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The 2012 season has cleared up the picture regarding the future of the shortstop position in Detroit.  Jhonny Peralta may still be an above-average defensive shortstop (albeit with no range) but his miserable season at the plate (.239/.305/.384/.689, 13 HR and 63 RBI in 531 AB) might result in a change coming sooner than expected.

“Who’s available?” Well that’s part of the problem.  There is a dearth of good shortstops on the market.  Stephen Drew and Jimmy Rollins leap to mind, but Drew can’t hit and Rollins is getting old and has attitude issues.  So Peralta may very well come back in 2013.

So we’ve established that the shortstop of the future is in-house.  May I present to you Eugenio Suarez.

Suarez is a 6’0’’, 180 pound, 21 year-old Venezuelan who played his 2012 season with Single-A West Michigan.   He had an excellent season there, hitting .288/.380/.409/.789 in 135 games.  He’s not a power threat (only 6 homers in 511 at-bats) but he has doubles power already (he roped 34 of them) and is pretty fast as well, recording 5 triples and 21 steals.  He displayed good discipline, working out 65 walks.  Most importantly perhaps, he became a plus defender this season, recording a .971 fielding percentage, up from .923 in 2011 (which he split with the GCL Tigers and Connecticut).

At this point there are really only two drawbacks to Suarez: his size and his strikeouts.  He’ll need to put on weight if he’s going to play everyday. He struck out 116 times in 511 at-bats in A-ball and that’s obviously going to need to come down.  But if he puts on some weight and reduces his strikeouts, he could be a Tiger by 2014.

Go Tigers.

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First and foremost, I’d like to thank Brian for affording me this great opportunity.  I am excited to write for TPR and hope you the reader will enjoy what we have to offer here.

On Friday, TPR published a 2015 Tigers projection.  That excellent post got ME thinking about where the team would be in three years.

DISCLAIMER: Yes, the author is solely responsible for all projections contained herein, but don’t take them *too* seriously.

So without further ado, I present to you my projections for the 2015 Tigers.

Lineup:

1.  Austin Jackson, CF

I think Jackson’s 2012 season is the tip of the iceberg.  He is a contact hitter, an emerging power hitter, a speedster, and a Gold Glove-caliber defender.  And he’ll be 28 in 2015: entering his prime.  He could be a perennial All-Star.

2.  Avisail Garcia, LF

Garcia will be only 24 in 2015.  We’ve already seen him flash his contact skills, good speed, and plus defense, but I don’t see the 6’4”, 240-pound Venezuelan hitting for a ton of power in the next few years.  I think the middle-of-the-order home run power will eventually come, but for now, I’ll take a guy who posts a line of .290/.335/.435 with 20-steal speed in the number two hole.

3.  Miguel Cabrera, 1B

Miggy will be 31 in 2015 and in the penultimate year of his contract, so theoretically still in his prime as the best hitter on the planet.  Victor Martinez will more likely than not have left Detroit by this time and Nick Castellanos will have been called up, so Miggy will move back to first base (where he is an average defender, but better than Prince).

4.  Prince Fielder, DH

Prince will be the full-time DH in 2015.  Pretty sure of that.  Also pretty sure he’ll still be hitting moonshots, and lots of them.

5.  Alex Avila, C

The real Alex Avila lies between his outstanding, BABIP-fueled 2011 and his injury-plagued 2012, and his line looks something like this: .260/.350/.450 with 20 homer power and plus defense.  As long as his knees hold up, there will be a spot for Avila in the Tigers’ lineup.

6.  Nick Castellanos, 3B

The Tigers’ top prospect and Futures Game MVP, Castellanos ended his 2012 season in Erie.  His combined numbers between Lakeland and Erie are pretty impressive for a 20-year old: .320/.365/.451/.815 with 10 HR and 57 RBI.  He projects as a .300 hitter when he hits the majors, but before that happens, he needs to work on his plate discipline (only 36 walks in 134 games).  When that gets fixed, he will be the Tigers’ everyday third baseman.

7.  Steven Moya, RF

This is the first surprise of the post.  Moya is a 6’7′, left-handed hitting’ beast with Giancarlo Stanton-esque power.  In 59 games with the Whitecaps this season, the 20 year-old broke out, hitting .288 with a .481 slugging percentage and 9 HR in 243 AB.  However, his season ended prematurely when he underwent Tommy John surgery in June.  Still, he should be fully recovered by the start of next season and if he keeps hitting for power, he’ll be in Detroit by summer 2014.

8.  Eugenio Suarez, SS

Oh look, another Venezuelan.  Suarez is expected to be the shortstop of the future in Detroit.  Suarez spent his 2012 with the Whitecaps and hit .288/.380/.409/.789 with 6 HR and 67 RBI.  He also threw in 21 steals and an excellent .971 fielding percentage.  He showed wonderful discipline (65 walks) but struck out 116 times in 511 at-bats.  Expect a summer 2014 call-up.

9.  Hernan Perez, 2B

Perez came up briefly in June when the Tigers were desperate for middle infield help.  He’s not much with the bat (.261/.298/.338/.636 with Lakeland), but he can play second AND short and has good speed (27 steals).

Also look out for:  Daniel Fields (OF), Ben Guez (OF), James McCann (C), Jeff McVaney (OF), Aaron Westlake (1B)

Rotation:

1.  Justin Verlander, RHP

Verlander is a free agent after 2014, but there’s no way the organization can let him walk; the fans and players would never forgive them.  Expect him to be a Tiger virtually for life.

2.  Max Scherzer, RHP

Should his shoulder hold up, Scherzer will become a regular atop the AL strikeout-leader charts.

3.  Doug Fister, RHP

Fister will complete a potential Tigers starting-pitching triumvirate.  His health is an issue, but when he’s on, he can rack up punchouts.

4.  Anibal Sanchez, RHP

I really think the Tigers will make a push to resign Sanchez this offseason, and I think they’ll succeed.  The huge Venezuelan presence on the team and an owner who will spend to win might be enough to convince the enigmatic righty to stay.

5.  Drew Smyly, LHP

Smyly has a mid-90’s heater, a solid cutter, and a nasty slider.  How can you not like a lefty with those three pitches and room to grow?

Also look out for:  Marcelo Carreno (RHP), Casey Crosby (LHP), Drew VerHagen (RHP)

Bullpens are hard to predict, but pay attention to Will Clinard and Bruce Rondon.

Go Tigers.

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