Since joining in 2015, the Tigers’ new managment was given the task of rebuilding what was at that point the worst minor league farm in the league. While the major league team has missed the playoffs two years in a row after late season collapses, the farm is now ranked 8th and that after sending 5 prospects (including 4 ranked in the top 120) for pitcher Jose Fernandez and 2 more to the Giants just to make the finances work.
Let’s take a look at the top 25 prospects in the Detroit Tigers organization:
- LHP Nate Grant
DOB: October 20th, 1994
Acquired: Signed as a minor league free agent on 7/3/15
Stats: 13 games, 3-6, 3.84 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 8.8 K/9, 3.8 BB/9, 109 ERA+, 1.4 WAR in Low A
14 games, 5-1, 3.42 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 8.6 K/9, 3.9 BB/9, 125 ERA+, 0.9 WAR in High A
The Houston native had a productive 2016, pitching over 140 innings and doing a good job at it. The lefty features a 6 pitches repertoire, and while he lives in the very low 90’s the movement on all his pitches helps him keep the ball on the ground (60% GB rate). He also has an elite pickoff movement. While his BB/9 rate is high and he doesn’t have ace-quality stuff, Grant could reach the majors as an inning eater- groundball specialist.
Look for him to start 2017 at the AA level.
- RF Jonathan Amundaray
DOB: May 11th, 1998
Acquired: Traded by New York (AL) for Kyle Lobstein, Ronniel Demorizi on 1/1/16
Stats: 54 games, 2 HRs 9 RBIs, .157/.209/.256, 40 OPS+, -0.8 WAR in Rookie Ball (VSL)
Signed out of Venezuela for a reported $1.5 million in 2014, Amundaray is a fine toolsy athlete though not a baseball player yet. While he impresses scouts with his defense and arm strength (has won Gold Glove awards at right field on his two pro-seasons) his bat is practically non-existent, showing slow bat speed and zero pitch recognition so far.
He’s still very young and coaches like his work ethic and overall makeup so there’s still hope for Amundaray to fulfill his potential.
Though his stats have been poor in the Venezuelan league look for him to be brought stateside on 2017 and play at the GCL.
- RHP Bartholomeu Monserrate
DOB: February 14th, 2000
Acquired: Signed as an international amateur free agent on 7/7/16 ($1.8M signing bonus)
Monserrate is the biggest IFA signing of the current administration. The Venezuela native has a mid-90’s fastball and a good curveball and both are expected to be above average pitches once he grows and starts filling his body.
The Tigers are expected to wait until he gets stronger to put him in professional leagues so it could be a year or two before he starts playing at the VSL.
- LHP Quentin Ramirez
DOB: February 21st, 1996
Acquired: Signed as a minor league free agent on 7/3/16
Stats: 11 games, 3-2, 4.15 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 10.2 K/9, 3.8 BB/9, 122 ERA+, 0.8 WAR in Short Season A
Quentin is one of the few pro players that come from the small island of Aruba.
A small lefty that throws around 95 mph he also has a promising slider and splitter and last year was a good one for him, at age 20 he had a K/9 over 10.
He’s going to be challenged next year in a full season league so keep an eye on him as he could get some helium if he continues to pitch like in 2016.
- RHP Lucas Sims
DOB: May 10th, 1994
Acquired: Traded by Atlanta for J.D. Martinez on 3/1/16
Stats: 19 games, 9-4, 2.53 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 8.2 K/9, 1.8 BB/9, 170 ERA+, 2.9 WAR in High A
9 games, 1-6, 6.85 ERA, 1.59 WHIP, 7.2 K/9, 4.3 BB/9, 62 ERA+, 0.0 WAR in AA
The former first rounder has had a very slow career so far. Pitching at the A level for the 4th consecutive year he finally showed flashes of potential, earning an All-Star selection and coming 2nd in the FSL Pitcher of the Year award. But the Tigers decided to challenge him at the AA level and it was a complete disaster, so much that the team decided to take him out of the playoff roster.
Time is ticking for Lucas, look for him to begin the year at the AA level and hopefully he can hold his ground there; the training wheels have come off and there’s no turning back for him now.
- RHP Duane Cooper
DOB: October 22nd, 1993
Acquired: Drafted Round 9, Pick 265 on 2015
Stats: 32 games, 5-1, 1.79 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 11.3 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, 234 ERA+, 1.8 WAR in Low A
The Midwest League Pitcher of the Year, Cooper is a former college pitcher that has done nothing but dominate opposing batters at will in his pro career. A forkball and an extraordinary cutter are his tools and while his 2-pitch repertoire might not be enough to make him a future starter he could be a quality bullpen arm in the big leagues.
