Prospect Viewing Guide: Lakeland Flying Tigers

Detroit Tigers' Pitching Prospect Melvin Mercedes - US PRESSWIRE

In Part 3 of the viewing guide series, I'll take a look at the roster of the Lakeland Flying Tigers. Last season they started the season with a bevy of top prospects, and ended up winning the Florida State League Championship as well. The 2013 team has a nice group of prospects, but the high-end talent is missing.

2013 Lakeland Flying Tigers

Starting Pitchers:

LHP Alex Burgos

-Average fastball (88-90 usually), nice change, decent curve. Slider that he should scrap in my view. Struggles with command, but throws lots of strikes. Minimal starter projection, could be a back end guy if it all comes together. Good projection as a LOOGY-type though.

RHP Drew VerHagen

-Big guy, good athlete. Overpowering fastball in the mid-90's with lots of movement. Breaking ball lags behind, good feel for changeup. Command is a struggle because his mechanics are rough. If he refines command and develops a breaking ball, he has #3 starter upside. If not, that fastball/change combo would serve well as a late-innings reliever.

RHP Kevin Eichorn

-Fringy prospect. Solid pitchability and command, but no real "put away" pitch. Repeating High-A after injuries shortened his 2012 season. Acquired in the Armando Galarraga trade.

RHP Thomas Collier

-Solid prospect as a back-end starter. Nice 2 seamer that has good sink and gets groundballs. Average slider that has limited projection; and nice changeup that can get swings and misses. Lacks a standout pitch that limits his upside. Good control, but needs to work on command,

LHP Kyle Ryan

-Projectable lefty with solid stuff. Good fastball that sits at the average velo of 89-91, but I personally saw him touch 93 a couple times in 2012. Has some projection left on his body, so I'm hoping he can add a bit of velo going forward. Curve is a decent pitch that has improved every season. Chanegup lags behind. Strike thrower.

Relief Pitchers:

RHP Melvin Mercedes

-Huge dude, and I don't mean tall. Has probably surpassed Rondon for "heftiest" pitcher in the system. Plus fastball due to velo (usually 92-95, will touch higher) and movement. Gets weak contact and swings and misses with pitch. Nice slider to complement the fastball. Big struggles with command. Could vault up rankings lists with good 2013.

LHP Jade Todd

-Absolutely dominated the midwest league with West Michigan in 2012. Fringy projection, but a good pitcher nonetheless. Average fastball that he commands pretty well. Nice curveball that has 12-6 break and is effective both thrown as a strike or buried out of the zone. Decent changeup that works to give hitters a different look. Ceiling is that of a long man in my view.

LHP Joe Rogers

-One of my personal favorites in the system. Rogers could be developed as a starter or reliever, but it looks like the Tigers are going to have him take the relief route--one that could rocket him through the system. Really nice fastball out of the 'pen; reports had him touching 94-95 last season and that seems to have continued this spring. Also has a nice curveball. Projects as a 7th inning guy longterm, but that profile could increase.

RHP Will Clinard

-Everyone's favorite "breakout" pick for 2013. Clinard owns 8th inning upside, mostly due to a dynamic cutter that is absolutely devastating to left handed hitters. Also throws a fastball that can reach into the mid 90's on occasion, and a slider that looks similar to the cutter but has more vertical break. Another reliever that could move very quickly through the system. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me at all to see him battling for a bullpen spot next summer.

LHP Ryan Robowski

-Not much of a prospect, but some see a potential LOOGY due to solid breaking ball that works well vs. lefties.

RHP Jeff Ferrell

-Former starter than has been moved to the bullpen since Tommy John surgery in 2011. Average fastball that peaks at 92-92, usable curve and average change. Middle reliever upside

RHP Michael Torrealba

-Potential 7th-8th inning guy if the command comes together. Solid fastball that sits in the 92-93 area while touching a tick higher with nice movement. Good curveball when commanded. If the command doesn't come, he could still be a middle reliever.

Catchers

C John Murrian

-Org guy. Nothing to see here

C Zack Maggard

-Org guy. Nothing to see here

Infielders

1B/DH Dean Green

-I say 1B, but he's as pure a DH as there is in the minor leagues. Really bad defensively. Can really rake though. Above average hitter with plus power that plays in game situations. I could easily see a .280 hitter with 20-25 HR's if it all comes together. Fun to watch at the plate.

1B Aaron Westlake

-Average defender at 1B. Has played some 3B and there were rumors of trying him in LF as well; but I don't see either of those being viable options. Plus raw power, but the hit tool lags behind. Lots of swing and miss. Still a prospect, but 2013 is a major year for him.

3B/2B Tyler Hanover

-Org infielder, but versatility should help him stick around for a while in the minors. Won't start on this team, but should get a good amount of playing time between the 2 positions. Can play SS in a pinch. Has the "grinder" tag.

3B Jason King

-Not a top prospect, but I'm a bigger fan of his than most. Switch hitter, better from the left side. Solid defender at 3B. Talk of moving him to LF, but I don't think the bat plays there. Above average power. Slowed by injuries in 2011 and 2012, which has hindered his development. If he stays healthy and develops his hit tool, I think an average 3B could still be here. We'll see.

2B/SS Brandon Loy

-Talked about him on the podcast last week. I like him as a Danny Worth-type utility guy. Plus defender at SS or 2B with enough arm for either. Versatility helps him. May learn some 3B, 1B, and LF as well. Heady ballplayer. Will probably steal 15-20 bases due to instincts and feel for the game despite only slightly above average speed. Not much with the bat at all, but not a "black hole".

SS Eugenio Suarez

-Dubbed the "SS of the future" by some after really nice 2012. Plus defender at SS with a plus arm. Above average runner that can steal 20+ bases in the minors, probably 15-20 at the MLB level. I'm not completely sold on the bat yet. I like his swing, but his approach needs some work. He expands the zone at times; something he can't really afford to do since he doesn't have the strength to make solid contact on pitches out of the zone (not barreling the ball). Solid gap power.

Outfielders

LF Jason Krizan

-Org outfielder. Had a solid 2012 at West Michigan, but he looks to me like the 4th OF on the Lakeland squad.

RF Steven Moya

-Huge, huge guy that maintains good athleticism despite size. Looks like a future weakside defensive end. Massive raw power. Power earns 80 grades. Hit tool needs significant development, but he looked better in 2012 before Tommy John surgery that he has recovered from. Will be an average defender in RF with plus arm, assuming he comes back completely from surgery. If the hit tool develops, he has star potential.

LF/RF Jeff McVaney

-Fringy major league ceiling. Highest ceiling looks like a 5th outfielder/up and down type.

CF Chad Wright

-Org guy, but looks to be the centerfielder on this team. Smallish leadoff type who doesn't strike out, makes contact, and is willing to take a walk. Reminds me of Jamie Johnson, but I don't see the potential major league upside in Wright that I do in Johnson.

Verdict

No real "stud" prospects here, unless you count Steven Moya. A lot of guys have major league upside, but no one really has impact potential. From a scouting perspective, I'd want to go when Drew VerHagen starts, and pray Will Clinard and Joe Rogers get into the game as well. I'd pay special attention to Moya and Suarez as far as positional players go, but watching Dean Green hit should be fun as well.

Reminder: You can follow us on twitter @TigersProspects

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