit.  Such a thing is to be expected with a young pitcher, particularly one who was called upon to pitch in high-leverage innings in his first full season in the Majors.  Not a complete “non-issue”, but definitely a minor one.

Delivery/Mechanics

Positives:

Villarreal gets great drive from his lower half…good arm speed…does not show the ball early to hitters…when right, has good arm slot…solid mechanics all around…lands in athletic position, ready to field the ball…does not lose sight of target at any time during delivery…

Negatives:

Some effort to delivery, perhaps leading to the arm tightness he felt in 2012 (for reference, “effortless delivery” is epitomized by Justin Verlander)…has occasional trouble repeating delivery, which leads to altered arm slot, which in turn affects his command…very rarely, I have noticed him tipping his pitches by way of arm slot…

Repertoire:

Fastball:

Fastball earns easy 65-70 grades as it usually sits 96-98…very good life at plate, in particular when throwing to arm side…straightens out slightly when thrown to glove side, but that’s common…has touched 99 several times…seems to command it the same whether its at 95 or at 98, which is special…misses bats easily, due to late movement, especially when located up in zone…

Grade- 65-70

Breaking Ball:

Throws a slider that sits at about 86-88…flashes plus at times, when sharp, late, 2 plane break is witnessed…majority of the time it is an above-average pitch…has ability to miss bats, especially to RHH…excellent complement to plus-plus fastball…occasionally tips pitch by adjusting arm slot (rare)…usually throws pitch from same arm slot with same arm speed as fastball, which is outstanding…

Grade- 55

Changeup

Rarely throws pitch…when he does, it sits around 84-86…basically a “show-me” pitch that’s better left unthrown…of the few I’ve seen, it’s rather flat with marginal arm side fade…does throw from same arm slot and arm speed as fastball…with overpowering fastball and above-average slider, changeup is not really needed at this point…

Grade- 40

Summary:

Plus-plus fastball, potential plus slider, solid mechanics, and solid makeup.  Should definitely stay in bullpen.

Projection:

I see an 8th inning reliever, with the potential to be dominating.  His mechanics lead me to have minor questions about his long-term durability, and his makeup worries me very slightly, but enough to where I don’t see a future closer, although I would argue that he has the pure stuff to become one.  Should he be able to develop his slider into a legitimate plus pitch, rather than just flashing it occasionally, his profile increases in potential.  Don’t see the arm speed nor frame for added velocity, but I don’t think anyone is complaining about consistent 96-97 MPH

Thanks for reading, and Go Tigers!

GCL Tigers (Rookie League):

Hitter of the Year

Brian: Austin Schotts, CF

Schotts was able to showcase the speed, athleticism, and hitting ability that made him worthy of the Tigers 3rd round draft pick.  He missed part of the season due to a dislocated finger, which made me consider Harold Castro for this pick, but I decided to go with Schotts in the end due to the overall greatness that he displayed in his 1st season of pro ball.  He showcased some pop, very good speed, decent plate discipline, and solid D.  He’s an exciting prospect.

Jeremy: Austin Schotts, CF

Schotts was impressive in the Gulf Coast League, flashing doubles power and excellent speed.  He also adapted pretty well to a new position.

Jordan: Austin Schotts, CF

Although Schotts missed a little bit of time with injury, he still put up the best numbers rather easily. With a .310/.360/.452 triple slash, plus 15 stolen bases, Austin gives the Tigers something they don’t have much of- a dynamic position player, with game changing ability. Look for Schotts to start at West Michigan, as he’ll only be 19 for the start of next season, but end the year in Lakeland if he continues to progress.

Pitcher of the Year

Brian: Jake Thompson, RHP

Thompson was very impressive in his 1st season of pro ball, showcasing the power arm and pitchability that made him the Tigers first selection in the draft.  Thompson is a big kid already with some room to grow, and I think we’ll see a little bit of added velo as he matures.  He already sits 91-92 with good life, while flashing projectable secondary pitches.  He struck out more than a batter per inning, while keeping his WHIP under 1.  Very exciting prospect

Jeremy: Jake Thompson, RHP

In 7 starts this season, Thompson only went 1-2, but posted a 1.91 ERA and a .149 BAA.  He averaged just under 1 walk per 3 innings and struck out better than a batter per.  His best pitch is a fastball that touches the mid 90’s and has potential for more as he develops.