Cooper should begin next year at the AA level and if he continues to be lights out he might very well be pitching in the MLB come next September.
- 1B Dan Bradley
DOB: October 7th, 1997
Acquired: Drafted Round 3, Pick 90 on 2016
Stats: 60 games, 6 HRs 23 RBIs, .307/.391/.483, 146 OPS+, 1.8 WAR in Rookie Ball (GCL)
Bradley came out of high school as one of the best pure hitters available and he didn’t disappoint in his first season as a pro. The knock on him has always been his lack of athleticism but he put those concerns to rest as he won the Gold Glove at 1B on the GCL.
It be interesting to see how Bradley can handle his first full season next year, if he keeps this trajectory going then look out!
- LF Courtney Hawkins
DOB: November 12th, 1993
Acquired: Traded by Chicago (AL) for Anibal Sanchez on 7/4/15
Stats: 101 games, 10 HRs 43 RBIs, .233/.314/.386, 91 OPS+, -0.8 WAR in AA
A former top 100 prospect, Hawkins’ star has been dimming as he just can’t translate his tools to actual baseball production.
Courtney still draws some slim prospect hope, as his ceiling of a power-hitting major league outfielder with a strong arm is still there, but the odds of reaching it are fading to a sliver. He’s made wholesale mechanical changes at the plate as a pro. His power is such that when he guesses right he can hit it a ton, but he needs to improve pitch recognition and pitch-to-pitch adjustment pretty dramatically to be more than the mistake-hitter he is today.
Defensively, the team tried him at CF as he has the speed to cover some ground but the instincts just aren’t there so he has to stay at left field, bringing more pressure to his bat.
Usually this is an overstatement, but it’s pretty safe to say that 2017 is do or die for Hawkins. He will repeat at AA level.
- RF Elier Hernandez
DOB: November 21st, 1994
Acquired: Traded by Kansas City for Dixon Machado on 2/4/16
Stats: 137 games, 34 HRs 116 RBIs, .277/.326/.535, 132 OPS+, 3.9 WAR in High A
Hernandez is a big kid, standing at 6-3/200, and has the abilities to be a true five tool player. The top international free agent from 2011, he took his time to adapt to the American culture but appears to be heading in the right direction. The Tigers wanted to take it slow with him and on his second year at high A he was outstanding, earning an All-Star selection and the MVP award of the Florida State League.
Although most likely a corner outfielder as he’s getting too big, his value remains high as his bat is legit.
A helium prospect if he maintains that production at AA level in 2017.
- RHP Darwin Ramos
DOB: November 23rd, 1995
Acquired: Traded by Houston for Trey Michalczewski on 4/11/16
Stats: 29 games, 6-9, 5.23 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, 6.1 K/9, 3.8 BB/9, 80 ERA+, 0.3 WAR in Low A
Although only 21 Ramos is already on his third team and that much moving is apparently hurting his on-field production.
Coaches like Darwin as he is very smart and works hard so the hope is that he can settle down and leave his inconsistencies behind. With good size and a 95mph fastball he could be a mid-rotation starter if everything goes his way.
Most likely to repeat at low A in 2017.
- RF Michael Gettys
DOB: October 22nd, 1995
Acquired: Traded by San Diego for Yoenis Cespedes on 7/7/15
Stats: 113 games, 8 HRs 55 RBIs, .234/.290/.368, 80 OPS+, 1.0 WAR in High A
Everyone is aware of the disappointing season that Cespedes had with the Padres so it’s only karmic justice that the player he was traded for is also struggling mightily.
The future looked bright for Michael as he earned an All-Star selection as a CF in A level with San Diego but everything went south as he was traded.
A great defense, blazing speed and a contact bat is his profile as a prospect but he has done none since joining the Tigers, and was often benched as he stroke out on 25% of his at-bats.
The organization has gotten new coaches and maybe a fresh year will help Gettys but after being considered a future starting centerfielder in the majors his ceiling now looks like a 4th outfielder.
Will repeat A level in 2017.
