There are organizations flush with prospects that you’d like to have on your fantasy roster. Then there are organizations like the Tigers. Not to hate on the Motor City Kitties, but finding a spec I can get excited about on this farm is a little bit like this. Even with trades, the players they brought in are mostly in the pitching category, namely Michael Fulmer and recent grads Daniel Norris and Matt Boyd. Their first round pick in 2015 also went to an arm, and a prep arm to boot, meaning it will be a while before he’s making any kind of fantasy impact. That said, your dear friend Mike is still going to trot out fifteen names and plow forward. Let’s just rip this thing off like a Band-Aid and on Sunday we can chat White Sox specs over turkey sandwiches.
Tier 2: Floorboreds
Lacking the “star” upside. They might have some warts, but their ETAs are on the horizon.
JaCoby Jones, SS | Age: 23| ETA: 2017 | 2015 Level: A+/AA
2015 Stats: 594 PA, .257/.322/.415, 16 HR, 25 SB, 8% BB, 28% K
JaCoby with the capital C might be the closest thing we have to a fantasy prospect in this system. Scouts don’t seem to think he has the chops to stick at shortstop, which is the bad news. Jones does provide an enticing package of power and speed though, which of course is the good news…strikeout rate be damned.
Steven Moya, OF | Age: 24 | ETA: 2016 | 2015 Level: AAA/MLB
2015 Stats: 577 PA, .243/.283/.431, 23 HR, 5 SB, 5% BB, 30% K
Moya is what he is at this point, a power-hitting corner outfielder who strikes out too much and whose floor is low enough to be scary. He’s huge, but still has a bit of speed. There’s a ton of raw power here, and that’s fun to dream on, but there’s legit concern that the contact issues don’t get resolved and we never see it realized in games. The upside is 30+ homers in the bigs with a low average and a handful of steals. The downside is a bench bat that shuffles between Toledo and Detroit.
Wynton Bernard, OF | Age: 25 | ETA: 2016 | 2015 Level: AA
2015 Stats: 587 PA, .301/.352/.408, 4 HR, 43 SB, 6% BB, 12% K
If the Tigers writeup is putting you to sleep at this point, then Bernard might at least wave some smelling salts in your general direction. He’s hit over .300 and stolen more than 40 bags in each of his past two minor league seasons, and while he is old as hell for a Double-A prospect, he’s versatile in the outfield, gets on base, and can fly. He could be a fantasy type in the mold of Jarrod Dyson, who never really gets a starting gig but spells the starters and pinch runs.
Michael Fulmer, RHP | Age: 22 | ETA: 2017 | 2015 Level: A+/AA
2015 Stats: 124.2 IP, 2.24 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 9.0 K/9
Fulmer was the main return for Yoenis Cespedes. The righty put up nice numbers in 2015 at the Double-A level, and going forward he looks like your typical mid-rotation starter with solid command and two plus pitches in his fastball and slider. It’s not the sexiest of profiles, but he should be owned in most dynasty formats and he’ll top most of the Tigers lists heading into 2016.
Jefry Marte, 1B/3B | Age: 24 | ETA: 2016 | 2015 Level: AAA/MLB
2015 Stats: 399 PA, .275/.341/.487, 15 HR, 8 SB, 8% BB, 16% K
If you’re not a big believer in Miguel Cabrera’s health, then Marte gets more interesting as a temporary fill-in. Good plate discipline numbers, average pop, and a tick of speed make the 24-year-old worth a peek in deep formats. He can also play a little third base, which gives both the Tigers and fantasy owners more avenues into the lineup.
Dixon Machado, SS | Age: 23 | ETA: 2016 | 2015 Level: AAA/MLB
2015 Stats: 567 PA, .261/.313/.332, 4 HR, 15 SB, 6% BB, 15% K
The name Machado should now be synonymous with fantasy stardom thanks to Manny, but this cat is pretty far down the road from the Machado Man. It’s a boring profile but one that would probably be useful in only formats thanks to the shortstop eligibility, plate discipline, and speed. This is a typical glove-first player that you’ll see higher on the traditional lists.
