We’re continuing the Touch’em All Series with a look at players from each level of the Detroit Tigers organization. Since the Short Season and Rookie ball leagues haven’t accumulated very much data, we’ll concentrate on the stateside levels. Let’s begin!
AAA Toledo Mud Hens
Rob Brantly, C – age 22 – After being drafted in the 3rd round in 2010, Brantly’s bat has brought him quite a ways in a short amount of time. Starting in Low-A West Michigan, he’s managed to hit .300 at nearly every level and right now he’s enjoying his first taste of AAA ball. Just 7 games in, he’s hitting .480 collecting 12 hits and 1 double. Not a lot of power to speak of, Brantly puts the bat on the ball and doesn’t strikeout a lot. That said, he needs to figure out how to take a walk at a better rate. Since Tigers catcher Alex Avila probably isn’t going anywhere any time soon, listen for Brantly’s name to pop up in trade talks as the major league club looks for an upgrade at second base.
Ben Guez, OF – age 25 – Another player promoted from Erie this season, Guez showed some decent pop there and the ability to get on base with a .481 OBP, walking 20 times while striking out only 17 in 78 at bats and hitting .308. He’s brought all that with him to Toledo, so far, except the plate discipline where he has walked only 6 times compared to 20 strikeouts in 74 at bats. The Tigers currently crowded outfield leaves little chance for Guez to get a taste of the majors this season, but look for him to try his hand in spring training.
AA Erie Seawolves
Nick Castellanos, 3B – age 20 – This 2010 first round selection has taken the entire minor leagues by storm this season by hitting .405 with 87 hits, 17 doubles, 3 triples, and 3 homeruns in 215 at bats in the FSL. Ideally, the youngster would spend the whole season in Advanced-A Lakeland, but he forced a promotion to Erie. So far, Casty has started slowly with 6 hits in 24 at bats. Once he settles in, Tiger management should look for him to convert some of that doubles power into homerun power. As it is, Castellanos has most likely jumped over pitching phenom Jacob Turner to become the Tigers top prospect. Stay tuned.
James McCann, C – age 22 – If Rob Brantly is an all-bat catcher, the organization’s best defensive catcher McCann could be called all-glove. Though he’s shown the ability to make decent contact this year in the FSL, his value will be found in what he does behind the plate. If he can develop his hit tool at the higher levels, he won’t have a hard time finding a job in the majors.
Advanced A Lakeland Flying Tigers
Tyler Collins, OF – age 22 – Collins hasn’t shown the power in the FSL that he had on display in the NY/Penn League in 2011. Despite only hitting 2 homeruns, Collins is still hitting a solid .296 with .372 OBP. This season, he raised his strikeout rate 3 points to 12.3%, but his advanced approach at the plate has increased his walk rate almost 4 points to 9.2%. For Collins to be more than a 4th outfielder-type, he’ll need to find his power stroke again, but at this point, in a pitching friendly league, the power outage shouldn’t be that big of a deal.
Avisail Garcia, OF – age 21 – At 6”4” 240lbs, Garcia is the rare athlete who, with a body similar to Miguel Cabrera, is athletic enough to play rightfield and steal 15 bases per season. In his second season in Lakeland, Garcia has trimmed his strikeout rate to under 20% for the first time and has shown signs that his much anticipated power tool has begun to blossom, while hitting .298 with 6 doubles, 3 triples and 6 homeruns. He still needs to learn to take a walk, but, if he can keep crushing the ball, it would be hard to keep him in Advanced A for a third season.
Low A West Michigan WhiteCaps
Curt Casali, C – age 23 – Another backstop with decent defense and intriguing offensive output, Casali is old for the level, but has surprised by hitting .303/.409/.500/.909 with 6 homeruns and walking more than striking out. He’s desperately in need of a promotion to Lakeland. Could happen by second half. A position with some depth in the Tiger organization.
Dean Green, 1B – age 22 – Hitting .306 with 16 doubles and 9 homeruns and displaying good plate discipline, Green will go as far as his bat will take him. The good news: There aren’t many first base prospects with a good power bat in the organization. The bad news: The big league club already has two elite bats at the corners of the infield in Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder presumably for many years to come. By the time Green is ready his hope with the Tigers may be in taking over the DH spot. Bare in mind, Green is old for the level. He’ll still need to prove himself in the higher levels.
Eugenio Suarez, SS/2b – age 20 – In a couple seasons, Suarez could be the answer to the Tiger’s woes at 2b, but, right now, he’ll just have to keep raking. Hitting .323 with 24 doubles, 2 triples, and 3 homeruns and combined with an advanced approach at the plate for his age, Eugenio has more pop in his bat that any middle infielder in the system. If he can maintain this kind of production, he’ll be a no-brainer bat at the top of the batting order in Detroit. If not, his glove could still get him there.
Steven Moya, OF – age 21 – In his second season in West Michigan, Moya has continued to show off the power potential that comes with that 6’7” 229lb frame, but, this time around, he’s cut down his strikeout rate from a downright terrible 37.7% to a more manageable 21.7%. Still, he doesn’t walk enough. Improving his plate discipline and working on that longish swing would certainly help him tap into all that natural raw power at higher levels.
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