No. 21: Dean Green, 1B/DH
Dean Green was drafted by the Tigers in the 11th round of the 2011 draft out of Barry University (FL). After signing, Green was assigned to Class A Short Season-Connecticut, and showed very well there in 272 plate appearances. He posted a .341/.395/.520/.915 triple slash line, while striking out 35 times and walking 18 times. Sure, Green was an advanced hitter playing in low A ball, but those numbers were nonetheless impressive. In 2012, Green was assigned to Class A-West Michigan, where he split time between 1B and DH with Aaron Westlake, posting an .883 OPS in about 250 plate appearances before an injury interrupted his season. He was sent to the GCL Tigers (Rookie league) to rehab his injury, where he struggled mightily for 9 games, which I'm choosing to ignore since he was on rehab. Once healed, he was sent to Class Advanced A-Lakeland to finish out the 2012 season, where he absolutely exploded, posting a .928 OPS across 156 PA's down the stretch for Lakeland. With such a strong finish and solid overall numbers, Green flew up prospect rankings lists, which is why you find him on the cusp of my top 20.
Stop me if you've heard this before: Green is a big, left handed hitting 1B prospect that profiles best as a power hitting DH. Yeah, the Tigers have had plenty of these types of prospects roll through the minors over the years, but Green's bat is something to behold. He stands 6'4" and weighs about 255-260lbs, and is simply put: a massive human being. He's a pretty bad first baseman, showing shoddy footwork around the base, well below-average range, and a less than desirable throwing arm (even at 1B). He's also a well below-average runner, but that's not a very important tool for Green's game. His hit tool earns plus grades, with some scouts seeing a potential .300 hitter in the major leagues. He has outstanding hands, can adjust to any pitch in any count, and uses the entire field when hitting. I got to see him once at West Michigan in 2012, and was impressed by his overall hitting ability, to say the least. He doesn't get fooled often by offspeed pitches, doesn't fall off-balance even when he gets fooled, and has excellent contact ability. His power is also a plus tool, and I could easily see Green having the occasional 30+ home run season in the majors, with his annual output being in the 23-28 range. He has power to all fields, and sprays line drives in the gaps while having plenty of power to put balls out in any part of the park. His profile falls short of "star" because of his lack of position, seeing as he's a defensive liability at 1B, but the bat is what will carry him, and I could easily see him being an above-average designated hitter.
Green finished strong at Class A Advanced-Lakeland in 2012, so I see no reason why Green won't be assigned to Class Double A-Erie in 2013. His ceiling is that of a designated hitter in the major leagues, who can potentially hit .300 with 25-30 HR's annually. That's great, but he falls short of attaining "super prospect" status, as I said, due to his lack of defensive position. The Tigers are set for the foreseeable future at 1B with Prince Fielder and eventually Miguel Cabrera (if I had my druthers), and one would assume that Fielder will eventually become the Tigers DH as he gets older. Green should be ready to contribute at the major league level with the bat by 2014, and I could see him in Detroit as a left-handed bench bat by that season. I struggle to see a permanent place for Green in Detroit, due to the aforementioned Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera potential positional switches. Personally, I'd like to see Nick Castellanos transitioned back to 3B, where he should be ready to take over in Detroit by 2014. Miguel Cabrera moves back over to 1B, and Fielder becomes the everyday DH. But who knows what will happen? In any scenario, I think Green is a valuable trade chip due to his bat, but the market would almost certainly be limited to American League teams, as it's a struggle for me to even call Green a "1B prospect".