On Monday I published a list of 13 Detroit Tigers prospects who I think could crack the big league roster this year under a variety of circumstances. Today, it is time to take a look at some of the young studs who are still a few years away from impacting the major league club.
Remember, the Tigers’ farm system was recently ranked 25th out of 30 by ESPN’s Keith Law. Here in part 2 I will round out my 25-man prospect list by listing these players in an order that represents how likely they are to become an impact player at the major league level. This is completely subjective and open to debate.
- Jake Thompson, age 19, RHP – Thompson was the Tigers’ first pick in last June’s amateur draft. He represents the prototypical pitcher that GM Dave Dombrowski likes to draft. He is 6’4’’ and 235 pounds as a 19-year old. That’s big. He started 7 games for the Tigers’ rookie ball team after being drafted and was dominant. He is probably going to pitch at low-A West Michigan this year with the potential to advance to high-A Lakeland. With the depth of starting pitching at the Tigers’ disposal, Thompson is likely 3 years away from threatening the big league roster but so far he looks every bit the part of a future rotation anchor. (2012 stats: 1-2 with a 1.91 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, 31 K’s in 28.1 innings)
- Danry Vasquez, age 19, OF – Vasquez was signed out of Venezuela for 7 figures when he was just 16 years old. Talk about projecting talent! Instead of having him remain in Venezuela the Tigers immediately brought him stateside and he has been working his way up the ladder ever since. As an 18-year old in 2012 he made it all the way to low-A West Michigan. He is 6’3’’ and growing into his frame like most other teenagers would. 3 years from now he could very well be the hottest thing going in the Tigers’ system. (2012 stats: .273 avg., 24-extra base hits, 6 steals)
- Jade Todd, age 22, LHP – Todd has battled injury throughout his minor league career but finally put it all together for the Whitecaps in 2012. Bullpen arms that show promise almost always get a look at the major league level. When it’s a lefty arm then it’s all but guaranteed. The former starter is now on the fast track thanks to his resurgence out of the pen. Todd certainly isn’t the 3rd ranked long-term prospect in the system but he is very likely to impact the major league roster at some point, hence the ranking here. He should spend most of the season between high-A Lakeland and AA Erie. (2012 stats: 6-2, 1.62 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 71 K’s and 19 walks in 61 innings)
- Austin Schotts, age 19, OF – Schotts was drafted in the 3rd round out of high school in the 2012 draft and had a great intro to pro ball. He plays center field and is already one of the better athletes in the system. The Tigers will be in no hurry with Schotts as Austin Jackson will be in town for quite some time but he does potentially represent the future centerfielder for the Tigers perhaps 4 years from now if things continue to go well. (2012 stats: .310 avg., .360 on-base %, 15 extra-base hits, and 16 steals)
Steven Moya, age: 20, OF – Moya projects as a power-hitting corner outfielder for the Tigers in 3-4 years. He checks in at 6’7’’ and 229 lbs. and bats left-handed. Visions of Tony Clark might pop into your head. Moya was off to a tremendous start in 2012, really cutting down on his strikeouts, before elbow woes forced him to undergo Tommy John surgery. He is recovering well and with any luck should be able to log a lot of plate appearances this season. If the surgery proves to be nothing more than a minor setback then Moya could be a name that you hear about more and more. (2012 stats: .288 avg., 14 doubles, 9 homers, and 47 RBI’s)
- Daniel Fields, age: 22, OF – Yet another outfielder makes the list. Fields was a big time prospect when Detroit drafted him out of high school in 2009 but he had a very disappointing start to his professional career over 2010 and ’11, striking out at a freakish pace. He got that under control in 2012 and his numbers instantly started to climb. He finished the year at AA Erie and played well while he was there. That will likely be his full-time home in 2013 and with continued progress he is going to start to get a serious look from the organization. (2012 stats: .266 avg., 22 extra-base hits, and 23 steals)
- Eugenio Suarez, age: 21, SS – Suarez has shown the ability to be a good hitter while playing the middle infield, something the Tigers have had zero luck with during the Dombrowski era. As a 20-year old he had a strong season at West Michigan and should spend 2013 at high-A Lakeland. Tigers fans will be crossing their fingers that this might be the guy to finally break the middle infield prospect drought. (2012 stats: .288 avg., .380 on-base %, 34 doubles, 5 triples, 6 homers, and 21 steals)
- James McCann, age: 22, C – McCann was Detroit’s first pick in the 2011 amateur draft out of Arkansas. He entered the organization with a good deal of fan fare but hasn’t met expectations as of yet. His power hasn’t arrived at all and the bat hasn’t played up in any category. McCann is most likely going to be the regular catcher at AA Erie this season, a year that will prove to be a big one for his career path. The book isn’t closed by any means, but it’s time to show the Tigers something. (2012 stats: .237 avg., .278 on-base %, 22 doubles, and 2 homers)
- Harold Castro, age: 19, 2B – Castro is another Venezuelan that the Tigers signed at a young age and he has proven worth the price so far. After playing in Venezuela as a 17-year old the Tigers brought him over to play rookie ball in 2012 and he didn’t miss a beat. He is likely to climb up to low-A West Michigan this year and the Tigers will be watching his progress with hopeful eyes. The idea of Suarez and Castro tearing through the system is an exciting one. (2012 stats: .311 avg., .343 on-base %, 16 extra-base hits, and 15 steals)
Curt Casali, age: 24, C – Casali played between low-A West Michigan and high-A Lakeland in 2012 and is very close to passing McCann as the rising catcher in the system. Detroit drafted him out of Vanderbilt in the 2011 draft and he appears to be putting things together nicely. (2012 stats: .270 avg., .365 on-base %, 25 doubles, 9 homers, and 43 RBI’s)
- Drew VerHagen, age: 22, RHP – VerHagen also came via Vanderbilt in the 2012 draft. He is a 6’6’’, 230 pounder that the Tigers are pretty high on. He earned 8 appearances (6 starts) at high-A Lakeland last year and will likely start the year there again and try to work his way up to Erie. Jake Thompson and VerHagen are the guys the Tigers are counting on to be the next wave of starting pitching talent to threaten the major league roster. At age 22, VerHagen’s turn might come sooner than Thompson. (2012 stats: 3.48 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, and 19 K’s in 31 innings)
- Dixon Machado, age: 21, SS – Machado is another Venezuelan signee that the Tigers have liked for a while now. Unfortunately, Machado’s batting skills have been on a stark decline for the past two years. After hitting .265 in 2010 he managed just a .235 average at West Michigan in 2011 and followed that up with a .195 mark for Lakeland in ’13. With Suarez gaining traction in the system Machado really needs a strong 2013 in order to keep the Tigers interested. He doesn’t strike out a lot but is having trouble making hard contact. (2012 stats: .195 avg., .283 on-base %, 19 extra-base hits, and 23 steals)
In case you missed, check out the 13 prospects that might suit up for Jim Leyland in 2013. Click here.
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