Jairo Labourt, LHP | Age: 21 | ETA: 2017 | 2015 Level: A+
2015 Stats: 116 IP, 5.12 ERA, 4.6 BB/9, 8.1 K/9
Labourt would be really interesting if he could just get the control part of his game figured out. He’s a big lefty with a good fastball, slider, and change, but there’s just not enough upside to put up with the risk he brings by walking five batters every nine innings. Deep dynasty leagues, sure, but that’s about it.
Kevin Ziomek, LHP | Age: 23 | ETA: 2017 | 2015 Level: A+
2015 Stats: 154.2 IP, 3.43 ERA, 2.0 BB/9, 8.3 K/9
Ziomek progressed through another level in 2015, improving his walk rate but also striking out less batters and getting hit around a bit more. If the command and control stay in check I could see him being a 4th/5th starter type that makes for decent dynasty league filler. He probably doesn’t end up being much more than that since he seems to lack a true plus pitch.
Spencer Turnbull, RHP | Age: 23 | ETA: 2017 | 2015 Level: A
2015 Stats: 116.2 IP, 3.01 ERA, 4.0 BB/9, 8.2 K/9
Turnbull is best left to the really deep formats or ones in which relievers carry more weight. The control gets a below average grade and a lot of scouts seem to think he’s going to end up in the bullpen. There’s the chance he ends up in a rotation, but outside of his heater he doesn’t have the plus stuff to be much more than a #3 starter.
Buck Farmer, RHP | Age: 24 | ETA: 2016 | 2015 Level: AAA/MLB
2015 Stats: 86.2 IP, 4.15 ERA, 2.6 BB/9, 7.9 K/9
Farmer squeaked under the rookie eligibility requirements by a third of an inning. He’s appearing not because he has some amazing pitching ability and fantasy value, but rather because he’s going to get a chance to start accumulating innings in the rotation right out of spring training.
Tier 3: Long Shot Lolitas
Sexy ceilings, but these youngsters also come with risks and distant ETAs.
Derek Hill, OF | Age: 19 | ETA: 2018 | 2015 Level: A
2015 Stats: 235 PA, .238/.305/.314, 0 HR, 25 SB, 9% BB, 19% K
Wipe the vomit off your screen for a minute so you can read this guy’s blurb, because he might actually end up having some fantasy value. It’s not spectacular, but Hill has the upside to be an everyday center fielder who hits at the top of a lineup and steals 30+ bags. Outside of Jones and Moya, this is really the only must-own profile in most dynasty leagues, and even then you’re looking at a ‘maybe’ in shallower formats thanks to the long ETA.
Mike Gerber, OF | Age: 23 | ETA: 2018 | 2015 Level: A
2015 Stats: 583 PA, .292/.355/.468, 13 HR, 16 SB, 8% BB, 17% K
Gerber is going to make a solid floorbored one day. He doesn’t have a standout tool and probably tops out as a fourth outfielder, but there’s just enough pop and speed to matter. The plate discipline and average hit tool raise his floor, making him one of the safer bets in this group.
Christin Stewart, OF | Age: 21 | ETA: 2018 | 2015 Level: Rk/A(ss)/A
2015 Stats: 301 PA, .285/.372/.508, 10 HR, 5 SB, 9% BB, 23% K
The Tigers selected Stewart 34th overall in 2015, and being a college bat it might not take as long for him to develop as some of the others in this group. There’s at least average power and the chance that he carves out a role as an everyday corner outfielder that kisses 20 dingers. He should see most of his at bats in High-A this season.
Zach Shepherd, 3B | Age: 20 | ETA: 2018 | 2015 Level: A
2015 Stats: 443 PA, .245/.327/.339, 5 HR, 4 SB, 11% BB, 26% K
Shepherd may not have shown it to date, but at just 20 years old there’s probably room for more power to develop. That would come in handy, because a third baseman who only hits 10-15 homers isn’t going to get much fantasy love if it doesn’t also come with a high batting average.
Beau Burrows, RHP | Age: 19 | ETA: 2019 | 2015 Level: Rk
2015 Stats: 28 IP, 1.61 ERA, 3.5 BB/9, 10.6 K/9
Burrows was the Tigers’ first selection in the 2015 draft, and while he’s got a big fastball and curve combo that should give him plenty of strikeout potential, this cat is too far away to sweat in most leagues.