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Detroit Tigers Top Pitching Prospects | Touch’em All 2012

Welcome to another edition of our Touch’em All series. The Detroit organization is under the microscope today and most will notice right away that with the exception of Jacob Turner, the Tiger talent pool pitching-wise is stuck in the shallow end right now. The system is thin at the top with only Turner, but there are some projectable Latin arms entering short season ball this season. So let’s begin!

AAA Toledo Mud Hens

Jacob Turner, RHP – Age 21 – Assumed by many to own the 5th spot in the Tigers rotation before the season started, injury took him out of the running and the spot was won by Drew Smyly. Once healthy, Turner started the season in the FSL, but jumped to Toledo after earning a 1.66 ERA in 4 starts. Scoring a 3.75 ERA there in 36 innings isn’t terrible, but he’s walking more batters and striking out less. He’s already been passed over by Casey Crosby for promotion and Detroit’s habit of rushing their pitching prospects has kept him from dominating any level with his plus stuff. Pitching five innings of one-run ball in a spot start in Detroit on June 21st, Turner showed his ability but allowing 5 walks in that effort tells us he’s simply not ready yet.

Casey Crosby, LHP – Age 23 – Even though he leapfrogged top prospect Jacob Turner for a promotion to the bigs, his 9.49 ERA and 11 walks in 12.1 innings pitched is troubling in that it exposes the real lack of pitching depth in the higher levels of the Detroit organization. Even before the promotion, while showing a good strikeout rate, the tall left-hander had still walked 28 batters in 56.2 innings. His good mid-90s fastball just isn’t enough to make up the lack of command in his secondary pitches.

Jose Ortega, RHP – Age 23 – Ortega is 3-5 with a 4.23 ERA to go with a 48/34 K/BB ratio over 38.1 innings out of Toledo’s bullpen.  The 11.92 K/9 is very impressive, however the 7.98 BB/9 is not.  Still with an FIP of 3.77 it shouldn’t be long before he’s a member of the Tigers bullpen.  That’s if he can cut those walks.  We think he can.

Andrew Oliver, LHP – Age 24 – We discussed Oliver’s control issues in our Tigers top 10 prospect season preview.  Sure enough, his trouble still continue.  He’s 4-7 with a 4.43 ERA and a 83/65 K/BB ratio over 89.1 innings.  The K rate is down, the BB rate is up, and his .276 BABIP doesn’t suggest it’s bad luck.  We’re thinking short, full on stints, would be better for Oliver.

AA Erie Seawolves

Bruce Rondon, RHP – Age 21 – Promoted from High A Lakeland and with only two game appearances in the Erie, Rondon brings with him an electric mid-90s fastball and slider combo. So far, in both times on the mound he’s pick up a save in each one. As usual, with these young fireballers, he can miss plenty of bats but missing the plate is the issue. Cutting the walks will almost guarantee him having late-inning upside in the show.

Kelvin De La Cruz, LHP – Age 23 – Detroit claimed Kelvin off the waivers as Cleveland designated him for assignment earlier this year. As a big lefty (6’5” 190lbs) who racked up 93 strikeouts in 86 innings at Double A Akron last season, he was a worthy grab. But his long body has seemly lead him into a mechanical minefield where inconsistencies with his arm slot, balance, and release point have led to spotty command of his 91-93 mph stuff. Having been in the rotation his entire career, his troubles may lead him to the bullpen in the future.

Advanced A Lakeland Flying Tigers

Tyler Clark, RHP – Age 23 – In the same draft that Detroit chose Nick Castellanos and Drew Smyly near the top, they chose Tyler Clark with the 24th round pick. Clark has become something of a surprise, scoring a .95 ERA in 20 Lakeland game appearances. Striking out 33.6% of hitters is impressive, but one wonders how sustainable his success will be with the 11.2% walk rate. He’s only given up 13 hits in 28.1 innings.

Brian Flynn, LHP – Age 22 – Any interest in Flynn usually comes by his mid-90s fastball and his 6’8” frame. Command of his secondary pitches is still behind schedule, but, when and if they are refined, Flynn should be able to manage better than his current 17% strikeout rate and he should cut his walks even though they sit at a decent rate of 7.3%. Another full season of FSL may be in order.

Low A West Michigan Whitecaps

Marcelo Carreno, RHP – Age 21 – This is Josue Marcelo Carreno’s second season in West Michigan and he’s improved on his ERA to 3.62 in 77 innings. He’s still striking batters out to a 20% clip. And he’s even trimmed his walks down a couple of percentage points to a nice 5.6%. At the same time, he’s put pressure on his defense by not keeping the ball down enough and catching too much plate. Higher levels will punish him for this kind of behavior.

Daniel Bennett, RHP – Age 23 – Bennett is being used in the closer role in West Michigan and he’s flourishing in the position with a 2.70 ERA with 30 strikeouts and zero homeruns allowed in 26.2 innings. The tall righty slings the ball from a low sidearm slot and has had success forcing hitters to hit the ball into the ground. If he can coax hitters at higher levels to swing at his sinker/slider combo, Detroit might have something, but his lack of premium velocity might limit him as he moves up.

Thomas Collier, RHP – Age 22 – After being drafted out of the 22nd round in 2011, Collier showed some potential by striking out 35 batters and giving up only 28 hits in 39 innings pitched. Now, in full season ball, he’s shown the same knack for keeping the ball on the ground and out of the seats, but over the stretch of 94 innings, his strikeouts dropped to only 59. So he may not blow away many batters as he moves up, but, with a good defense behind him, it is conceivable that he could fit in a relief role or the back-end of a rotation at some point.