Jordan: Yorfrank Lopez, RHP

Lopez has been in the Tiger organization since 2009 playing in the VSL and DSL, and this was his first time coming state side. While he is a bit old for the GCL at 22,  Lopez’ numbers were rather impressive. In 54 innings, Lopez allowed only 44 hits and a .219 BAA, striking out 57 and only walking 12. He also had a 2.32 ERA for the season, including a 1.51 ERA in his last 10 appearances

Connecticut Tigers (Class A-Short Season)

Hitter of the Year

Brian: Danry Vasquez, OF

Vasquez began the year at West Michigan, where he struggled mightily, but at 18, that’s to be expected.  He went to Connecticut, where he raked for the entirety of the season.  The HR power hasn’t developed yet, but I see future 20+ HR potential based on his swing, he just hasn’t developed the strength yet.  Future star potential here, a real hitting machine

Jeremy: Danry Vasquez, OF

Vasquez is one of the unheralded gems of the organization.  He had a good season in Connecticut, hitting .311 in 72 games.  He’s only 18 and he’s very raw, but he’s definitely one to watch, especially when he puts some muscle on.

Jordan: Danry Vasquez, OF

Danry Vazquez received 1.2 million in the summer of 2010, and it’s about time to see him providing dividends to the Tigers.  The Venezuelan started at low a ball this season, and was absolutely torn apart, posting just a .162/.218/222 triple slash in 100 AB.  However, upon demotion to the New York Penn League, Vazquez posted a .311/.341/.401, good for a .742 OPS. Vazquez has excellent hands, a sweet swing, and an excellent profile to hit for average. Let’s see how he does next year when he repeats Low-A, and if he can make some adjustments.

Pitcher of the Year

Brian: Edgar De La Rosa, RHP

I’m partial to starting pitching when it comes to awards such as this, so that’s why I went with De La Rosa over perhaps more deserving bullpen arms (Turley, etc).  De La Rosa is a guy who fits the bill of imposing, hard-throwing right handers.  He’s 6’6″, and is already sitting in the mid 90’s with his fastball, and has been clocked as high as 98-99 in small doses.  He’s an exciting prospect to watch, and he could be a fast mover in the organization if he’s able to make a similar leap in production in 2013 as he did in 2012

Jeremy, Efrain Nieves, LHP

The 23 year-old lefty went 4-1 with a 2.79 ERA for Connecticut.  He struck out 42 batters and walked only 8 in 42 innings.  Opponents batted .181 off him.

Jordan: Josh Turley, LHP

No one’s numbers really stood out on the Connecticut Tigers besides Turley’s. He posted a 1.06 ERA in 34 innings, striking out 25, walking only 5, and only allowing 23 hits in 34 innings. As a 16th round pick the odds are already stacked against him, but keep an eye on Turley next season at Low A ball.

West Michigan Whitecaps (Class A)

Hitter of the Year

Brian: Eugenio Saurez, SS

While Saurez does not have star potential, he does show the potential to be an everyday shortstop in the major leagues.  He has an easy plus glove, with a good arm and good speed.  To me, his floor is that of a defensive-minded utility guy, but I think he’ll hit enough to start eventually.  He showed excellent extra base power this season with 34 doubles and 5 triples, while still managing to hit 6 HR’s.  He added 21 SB as well, showing that he’s indeed a well-rounded player.

Jeremy: Eugenio Saurez, SS

If you’re a regular at TPR then you know how much I love Suarez.  He’s already a .290 hitter with doubles power and excellent plate discipline.  He’s fast and won an MiLB Gold Glove.  What’s not to like?

Jordan: Eugenio Saurez, SS

Suarez is now regarded as the SS of the future for the Tigers organization. He held his own at West Michigan this season, hitting .288/.380/.409 with 21 steals. At 21 years old, Suarez has held his own at every level in the Tigers organization, and should make his way into top 10 prospect lists for the org this offseason. There has been talk of starting Eugenio in AA next season and bypassing Lakeland altogether. I think that says more about the Tigers’ opinion of Jhonny Peralta than their opinion of Suarez himself, but that’s just me. For his sake, I hope he gets 100-150 AB in Lakeland first, and let’s see how he does. This is definitely a player to be excited about going forward, though

Pitcher of the Year

Brian: Marcelo Carreno, RHP

If I were giving out awards based on projection, I’d probably go with Kyle Ryan here (I’m a Kyle Ryan slappy, sue me), but Carreno is easily worthy of this award based on what he did in 2012.  Very good strikeout numbers, limited walks, good innings pitched, etc, Carreno brought the whole package to the WMI rotation this season.  I’d like to see him improve his groundball %, but he’s still young.  Look for him in Lakeland in 2013

Jeremy: Marcelo Carreno, RHP

This 6’1’’, 170-pound righty was the Whitecaps’ best pitcher this season, going 9-8 with a 3.23 ERA.  He walked only 28 in 139.1 innings while striking out 119.  It might be hard to crack the Tigers’ rotation in the next few years, but keep an eye Carreno.

