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Predictions

As we all are well aware, Jose Valverde’s contract expires following this season, and for most people, this comes as a welcome relief.  Valverde, while he’s been better than most people would have you believe, is a roller coaster ride of a closer who will be too expensive for the Tigers to retain in 2013.  That begs the question: Who should close for the Tigers in 2013?  I did a similar post a few weeks ago regarding who should be the Tigers RF in 2013, and since the closer role, like the RF role, will involve the discussion of prospects, that makes it logical for me to discuss.

There is a variety of in house options for the Tigers to consider, ranging from veterans to younger guys to prospects, all of whom have been argued for by someone at some point this season.  Let’s go through them one by one:

Joaquin Benoit:

Probably the easiest, most logical choice at this point.  Benoit will be in the final year of his contract in 2013, and will undoubtedly be pitching for a new contract, be it from the Tigers or someone else.  He was absolutely dominant in 2011, and has been pretty good in 2012, despite trouble with the home run ball when he leaves pitches up.  This is a problem a lot of pitchers have: they have great stuff, but even great stuff at the belt and above can get drilled.  Benoit has expressed his desire to NOT close, and that to me is a large red flag to not make him the closer, since you have to have somewhat of a killer mentality to do so.

Brayan Villarreal:

Villarreal had an outstanding 2012, really bursting onto the scene with a plus-plus fastball that sits 96-97 and has been clocked as high as 99, as well as a developing slider that is turning into a legitimate swing and miss pitch.  Earlier in the season I was quoted many times as saying “he has closer stuff”, and I still believe that.  However, Villarreal actually got left off the postseason roster in favor of Rick Porcello, and I’m assuming his struggles with walks down the stretch played a large role in that decision.  So, bottom line, do I think that Villarreal has closer stuff? Yes. Do I think that Villarreal will close in his career? Probably not, unless in 2013 he takes another giant step forward, this time with his command.

Al Alburquerque:

This is an intriguing choice to me.  Al-Al offers easily the best breaking ball in the Tigers bullpen, with his dynamic 70 slider.  He also has a plus fastball that he throws consistently in the mid-90’s.  Al-Al’s problem in his brief Detroit tenure (1+ years) has been command and durability.  Last season he burst onto the scene and pitched some huge innings for the Tigers, but his command became an issue at times and the walks mounted.  Furthermore, he had offseason elbow surgery that kept him out of action until September, but when he did come back, he was the same “Amazing Al” that we all grew to love in 2011.  If you had to pick a guy to come in at a crucial point in a game and record a K, Alburquerque is your man.  That reason, combined with the durability concerns, lead me to believe that Al-Al is better suited for a set up role.  I remember in 2006, when all of Detroit was clamoring for Leyland to make Joel Zumaya the closer over Todd Jones, that Leyland said something to the extent of “Look, in a crucial situation, like men on 2nd and 3rd with 0 outs in the 7th inning, I want to bring in Zumaya to get me out of the inning with 0 runs allowed.  Todd Jones is not suited for that role.  Zumaya is. So that’s why I haven’t flipped them.”  I take the same stance with Al-Al, due to his proficiency at getting K’s.

Bruce Rondon:

This is probably the sexy pick, as Rondon has yet to pitch an inning in the major leagues, but has blown away (no pun intended) scouts and hitters alike with his legitimate 80 fastball and projectable slider/change combo.  His fastball sits comfortably at 97-99, and he was clocked at the Futures Game (by 10+ scout guns, not the stadium gun) at 100-101.  Rondon undoubtedly has closer stuff and closer potential, but I don’t like the idea of throwing him right to the wolves in 2013.  I think there’s little doubt that he will pitch out of the bullpen in 2013, but I think the Tigers will take the Zumaya route with him, allowing him to set up for a more experienced closer, and then eventually take over the closer role in 2014-2015 (barring injury, of course).  Rondon is the closer of the future, just not the closer of 2013, at least for me.

Octavio Dotel:

Dotel signed a 1 year contract with a club option for a 2nd year before the 2012 season, and I think there is little doubt that the Tigers will pick up that option.  Dotel may be a bit long in the tooth, but he’s proven that he’s still a legitimate, effective, and very solid bullpen option.  He strikes out a good amount of hitters, walks very few, and the life on his fastball allows him to get weak contact when the ball is down in the zone (sound familiar?).  Dotel has closed in the past, and while he had a disastrous outing as a closer for the Tigers in Seattle early in the season, he has undoubtedly been very effective as a Tiger.  He should be back, and I wouldn’t actually be surprised to see him start the season as closer, especially if Benoit makes it known that he would prefer to stay in the 8th inning.  I’m not saying that he’s my pick, but he is a decent option.

