The Detroit Tigers managed to sneak into the playoffs by slipping by the free-falling Chicago White Sox at the end of the season with a 88-74 record, advancing to the World Series where they would get clobbered by the San Francisco Giants, 4 games to 0. Such is life. Miguel Cabrera won the triple crown and the A.L. MVP award, while Justin Verlander came close to repeating as the A.L. CY Young winner.
Not surprisingly, the Tigers have a fairly weak system down on the farm. The focus obviously has been on winning a title. Nick Castellanos should end up as an everyday player. Bruce Rondon is rumored to have the inside track to become the Tigers closer in 2013. Avisail Garcia should find playing time in the outfield in 2013. After that, it looks like it’s going to be some time before the Tigers have a top-notch prospect to get excited about.
Lets take a look at the top players in the organization.
1. Nick Castellanos, 3B/OF 3/4/92 H: 6’4″ W: 210 – After lighting up Advanced A Lakeland to the tune of a .405/.461/ .553/1014 line as a 20-year-old, Nick came back to earth when he spent the rest of the season in Double A Erie. There, he hit .261 with 7 homers, striking out 76 times and only walking 14 in 322 at bats. They’ve put a lot on the youngster’s plate in the meantime. Don’t forget he’s learning to play left field now with Cabrera entrenched at hot corner in Detroit.
Our Instinct: Some will still worry about his lack of power so far but I just look at his 24% line drive rate. All those doubles and some should eventually leave the yard as he develops. He’s still ahead of his development age-wise. A smart Tiger organization should keep him in Double-A until he can dominate. ETA: 2014
2012 by the numbers: .320/.365/.451, 46 XBH(10 HR), 8 SB, .396 BABIP, 118/36 K/BB ratio in 537 ab’s between High-A and AA. 2010 1st round draft pick, 44th overall.
2. Bruce Rondon, RP, 12/9/90 H: 6’3″ W: 265 - With a late inning role in Detroit seemingly written all over him, Rondon brings his live fastball to the plate in the triple digits. His natural movement on the pitch makes it very hard for hitters to square him up. In 2012, over three minor league levels, He struck out 63 batters in 53 innings. Rondon, along with the plus FB, might be what you call effectively wild. He has at times had trouble finding the plate, walking 26 batters in those same 53 innings in 2012.
Our Instinct: If Jose Valverde made fans reach for the pepto, Rondon, with all the rumors of his shot at closing in DTown, may evoke more of the same reaction. Lets hope the kid can demonstrate a little more command of his overpowering stuff before Jimmy “Smokes” Leyland lets that happen. ETA: Now
2012 by the numbers: 2-1, 1.53 ERA, 4.16 FIP, .258 BABIP, 66/26 K/BB ratio in 53 innings between High-A, AA and AAA. 2007 International free agent, Venezuela.
3. Avisail Garcia, OF, 6/12/91 H: 6’4″ W: 240 - This talented young man made it from Advanced A to Double-A, skipping Triple A and landed on the Tigers World Series roster in 2012 after an impressive performance during his late season call-up. Garcia hit .319 in 47 at bats in the big leagues. Built like fellow Venezuelan Miguel Cabrera with more speed and a terrific arm from right field, Avisail probably played over his head in his debut stint and got a little lucky judging by his batting average compared to his .405 BABIP.
Our Instinct: He still has approach problems at the plate, but none can deny his tools, particularly his speed for such a big kid. ETA: 2013
2012 by the numbers: .299/.333/.455, 39 XBH(14 HR), 23 SB, .349 BABIP, 95/18 K/BB ratio in 481 ab’s between High-A and AA. 2007 International free agent, Venezuela.
4. Jake Thompson, RHP, 1/31/94 H: 6’4″ W: 235 - The Tigers first pick of the 2012 amateur draft (2nd round), Thompson made a good showing in seven starts, over matching the competition in the Gulf Coast League with a 1.91 ERA with 31 strikeouts in 28.1 innings pitched. With a body built to eat innings, Thompson could debut this coming season in full season ball in West Michigan.