Jordan: Marcelo Carreno, RHP

Carreno has steadily climbed the ladder in the Tigers organization since 2008, playing in the VSL, the NYP, and finally Low A this season. The Venezuelan made 27 starts for the Whitecaps, logging 139 innings. In those innings, he only allowed 129 hits and 28 walks, while striking out 119. Carreno has probably worked his way onto the top 50 prospect list for the Tigers organization, and should move up to A+ ball next season.


Lakeland Flying Tigers (Class A-Advanced)

Hitter of the Year

Brian: Tyler Collins, OF

Here’s where it got a little complicated for me, because Nick Castellanos and Avisail Garcia could easily win this award, but since they spent the majority of their seasons in AA, Collins (albeit deservedly) gets the award.  Collins is a guy in the 4th OF mold who can flat out rake.  His power numbers were a bit skewed by the fact that Joker Marchant Stadium is a pitcher-friendly park, but you can look past the 7 HR’s and see the 35 doubles, and reasonably guess that in a neutral park, Collins pops out 10-12 HR’s rather than 7.  Collins is a guy I’m very high on, as he commands the strike zone very well, walks a good amount, doesn’t strike out exorbitantly, hits for average, will hit for decent power, and runs pretty well (20 SB).  He’s a fringe defender at best, which will limit his ceiling, but I still see a 4th OF in the major leagues at worst, with his potential being an average everyday LF.

Jeremy: Tyler Collins, OF

Collins was terrific in Lakeland this season, hitting .290/.371/.429/.800.  He homered only 7 times, but smacked 35 doubles, 5 triples, and stole 20 bases.  Collins isn’t much with the glove, but he’s dynamite pretty much everywhere else.

Jordan: Tyler Collins, OF

Unfortunately, Nick Castellanos doesn’t qualify for this award because he didn’t play enough in A+ ball. Even if he’d have hit .150 for the remainder of the season for Lakeland, he’d still have won this award based on his unbelievable start to the season. However, of the full time Lakeland players, Collins had the best year.  While there are questions regarding his power potential at the big league level, it’s apparent that the 6th round pick from 2011 can hit right now. Collins put up an impressive .290/.371/.429 slash line, with 20 steals and 35 doubles. He also walked 58 times while only striking out 64. I fully expect Collins to start out at AA next season, and could even make a big league appearance as early as next season based on his performance.

Pitcher of the Year

Brian: Tyler Clark, RHP

As a late round pick, Clark is going to have to prove himself at every level if he wants to make the majors, but in 2012 he was arguably the best reliever in the Tigers organization, outside of maybe Bruce Rondon.  Striking out well over a batter per inning, while limiting his walks, and allowing opponents to hit only .137 against him are all signs of a dominant reliever.  Perhaps most impressive, to me at least, was that Clark showed the ability to be dominant for longer than 1 inning at a time.  Several times he was called on to record saves longer than 1 inning, and did so very effectively.

Jeremy:: Tyler Clark, RHP

Clark was incredible for the Flying Tigers this season: 6-1, 0.63 ERA, 9 saves, 59 strikeouts in 42.2 innings, and a .137 batting average against.  He was promoted to Erie late in the season and struggled, but his future is still bright.

Jordan: Victor Larez/Matt Crouse

These two were extremely close. Their lines were virtually identical. Larez put up a 1.72 ERA in 68 innings, with 48 H, 29 BB and 59 K, while Crouse had a 1.91 ERA in 70.2 IP, with 49 H, 25 BB and 47 K. Crouse is a converted starter, and if Larez seems like he’s been in the Tiger system since 1923, then you’re right. This is his 7th season in the org. including VSL ball. Both are marginal prospects at best, but had very nice years coming in relief for Lakeland.

Erie Seawolves (Class AA)

Hitter of the Year

Brian: Jordan Lennerton, 1B

Yes, Avisail Garcia could get this award easily, but he spent the majority of his time at Lakeland. Lennerton became the first Seawolve since Brennan Boesch (lolwut?) in 2009 to hit 20+ HR’s, and he did so while also leading the team in 2B, BB, SLG%, OBP%, and OPS (and K’s), while playing very good D at 1B.  He’s not really a major league prospect due to age, but he could end up being a Brad Eldred/Mike Hessman type up-and-down power guy if all goes well.

Jeremy: Nick Castellanos/Avisail Garcia

Castellanos and Garcia are really 1A and 1B.  Castellanos is the contact hitter and Futures Game MVP with star hitter potential, and Garcia is the freakishly athletic potential 5-tool player already in the show.

