Minor League Season Recaps

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



The Connecticut Tigers, the Detroit Tigers’ Class A-Short Season affiliate, finished the 2012 season with a record of 35-40.  Their roster consisted of some solid pitching prospects without any real stars, and a few very good positional prospects, with depth among the lineup being the real issue.

Let’s start with the position players:

OF Danry Vasquez:

Everyone knows of Vasquez by now.  Very young, still very raw, but a potential star in the making.  Vasquez, still only 18, began the season at West Michigan and struggled mightily.  He was sent back to extended spring training, and then assigned to Connecticut when their season started.  He played very well in Connecticut, hitting 3rd for the Tigers and led the team in BA, OBP, SLG, 2B, and RBI (among players who played everyday and were in Connecticut for the majority of the season).  Scouts rave about his hitting ability, and he shows the potential to be able to hit for solid power as well.  So far, similar to Castellanos, his power hasn’t really developed beyond doubles, but as we saw with Castellanos this season, Vasquez’s power will surely develop as he matures and adds strength.  He still struck out a bit too much and didn’t walk enough, but the hit tool is already above average with the potential for plus.  He plays a solid-average LF, and could mature into a legitimate middle of the order hitter once his power develops.  I expect we’ll see him start 2013 in West Michigan, and ideally he stays there the entire season with good results.  Baseball America recently ranked him the #9 best prospect in the NYPL, and his stock will only rise as he matures.

2B Devon Travis:

This is one of my favorite selections of the 2012 draft by the Tigers, Travis shined in the College World Series, showcasing his athleticism and solid hitting ability.  He got hurt after 25 games at Connecticut, so his season was cut short, but in his limited playing time he hit for some solid power, stole a few bases, didn’t strike out very often, walked a good amount, and showcased his above average defense at 2B.  To me, he projects as a solid middle infield utility guy who can hit pretty well, but with some added development I could see him becoming an everyday player in the major leagues.  He’ll probably start 2013 in extended Spring Training, but I could easily see him in West Michigan or even Lakeland by the time the season ends.

CF Jake Stewart:

The selection of Stewart, similar to the selection of Travis, was one of my favorite selections in the 2012 draft by the Tigers.  Similar to Mark from TigsTown, I’m pretty high on Stewart, higher than most of the reports I’ve read on him.  He’s a toolsy outfielder who hasn’t quite put all of his tools together, but we’ve seen flashes of his good athleticism and solid pop.  He lead Connecticut in both HR’s (7) and SB (11), but also led the team in strikeouts (66), while batting leadoff for the majority of the season.  When he makes contact, he barrels the ball very well, and I’m a big fan of his hands, which are very quick through the zone.  The only issue is that he doesn’t make a significant amount of contact, but once he improves upon his strike zone recognition and plate discipline, he has a 4th OF profile and could move rather quickly through the organization.  I think we’ll see him start 2013 in West Michigan, playing alongside Schotts and Vasquez.

There are several guys who show some projection from what I’ve read, but don’t know nearly enough about to write up.  These guys include, most notably, OF Pat Smith and OF Zach Kirksey (Who arguably has the best power of anyone the Tigers selected in 2012).  Also keep watch on C Bennett Pickar who was widely regarded as one of the top defensive catchers in the 2012 draft, but doesn’t hit very much.

And now for the pitching staff:

SP Edgar De La Rosa:

De La Rosa, the Connecticut staff ace, led the team in IP, ERA (among starters), and K’s.  He was a bit older at 21, but was very solid for the entirety of the season.  His fastball sits 93-94, but he’s been clocked at high as 98, and has some projection to sit even higher in the mid 90’s, especially if he puts on some weight.  He throws a slider and a change as well, both with the projection to be above-average pitches. De La Rosa is definitely one to keep an eye on, especially in 2013 where he’ll probably begin the season in West Michigan.

