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Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2013 (27) | 2012 (22) | 2011 (25) | 2010 (27) | 2009 (28)

2012 Affiliate Records
MLB: [93-69] AL Central
AAA: [61-83] International League – Toledo
AA: [76-66] Eastern League – Erie
A+: [64-68] Florida State League – Lakeland
A: [69-70] Midwest League – West Michigan
A(ss):  [33-42] New York-Penn League — Connecticut

Arizona Fall League PlayersMesa Solar Sox
Tommy Collier (RHP); Kenny Faulk (LHP); Blaine Hardy (LHP); Corey Knebel (RHP); Dixon Machado (SS); Devon Travis (2B); Tyler Collins (OF)

Graduated Prospects
Jose Iglesias (SS); Darin Downs (LHP); Bruce Rondon (RHP)

The Run Down
The Tigers made two in-season trades that sent top prospects in their system out of town, and in exchange, they addressed some big league needs.  In one of those deals, they sent Danry Vasquez to Houston for Jose Veras.  In the other, they essentially swapped Avisail Garcia for Jose Iglesias.  Now, I’ve never been shy about my love for Garcia.  I wrote a lot of words over the last two months of the season about why he was the better fantasy stash than Nick Castellanos for both this past season and next season. So it goes without saying that from a fantasy perspective, losing Garcia (and Vasquez to a lesser extent) is a huge drag on strength of this organization.  What’s left here is a group of iffy arms and highly questionable bats.  From numbers 3-10, this is probably the weakest organization I’ll rank this off-season.  Still, Detroit’s big league roster is the best in the American League, and perhaps the best in all of baseball, so it’s tough to feel too bad for them.  Surely, they’ll be back in the postseason next fall.

Top Ten Fantasy Prospects
1.  Nick Castellanos, OF:
  Castellanos earned a September call-up at the end of the 2013 season, and during his stint in the bigs, he collected 5 hits in 18 PA, none of which went for extra bases.  The 21-year-old is a big-named prospect with an excellent hit tool, but if you’ve been following my work here at Razzball, you know that I’m not ga-ga over him… not for fantasy purposes, at least.  Don’t get me wrong, I believe the long-term upside here will be extremely useful in the fantasy game — once he settles into the 2-hole in front of Miggy, 100+ runs with an AVG north of .300 is an easy projection.  But with Torii Hunter in Detroit for at least another year, I don’t see Castellanos stepping into that role just yet.  I’m sure you’ll see him popping up in the top-10 on plenty of fantasy-prospects-for-2014 lists this off-season, but he won’t be rated that highly on mine.  Again, he’s a great guy to have around in a dynasty format, but in standard redraft leagues, I wouldn’t reach for him.  ETA:  2014

2.  Jonathon Crawford, RHP:  Crawford was drafted out of the U of Florida with the 20th overall pick this past June.  The 21-year-old features an impressive fastball/slider combo, with both offerings grading as plus pitches.  His changeup is more of a work-in-progress, but scouts believe it will develop into a usable pitch for him.  Crawford’s professional debut was limited to just 19 impressive innings at the short-season level, so there’s not yet much pro data to pore over.  His first year of full-season will go a long way in determining his prospect status — there’s a glimmer of high-impact potential here — and he’s probably advanced enough to start next spring at High-A.  For now, though, most have Crawford pegged as a mid-rotation workhorse.  ETA:  2016

3.  Devon Travis, 2B:  Scouting reports on Travis are not glowing — they suggest that he’ll struggle at the plate in the upper levels, and that he’s a candidate to fizzle out before he ever sniffs the bigs.  Clearly, I’m not sold on that thought.  After he hit .351/.418/.518 with 48 XBH (16 HR) and 22 SB in 576 PA between Low-A and High-A, I’m having hard time looking past the on-paper production.  Not one of his tools stands out — they’re all kinda fringy-average-ish — but it’s impossible to deny the results so far, and in a weak Tigers farm system, he claims a lofty spot in the top-10.  The 22-year-old will step up to Double-A in 2014, where the Tigers hope he’ll continue to prove the scouts wrong.  ETA:  2015

4.  Daniel Fields, OF:  Over a full season at Doulbe-A Erie, Fields batted .284/.356/.435 with 10 homers and 24 stolen bases.  There isn’t enormous upside here, but there’s a power/speed combo that could make him into a Alejandro De Aza-type outfielder at the big league level.  The 22-year-old will step up to Triple-A in 2014, ready for a big league opportunity as soon as one presents itself.  ETA:  Late 2014

