Prospect Viewing Guide: Class A-West Michigan Whitecaps

Detroit Tigers 2B Prospect Devon Travis - USA TODAY Sports

The Tigers' single A affiliate West Michigan Whitecaps have announced their 2013 roster. So, I thought it would a good idea to break it down person-by-person for the purpose of showing who to look out for prospect-wise, who's more of an org guy, etc.

Class A-West Michigan Whitecaps 2013 Roster

Starting Pitchers:

RHP Endrys Briceno

-Oozes projection. Really long, still skinny, and with a lightning-fast arm highlighted by a smooth delivery. Already sits in the 93-94 range, reports had him up as high as 97-98 (very rarely) last summer. Curve that shows promise, and a changeup that already flashes plus one in awhile. Solid control, but lacking command at this point. With a good 2013 and more development, Briceno may find himself knocking on the door of Top 5 lists for Tigers prospects.

RHP Edgar De La Rosa

-Huge guy, standing 6'6" and still has projection on his body. Sits 93-94 already and touches the high 90's frequently, it's almost impossible not to dream about what he could be in time. Shows a slider that has solid-average potential, and a changeup that's already above-average. Command and control are still an issue, but if it all works out, he has #3 starter upside.

LHP Jordan John

-John is somewhat of a swingman, meaning the Tigers could develop him as a starter (where he owns a back end upside) or as a reliever (where he could be a nice 7th inning guy). He sits in the high 80's, touching 90, as a starter with solid movement. As a reliever, he can bump it up to 91-92. Solid curve and change combo, with the former being the better pitch long term, but both should be useable.

RHP Hudson Randall

-Randall was drafted in 2012 out of Florida, and owns a solid back end starter profile. Sits in the high 80's with his fastball, he has some projection left leading some scouts to believe he could eventually play with a solid 91-92 fastball. Above-average changeup, solid curve, and useable slider fill out his repertoire. His best trait is his command, and upon being drafted he probably automatically had the best command in the system. Won't wow you, but someone who should pitch in the majors.

RHP Montreal Robertson

-I'm dying for the Tigers to put him in the bullpen, but they know more than I do. Robertson is a big dude that throws hard. He'll sit in the 92-94 range as a starter, touching 95-96, but as a reliever he sits more in the 95-96 range and can touch 97-98. Fastball has excellent life, which helps it elicit weak contact and just overpower hitters. Also shows a potentially above-average slider, but doesn't have a useable 3rd pitch. Profiling as a reliever, I see an 8th inning guy here despite command issues. I struggle to see him as a starter long term due to the aforementioned lack of 3rd pitch and command concerns.

Relief Pitchers:

RHP Chad Smith

-Smith was drafted in 2011 out of USC despite Tommy John surgery, and made his pro debut in 2012. He's a 2 pitch reliever with a sinking fastball in the low-90's that reached 96 pre-surgery, and a good slider that can miss bats. With improved command, he has a late-innings profile.

RHP Brennan Smith

-Kind of a swingman, Brennan has started and relieved in his career, though I think he'll be in West Michigan's bullpen in 2013. Fringy major league profile, may top out as a middle reliever if it all comes together. Fastball, curve, and splitter are what he offers, with each being usable, solid pitches without anything overwhelming.

RHP Slade Smith

-Looks more like an org guy to be, Smith was successful nonetheless in 2012. Nothing wows you, but he throws strikes and gets a lot of groundballs. Solid reliever in the minors, maybe an up and down big leaguer at best.

RHP Julio Felix

-Felix is a solid middle relief prospect. Throws 4 pitches, with his 4 seamer reaching up to 95-96 in bursts while sitting 92-93; a 2 seamer that sits a tick or two lower than the 4 seamer, but with nice boring action and some sink; a slider that is a nice change of pace pitch but maxes out as a 45-50 pitch long term; and a changeup that shows as average and works well vs. both righties and lefties. Lacks high upside, but has the stuff and makeup to end up in a big league bullpen.

RHP Yorkfrank Lopez

-Dominated the GCL in 2012, but was old for the league. Doesn't have much profile left; but he sits in the low 90's with good sink. Gets groundballs and weak contact, while also missing some bats. It will be interesting to see him in full season ball. Probably out of the bullpen, but can start.

LHP Josh Turley

-Had an excellent 2012 in his pro debut, Turley owns one of the best change ups in the Tigers system. He's a reliever that works with an average fastball and solid command, but the lack of a breaking ball holds back his profile.

RHP Jose Valdez

-The closer on the GCL team in 2012, Valdez was dominant, but his numbers should be taken with a grain of salt given that 1) GCL stats don't really matter much anyways, and 2) He was 22 pitching to 17-19 year olds. He has a 7th inning profile given his plus fastball and good slider, but I want to see him vs guys his own age before I get too excited.

Catchers:

C Bennett Pickar

-Drafted in 2012, Pickar was one of the best defensive catchers in the draft. Has a very, very fringy major league profile that is based entirely on defense, because his bat is basically nonexistent.

C Adolfo Reina

-Org catcher. Move along, nothing to see here

Infielders:

1B/DH Lance Durham

-Org infielder at this point, but a solid one. Has some nice pop, and should stick in the middle of West Michigan's lineup daily. Good veteran presence on a young team

3B Mario Martinez

-Signed away from the Mariners, he's never gotten above High-A ball. I know virtually nothing about him, but I can tell you he's an org guy signed to fill out the roster.

1B/3B Matt Perry

-Roster filler. An org guy with some versatility, but nothing in the way of a prospect here.

SS Jared Reaves

-Drafted in 2012, Reaves is an org guy that plays the middle infield and will stick around for awhile. No major league ceiling, but like I said, should be around a long time as an org infielder.

2B Devon Travis

-AH!! A prospect!!! Travis is a guy that does nothing particularly outstanding, but also does nothing significantly below average. Solid hitter that could end up hitting .275 or so with decent pop. Nice approach at the plate, simple swing, makes contact. Looks the part of the prototypical #2 hitter. Very good defender at 2B despite not having elite range. If it all comes together he's a major leaguer long term.

Outfielders:

OF Jake Stewart

-I like him as a 4th OF long term. Can go get it in the OF with great athleticism and above-average speed. Potential plus defender in CF, LF, or RF. Solid average arm that plays well from anywhere. More power than you'd expect, but struggles to get to it due to underdeveloped hit tool.

CF Austin Schotts

-Plus plus runner, potential plus defender, good hitter, solid pop. Projects as a leadoff hitter that steals bases with gap power and plays good defense. Not an "impact" guy here, but an above-average major league ceiling nonetheless. Should be batting leadoff daily.

LF Danry Vasquez

-Takes some dreaming to see it, but has impact potential. Should end up a solid average left fielder defensively with a plus arm. Solid runner that will slow down. Potential lies with his bat. One of the best pure hitters in the system, probably rivaled only by Castellanos at this point. Projects to hit in the high .200's and maybe hit .300 occasionally, the power isn't there yet but projects to come.

OF Michael Hernandez

-Org guy. Roster filler.

Ok. So to conclude, West Michigan is very top heavy here. They have potential impact guys in Vasquez, Briceno, and De La Rosa (and maybe Brenny Paulino and Jake Thompson when they get there). Solid prospects in Schotts, Travis, and some pitchers. And a few org guys who you won't remember when you leave the ballpark. Overall, West Michigan is a pretty good prospect-hive this season, and I'm excited to watch. I'll be taking in their game on Saturday, April 6th with Jordan and others, so if you're there, I'll be the guy with the stop watch wishing he owned a radar gun.

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