RP Hunter Scantling:

Scantling is massive, at 6’8″ 275, but for a guy his size, his fastball is rather fringy, generally sitting 89-91 and not going much above 93.  For someone so big, I would expect higher velo than that, and perhaps he can add a few more ticks as he works with professional pitching coaches.  He posted outstanding numbers this season at Connecticut, and will probably man the pen in West Michigan in 2013.  Right now, his ceiling for me is that of a middle reliever, but that could increase with added velocity.

RP Joe Rogers:

Rogers is a guy that I was excited about when drafted, and after his 2012 season, I’m even more excited.  He’s a LHP that can get his fastball up to 94-95, but sits in the low 90’s, and for a LHP that’s very solid.  He also flashes a plus curveball that grades out consistently as above average, but is a legitimate bat-missing pitch when its on.  He posted great numbers in his first pro season, and could be a fast mover, especially if he stays in the bullpen and adds velo to his fastball.

RP Josh Turley:

Arguably Connecticut’s best reliever, Turley posted outstanding numbers throughout the season and earned a trip to NYPL All-Star game.  Turley’s best pitch is his plus changeup, that offers exceptional deceptiveness.  His numbers back up this claim, but I’d still like to see more strikeouts.

SP Hua-Wei Lo:

Lo is a converted position player who is reported to have a live arm.  He spent some time in the GCL before being promoted to Connecticut.  He still posted solid numbers at Conn, but they weren’t the dominating numbers we saw in the GCL, which is, of course, to be expected.  I don’t really know a whole lot about Lo other than what I’ve written above, but I have feelers into several scouts and should hear back soon.

Some pitchers that posted good numbers/have some projectibility that I don’t know very much about: Charles Gillies, Matt Davenport, and Alex Phillips

And now moving on to the hard numbers:

Positional Players:

-OF Danry Vasquez (18): .311/.341/.401/.742 (72 Games at Conn). 289 AB, 90 H, 16 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 35 RBI, 36 R, 13 BB, 45 K, 6 SB

-2B/3B Tyler Hanover (23): .274/.336/.365/.701/61 Games. 230 AB, 63 H, 12 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 19 RBI, 25 R, 20 BB, 29 K, 10 SB

-OF Pat Smith (20): .214/.278/.313/.591/70 Games. 252 AB, 54 H, 11 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 28 RBI, 26 R, 21 BB, 67 K, 6 SB

-OF Jake Stewart (21): .218/.268/.347/.615/63 Games. 262 AB, 57 H, 11 2B, 1 3B, 7 HR, 21 RBI, 43 R, 19 BB, 66 K, 11 SB

-C Bennett Pickar (22): .205/.298/.263/.561/52 Games. 156 AB, 32 H, 4 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 12 R, 20 BB, 47 K

-SS/2B Jordan Dean (22) (CMU): .200/.269/.262/.531/44 Games. 145 AB, 29 H, 3 2B, 3 3B, 0 HR, 15 RBI, 14 R, 14 BB, 34 K, 11 SB


-SP Edgar De La Rosa (21): 4-4, 3,10 ERA, 72 2/3 IP, 66 H, 35 BB, 54 K, 1.39 WHIP

-SP Hua-Wei Lo (21): 2-4, 2.85 ERA, 66 1/3 IP, 55 H, 19 BB, 45 K, 1.30 WHIP (Split btwn GCL and Conn)

-SP Charles Gillies (22): 0-4, 3.40 ERA, 42 1/3 IP, 31 H, 17 BB, 42 K, 1.13 WHIP

-P Josh Turley (22): 4-0, 1.06 ERA, 34 IP, 23 H, 5 BB, 25 K, 0.82 WHIP

-P Alex Phillips (22): 1-0, 2.51 ERA, 32 1/3 IP, 28 H, 6 BB, 29 K, 1.05 WHIP

-P Joe Rogers (21): 2-1, 2.28 ERA, 23 2/3 IP, 20 H, 12 BB, 28 K, 1.35 WHIP

-P Matt Davenport (22): 2-1, 0.77 ERA, 23 1/3 IP, 14 H, 4 BB, 22 K, 0.77 WHIP

-P Hunter Scantling (23): 2-0, 1.23 ERA, 22 IP, 7 H, 6 BB, 21 K, 0.59 WHIP

That’s it for me, folks.  Any questions, comments, concerns, thoughts, etc, feel free to comment on here or contact me on twitter @TigersProspects or @B_Sakowski

Go Tigers!!

