This has been a question that has been asked several times in the past few weeks, what with the emergence of Avisail Garcia, the continued solid performance of Andy Dirks, the polarizing presence of Quintin Berry, and the frustrating ineptitude of Brennan Boesch. Yes, this site is dedicated to the coverage of prospects, but considering that there is a few prospects involved in this discussion, I figured I’d give you all my thoughts on the issue.
Let’s run down the candidates one by one:
Every teenage girls’ favorite fantasy, Brennan Boesch has been absolutely horrendous this season in a Tiger’s uniform. His most notable tool is his plus raw power, but the fact that his hit tool has regressed so badly inhibits his ability to showcase that power. He runs OK for someone who is 6’4″ 230-ish, but he’s a minus defender. His arm is solid-average from a pure strength perspective, but it’s rarely accurate, so it plays as a minus arm. I’ve written a few articles over the past year diagnosing the issues with Boesch’s swing from a mechanics perspective, but at this point, he’s somewhat beyond repair. He doesn’t track the ball very well, he drops his back shoulder, gets too extended on his front side, wraps his bat, and is far too pull-happy. At this point, barring some ridiculous turnaround, Boesch has no place on the Tigers in 2013.
Berry has been a nice surprise this season, coming from minor league free agent all the way to everyday starter when Jackson was hurt, and now finds himself playing pretty much every time the Tigers face a RHP. His only plus tool is his speed, which has been showcased by his 21 steals in 21 attempts. However, he doesn’t run the bases particularly well, has minimal power, and his swing is very long, which causes him problems against increased velocity. As a fielder, he’s simply not very good, but his speed allows him to make up for bad reads enough to at least be an average defender. His arm also isn’t very good, but it plays as average from LF. Since we’re discussing RF here, he would have a below-average arm from there. I like Berry as a complementary player, and think he could find a spot as a bench player, mostly because of that speed, but as far as a starting OF in 2013, no, I just don’t see it.
Dirks, to me, is playing a bit above his head in 2012. I really like his swing, it’s short, quick, compact, and he’s able to barrel the ball up pretty well. He struggles against LHP, but he kills RHP, so in essence, he’s an above-average 4th OF, but only an average everyday player. He plays solid D, has a solid arm, runs decently well, and has some pop in his bat. He’s one of those guys that isn’t flashy or outstanding in any facet of the game, but doesn’t have any big deficiencies either. I’m fine with penciling Dirks into the starting lineup in 2013 in LF, but that’s under the assumption that the Tigers acquire at least an average RF to go along with him.
Avi has been one of my favorite prospects for a couple years now, mostly because I’m simply in awe of how athletic he is for someone who is exactly my size (6’4″ 240). As soon as he joined the Tigers he automatically had the best arm in the OF, and became probably the 2nd or 3rd best defender in the OF. He runs very well for a man his size, as evidenced by his 23 SB in the minors this season. The issue with Avi is that I don’t think he’s ready to be an everyday starter yet. He still needs to develop his power against advanced pitching, as well as improve his plate discipline and strike zone recognition. The tools are all there, and in 2012 he began to put them all together, and the results were exciting. But as for 2013, I’d really like to see him start the season in AAA and maybe be ready for the big time by the All-Star break.
Everyone knows about Castellanos, the crown jewel of the Tigers farm system. Plus-plus hit tool, potential plus power tool, good athleticism, tore up High-A, Future’s Game MVP, and still only 20 years old. Nick made the transition from 3B to RF halfway through 2012, and I think in time he could turn himself into a solid-average defensive OF, although I think he projects better in LF, especially with an obvious RF already in the system in Avi Garcia. Castellanos struggled down the stretch at AA, striking out too much, not walking enough, and not really hitting for much power beyond doubles. I believe that NC, while not exactly sparkling, would be an improvement over the Tigers infield defense at 3B in time, and should be moved back there soon. So, in my estimation, no, Nick Castellanos will not be the Opening Day 2013 RF.
So where does this leave us? We’ve established that Boesch, Castellanos, and Young are “no’s”. Berry has a role on the team, but not starting in RF. Dirks could be a starter in LF, but then who do you play in RF?
Here’s my best guess as of right now: The Tigers take to the FA/Trade market in the offseason and acquire an even/+1-2 WAR RF, and take their chances (good chances, IMO) with Dirks in LF to open the season. Avisail Garcia may push for a platoon job by mid-season, and perhaps even take over by season’s end. A platoon of Dirks/Garcia depending on the pitcher may work as well, so long as their is another established OF on the roster.
Let me know what you think! I’d love to discuss this with you all.
Get at me on twitter @TigersProspects or @B_Sakowski
Remember to like our Facebook page! http://www.Facebook.com/TigersProspectReport