I think public perception sees this system as strong–a club on the rise–and it is, especially at the top, but if you squint at this snapshot, gaze into its depths like a magic-eye poster, it morphs into a donut. It’s tasty, so you don’t think much about the big hole in the middle. By which I mean there appears to be a half-decade gap between it’s top group and the next little wave of potential impact. No need to linger on that today though. This team has the best one-two punch of top prospects in baseball, so it’s all rainbows, Rileys, and Tork-talk in Tiger-land, and it should be. We’re a bit starved for positrons on the planet today, and there’s plenty of talent here to discuss, so let’s get started.
Format: Position Player | Age on 4/1/2022 | Highest level played | ETA
1. OF Riley Greene | 21 | AAA | 2022
I don’t really care about the sequencing of these top two. If you prefer a well-rounded type with defensive upside who looks relatively shift-proof, you’ll probably want Greene over Torkelson, who remains the preferred option if your primary motivator is power. Because I play the way I do and tend to accrue balanced assets with speed, Tork would probably be the better fit on all my teams. Anywho, Greene is a smooth 6’3” 200 lb left handed hitter who looks like he was born to play baseball, something made ever more apparent as he climbs the ladder. As a 20-year-old in AAA, Greene slashed .308/.400/.553 with 8 HR and 4 SB in 40 games. That’s superstar stuff if mapping futures by age-to-level math. Here’s a link to Grey’s thoughts in Riley Greene, 2022 Fantasy Outlook.
2. 3B Spencer Torkelson | 22 | AAA | 2022
Tork is a demolitions expert at 6’1” 220 lbs with explosive rotation through the zone that costs him little if any barrel control because he’s so strong through his core. He’s especially adept at letting the ball travel and tracking it deep into the zone then dropping the hammer on pitches he can drive to the right side. He’s so good at lifting the ball that his grounders tend to be miss-hits that make for some easy (shift-able) outs, but that’s the only issue so far, and it’s a non-issue in real time. Chances are he’ll hit for power early and add average and OBP throughout his first few seasons. Click here to see Grey glimpsing the future in Spencer Torkelson, 2022 Fantasy Outlook.
3. SS Ryan Kreidler | 24 | AAA | 2022
The thing about Kreidler, aside from the swing change discussed here with David Laurila of Fangraphs, is that he’s the last train to Clarksville for a long time in Detroit. Sure, he might be blocked at the spots that seem to fit him best (short and third), but the next potential everyday player on the list is a teenager in the DSL. Even if he struggles, the Tigers will find opportunities for the 6’4” 208 lb right handed hitter with blossoming pop. In 129 games across two levels last year, Kreidler slashed .270/.349/.454 with 22 HR and 15 SB, but he got better throughout the year, slashing .304/.407/.519 with 7 HR and 5 SB in 41 games at AAA, where his 14.8%/24.1% BB/K rate hints as plate skills that should help him adjust at the big league level.
4. RHP Jackson Jobe | 19 | NA | 2025
A 6’2” 190 lb prep powerhouse (9-0 with a 0.13 ERA and 122/5 K/BB rate in 51.2 innings as a senior), Jobe was considered by many to be the best high school pitcher in a long time. His slider is already a double-plus pitch, featuring spin rates in the rarified 3,000 RPM range. He’s a great athlete with plus balance on the mound who repeats his delivery well–a foundation built from the ground up that helps his pitches tunnel: a mid-90’s heater with ride, a high-70’s curveball that looks average already, and a changeup that he hasn’t had to use much but gets generous grades from scouts who’ve seen it. The Tigers shook up the draft a bit by passing on Marcelo Mayer, Jordan Lawler and Khalil Watson, among others, but their scouting and development team reportedly fell in love with Jobe and trusted their process,which helped net them a falling first-round-talent in Ty Madden at 32nd overall.