The GCL (Gulf Coast League) Tigers, the Rookie ball affiliate, finished their season with a record of 36-24, winning the GCL North division before falling in the GCL Playoffs.  They successfully combined raw, young talent with older, more seasoned talent to win their division. They have several legitimate prospects on their roster, however, with rookie ball, it’s imperative to understand that most of the prospects are either very young and raw or older, yet still in their first season of professional baseball.

First, let’s take a look at some positional players:

CF Austin Schotts was the Tigers 3rd Round pick in the 2012 draft.  Selected from HS in Texas, Schotts played SS in high school, but was quickly converted to CF by the Tigers right after signing.  Schotts is an exciting prospect, with his most notable tool being his plus-plus speed.  His projection is that of an above-average regular in CF, with his D still needing significant refinement, seeing as this was his first season in CF.  The arm plays pretty well from there, although it’s solid-average.  Schotts was able to post an OPS of .809, but it hovered closer to .900 for most of the season before tailing off a bit down the stretch.  Schotts has very good bat speed, and already has doubles power.  I don’t see him ever being a 15-20 HR guy, but the power should develop as he matures into some solid HR pop.  He struck out too much, but that’s to be expected from an 18 year old.  Overall, Schotts is an exciting prospect with a very bright future.  He will probably start 2013 in West Michigan, playing very young at age 19.

2B Harold Castro burst onto the scene this season, at least for me, showing solid D, speed, and hitting in his first season stateside.  He commands the strike zone very well for an 18 year old, striking out only 13% of the time, which is very encouraging.  I’d like to see more walks, but I’m not going to complain about a .343 OBP in his first season.  I’ve seen some projections for Castro moving him to the OF, or maybe 3B, but I like him where he is at, 2B.  His arm plays very well from there, and I love his defense.  Based on the film I’ve seen (minimal, to be fair), Castro seems to have very quick feet and a quick release, which are both good signs for a MIF prospect.  I could see Castro heading to WMI to begin 2013, but ideally, the Tigers will take it slow with him and have him in extended spring training before heading to Connecticut for short season ball.

OF Tyler Gibson is one of the more toolsy prospects in the entire system, but he has yet to put it together.  A legitimate 5 tool talent, Gibson profiles as having the potential for 4 above-average tools (speed, D, arm, power) with the hit tool lagging as of right now.  A real burner, he may even be faster than Schotts, and his 18 SB lend credence to that.  He played a lot of LF this season, and while I didn’t catch a GCL game, I can imagine that he and Schotts didn’t let too many balls drop in.  He struck out way too much, and didn’t do much with the balls he actually put in play, but he is still only 19 and still incredibly raw.  He’s one to watch for sure.  I’d see him spending 2013 at extended spring training and then heading to Connecticut, and perhaps a late season call up to West Michigan if he starts to put his tools together.

1B/3B Jesus Ustariz is a guy I like, but I don’t really get too excited about guys who are only 19 but already profile as 1B without outstanding hit/power tools.  Ustariz did some good things this season, most notably his 26:25 BB:K ratio, so it’s pretty obvious that he commands the strike zone very well.  I have not seen Ustariz play, nor is there any film on him that I can find, but based on what I have read he has legitimate power potential, but it has yet to develop, and his D at 1B is solid, as opposed to his minus D at 3B.  Ustariz is certainly a prospect to watch over the next few years, but he won’t be ranked particularly highly on any top prospect lists.