- CF Greg Bernard
DOB: June 2nd, 1995
Acquired: Drafted Round 5, Pick 142 on 2016
Stats: 14 games, 4 HRs 12 RBIs, .264/.371/.642, 181 OPS+, 1.5 WAR in Rookie Ball (GCL)
43 games, 6 HRs 24 RBIs, .247/.351/.481, 115 OPS+, 1.0 WAR in Short Season A
Scouts think that Bernard has the most advanced plate discipline in the Tigers’ farm and the stats back up that claim.
He will never hit for average but his power is for real and will often frustrate pitchers as he will foul out balls until he gets the one he’s looking for. On the basepaths he shows elite speed and baserunning instincts, often scoring from first base on singles.
Still learning to play center and his arm is nothing special but he can stay there on the majors without a problem.
Will be challenged at full season league next year.
- 3B Dermis Garcia
DOB: January 7th, 1998
Acquired: Traded by New York (AL) for Kyle Lobstein, Ronniel Demorizi on 1/1/16
Stats: 115 games, 7 HRs 33 RBIs, .220/.257/.331, 62 OPS+, 0.0 WAR in Low A
A couple publications considered Garcia the #1 prospect for the international signing period in 2014, giving very high praise for his hit, power and arm tools.
The Tigers believed the hype and tested him at low A level at only 18 years old, which in hindsight appears to be an awful decision.
The scouting reports mention raw power and tremendous bat speed but he was often overmatched so in reality we couldn’t witness anything last year.
Gonna be interesting to see if the team decides to test him again next year at full season league or if he’s demoted back a level or two.
- CF Chris Jenkins
DOB: October 14th, 1998
Acquired: Drafted Round 2, Pick 53 on 2016
Stats: 60 games, 4 HRs 30 RBIs, .238/.286./364, 83 OPS+, 0.1 WAR in Rookie Ball (GCL)
Jenkins had jaw-dropping stats coming out of high school (.522/.565/.1000) but it appears that took toll on him as he couldn’t do much at the GCL.
He appears to be a legit 5 tool player with his in-game power rated 65 or 70 depending on the scout while his defense and speed are well above average.
Hopefully a good earned rest will do him well for next year; he’s surely one of the players to watch at the GCL in 2017.
- SS Jorge Mateo
DOB: June 23rd, 1995
Acquired: Traded by New York (AL) for Kyle Lobstein, Ronniel Demorizi on 1/1/16
Stats: 63 games, 9 HRs 24 RBIs, .204/.265/.374, 75 OPS+, -0.4 WAR in Low A
65 games, 6 HRs 24 RBIs, .197/.290/.333, 71 OPS+, -0.7 WAR in High A
At 6’0 190, Mateo has the power to lift the ball into the outfield and use his elite speed to collect doubles and triples. But he also understands that batting the ball into the ground will produce good results, as well, given his speed.
Defensively he’s aided by his tremendous speed to get to balls many other shortstops can’t get to. Currently a little on the raw side and not as fluid as he will be. Possesses plenty of arm for the position, as well as a quick release.
As it was the case with Dermis Garcia, the Tigers decided to test a young Mateo on A level and while he didn’t looked overmatched it wasn’t a successful experiment either.
Probably will repeat level next year and the team hopes this time his tools will translate into production.
- 3B Dustin Peterson
DOB: September 10th, 1994
Acquired: Traded by Atlanta for Dale Thayer on 7/29/15
Stats: 104 games, 11 HRs 53 RBIs, .301/.376/.432, 122 OPS+, 3.4 WAR in AA
33 games, 1 HR 11 RBIs, .255/.357/.345, 98 OPS+, 0.6 WAR in AAA
Drafted one round later than his brother DJ in the draft, scouts have raved about his hit tool since his high school days at Gilbert HS in Arizona.
Dustin has a short, smooth swing from the right side, and has quick hands that generate above average bat speed. He can go to all fields with authority and projects to hit for more power as he matures, although it will be more to the gaps than over the fence.
Defensively he’s excellent at both 3B and LF although his lack of speed could be an issue on the outfield.
An All-Star last year at the Eastern League, he has done all he can do at AA level so it’s time to prove himself at AAA. Will be given an invite to Spring Training and could be at the majors as soon as next year.
- RHP Joaquin Delgado
DOB: October 9th, 1998
Acquired: Drafted Round 2, Pick 58 on 2016
Stats: 11 games, 5-1, 2.50 ERA, 1.11 WHIP,9.4 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 166 ERA+, 0.9 WAR in Rookie Ball (GCL)
One of the top high school prep arms, Delgado made his debut at pro level at only 17 years old.