5. SS Cristian Santana | 18 | DSL | 2025
Signed for a club-record $2.95 million bonus in January this year, Santana spent his season in the Dominican Summer League and looked ready for the next challenge, slashing .269/.421/.520 with 9 HR and 12 SB in 54 games. He’s listed at 6’0” 165 lbs and should play shortstop the whole way up the chain with a solid chance to stick there as a big leaguer. As I’ve said in some other rundowns, this international class–and the one before it–feel like fertile ground for dynasty investments. Every one of them could ride an early season hot streak up the May escalator.
6. RHP Ty Madden | 22 | NCAA | 2024
Will be interesting to see what Detroit does with Madden, who added muscle, found new velocity and refined his approach throughout his college career, particularly during his final season with Texas that saw him throw 113.2 innings with 137 strikeouts and a 2.45 ERA. Here’s a link to prospect Hobbs giving us the goods (and video links) on Madden way back in March, when he was harnessing the added muscle and throwing 97 and hunting strikeouts atop the zone, something he’d previously left mostly to his off-speed spinning down or off the plate. If this in-season development holds, Madden has a case for the third spot on this list.
7. C Dillon Dingler | 23 | AA | 2023
Had some fun Chris Farley thoughts while writing this blurb. “Quit playin with your Dingey!” Good times. Man, do we lose some talented humans young. Anywho, this talented young human stands (squats, mostly) 6’3”, weighs 210 pounds, and plays baseball right handed.
The grind of this 30-team quest is getting to me, dear readers. 227 player profiles once I’m done with Dillon’s. I’m sorry this is happening in your boy’s paragraph, family Dingler.
Existential check-in acknowledged and temporarily in the rear view mirror, we press on. Dingler ripped 12 dongs in 85 games across three levels in 2021 but struggled in AA, slashing .202/.264/.314 in 50 games. He played well enough in High-A to warrant continued optimism, but he could be on a long, slow road to fringe fantasy relevance.
8. 3B Colt Keith | 20 | A+ | 2024
A two-way high school player with a shot to go either direction as a pro, Keith is a strong left-side defender who’s arm will play in an outfield corner and give him some options on his climb. The 2020 5th round pick was stunningly effective in A ball, posting a .436 OBP and .320 batting average. He hit just one home run in 44 games, which speaks to his smooth line-drive swing from the left side, where he can let the ball travel and slash it to the opposite field with ease. At 6’3” 211 lbs, Keith will likely add power simply from learning the nuances of leverage and taking a few more risks in firing his base early and trusting his hands to adjust late. I wouldn’t want to mess with him though. As long as he’s getting on base almost half the time, whatever he’s doing is fine for now.
9. OF Roberto Campos | 18 | CPX | 2025
Campos signed for $2.85 million in July 2019, the biggest bones Detroit had given an international amateur at the time. Listed at 6’3” 200 lbs, Campos generates plus power and good foot-speed and flexed both in the Florida Complex League, where he slashed .228/.316/.441 with 8 HR and 3 SB in 39 games. He’s a long way off with a little too much swing-and-miss in his game to get crazy excited just yet, but he’s an interesting guy to track and fits in the same bucket as Santana in that 2022 will be the first real chance he has to move the dynasty-stock needle.
10. 3B Izaac Pacheco | 19 | CPX | 2025
I’m going all upside with this last spot. Nobody else really demands the shine, so Pachedo’s plus power from the left side and big signing bonus ($2.75 million) take it down. He and Madden represent the draft-budget windfall generated from the club sticking with Jobe at No. 3 overall in the 2021 draft. It’s a fun game to play, I guess, passing on better talents early to draft better talents late, but it’s another window into what’s not ideal about baseball, so let’s move right on past that for now. Only good news today, and the good news is Pacheco has a lot more power than he showed in 30 games in the Florida Complex League, where he hit just one home run and slugged .330, which might be enough to discourage the club from sending him to Low-A to begin the 2022 season, though I doubt that. The current regime in Detroit tends to push early and often. As soon as a guy shows he’s up to the task, or about 20 percent better than league average for a month or so, he tends to move up, which means the stats throughout this system are generally not great, but the team has its vision and sticks to it, and the sink-or-swim method has certainly helped Riley Greene, who might’ve spent 2021 in High-A in some systems.
Thanks for reading!
I’m @theprospectitch on Twitter.