There are some other guys who show some potential, but are incredibly raw and still learning to actually play the game, like OF Rashad Brown, IF David Gonzalez, and OF Ismael Salgado.

And now for the pitching staff:

SP Jake Thompson was the Tigers top draft pick in 2012 (2nd Round), and absolutely dominated Rookie ball before an innings limit shut him down.  Thompson is 18, but already 6’4′ 235, so his big frame suggests some potential added velo on his fastball as he matures physically.  He currently sits 91-93, and has been clocked as high as 95, and I see room for a little bit of added velo, but I don’t see the arm speed for a significant increase, so maybe in the future he’ll sit 93-94 with the potential for 96-97 once in a while.  He was very effective at getting groundballs, and struck out more than a batter per inning, so the future is bright for this young man.  I could see him making the trip north to West Michigan with Austin Schotts in 2013, as well all know how the Tigers like to rush their pitching prospects.

SP Yorfrank Lopez played the 2012 season at 21 years old, so he was a bit old for rookie ball, but his effectiveness cannot be ignored.  He sits 91-92 with his fastball, and this season he was able to pitch down in the zone more, so his stats reflected an increase in the amount of ground balls he was able to induce.  The K:BB ratio was outstanding, but remember, he was older than the vast majority of the batters he was facing.

There were several pitchers that were a bit older (21-22) for rookie ball, but still posted some solid stats, and more than a few of them have at least marginal prospect status.  These names include Josh Carr, Nick Carmichael, Julio Felix, and Jose Valdez.

There were two names in particular that jumped out to me, based on what I’ve read about them or the stats they put up this season.  I don’t know nearly enough about them to write them up, but the names I’m speaking of are Fernando Perez and Logan Ehlers.  Both are names to keep an eye on, and Ehlers will probably start 2013 in West Michigan’s rotation.

Now let’s move on to the hard numbers:

Position Players:

-2B Harold Castro (18): .311/.343/.420/.763/51 Games. 193 AB, 60 H, 14 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 21 RBI, 24 R, 10 BB, 25 K, 15 SB.

-CF Austin Schotts (18): .310/.360/.449/.809/40 Games. 158 AB, 49 H, 11 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 21 RBI, 32 R, 12 BB, 42 K, 16 SB

-1B/3B Jesus Ustariz (19): .282/.379/.411/.789/50 Games. 163 AB, 46 H, 13 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 20 RBI, 21 R, 26 BB, 25 K.

-OF Rashad Brown (18): .250/.312/.340/.652/30 Games. 100 AB, 25 H, 3 2B, 3 3B, 0 HR, 10 RBI, 16 R, 7 BB, 29 K, 4 SB

-SS David Gonzalez (18): .243/.348/.294/.642/39 Games. 136 AB, 33 H, 5 2B, 1 3B, 0 HR, 22 BB, 20 K, 6 SB

-C Andrew Longley (23): .236/.319/.387/.706/33 Games. 106 AB, 25 H, 8 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 17 RBI, 9 R, 7 BB, 30 K

-OF Tyler Gibson (19): .167/.295/.253/.548/52 Games. 186 AB, 31 H, 6 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 16 RBI, 30 R, 30 BB, 68 K, 18 SB

-OF Ismael Salgado (19): .209/.266/.302/.569/44 Games. 129 AB, 27 H, 8 2B, 2 3B, 0 HR, 8 RBI, 15 R, 9 BB, 33 K, 5 SB