Slade Smith, RHP – Age 21 – The Tigers 2012 17th round pick is 0-0 with a 1.50 ERA and has a 5/0 K/BB ratio in 6 innings, splitting time between the NYP and now the MWL.  He’s should pitch the rest of the season out the West Michigan bullpen.

Class A Short Season Connecticut Tigers

Brenny Paulino, RHP – Age 18 – At 6”4” 170lbs, Paulino projects to add even more velocity to his mid-90s fastball as his body matures. Right now, he’s a fastball pitcher. His secondaries just aren’t there yet. Not that he’s needed much else with the natural late movement he gets on his heater. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait a little longer to document his development since he is starting the season on the DL.

Edgar De La Rosa, RHP – Age 21 – After spending some time in the DSL, Detroit finally brought him to the states in 2011, trying him out in the GCL. He posted the best numbers of his professional career with a 3.19 ERA. He shows potential in his low-90s fastball and 12-6 curveball, but the change-up needs work. His 6’6” frame is enough to inspire hope that he’ll gain velocity along the way. With very little NY/Penn data, Edgar has already walked 6 batters in 9.2 innings, only allowing 3 runs and striking out 7 in two starts.

Charlie Gillies, RHP – Age 21 – Drafted in the 10th round of the 2012 draft, Gillies is 0-1 with a 2.57 ERA and a 6/2 K/BB ratio over 7 innings in 2 starts.

Alex Phillips, LHP – Age 22 - The Tigers 2012 21st round draft pick is 1-0 with a 3.38 ERA and has a 3/0 K/BB ratio over 5.1 innings out the bullpen.

Rookie Gulf Coast League Tigers

Jake Thompson, RHP – Age 18 – Thompson was the Tigers 2012 1st pick.  He’s was draft #91 overall, going in the 2nd round.  He’s 0-1 with a 2.57 ERA with a 9/3 K/BB ratio over 7 innings pitched in 2 starts.

Julio Felix, RHP – Age 20 – The Tigers 2012 12th round pick is 0-0 with a 3.00 ERA and has 2 K’s and 1 BB over 3 innings out of the bullpen in the GCL.

 Joshua Carr, RHP – Age 21 – Selected in the 28th round of the 2012 draft, Carr is 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA and has a 7/0 K/BB ratio over his first 10 innings on the season out of the bullpen.

Nick Carmichael, RHP – Age 22 - The Tigers 28th round pick this season is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA and has a 8/2 K/BB ratio over 9 innings in 2 starts.

Preston Jamison, LHP – Age 19 – The 6’6″ man-child from South Mountain CC in Arizona was the Tigers 2012 30th round pick.  He’s struggling with his command in the early going, posting a 0-0 record with  10.80 ERA and has walked for while striking out 0 in 1.2 innings so far.

David Paulino, RHP – Age 18 – The 6’5″ young Dominican is still on the disabled list, so he hasn’t made his North America debut yet.  He’s the younger brother of Brenny.

Fernando Perez, RHP – Age 18 – The young Dominican is finding his debut in the states to be a tough one.  He’s 0-1 with a 17.36 ERA and has a 3/3 K/BB ratio over 4.2 innings in 2 starts.

Rookie Dominican Summer League Tigers

Emanuel Chavez, RHP – Age 17 – Making his pro debut, Chavez is 0-2 with a 5.40 ERA and has a 15/15 K/BB ratio over 21.2 innings.

Juan Alcantara, RHP – Age 17 – Also making his pro debut, Alcantara is 0-1 with an 8.36 ERA and has a 8/7 K/BB ratio over 14 innings on the season.

Carlos Lara, RHP – Age 18 – Lara is 0-2 with a 3.31 ERA and has a 13/7 K/BB ratio over 16.1 innings.

Rookie Venezuelan Summer League Tigers

Jose Fuentes, RHP – Age 18 – Fuentes is 1-3 with a 4.18 ERA and has a 24/20 K/BB ratio over 32.1 innings on the season.

Eduardo Jimenez,RHP – Age 17 – Jimenez is 0-4 with a 4.06 ERA and has a 22/13 K/BB ratio over 31 innings.

Anthony Castro, RHP – Age 17 – Castro is 0-1 with a 4.73 ERA and has a 24/12 K/BB ratio over 26.2 innings.

There you have it.  The Tigers organizational pitching report for the 2012 season to date.

Stick with Baseball Instinct and we’ll keep you a step ahead of the game. Check back soon for more Prospect coverage. While you’re here, check out our Baseball Instinct 360° – it’s our top 360 prospects for 2012. Also check out a friend of ours for all of your fantasy sports needs. Fantasy Rundown is updated religiously and is truly an awesome resource. Thanks for checking Baseball Instinct. We’re working hard to bring you the best of the minor leagues and make the site the best experience it can be, so don’t hesitate to tell us what you would like to read about. Email us now at mailbag@baseballinstinct.com.


I live in Wyoming, Michigan. I have a wife and 3 kids. Been part of the Baseball Tonight league since 2004. An aspiring writer, I enjoy writing short stories, mostly horror/suspense. Anyone can check out my stuff at www.writing.com/authors/daver.

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