Coaches praise his level of maturity and baseball knowledge for his age, having a 5 pitch repertoire already and all of them project to be above average offerings.
Only 5’10” – 170 lbs. so the Tigers will take it slow on him and have Delgado pitch at Rookie Ball for second year in a row.
If he develops the way he should Joaquin Delgado will have a solid career.
- C Jorge Alfaro
DOB: June 11th, 1993
Acquired: Drafted in the 2016 rule 5 draft (Round 8, Pick 230) from Texas
Stats: 122 games, 28 HRs 90 RBIs, .281/.349/.551, 137 OPS+, 4.6 WAR in Low A
His well-above-average raw power and arm strength have been evident since he signed for a Colombia-record $1.3 million bonus in January 2010. Unfortunately he never got things going on the Rangers’ minors and was relegated to the A league but to his credit instead of pouting he went ahead and had the best year of his career.
Alfaro has a ton of raw pop from the right side plus as strong an arm as just about any catching prospect in the game, but the rest of his defensive tools remain a work in progress. His overall hitting ability plays well given the position, and he’s specifically improved his ability to hit the ball to all fields. He’s unusually athletic for a catcher, and possesses average-to-above speed.
However, there’s a big flaw to his game: over aggressiveness. On offense he’s a free-swinger, he’s usually trying to hit everything out of the park. On defense he tries to throw out every runner, no matter if he or his teammates are out of position for a play.
While there’s hope that Alfaro can fix that issue enough to play every day he will have to learn at the big leagues as he’s a rule 5 pickup.
There’s a 95% chance that he will remain with the Tigers in 2017.
- LHP Ricardo Sanchez
DOB: April 11th, 1997
Acquired: Traded by Atlanta for J.D. Martinez on 3/1/16
Stats: 29 games, 15-4, 3.86 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 7.3 K/P, 1.9 BB/9, 111 ERA+, 2.3 WAR in High A
Ricardo Sanchez isn’t imposing on the mound, standing at just 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds. He has a smooth delivery that he repeats pretty well.
Sanchez comes with a three pitch mix, utilizing a fastball that sits on 93-95 mph, a change up in the 81-85 range, and a curve that runs 70-74. His fastball is able to be located to both sides of the plate, and he really doesn’t have any fear using it against any hitter. The curve ball is absolutely filthy, incredibly nasty with its break being more 12-6 when he’s throwing to righties and 11-5 to lefties. The change up is a work in progress but shows flashes of being a plus pitch.
The most impressive thing about his last season is that he was younger than 95% of the competition but still lead the league in wins.
A favorite of the organization, he will be tested next year at the AA level.
- RHP Jesus Parra
DOB: February 4th, 1994
Acquired: Drafted Round 3, Pick 82 on 2016
Stats: 5 games, 4-0, 1.98 ERA, 0.73 WHIP, 10.2 K/9, 2.3 BB/9, 257 ERA+, 1.0 WAR in Short Season A
9 games, 8-1, 3.46 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 7.6 K/9, 1.6 BB/9, 124 ERA+, 0.8 WAR in High A
Parra had a very successful 2016, first becoming the ace of the Southern Mississippi college then getting drafted and immediately started dominating the opposition in Short Season A earning a promotion and winning 8 of his 9 games at the High A level.
Although a bit short at 6’0″ he throws gas, often hitting the three digit mark on the radar and enough stamina to be a workhorse, he was throwing 96-98 this September even after being on the mound for more than 160 innings in the year.
Parra will turn 23 before the season starts so he probably will be promoted to the AA level. Barring injury he could be in the majors as soon as next year.
- 3B Jefry Marte
DOB: June 21st, 1991
Acquired: Signed as a minor league free agent on 11/20/14
Stats: 100 games, 15 HRs 76 RBIs, .309/.353/.523, 141 OPS+, 3.0 WAR in AAA
After being signed out of the street Marte has been the best hitter in the farm for two years in a row. A beautiful swing from the right side allows him to hit for .300 or better. Although not a patient hitter he will take his walks and is a very smart runner. If there’s a knock on him is that he’s not a prototype third baseman, will hit around 10-12 HRs a year and most of his defense value comes from his arm as his footwork is not nimble enough to play in the middle.
In short, Marte looks like a lite version of Nick Castellanos who recently signed a $75 million contract so his future on the Tigers is not clear enough.
Apparently the team is looking to trade him this year but if he remains in Detroit he could force Castellanos to the DH.