-SP Yorkfrank Lopez (21): 5-3, 2.32 ERA, 54 1/3 IP, 44 H, 12 BB, 57 K, 1.03 WHIP

-SP Fernando Perez (18): 5-4, 4.24 ERA, 46 2/3 IP, 36 H, 19 BB, 43 K, 1.18 WHIP

-SP Josh Carr (22): 5-2, 2.70 ERA, 46 2/3 IP, 47 H, 9 BB, 39 K, 1.20 WHIP

-SP Nick Carmichael (22): 3-1, 2.22 ERA, 44 2/3 IP, 40 H, 14 BB, 38 K, 1.21 WHIP

-P Julio Felix (21): 4-2, 4.11 ERA, 35 IP, 29 H, 8 BB, 29 K, 1.06 WHIP

-SP Jake Thompson (18): 1-2, 1.91 ERA, 28 1/3 IP, 14 H, 10 BB, 31 K, 0.85 WHIP

-P Jose Valdez (22): 0-1, 0.82 ERA, 22 IP, 15 H, 10 BB, 28 K, 1.14 WHIP, 15 Saves

-SP Logan Ehlers (21): 0-0, 1.10 ERA, 16 1/3 IP, 9 H, 3 BB, 16 K, 0.73 WHIP

And that’s it for the GCL recap.  The recap of the Connecticut season will be up in the next few days, and we as a staff are beginning work on our TPR Top 30 Prospects list, as well as Top 5 positional prospect rankings as well.

Feel free to follow me on twitter @B_Sakowski or @TigersProspects

Thanks for reading, and Go Tigers!!


Hands down the most successful team in the Tigers farm system, the Lakeland Flying Tigers finished the regular season at 73-58, and then went on to win the Florida State League Championship.

Lakeland’s roster consisted of many big name prospects at the beginning of 2012, including 3B/RF Nick Castellanos, OF Avisail Garcia, and P Bruce Rondon.  Those 3, including other prospects like OF Daniel Fields and C James McCann were all promoted to Erie at some point during the season, but that still left Lakeland with several legitimate prospects.

OF Tyler Collins led the remaining cast of characters in Lakeland, as a guy who hit for average, XBH power, and ran pretty well while hitting 3rd most of the season.  As I said in my post yesterday, I really like Collins’ game, enough to where I have him penciled into the 2015 Tigers starting lineup prediction. Many have him profiled as a 4th OF/2nd division starter, but I see more than that.  He’ll never be a glove-first guy, but I think he can be at least solid-average in LF, and his arm plays well from there.  While he had a great season in 2012, the overall power wasn’t really there in the statistics.  It’s important to remember that Joker Marchant Stadium is like Death Valley, and a lot of would-be homers turn into doubles there.  I think 2013 will be a breakout season for Collins, specifically in the way of his power numbers.

1B Dean Green was promoted from West Michigan late in the season, and absolutely tore the cover off the ball at High-A.  He may have the most power potential of anyone in the Tigers system, with the possible exception of Steven Moya, but as a 1B/DH, he doesn’t really have a future position with the Tigers, which makes him a prime trade candidate.  It’s hard for me to get excited about DH types as prospects, because their value is strictly limited to what they can do with that bat, but in Green’s case, I’m pretty excited.  I think he can eventually fill the role of left-handed power bat off the bench in Detroit, something the Tigers have lacked sorely.  He should start 2013 in Erie playing everyday, and could be a fast mover.

2B Hernan Perez is a guy we caught a glimpse of in Detroit this season, for a brief 2 AB cameo when the Tigers were desperate for Middle IF help.  He brings plus D and a plus arm to the table as a second baseman, and also profiles as at least an average SS if need be (although Eugenio Saurez is a better SS prospect).  I don’t believe that Perez will ever hit well enough to be an everyday player in the major leagues, but I certainly believe that he can be a major-league utility guy who can play both middle infield positions effectively.  He also runs pretty well, so he brings 3 above-average to plus tools to the table, but unfortunately the hit tool will limit him from being a starter.

C Curt Casali tore up West Michigan before a callup to Lakeland, where he slowed a bit but still held his own.  He and James McCann both profile as major league caliber backup catchers in my opinion, but for different reasons.  While McCann will make his name known for his glove while holding his own with the bat, Casali is the exact opposite, being a hit-first catcher.  He’ll hold his own with the glove effectively enough to make a major league roster, but I don’t see a starter ceiling for him.  Eventually I expect to see either McCann or Casali backing up Alex Avila in Detroit, but it remains to be seen which one it will be.

