If your holiday wish list included a whatever minor league system comprised mostly of right-handed pitching prospects, then strap the eff in and thank Santy Claus for the Detroit Tigers. Speaking of which, what’s the hot gift this year? When I was a youngster I would get pretty jazzed if there was a Starting Lineup figure under the tree. I had all the greats…Randall Cunningham, Reggie White, Mike Schmidt, Von Hayes, and of course Steve “Bedrock” Bedrosian. Naturally, I didn’t know you aren’t supposed to take them out of their original packaging, so they ended up in violent skirmishes with Han Solo, Skeletor, and The Ultimate Warrior. Hey! I wonder if any of these Tigers prospects will end up with their own action figure? Nah!
1. Casey Mize, RHP | Age: 21 | ETA: 2020
Sometimes kids have to eat their brussels sprouts. Sometimes writers have to talk about pitching prospects. Sometimes I have to use Google to make sure it’s ‘brussels’ and not ‘brussel’. We live in a magical age of information. Here’s the info I have on Mize. He’s sitting on a double-plus splitter with a plus heater, slider, and control. The Kitties took him 1st overall in the 2018 draft. He’s polished enough to reach the majors by the end of this year. I guess this is the equivalent of brussels sprouts covered in butter, cheese, and hot sauce. The splitter is the hot sauce. All kidding aside…he has legit fantasy ace upside.
2. Christin Stewart, OF | Age: 24 | ETA: 2019
Do you like power? Me too! Do you like it when it comes with a suspicious strikeout rate but a solid walk rate? You know, the old three-outcome jawn? Well here ya go. Christin Stewart. Steamer is actually projecting him for 18 dingers in 420 plate appearances in 2019. That’s some cheap power in redrafts, especially deeper leagues or AL-only formats. If that wasn’t enough to get you going, he’s currently projected to hit second in the lineup as the only pure lefty bat. Holy cow…I think I just talked myself into drafting Christin Stewart with my last pick!
3. Matt Manning, RHP | Age: 20 | ETA: 2020
Manning’s 154 strikeouts in 117 innings this year stood out to me the most. He has three plus pitches, but turning them into punch-outs is what I’m all about. Call me old fashioned, but traditional fantasy leagues seem to be about the the homer and the strikeout. If you’re getting those, you’re doing alright. Manning’s strikeout rate worked out to almost 12 per nine across three minor league levels in 2018. Nummers.
4. Daz Cameron, OF | Age: 21 | ETA: 2019
If Cameron had just a little more pop in his bat he’d be a tier above, but right now it’s looking more like an 8-12 homer/15-20 steal profile with an average that won’t make you cry (think .260-.275). He did reach Triple-A in 2018, and that’s where he’ll start the coming season. Injuries to Gerber or Jones might open the door early, but most likely he’s a late 2019 arrival. The approach is the biggest factor to eye this coming year – he hit just .211 in 15 games at Toledo after hitting .285 in 53 games at Erie.
5. Parker Meadows, OF | Age: 19 | ETA: 2022
Parker Meadows sounds more like a place to schedule a tee time than a fantasy prospect, but here we be. Meadows (at this point) actually has more upside in his bat than Cameron, but he’s the riskier/less proven commodity at nineteen years old. The ceiling is the proverbial 20/20 threat from the left side of the plate. Floor…he ends up just like Cameron in three years, which isn’t bad. If my window isn’t open this year, I’m gambling on Meadows over Cameron ten out of ten times.
6. Willi Castro, SS | Age: 21 | ETA: 2019
Castro is a switch-hitting shortstop with below-average power and an above-average hit tool. We seem to get a lot of those at this point in the rankings. He reached Triple-A at 21 and should begin the 2019 season there. He’ll likely need a full year of polish though, so I wouldn’t expect him up before September. I like Castro as a safe depth piece in deeper dynasty leagues. Another name to look at in a similar mold is Isaac Paredes, who has a bit more pop and less speed, but will likely move off of short.
7. Franklin Perez, RHP | Age: 20 | ETA: 2020
Perez has been kind of all over the place with injuries and trades, but he has a plus fastball and curve combo that should yield some strikeouts as a mid-rotation arm. He was part of the return for Verlander (along with Daz Cameron) and traditional lists will probably rank him much higher than this. I’m a little iffy on the injury history and to me the ceiling just isn’t worth the risk.
8. Alex Faedo, RHP | Age: 23 | ETA: 2019
Faedo looks a lot like a mid-rotation starter who could have some redraft value later this summer. The 2018 first-rounder’s slider is his best offering, and the control isn’t terrible (3.3 BB/9) but there’s not a lot of strikeout potential. To find out how I feel about strikeouts scroll up about five inches.
9. Beau Burrows, RHP | Age: 22 | ETA: 2019
You’re all aboard that right-handed pitcher train I alluded to. How does it feel? Kinda wanna hurl, right? Don’t worry, we’re getting off soon. Burrows is Faedo with a touch less control and a touch more strikeout potential. Wait, Mike, you said strikeouts are good, so why isn’t he ranked ahead of Faedo? First of all, sit down and stop waving that pistol. Second, he reads like a bullpen guy to me, and not a high-leverage one.
10. Dustin Peterson, OF | Age: 24 | ETA: 2019
Peterson is pretty much an average Joe across the board as far as tools go (12-15 homer power, .260 average). I’m mentioning him here since he’s basically a call away from the bigs and could end up with some deeper redraft value if Stewart pees down his leg in the spring or early summer. He was with the Braves for the last three years before the Tigers claimed him off waivers this past September.