Free Agents:

The free agent market for closers is rather light for the 2012-2013 off season, but there are some intriguing names.  Several interesting names have club options for the 2013 season, among them Joakim Soria and Grant Balfour, either of whom would help the Tigers bullpen, but for the sake of this post, I’d like to determine a potential closer from the list of names already within the Tigers organization.

Conclusion:

As of right now, I’d say that Joaquin Benoit begins the 2013 season as the closer, with guys like Villarreal, Alburquerque, and Dotel manning the 7th-8th inning roles.  I don’t think that Villarreal will ever be the closer, barring a slew of injuries, but that’s not to say he can’t be an outstanding set up man, which I believe he will be.  Dotel works well in the 7th inning role, and I see no reason to change that, should the Tigers pick up his option.  Alburquerque, like I said, provides the Tigers with a gigantic strikeout weapon out of the bullpen, and I think that he should be saved for really high leverage situations, and may be wasted as the closer.  Rondon may come into spring training and set the world on fire, and push for a large role on the 2013 Tigers, but I don’t think it will be as closer.  Obviously, all of this becomes a moot point if Benoit tells Leyland that he doesn’t want to close, at which point other options will be explored.  I expect the Tigers to go after a reliever in free agency, but I don’t think they will go after a closer.

So there you have it, 1200+ words on a topic that won’t become an issue for 6 months or so.

Per usual, feel free to comment on this post with your thoughts, or follow me on twitter @TigersProspects and @B_Sakowski

Thanks for reading, and Go Tigers!!!

 

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:

Brennan Boesch:

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.

Quintin Berry:

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.

Andy Dirks:

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.

Delmon Young:

No

Avisail Garcia:

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.

Nick Castellanos:

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

 

Go Tigers!!

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.

Hey everyone.  Sorry for the lack of posting the last few days, I’ve been really busy with baseball and school.  But anyways, I’m back now, and before I do the Lakeland, Connecticut, and GCL Season Recaps, I thought I’d write something fun that I’ve been thinking about for awhile.

Obviously, this site is dedicated to the coverage of the Tigers prospects, but if you think about it, the ultimate goal of our prospects is to one day make the Opening Day roster/starting lineup of the Tigers.  So, with this post, I thought it would be fun to predict what the starting lineup on Opening Day 2015 will be.  Obviously, this shouldn’t be taken as “bible” by anyone, since, as we all know, you can’t predict baseball.  I’m not going to forecast many trades/free agent signings, even though there undoubtedly will be several in the next 2+ years.  Instead, I’m going to do this post using mainly current Tigers and prospects, with maybe a trade prediction or two thrown in.

Without further ado, I give you, the Detroit Tigers starting lineup/roster for Opening Day 2015.

Starting Lineup:

1) Austin Jackson, CF

I have no qualms saying that Jackson will be our starting CF for many years to come, and while many predict a Granderson-esque move down in the order with his continued high K’s and increased power, I think Jackson will continue to hit leadoff, with good power and good OBP, regardless of the strikeouts that will continuously haunt his game. In 2015, Jackson will still be in his prime as one of the best CF’s in the game. He may have to move to a corner OF spot further into the future, but in 2015, I expect him to have at least 1 gold glove under his belt.

2) Omar Infante, 2B

Infante’s contract will expire following 2013, but I think that Dombrowski will lock him up for a longer term deal before then, especially with no legitimate 2nd base prospects in the minor leagues (unless you count Eugenio Saurez, but I’ll get to him shortly).  Infante brings an above average glove, good speed, some pop, and a solid bat to a lineup that has sorely lacked all of the above since Polanco left (not saying Polly was fast, but you get the point).  He’s still young-er, and could anchor 2B in Detroit for many years.

3) Miguel Cabrera, 1B

Miggy.  The Big Man.  The best hitter in baseball.  I think he’ll stick at 3rd until the expiration of Victor Martinez’s contract (after 2014), then move back over to 1B in 2015.  He’ll still be among the best hitters in the game at this point, and will be only 31, so still in his prime.  Moving him back across the diamond will also improve the team’s defense, as you’ll see a bit further down.

4) Prince Fielder, DH

Like Miggy, Prince will stick at 1B for the duration of Victor Martinez’s contract, and then will slide to full-time DH in 2015.  By that time, he’ll understand that the move is for the betterment of the team.  Having played 3 years in Detroit by this point, I think we’ll see a return to the 35-40 HR Prince Fielder that we’ve been used to seeing (although 2012 has HARDLY been a disappointment).

