Detroit Tigers 2011 Minor League Review
Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America:
2011 (25) | 2010 (27) | 2009 (28) | 2008 (27) | 2007 (14) | 2006 (13) | 2005 (29) | 2004 (22)
2011 Affiliate Records
MLB: [95-67] AL Central
AAA: [67-77] International League – Toledo
AA: [67-75] Eastern League – Erie
A+: [64-74] Florida State League – Lakeland
A: [70-69] Midwest League – West Michigan
A(ss): [39-35] New York Penn League – Connecticut
The Run Down
2011 didn’t deplete the Tigers pipeline too terribly, as most of their top guys are still around. Dan Schlereth had a nice year out of the bullpen for the Tigers, and a few others (Sizemore, Furbush) made impacts with other big league clubs after being traded. The shuffling, though, didn’t do much to alter the complexion of the farm system. Offensively, Detroit is pretty well set for 2012. There could be a void in left field if Delmon Young signs elsewhere, but I imagine they’d try to fill that slot with an impact bat via free agency, rather than through their system. The Tigers will, however, have an opening in their starting rotation. And while it appears that top prospect Jacob Turner has a firm grip on that role, there are a number of promising starters in Detroit’s minor leagues and it isn’t fair to rule anyone out just yet.
Arizona Fall League Players – Salt River Rafters
Players of Interest
There’s still a possibility that Turner will be back in AAA to start 2012, but it seems more likely that he’ll begin the 2012 season in the Detroit rotation. His stuff isn’t as overwhelming as you might expect from the organization’s top prospect, but he mixes four pitches well and displays advanced command. Suffice to say, Turner will make an impact in 2012 and should be considered in all formats on draft day.
Crosby has progressed rather slowly due to injury/surgery. But the 23-year-old lefty bounced back nicely in 2011, pitching 130+ innings at AA. His command is a very shaky and he definitely needs to spend some time at AAA, but if he can cut down on the walks (5.26 BB/9 in 2011) and continue to keep balls in the park, he could get a chance at starts during some point in 2012, especially if Turner struggles.
Oliver will also be in the mix as a possible 5th starter in 2012. The lefty might have the best fastball (93-95) among Detroit’s prospects at SP, and his effortless delivery only serves to accentuate already ample velocity. Oliver is a fly ball pitcher, which can be an issue, but Comerica is spacious enough to alleviate most of that concern.
A couple of things are holding Strieby back: an atrocious K% (30.7% at AAA in 2011), and Miggy Cabrera. Detroit has experimented with him in left field, but there’s little doubt that Strieby is a liability anywhere other than 1B or DH. If the Tigers do not retain Delmon Young, and if Strieby can balance his K/BB and maintain his power (19 HR in 2011), Detroit might be forced to consider him.
His fantasy relevance is likely not until 2013, but as Detroit’s most exciting hitting prospect, I feel compelled to mention him. With a beautifully level swing to go along with quick hands, the Tigers are hoping that Castellanos will start turning doubles into homers at High-A (or AA) in 2012 – he had 36 doubles and only 7 HR in 2011 at Low-A. He hits the ball hard, though (.402 BABIP), and he’ll definitely be an interesting prospect to keep an eye on.
Smyly doesn’t have the stuff that Turner, Crosby or Oliver do, but I love the fact that his last name lacks all traditional vowels. He’s also got superior command than the aforementioned, to go along with well-refined secondary pitches.
Detroit moved Voss to a starting role in 2011, and the change appears to have been effective. In just about 150 IP between A+ and AA, Voss showed nice command with a K/BB right about 3. The innings increase is concerning (just 67.1 IP in 2010), but Voss’s slider is advanced and can miss bats at any level. Keep an eye on him as a dark horse for starts in the 5th spot of Detroit’s rotation.
Below is an MLB-ready lefty with repertoire featuring four pitches (fastball, cutter, curveball & changeup), which he mixes well. He most probably fits in with the Detroit bullpen in 2012, but he’s a career starter (including two starts with the Tigers in ’11) and could be a safe option for the 5th starter spot if guys ahead of him falter.