SS Dixon Machado had briefly been dubbed the SS of the future before everyone heard of Eugenio Suarez, and he did nothing in 2012 to take that designation back.  He plays good D, has a good arm, runs very well, and has excellent plate discipline, but he’s 6’0′, 140lbs, and just does not have the strength to hit the baseball well enough.  Without looking, I’m going to assume that his BABIP is very low, which tells me that while he may have had some bad luck, he was simply making a ton of weak contact due to lack of strength.

SP Drew VerHagen was just drafted in June, and after signing he debuted with the GCL Tigers and then was quickly and aggressively promoted to Lakeland, where he pitched very well down the stretch run and into the FSL playoffs.  To me, he’s the #4 starting pitcher prospect in the Tigers system, behind Crosby, Thompson, and Paulino (I’ll be doing rankings in the coming weeks) but some have him profiled as a reliever, which I can also see.  He could be a very quick mover in the system, particularly if he moves to the bullpen, but I think we’ll see him start 2013 in Lakeland with a quick promotion to Erie if he’s successful off the bat.  We could see him in Detroit as quickly as next season in the bullpen, but 2014 is a more likely timetable.

P Tyler Clark took over as closer after the promotion of Bruce Rondon, and earned a promotion of his own to Erie after he absolutely dominated the FSL for nearly the entirety of 2012.  He was a very late round pick, so he’s going to have to prove himself at every level, but the numbers he posted cannot be ignored.  He’ll start 2013 in AA, and probably stay there for the majority of the season.  I could see him competing for a bullpen job in Detroit by 2014, but 2015 seems like a more likely timetable should all go well for Clark in the coming seasons.

Other guys had good years, and have a little bit of major league potential, but not enough for me to write full profiles of them.  That list of names include guys like 2B/OF Marcus Lemon, 3B/LF Wade Gaynor, SP Warwick Saupold, and P Matt Crouse.

Now let’s move on to the hard numbers:

Position Players

-1B Dean Green (22) (Combined A & A+): .304/.375/.474/.850/105 Games.  392 AB, 119 H, 27 2B, 2 3B, 12 HR, 79 RBI, 51 R, 34 BB, 69 K

-2B/OF Marcus Lemon (24): .324/.388/.445/.833/81 Games.  281 AB, 91 H, 19 2B, 3 3B, 3 HR, 29 RBI, 47 R, 28 BB, 40 K, 10 SB

-OF Tyler Collins (22): .290/.371/.429/.800/126 Games.  473 AB, 137 H, 35 2B, 5 3B, 7 HR, 66 RBI, 68 R, 58 BB, 64 K, 20 SB

-2B Hernan Perez (21): .261/.298/.338/.636/124 Games.  441 AB, 115 H, 11 2B, 4 3B, 5 HR, 44 RBI, 50 R, 24 BB, 70 K, 27 SB

-3B/LF Wade Gaynor (24) (Combined A+ & AA): .252/.352/.442/.794/118 Games.  405 AB, 102 H, 19 2B, 5 3B, 16 HR, 74 RBI, 65 R, 56 BB, 96 K, 11 SB

-C Curt Casali (23) (Combined A & A+): .270/.365/.427/.792/94 Games.  330 AB, 89 H, 25 2B, 9 HR, 43 RBI, 43 R, 38 BB, 46 K, 2 SB

-SS Dixon Machado (20): .195/.283/.252/.534/119 Games.  421 AB, 82 H, 16 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 37 RBI, 59 R, 51 BB, 61 K, 23 SB


-SP Alex Burgos (21): 8-10, 4.90 ERA, 121 1/3 IP, 115 H, 88 BB, 78 K, 1.67 WHIP

-SP Luis Angel Sanz (24): 12-3, 3.31 ERA, 119 2/3 IP, 110 H, 42 BB, 95 K, 1.29 WHIP

