Detroit Tigers 2009 Minor Review
Overall farm talent ranking via Baseball America:
2009 (28) | 2008 (29) | 2007 (14) | 2006 (13) | 2005 (29) | 2004 (22)
Record of Major League Team and Affiliate
Majors: 86 – 77 (AL Central)
AAA: 73 – 70 (International League)
AA: 71 – 70 (Eastern League)
A+: 55 – 75 (Florida League)
A: 81 – 59 (Midwest League)
A(ss): 35 – 39 (New York / Pennsylvania League)
R: 29 – 30 (Gulf League)
The Run Down
As you all know, Detroit epically choked in the final week of the season. Seeing how the Twins were swept out of the playoffs by the Yankees, it’s fair to say the Tigers saved face by missing their chance for the same outcome. But what about the pieces to get to the brink of the playoffs? The trade for Jarrod Washburn sent one promising pitcher (Mauricio Robles – #24 ranked prospect) and serviceable arm (Luke French) away; acquiring Aubrey Huff cost them another top ranked pitching prospect (#10 Brett Jacobson), granted he was having a pretty marginal year. These trades didn’t cost them their farm, but it didn’t help their playoff push or their future.
With an aging roster (29.9 average age), several key free agents (Placido Polanco, Adam Everett, Washburn, Fernando Rodney, and Brandon Lyon), and the psychological trauma caused by their collapse, the Tigers have a lot of work cut out for them. There isn’t much internal help at shortstop, and only have low minors pitchers who have done above average. Of their major league ready talent, only Scott Sizemore, second base, has even excelled in the minors this year. They have serviceable call ups, but no immediate impact players like they did this year with Rick Porcello (*tangent – I always want to call him Rick Portabello, but I hate mushrooms.). Porcello had a below average strikeout rate (4.7 K/9), good control (2.7 BB/9), and kept the ball on the ground (1.23 GO/AO) this year. Nothing great, but he will need a good defense behind him to do that well again next year. Seeing as the Tigers called him up this year from Advanced-A, there is a possibility of them calling up Casey Crosby next year, who played at Single-A. Having the front half of your rotation consisting of Justin Verlander, Edwin Jackson (will he/can he pitch like 2009 in ’10?) and Rick Porcello is a good thing, but with Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen aging faster than Jose Contreras when he gained a few years with a single sentence, they may have to spend more money in free agency to keep their team above .500 next year because their minors won’t.
Players of Interest
*A number prior to a players name indicates Baseball America’s prospect ranking.
#7 – Scott Sizemore | 2B | AA/AAA | 24 | totals – .308/.390/.503 | 520 AB | .195 ISO | 21/4 SB/CS | 95:64 K:BB
Hitting well at both Double and Triple-A should have Tigers fans excited (though his BABIP was .347 – above average). He is essentially Placido Polanco with the bat – meaning he doesn’t strikeout much or hit many homers, but hits for decent average. He is an average defender and runner. The only other thing to note is he broke his hamate bone (the power sapping wrist injury) in 2008 and only fully recovered this year. If the Tigers don’t sign Polanco, look for Polanco Jr., I mean Scott Sizemore, to get a chance to start at second base next spring.
Brennan Boesch | RF | AA | 24 | .275/.318/.510 | 527 AB | .235 ISO | 11/2 SB/CS | 127:33 K:BB | .318 BABIP
Because of an aging outfield and the fact that Boesch finally broke out this year, makes him worthy to note. He has never hit more than 10 homers in a season or had a full season of a OPS over .700, strikes out too much, doesn’t walk enough, but his numbers weren’t really inflated by BABIP either making this year seem a bit more legit. Look for him to play at Triple-A next year and be a feasible call-up mid-summer if he continues his power hitting ways.
#9 – Dusty Ryan | C | AAA | 24 | .257/.359/.455 | 202 AB | .198 ISO | 64:29 K:BB
#20 – Alex Avila | C | AA | 22 | .264/.365/.450 | 329 AB | .185 ISO | 77:52 K:BB
I want to combined these two catchers because they both got called up this September. Avila went 17 for 61 with 5 homers and Ryan went 4 for 26 with no homers, but went 14 for 44 with two homers last year. Avila is a doubles hitter and a below average defender as he only recently became a catcher (the switch happened in 2008). Ryan is the better defender, but not quite the hitter Avila is. Look for both of them to duke it out for a back-up role in the spring.
#4 – Casey Crosby | SP (LHP) | A | 20 | 10.1 K/9 | 4.1 BB/9 | 104 2/3 IP | 2.41 ERA | 1.13 WHIP | .290 BABIP 50.2 GB% | 36.4 FB% | .203 AVE against
Here is my StU article on him that I wrote at the end of September. I like him a bit more after I noticed that Porcello was only in Advanced-A when he made the majors with worse peripherals. I woudn’t be surprised to see him ranked the Tigers number one prospect going into 2010. Plus, he is a power throwing lefty.
Brayan Villareal | RP (RHP) | 22 | A | 10.3 K/9 | 3 BB/9 | 103 1/3 IP | 2.87 ERA | 1.15 WHIP | .324 BABIP | 40.9 GB% | 38.1 FB% | 11 LD% | .230 AVE against
Great strikeout rate, average walk rate, nothing that makes you question his numbers. He’ll probably get promoted to Advanced-A and Double-A next year. If he keeps similar numbers to these next year, he’ll be on everyone’s sleeper list for 2011 and 2010 September call-ups list.
#11 – Casey Fien | RP (RHP) | 25 | AAA | 10.2 K/9 | 2.3 BB/9 | 58 IP | 3.41 ERA | 1.14 WHIP | .310 BABIP | 35.9 GB% | 42.3 FB% | 18.6 LD% | .262 AVE against
Relievers stats are harder to predict year in and year out as they have such a small sample size. He supposedly has a great 91 to 92 MPH sinker, but his ground ball percentage would lead us to think otherwise. He may get a chance to pitch out of the Tigers pen next year with Rodney and/or Lyon leaving/not getting signed. His stuff is nothing to scoff at, but he isn’t an extreme ground ball pitcher or a power pitcher. I would expect him to struggle early if he makes the major league roster out of spring training.
#8 – Cody Satterwhite | RP (RHP) | 22 | AA | 9.5 K/9 | 4.9 BB/9 | 49 1/3 IP | 3.47 ERA | 1.48 WHIP | .318 BABIP | 46.8 GB% | 35.3 FB% | 16.5 LD% | .250 AVE against
Another reliever, but he has a power fastball that ranges between 94 and 97 mph with late movement. He also has a slider and a change up but cannot control either of them very well. Speaking of control, he doesn’t have much of that working for him. He should be promoted to Triple-A next year with serious consideration for the major league roster only if there are injuries or in September.