5.  Jake Thompson, RHP:  Thompson had impressive results in his full-season debut, posting a 3.13 ERA, a 1.33 WHIP, and a K/9 at 9.8 across 16 starts at Low-A West Michigan.  The 19-year-old features a plus slider, which is easily his best weapon.  He also chucks a two-seamer with good sink, as well as a changeup that has potential.  When discussing Thompson, though, it’s impossible to ignore his size (6-4, 235), which has him profiling as a durable mid-rotation arm.  He’ll start next season at High-A, and he could be ready for the upper levels before year’s end.  ETA:  2016

6.  Steven Moya, OF:  Moya’s raw power grades out as well as any prospect’s, but there’s currently a large gap between the power potential and the in-game utility of that tool.  The 22-year-old homered 12 times in 93 games at the High-A level, posting a slash line at .255/.296/.433.  The hit tool will have to progress significantly if Moya’s considerable tools are to ever translate into measurable success.  Granted, it’s unlikely, but if everything clicks, there’s easy 30+ HR potential.  ETA:  2015

7.  Kevin Ziomek, RHP:  A second round pick out of Vanderbilt, Ziomek is touted for a promising three-pitch arsenal (FB, CB, CH), which impressed greatly during the summer of 2012.  That arsenal took a step back during the 2013 college season, and the Tigers opted to limit his pro debut to only 8 IP across 4 New York-Penn League starts.  There’s still plenty of optimism around this 21-year-old, who could be one of the best steals of the 2012 draft class should his stuff return to where it was just one year ago.  ETA:  2016

8.  Corey Knebel, RHP:  Knebel was the 39th overall pick this past June.  The 21-year-old out of Texas was one of the preeminent closers in college ball, and brings a fastball/curve combo that should be MLB-ready before 2015.  It’ll be interesting to see how aggressively Detroit pushes him through the next levels — Knebel hasn’t appeared above Low-A yet, but a Double-A assignment next spring is not out of the question.  ETA:  2015

9.  Austin Schotts, OF:  A third round pick in 2012, Schotts played in 121 games between short-season-A and Low-A in 2013, posting .212/.278/.277 line along the way.  You might be thinking to yourself, “that’s a pretty cruddy line”, and indeed it is.  But Schotts only turned 20 last month, and scouts believe his hit tool and on-base ability will take strides as he matures.  Of course, he’ll need to make contact quite a bit more often in order to make that happen (35.2% K-rate at Low-A).  It’s also worth noting that the center fielder can fly (31 SB in 2013).  He’s likely to return to the Midwest League next spring.  ETA:  2017

10.  Eugenio Suarez, SS:  In 136 games between High-A and Double-A, Suarez posted a .264/.347/.396 line to go along with 46 XBH (10 HR).  The 22-year-old should carve out a career in the bigs based on the merit of his glove, but there’s not a lot of upside at the plate, and therefore, not much fantasy intrigue.  Still, he makes the list because he could develop into an above-average hitting shortstop, and also because this system kinda sucks.  ETA:  2015

From Around The Web

  1. Gregorius Chant says:
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    Not much to say about the Tigers system. However, I love the Minor League Preview series. Great read! I appreciate your thoughts regarding Castellanos.

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      @Gregorius Chant: Thanks! We’ll keep these posts coming every Wednesday — Atlanta Braves are next.

  2. Sky

    Sky says:
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    I rarely comment on your posts, Scott, but wanted you to know I appreciate them. You rock! But you knew that already.

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      @Sky: Thanks, bruh. I figured a few Avisail name-drops would draw you in… UNRELATED: Sproles or Mike James this week?

      • Sky

        Sky says:
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        @Scott Evans: Man, Sproles is getting ugly which is crazy. I think I’ll take the volume of James and hope for a late junk time TD.

        • Scott Evans

          Scott Evans says:
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          @Sky: Noted. I appreciate your thoughts, buddy…

  3. itsfun says:
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    I think you left out Perez and Collins. Perez may be the starting 2nd basemen in Detroit next season and Collins may be a utility outfielder type with the Tigers next season.

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      @itsfun: I’m ranking from a fantasy perspective & Perez has below-average offensive profile at 2B… a great defender, but there’s almost no fantasy appeal. Collins was closer to making the list, but I don’t really see the upside… good AVG & almost no pop from a utility OF isn’t a skill set I look for in the fantasy game.

      • goodfold2 says:
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        @Scott Evans: john jay is owned by people simply due to playing on the STL team. this dude could be similar.

        • Scott Evans

          Scott Evans says:
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          @goodfold2: True. Still, kinda speaks loudly about how thin this system is if we’re talking about ranking a guy with John Jay upside…

  4. The Thumb says:
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    I remember reading an SI piece on Vanderbilt pitching which touched on Ziomek. Should his stuff return his ceiling seems like it could be pretty high.

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      @The Thumb: Yeah, definitely some upside if he gets that fastball working in the mid-upper 90s once again. He’ll be one to keep an eye on early next spring…

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