5) Avisail Garcia, RF

Avi, or “Mini-Miggy” as some have dubbed him, has been exciting in his brief tenure in Detroit this season.  He’s shown off his plus arm, and his somewhat amazing speed for a man his size.  And remember, in 2015, he’ll still be only 24.  I think he’ll be the full time starter in RF by mid-2013/early 2014, but in 2015, he will have developed enough power to bat 5th directly behind Prince.  He’s arguably our most exciting prospect (I said “exciting”, not “best”), and it’s going to be really fun watching him develop.

6) Alex Avila, C

Arguably the cornerstone of the Tigers franchise, as you don’t happen across left-handed power hitting catchers that get on base and defend well very often.  Avila had a career year in 2011, and has taken a bit of a step back in 2012, mostly due to injury IMO.  I don’t believe his 2011 will be repeated, at least consistently, but I have no problem saying that Avila can be a perennial .275/..370/.440 hitter in the major leagues, while still maintaining good defense behind the plate.  He is the sole reason that a top prospect like Rob Brantly became available in a trade, and will continue to anchor the catching position in Detroit for many years, barring injury of course.

7) Nick Castellanos, 3B

The top prospect in the entire Tigers system will move back to his native position of 3B by 2015.  I believe that Castellanos will be a solid 3B in the majors, and with the emergence of Garcia, the move to RF will become unnecessary in time.  He could still move to LF if the Tigers see fit, but I can’t see that happening because I don’t see Miguel Cabrera as the long term answer at 3B.  Castellanos should begin 2013 back in AA, to help him further develop his power and work on plate discipline.  I’d move him back to 3B right away, but I genuinely have zero idea what the Tigers have planned for him.  His performance in the AFL will probably have a large bearing on what Detroit will do with him position-wise for 2013.  Ideally, he stays in the minors for all of 2013, developing both offensively and defensively, and by 2014 he may force a Victor Martinez trade to open a spot for him.

8) Tyler Collins, LF

This may be the first “surprise” of the post, but Tyler Collins is a guy I really, really like.  He’s been profiled as a bat-first 4th OF, or perhaps a 2nd division starter, but, perhaps unrequitedly, I see more.  I don’t think he’ll ever be an all-star caliber player, but I can certainly see a nearly every day LF in the major leagues.  He’ll never be known for his defense, but he’s solid-average in LF, and the arm plays well from there.  Especially with freaks of athleticism in CF and RF, the Tigers can afford to play a less-than-awesome guy in LF, and Collins fits that description, especially since I think that he’ll be able to hit major league pitching pretty well by 2015.  Some people will be asking me why I don’t have Andy Dirks here, but Dirks is a guy I see as a prime trade candidate in 2013, especially after his breakout 2012 (despite the Achilles injury).

9) Eugenio Saurez, SS

The 1st legitimate middle infield prospect since Cale Iorg (?), Saurez had a breakout season in 2012 with West Michigan (Class A).  He still struck out too much, but combined that with solid D, a great OBP, somewhat surprising power, and good speed.  Saurez performed so well in 2012 that many, including myself, expect him to skip A+ altogether in 2013 and go directly to AA.  I’d like to see the Tigers take their time with him, but we all know that’s not the Tigers way.  I think he’ll spend all of 2013 in AA, then split time between AA-AAA-MLB in 2014 (perhaps as a Sept. call up), and then hopefully be ready to take the reigns as starting SS in 2015.  With the lineup I have assembled here, ideally Saurez won’t be expected to provide too much with his bat, but playing a good SS and holding his own in the batter’s box will be enough to justify starting him.

Bench:

1) James McCann, Backup C

McCann is arguably the Tigers best catching prospect in the system since the trade of Rob Brantly, although we can’t forget about Curt Casali.  McCann profiles as the prototypical MLB backup catcher: Very good with the glove, not much bat, not much power, but will hit in the low-mid .200’s.  Remember, backup catcher is an incredibly important job, as we’ve seen the last couple years in Detroit.

2) Daniel Fields, 4th OF

Before you all start laughing at me (Galea, I’m looking at you), I still have some faith in Fields as a prospect.  He began 2012 at High-A, repeating it for the 2nd time, and got off to a good start before an injury sidelined him for awhile.  He was promoted to AA for the last month or so of the season, and did very well, getting on base, hitting for power, and stealing bases.  He should start 2013 as Erie’s starting CF, and 2013 will be a make or break season for him.  I don’t think he’ll ever hit well enough to be a regular in the MLB, but I have faith that he’ll hit well enough and get on base enough to be a 4th OF, especially since he can play all 3 OF positions and runs very well.