-P Matt Crouse (22): 8-2, 1.91 ERA, 70 2/3 IP, 49 H, 25 BB, 47 K, 1.05 WHIP

-P Tyler Clark (23) (Combined A+ & AA): 6-1, 1.62 ERA, 50 IP, 27 H, 23 BB, 66 K, 1.00 WHIP, 9 Saves

-SP/P Warwick Saupold (22) (Combined A & A+): 4-3, 3.13 ERA, 89 IP, 90 H, 21 BB, 82 K, 1.39 WHIP

-SP Drew VerHagen (21) (Combined GCL & A+): 0-3, 3.48 ERA, 31 IP, 25 H, 14 BB, 19 K, 1.26 WHIP

And that’s it for me, folks.  Look for the GCL Tigers and Connecticut Tigers Season Recaps in the coming days, along with some other content that I’m really excited about.  Remember to follow me on twitter @B_Sakowski or @TigersProspects.

Go Tigers!

The Class A West Michigan Whitecaps finished the 2012 season with a record of 72-68, just missing a postseason berth in the Midwest League Playoffs.  West Michigan had/has its share of legitimate prospects, both in the pitching staff and among the positional players.  Some players exploded onto the scene with outstanding years, some struggled but still retain legitimate major league potential, and some saw their prospect profiles stumble mightily.

As I said, the Whitecaps roster had several players with legitimate major league potential, lead by SS Eugenio Saurez, who many, including myself, believe to be the Tigers heir apparent at SS.  I warn you to be patient, however, as I don’t see Saurez being ready to take over the SS position full-time until 2015.  It’s possible that he will skip High-A Lakeland altogether in 2013 and go right to AA Erie, but even then, he needs to perform well there for a full season, then perhaps use 2014 as a split between AAA and Detroit, but again, that really is a best case scenario.  Also, a guy who I really like, RF Steven Moya somewhat burst onto the scene in 2012, displaying some of the light tower power that excited the holy blue hell out of scouts.  He’s 6’7′ and only 20 years old, but possesses the athleticism to at least be an average RF moving forward.  He needs to work on plate discipline and strike zone recognition, but at this point, the sky is really the limit for Moya in terms of his bat potential.  Moya had Tommy John surgery in June, but being a position player, the recovery time is significantly less so than if he were a pitcher, so he should be ready to go early in 2013 if all goes well.

There are a few guys who I believe possess some backup/2nd division MLB potential, namely 2B/SS Brandon Loy, 3B Jason King, and OF Jeff McVaney.  Loy is the prototypical glove-first middle infielder, so for comparisons’ sake, think Danny Worth, although I believe that Loy is better defensively than Worth.  He plays plus D at either 2B or SS, and displays a plus arm from 2B, while still above-average from SS.  He has far too much swing and miss in his game, but I believe the glove will play in the majors eventually.  King got off to a slow start due to injuries, but finished with a pretty respectable line, and absolutely tore the cover off the ball down the stretch.  He has solid line drive power than can still develop a bit more to 10-15 HR power, and doesn’t play bad D, but his footwork is average at best.  I think I’m one of the very few that has some belief left in King, but I think he maintains some major league potential as a bat-first corner IF.  McVaney was just drafted in June 2012, and after signing, spent a bit of time with Connecticut, and then found himself starting everyday in the middle of the order for West Michigan.  I think he could be a 4th OF in the bigs, as he shows a good swing that generates pretty good backspin, as evidenced by his 24 XBH in 272 AB while playing his first pro season.

There are guys like Aaron Westlake and Chad Wright that put up decent numbers this season, but I see them as more org guys, especially someone like Westlake, who, lauded for his advanced hit/power tools when drafted, managed only a .711 OPS with 9 HR and 105 K.

