Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2014 (28) | 2013 (27) | 2012 (22) | 2011 (25) | 2010 (27)
2014 Affiliate Records
MLB: [90-72] AL Central
AAA: [69-74] International League – Toledo
AA: [71-71] Eastern League – Erie
A+: [62-75] Florida State League – Lakeland
A: [82-58] Midwest League – West Michigan
A(ss): [42-34] New York-Penn League – Connecticut
The Tigers have a winning team at the major league level, but their farm continues to rank in the bottom third. Nick Castellanos arrived as a big league regular this season. Jake Thompson – considered a top prospect in Detroit’s system – was traded to Texas in the Joakim Soria deal. While there isn’t much impact talent in this top ten, there are a few mid-rotation starters and multiple options at middle infield. Derek Hill was the big name added in the 2014 draft and immediately becomes a top prospect for Detroit.
Top Ten Fantasy Prospects
1. Steven Moya, OF | Age: 23 | ETA: 2015
Moya brings as much fantasy upside as any Detroit prospect thanks to his combination of power and speed. The 23-year-old right fielder was named the Eastern League’s MVP in 2014. The biggest concern is his strikeout percentage, which sat at 27% in 2013 and climbed to 29% in 2014. Moya could see regular time in right field as soon as 2015 depending on how Torii Hunter’s situation pans out. Despite the block by Hunter and the big strikeout numbers, Moya is the best fantasy bat on a relatively thin farm.
2. Derek Hill, OF | Age: 18 | ETA: 2018
This year’s first round pick (23rd overall) is a prototypical center field prospect. He’s athletic, speedy, and at only 18 years old still has time to fill out and develop more pop, even if it’s not the over-the-fence variety. Scouts are already impressed with his defense and raw hit tool, and Baseball America considered him one of the best prep athletes in the 2014 draft class. Hopefully things go more smoothly for Hill than they did for the last prep position player the Tigers selected in the first round – Cameron Maybin (2005).
3. Robbie Ray, LHP | Age: 23 | ETA: 2015
Ray was acquired by the Tigers in the Doug Fister trade with Washington. The 23-year-old southpaw scrapped his curveball after mixed results and replaced it with a slider. Ray already has a fastball with some sink on it and a solid changeup. His ceiling isn’t going to be more than a #3 or #4 starter, but his proximity to the majors and relative low-risk profile make him the best pitching bet in the Tigers’ system. Ray didn’t fare too well in his handful of major league starts in 2014, but he remains one of the internal options to step into the #5 slot in the 2015 rotation. UPDATE: Traded to Arizona
4. Devon Travis, 2B/OF | Age: 23 | ETA: 2015
The first in a group of decent middle infield prospects on the Tigers’ farm, Travis was going to transition to the outfield before he required core muscle surgery this fall. Travis was already one of Detroit’s best prospects, and he continued his success in 2014 with Double-A Erie. There isn’t one tool that really stands out, but rather he does a little bit of everything well. That should help him reach the majors as an everyday starter. Once he gets back on the field, expect the Tigers to continue his transition to the outfield. UPDATE: Traded to Toronto
5. Kevin Ziomek, LHP | Age: 22 | ETA: 2016
I purposely grouped Ziomek and the next two pitchers together since they are similar in both their upside and risk. If you re-ranked the three of them in another order I wouldn’t put up a big fight. Any of the three could end up as a mid-rotation starter or a reliever. Ziomek, however, had a fantastic 2014 in the Midwest League, where he was the best left-handed starter in the league. He was second in strikeouts (152) and held opposing hitters to a .201 batting average. He showed good control and really turned it on in the second half of the season, posting a 2.4 BB/9 and a 13.3 K/9 in July and August.
6. Jonathon Crawford, RHP | Age: 23 | ETA: 2016
Crawford has a little more zip on his fastball than Ziomek, but also doesn’t show the same level of command with all of his pitches, according to scouting reports. The West Michigan rotation was nasty in 2014 with Crawford, Ziomek, and Farmer all having great seasons. It will take more refining as he climbs the minor league ladder, but the former first-rounder has just as good a shot to reach his ceiling as any of the others. He’ll likely get his first taste of Double-A in 2015. UPDATE: Traded to Cincinnati
7. Buck Farmer, RHP | Age: 23 | ETA: 2015
Of the three MWL arms, Baseball America liked Farmer the most this season. His fastball is his best pitch, with a slider and a changeup still developing. While Farmer fared well in the Midwest League, his first taste of the majors in August didn’t go quite as smoothly. Farmer gave up 12 earned runs in just over nine MLB innings before he returned to the minors to finish the season. Like the other two arms mentioned above, Farmer’s upside is limited to a mid-rotation starter. There’s still time to develop those secondary pitches, though, and it’s really hard not to root for a name like Buck Farmer.
8. Javier Betancourt, 2B/SS | Age: 19 | ETA: 2017
Betancourt spent the entire season in the Midwest League, where he was the 11th youngest player in the league at just 19 years old. He makes good contact, hits for some power, and steals a few bases. Nothing flashy – but for a 19-year-old in his first full season there’s a lot to like. The wear and tear may have showed in his .127 August batting average, but overall 2014 was a success. The Tigers gave up another 19-year-old middle infielder named Willy Adames in the David Price trade, but with Betancourt also able to play shortstop and his bat continuing to develop, they may not miss a beat. He’s definitely one to keep an eye on in 2015.
9. Domingo Leyba, 2B | Age: 19 | ETA: 2017
Leyba is still raw at just 19 years old, but he’s another middle infield prospect in the Tigers’ system that does a little bit of everything. He’s a switch hitter that can play both middle infield positions and should add some more pop as he matures. After his promotion, Leyba was one of the youngest players in the Midwest League this season. He more than held his own, hitting .397/.431/.483 with a homer and a steal in 30 games. There is still a lot of development left but it’s easy to get excited about Leyba’s potential. UPDATE: Traded to Arizona
10. Jose Valdez, RHP | Age: 24 | ETA: 2015
Detroit’s bullpen wasn’t exactly the team’s best asset in 2014, but some help may be on the way with Valdez. The 24-year-old has closed out games at each stop of his minor league career. After saving 33 games in 2013, Valdez saved another 18 this season – striking out 66 batters in 57 innings along the way. He improved his walk rate after it ballooned to 6.2 in the 2013 season, but he also posted an ERA over 4.00. It all adds up to a pitcher who may see some high-leverage situations if the Tiger pen continues to flounder, but other than that there’s not too much to get excited about here.