Our Instinct: The team hopes he can eventually fill the #2-3 pitchers spot in the major league rotation some time. We’ll see how his change-up develops, in order to maximize his mid-90s heater and the plus potential of his slider. ETA: 2016
2012 by the numbers: 1-2, 1.91 ERA, 3.63 FIP, .213 BABIP, 31/10 K/BB ratio in 28.1 innings at Rookie-A. 2012 2nd round draft pick, 91st overall.
5. Eugenio Suarez, SS, 7/18/91 H: 6’0″ W: 180 - An international signee in 2008, Suarez showed off his bat, hitting .288 with a .380 OBP and slugging a decent .409. Defensively, he played a solid shortstop and separated himself from the many all-glove middle infielders in the organization. Tigers fans were hoping that he would maintain the above average pop he showed in rookie ball. However, he seems to have traded the power for a 10.8% walk rate.
Our Instinct: There still is a possibility that the power production comes back as he develops, but he still shows desirable gap power at the shortstop position. Look for him to start 2013 in Lakeland. ETA: 2015
2012 by the numbers: .288/.380/.409, 45 XBH(6 HR), 21 SB, .362 BABIP, 116/65 K/BB ratio in 511 ab’s at Low-A. 2008 International free agent, Venezuela.
6. Austin Schotts, OF, 9/16/93 H: 5’11” W: 180 - Hitting .310 in the GCL Rookie League, the 2012 third round pick had his bat and speed on display scoring 31 runs and swiping 15 bags in 155 at bats. He even got in two games during a short promotion to Advanced A Lakeland, getting a hit in 4 plate appearances. Don’t get carried away with that promotion. The toolsy Mr. Schotts may be one of the youngest players in Low A Midwest League next season or be saved for the Short Season NY/Penn League. Either way, we will have a better idea of what he can do against advanced competition then.
Our Instinct: He’s still such a long way off and the ceiling to floor level isn’t readable at this point. But his appraoch at such a young age and speed power combination makes him a top level talent that could soon be a top level prospect. ETA: 2016
2012 by the numbers: .310/.360/.449, 15 XBH(3 HR), 16 SB, .407 BABIP, 42/12 K/BB ratio in 158 ab’s at Rookie-A, with a brief stop at High-A. 2012 3rd round draft pick, 121st overall.
7. Steven Moya, OF 9/8/91 H: 6’7″ W: 229 - Tommy John surgery in June halted what could have been Moya’s breakout season. The big right fielder posted a .288 batting average with 14 doubles and 9 homers in just 243 Midwest League at bats. Each of the past 3 seasons, he has been able to close the hole in his swing a little more, going from a 44% k rate to 2012’s 22%.
Our Instinct: A healthy Moya could earn a promotion to the Florida State League 2013, but I think he’ll start out back in West Michigan for a second straight season. If he can get his k/bb rate in line, he’s going to zoom up the charts because he big and athletic with potential light-tower power. ETA: 2015
2012 by the numbers: .288/.319/.481, 26 XBH(9 HR), 5 SB, .349 BABIP, 59/11 K/BB ratio in 243 ab’s at Low-A. 2008 undrafted free agent, Puerto Rico.
8. Danry Vasquez, OF, 1/8/94 H: 6’3″ W: 169 - Vasquez wasn’t ready for his promotion to Low A Midwest League at the beginning of 2012. After that horrendous start there, NY/Penn League seemed to be just the right medicine as he hit .311 with 90 hits in 289 at bats there. A tall and lanky 6’3” and only 169lbs, Danry should fill out and at some point provide some power production. But he’s way too young to worry about that at this point.
Our Instinct: Right now, he needs to become more acquainted with the art of the walk and develop a solid approach at the plate. He has the tools. He’ll be back to West Michigan in 2013. ETA: 2015
2012 by the numbers: .273/.308/.356, 24 XBH(3 HR), 6 SB, .322 BABIP, 65/20 K/BB ratio in 288 ab’s between Low-A and Rookie-A. 2010 International free agent, Venezuela.