As for the pitchers, the guys who excite me most are actually a pair of 1st year pros, Chad Smith and Will Clinard.  Both relievers, I see each of them having 7th inning potential in the majors, and could both move rather quickly through the system.  In regards to the starters, LHP Kyle Ryan, only 20, is 6’5″ and recorded 105 K’s to only 29 BB’s in 158 2/3 IP.  He, to me, sticks out as WMI’s best SP prospect, but he needs to work on getting the ball down consistently, as he was hit hard at times.  Thomas Collier and Marcelo Carreno are also both solid prospects, and both have back-of-the-rotation ceilings.  Of the two, Carreno takes my vote for the better one.

Let’s get to the numbers shall we?

Positional Players-

-SS Eugenio Saurez (21): .288/.380/.409/.789/135 Games. 511 AB, 147 H, 34 2B, 5 3B, 6 HR, 67 RBI, 82 R, 65 BB, 116 K, 21 SB.

-OF Steven Moya (20): .288/.319/.481/.801/59 Games. 243 AB, 70 H, 14 2B, 3 3B, 9 HR, 47 RBI, 28 R, 11 BB, 59 K, 5 SB.

-OF Chad Wright (23): .256/.323/.329/.653/130 Games. 519 AB, 133 H, 18 2B, 4 3B, 4 HR, 40 RBI, 73 R, 44 BB, 66 K, 21 SB.

-3B Jason King (23): .253/.307/.400/.707/90 Games. 340 AB, 86 H, 25 2B, 2 3B, 7 HR, 37 RBI, 43 R, 25 BB, 53 K, 4 SB.

-OF Jeff McVaney (22): .257/.322/.390/.712/71 Games (Connecticut and WMI). 272 AB, 70 H, 16 2B, 4 3B, 4 HR, 34 RBI, 39 R, 17 BB, 47 K.

-1B Aaron Westlake (23): .249/.320/.391/.711/123 Games. 465 AB, 116 H, 35 2B, 2 3B, 9 HR, 69 RBI, 56 R, 47 BB, 105 K, 4 SB.

-2B Brandon Loy (22): .240/.301/.315/.616/134 Games. 499 AB, 120 H, 21 2B, 5 3B, 2 Hr, 39 RBI, 71 R, 45 BB, 119 K, 21 SB.

-C/1B Pat Leyland (20): .237/.250/.300/.550/68 Games. 257 AB, 61 H, 10 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 24 RBI, 18 R, 3 BB, 33 K.

Starting Pitchers-

-SP Kyle Ryan (20): 7-8. 3.74 ERA, 158 2/3 IP, 176 H, 29 BB, 105 K, 1.29 WHIP

-SP Marcelo Carreno (21): 9-8, 3.23 ERA, 139 1/3 IP, 129 H, 28 BB, 119 K, 1.13 WHIP

-SP Thomas Collier (22): 9-8, 2.74, 124 2/3 IP, 112 H, 37 BB, 84 K, 1.20 WHIP

Relief Pitchers-

-P Michael Torrealba (22): 5-5, 3.01 ERA, 74 2/3 IP, 57 H, 31 BB, 81 K, 1.18 WHIP, 5 Saves.

-P Melvin Mercedes (21): 0-3, 2.80 ERA, 64 1/3 IP, 54 H, 23 BB, 43 K, 1.20 WHIP, 9 Saves.

-P Chad Smith (22): 1-2, 2.59 ERA, 41 2/3 IP, 34 H, 14 BB, 46 K, 1.15 WHIP (split time btwn GCL/Conn/WMI)

-P Will Clinard (22): 3-2, 2.41 ERA, 37 1/3 IP, 35 H, 9 BB, 39 K, 1.18 WHIP (split time btwn Conn/WMI)

And that’s it for the Whitecaps.  Thanks for reading, everyone.  Please feel free to comment with any thoughts, concerns, criticisms, etc, as I love interacting with readers.

Feel free to follow me on Twitter!:

@B_Sakowski or @TigersProspects

Tell your friends, and Go Tigers!

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