Jordan: Jordan Lennerton, 1B

Once again, this was based on opportunity. If Rob Brantly hadn’t been traded, or Avi Garcia wasn’t called up to the big leagues, this award would be one awarded to whomever ended the season better. However, with both gone from Erie’s lineup, Lennerton was the process of elimination winner here.  While Jordan looks to be an organizational soldier, he’s a pretty good one. In 495 AB, Lennerton put up a .269/.368/.469 triple slash, while bombing 21 homers and 34 doubles. Maybe Lennerton can bomb his way to AAA next season, but don’t expect to see him in Detroit any time soon, unless there are a few injuries.

Pitcher of the Year

Brian: Bruce Rondon, RHP

There is some debate as to whether or not Rondon qualifies here, since he split his season between 3 levels, but dammit I’m the editor.  Rondon is the Tigers best relief prospect by a wide margin, showing an 80 fastball that sits in the high 90’s and has been clocked as high as 102-103, with solid but not spectacular off speed stuff.  He’s the Tigers future closer, and due to his development in the areas of control and command, I think we’ll see him in Detroit in 2013.

Jeremy: Bruce Rondon, RHP

You’ve probably heard of this flamethrowing Venezuelan righty.  He recorded a 0.83 ERA and 12 saves during his stint in Erie, striking out better than a batter per inning.  He is the closer of the future in Detroit.

Jordan: Ramon Garcia, RHP

Erie’s pitching staff was downright awful this year. There was no good choice for pitcher of the year. They have no starting pitching prospects, and a couple only a couple of fringe relievers. Obviously Bruce Rondon would have been the award winner had he pitched the entire season in Erie, yet he only threw 21 innings, so it’s difficult to give him the award. Garcia is another organizational soldier, a 28 year old this time, who had a nice year, making 21 starts for the AA Seawolves. In this 21 starts, he threw 131 innings, allowing 139 hits, 29 walks, 87 K, and a 3.96 ERA. In 6 starts for AAA Toledo, he was absolutely lit up, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Garcia in AA again next year.

Toledo Mud Hens (Class AAA)

Hitter of the Year

Brian: Ben Guez, OF

I would give this to Brad Eldred, but he was sold to Japan during the season, and Guez is the next best option for me (close with Justin Henry though).  Guez fills the role of up-and-down 5th OF for me, and there is a little bit of major league potential there.  Guez was good for an .834 OPS this season, with 20 2B, 6 3B, and 6 HR with 11 SB in limited AB’s due to injury.  To be brutally honest, Toledo didn’t have much in the way of legitimate prospects this season, but Guez wins this award for me.

Jeremy: Jerad Head, OF

The Mud Hens were a poor offensive team in 2012, but got a great year out of 29 year-old former Cleveland Indian Jerad Head.  He hit 268/.353/.451/.804 with 12 homers and 9 steals in 85 games.

Jordan: Brad Eldred, 1B/DH

Even though he probably didn’t have enough AB, and was shipped off to Japan midseason, Eldred’s first 2 ½ months were so preposterous that he had to win this award. With a .305/.374/.695! triple slash, and 24 home runs in only 236 AB, Eldred tore the cover off the ball in AAA. He proved once again however that he’s a AAAA player, struggling in 20 or so AB for the big club before being sold to Japan’s Hiroshima Carp.

Pitcher of the Year

Brian: Adam Wilk, LHP

Wilk was dominant in AAA, but got hit around pretty badly in his brief time with Detroit.  He’s a feel and command LHP without a dominant out pitch, but he could still find a role in the majors as a long reliever and spot starter if he maintains his command.  He led Toledo’s SP in all the major categories, and is the only member of the staff truly deserving of this award.

Jeremy: Adam Wilk, LHP

Wilk still retains prospect status, and does have some major league potential.  The lefty had a fine season, posting a 2.77 ERA and holding opposing batters to a .221 average.  He also exhibited excellent control, issuing only 28 walks in 150 innings.  His win-loss record was a pedestrian 7-11, but it was through no fault of his own.

Jordan: Adam Wilk, LHP

Wilk performed admirably in AAA this season, and it’s apparent that he’s too good for AAA hitters, but probably not good enough to get outs at the MLB level, unless it’s in a LOOGY capacity. Wilk put up an extremely impressive season at AAA. 149 innings, only 123 hits allowed, 28 BB and 128 K. With a whip holding strong at 1.01, and a 2.77 ERA, the soft-tossing left hander dominated AAA for the Tigers this season. He’ll probably get some more shots in Detroit in the next few years, but I wouldn’t expect much.

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