3) Hernan Perez, Middle IF

We saw Perez make a cameo in Detroit early in the season when the Tigers were desperate for MIF help.  In his short time, Perez wasn’t able to show much, other than his good speed when he legged out an infield single for his 1st major league hit.  Perez brings plus D with a plus arm to 2B, and while he can play SS in a pinch, his best position is 2B.  He runs very well, but still needs to work on his baserunning instincts.  He’ll never hit for much power, and the hit tool isn’t good enough for me to project him as a starter, but I think he’ll be very successful as a major league utility guy.

4) Dean Green, 1B/DH

Green is probably the best power prospect in the Tigers system, aside from maybe Steven Moya, but doesn’t really have a positional future in Detroit.  Considering 1B/DH will be covered by Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder for the foreseeable future, Green doesn’t really have a spot available.  But he hits the ball, and hits for power.  He hit very well at WMI pre-injury, and then absolutely tore the cover off the ball at Lakeland when he was promoted.  I believe he’ll start the season as Erie’s 1B, and his power will continue to develop.  He’s a left handed power stick that I believe will find a role in the major leagues as a bench bat.  Maybe that’s more suited for the National League, but for the sake of this post, I’m going to pencil him in as the 2015 Marcus Thames.

Starting Rotation:

1) Justin Verlander, RHP

Do I even need to do an explanation post here?

2) Max Scherzer, RHP

The Tigers will soon have to make a choice as to whether to keep Max Scherzer or Rick Porcello on the roster.  They will both be due substantial raises, and I don’t think that the Tigers can keep both.  While Scherzer may fetch more on the trade market than Porcello, after this season I don’t think that Dombrowski will be very keen to trade away a power arm strikeout machine like Max.  I believe that makes Porcello the odd man out, and while I believe there is still a lot of potential left in Porcello’s right arm, I think his tenure in Detroit is reaching an end (unfortunately, IMO).

3) Doug Fister, RHP

I mean, Fister has been so good, that even noted snarkologist and Tiger troll Keith Law wrote an article detailing how his opinion of Fister had changed.  Some may argue that Fister is the true #2 behind Verlander, but at this point, that’s kind of irrelevant isn’t it?  Even in 2015, the Tigers top 3 of Verlander, Scherzer, and Fister will be among baseball’s best.

4) Casey Crosby, LHP

Ballsy prediction, no?  Considering Crosby didn’t really do a whole lot in 2012 to instill confidence in him as a #4 starter in the future, I still believe that his electric left arm will have a permanent place in the rotation by 2014.  For the first time in his career, he was healthy in back to back years in 2011 & 2012, and while he still walks too many, the strikeout total was still high, and the innings total was very good.  Crosby showed some things in 2012, including a propensity to get swings and misses with a power curveball, while also showing the ability to get quick outs with a cutter that sits a few ticks off of his plus fastball.  Many see Crosby taking the Andy Oliver route (finally going to the bullpen after failing miserably as a starter) but I don’t.  Crosby will start 2013 back in Toledo, and I believe that 2013 will be a breakout season for him.

5) Drew Smyly, LHP

I’m sure people are screaming “WHAT!?  CROSBY OVER SMYLY?!  YOURE AN IDIOT FIRE LEELAND” or something like that, but let me explain.  While Smyly is obviously the better pitcher right now, I think Crosby’s ceiling is higher than Smyly’s, while Smyly’s floor is much higher than Crosby’s.  Make sense?  Smyly showed us some great things in 2012 despite the injuries, especially (at least for me) the velo on his fastball that I didn’t know he had.  94 MPH from a lefty is a plus fastball, and when you combine it with his pitchability and secondary pitches, most notably his cutter than I absolutely love, Smyly has a long, successful major league career in front of him, even if it’s not destined to be an all-star caliber career.

NOTE: I’d love to predict the bullpen, but, not to be rude, are you effing kidding me?  That’s the closest damned thing to impossible.  So I guess I’ll just do a “names to keep an eye on” sort of deal, where I list guys who will probably be in the bullpen in 2015.

-Bruce Rondon

-Will Clinard

-Chad Smith

-Michael Morrison

-Bryan Villarreal

-Luis Marte

That’s it for me everyone.  Hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it.  Feel free to comment on here with your thoughts, or contact me on twitter @B_Sakowski or @TigersProspects

Go Tigers!!

 

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