- RHP Ron Forrest
DOB: January 15th, 1998
Acquired: Drafted Round 1, Pick 16 on 2016
Stats: 11 games, 2-3, 3.93 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 8.2 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 106 ERA+, 1.0 WAR in Rookie Ball (GCL)
Pitching over 150 innings as an 18 year old is no easy feat, and Forrest not only did that but also accumulated 8 WAR in the process. Standing at 6-foot-2 he doesn’t throw fast but he throws heavy, often making batters hit to the ground and also has a great control-command of his pitches.
A pitcher in the full sense of the word, he has a calm demeanor and is the first one to arrive at practice and the last to leave.
Given his advanced maturity the Tigers will take it easy with Forrest so next year he will play at Short Season as the priority is to keep him healthy.
- SS Orlando Arcia
DOB: August 4th, 1994
Acquired: Traded by Milwaukee for Shane Greene on 7/8/15
Stats: 135 games, 9 HRs 78 RBIs, .315/.356/.434, 116 OPS+, 5.0 WAR in AA
Dating back to the days of Chico Carrasquel, Luis Aparicio and even the great Omar Vizquel, many, many outstanding major league shortstops from Venezuela became huge stars in major league baseball. Orlando Arcia may become as big a star.
An excellent contact hitter with a short, compact swing, Arcia has a great eye at the plate. He has the upside to hit for a very respectable batting average against big league pitching. He has the skill to use the barrel of the bat to hit line drives to all parts of the field.
To match his excellent batting average, Arcia plays solid, Gold Glove-caliber defense at shortstop with good range and a very strong and accurate arm. He is smooth and graceful going for balls in the hole or up the middle of the diamond. His first-step quickness and his soft hands add to his résumé as an outstanding defender. Playing solid defense may be his best and most refined tool.
In addition to his offensive hit tool and his stellar defense and strong arm, Arcia has the speed to steal bases and take liberties on the basepaths by hitting the gaps for extra base hits.
Scouts project him to have a long and very solid career as an elite defender and a good enough hitter to worry the opposition. He can use his offense, defense, and speed to impact games. If he slumps at the plate, his defense will carry him. He will begin 2017 at AAA but will be promoted soon if Kinsler and Iglesias keep struggling.
- RHP Jonathon Carroll
DOB: November 13th, 1993
Acquired: Drafted Round 1, Pick 22 on 2016
Stats: 10 games, 6-0, 2.41 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 10.7 K/9, 1.6 BB/9, 211 ERA+, 1.7 WAR in Short Season A
3 games, 2-0, 3.63 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 7.8 K/9, 1.6 BB/9, 118 ERA+, 0.5 WAR in High A
The 6th best ranked prospect in all baseball, Carroll has serious swing-and-miss stuff, with a fastball that touches the mid-90s consistently and can hit triple digits to complement a devastating power curveball. He’s also throws a slider but it currently lags behind the other two pitches although it flashes plus-plus potential.
Carroll’s feel for pitching is big league ready. He throws all of his pitches for strikes and will change the sequencing of his pitches to keep hitters off balance. Despite high swing and miss totals, he also has the ability to induce weak contact
Mechanically, he’s smooth and consistent, exhibiting excellent body control.
The Tigers currently have one of the best rotations in baseball so they will probably not rush Carroll to the big leagues, that will give him some time to work on his slider. If he manages to improve that pitch he will become and ace.
- RHP Lucas Giolito
DOB: July 14th, 1994
Acquired: Traded by Washington for Daniel Fields, Al Alburquerque on 11/23/15
Stats: 28 games, 16-4, 3.06 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 10.8 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, 135 ERA+, 3.3 WAR in AAA
The jewel in the crown. When the Jose Fernandez trade talks were going on the Tigers decided it was better for them to deal 8 prospects instead of sending Giolito straight up, that’s how much the team likes him.
Everyone in baseball knows about his devastating fastball-curveball combo but the knock on him has always been his control. While he still has bad days at that department he also managed to have 14 games (half his starts) of 10+ K’s and 2- BBs After the trade with Washington, coach Rick Sweet started working with Giolito day in and day out and the reward was the International League Outstanding Pitcher Award.
He has nothing to show on the minors but as we mentioned before the Tigers’ current rotation is stacked. There’s been talk about moving Giolito to the closer position but the team prefers to keep him as a starter for both baseball and merchandising reasons.
Will probably begin the year at AAA but won’t be long before he’s on the majors. Whether it is as a starter or a closer is something we will have to wait and see.