9. Brenny Paulino, RHP, 2/21/93 H: 6’4″ W: 170 - Brenny missed the entire 2012 season due to injury but keeps a spot on the list due to the weakness of the organization and the natural movement of his mid-90s fastball. In 2011, Paulino scored a 2.36 ERA and 45 strikeouts in 45.1 innings pitched. At 6’4” 170lbs, this kid could fill out and actually add a few ticks to his already nasty heater. His secondaries are what need the most help.
Our Instinct: He fell off the radar but nothing has changed in his prospect profile. I’d look for him to start in the short season NY/Penn League. Detroit should be careful with him. Watch out for Brenny’s “little” brother David who weighs in at 180lbs and 6’5” in the GCL. ETA: 2017
2012 by the numbers: Shoulder surgery, missed the entire season. 2009 International free agent, Dominican Republic.
10. Dean Green, 1B/DH, 6/30/89 H: 6’4″ W: 255 - In 141 at bats after his promotion to Advanced A Lakeland, Green managed to improve upon his very good MWL numbers with a cool .348/.410/.518/928 line. At 6’4” 255lbs, Green is a mountain of a man who combines good power potential with a solid 15-16% K rate. But he’s not all that athletic. So, without the ability to move away from 1b, his future probably isn’t too bright in Detroit.
Our Instinct: If he can continue to perform at this level in Double A Erie, look for him to be trade bait. ETA: 2014
2012 by the numbers: .304/.375/.474, 41 XBH(12 HR), 2 SB, .344 BABIP, 69/34 K/BB ratio in 392 ab’s between Low-A and High-A. 2011 11th round draft pick, 347th overall.
11. Casey Crosby, LHP, 9/17/88 H: 6’5″ W: 225 - After a dreadful 3 start stint in the bigs, Crosby scored a 4.01 ERA with 112 strikeouts in 125.2 innings pitched in Triple A Toledo. The 5th round pick in 2007 still has trouble commanding his stuff, walking 65 batters in those 125.2 innings. Crosby has been a Tiger Top Ten list mainstay for the past 3 or so years. Seems his time here has run its course as he continues to slip down the list.
Our Instinct: We still think a move to the bullpen might be what the doctor ordered, but the prospects of having a 95-96 mph fastball coming from the left side in the starting rotation may be too much of a temptation for Tiger management. ETA: 2013
2012 by the numbers: 7-9, 4.01 ERA, 5.10 FIP, .291 BABIP, 112/65 K/BB ratio in 125.2 innings at AAA. 2009 5th round draft pick, 181st overall.
12. Tyler Collins, OF, 6/6/90 H: 5’11″ W: 205 - This left-handed hitting 6th round pick in 2011 has thus far shown an advanced approach at the plate at each level, hitting .290 and walking 58 times against 64 strikeouts in 473 Advanced A Lakeland at bats in 2012. He also shows that he can be a menace on the basepaths, collecting 20 stolen bases.
Our Instinct: If the power he demonstrated in the NY/Penn League in 2011 resurfaces, the Howard Junior College pick might be quite a find. Right now, he’s a kind of a tweener with his production against LH pitchers lacking. So some work needs to be done to avoid platoon bat status. Double-A Erie in 2013. ETA: 2014
2012 by the numbers: .290/.371/.429, 47 XBH(7 HR), 20 SB, .323 BABIP, 64/58 K/BB ratio in 473 ab’s at High-A. 2011 6th round draft pick, 197th overall.
13. Adam Wilk, LHP
14. Devon Travis, 2B
15. Jesus Ustariz, 3B
16. Harold Castro, SS
17. Jose Ortega, RHP
18. Joe Rogers, LHP
19. Logan Ehlers,LHP
20. Tyler Gibson, OF
21. Alex Burgos, LHP
For a complete list of the Top 21′s visit the 2013 Top 21′s Page
Stick with Baseball Instinct and we’ll keep you a step ahead of the game. Check back soon as we release our top 21 prospects for each organization. While you’re here, check out our Baseball Instinct 360° – it’s our top 360 prospects from 2012, and we will be updating it for 2013 soon. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. And while you’re at it head over to Facebook and join the Instinct page. You can also follow us on twitter: @BaseballInstinc.