Promotions on the horizon?

Detroit Tigers OF Tyler Collins - US PRESSWIRE

We're about 5 weeks into the minor league season; and some prospects are really starting to stand out in one way or another. Obviously 5 weeks and 120 AB's/30 IP are small sample sizes, but still, at least partial conclusions can be made.

Keep in mind, this is not a "stock up/stock down" report like Nick does. Those are "snapshot in time" looks at 2 week intervals, whereas this is more of a comprehensive look.

Again, 5 weeks/125-150 PA/30 innings are definitely small sample sizes. However, it's not unrealistic to think that the Tigers could take a 5 week sample and use it as justification to move particular guys up or down in the system.

2B Devon Travis

As we all know, I'm a big fan of Devon Travis. I also think I'm higher on him that most, if not every, prospect evaluator on the internet. That being said, he's raking at West Michigan while showing absolutely no signs of slowing down. He's hitting for power, walking more than he's striking out, stealing a few bases, and playing plus defense at 2B. It's obvious that he's too advanced--offensively AND defensively--for the Midwest League, but the Tigers are keeping him in West Michigan for the time being. I talked about this in the comments section of another article, but I think that the Tigers are keeping him in A-ball for the sake of the other guys on the team. Two of the top prospects in the system (Schotts and Vasquez) are both on the Whitecaps, and both are struggling a bit. Both are incredibly young, and both are talented. But at the same time, I have a feeling that the Tigers like having an "offensive anchor" of sorts over in West Michigan, and that's why I think that Travis is still there. So, to answer the question I posed in the beginning, is Travis headed for a promotion? Yes, but I don't think it'll come for a few weeks.

RHP Melvin Mercedes

He's been absolutely dominant at Lakeland this season, throwing 14 1/3 innings without allowing a single run; maintaining a WHIP of 0.77, and walking only 2 in those 14 1/3 innings. The only thing that's a bit concerning to me is that he's only struck out 6. Obviously, he's been effective, but from someone with his stuff (mid 90's FB with sink, potentially plus SL), I'd definitely like to see higher strikeout totals. Regardless, with the way he's going, I don't think he's long for Lakeland.

RHP Will Clinard

Similar story as Mercedes, in that Clinard has just been dominant in Lakeland. He has a 1.86 ERA across 19 1/3 innings (12 outings), and his numbers tell a bit of a strange story. Like I said, he's made 12 appearances and given up 4 ER. In only 2 of his 12 appearances has he given up runs, and he also hasn't done so since April 20th. He can be truly, truly dominant when he has his command and is chucking that plus cutter effectively, and he's trending in the right direction. I think that he could stand to spend some more time in Lakeland, refining his command and just overall logging some innings; but I also don't think he's long for Lakeland.

OF Tyler Collins

Now, this is simply a reaction to his numbers. I don't think the Tigers should promote Collins, nor do I think that the Tigers WILL promote Collins. But, that being said, stranger stuff has happened and if the need for an OF arises in Detroit, Collins may be the one headed to Toledo to take a roster spot. He started off this season horribly, posting something like a .450 OPS through his first 2 weeks of play. But since then, he's been nothing short of on fire. He has a .924 OPS with an Eastern League-leading 8 home runs, while playing everyday in left field on a damned good Erie team. Again, I don't think he'll get promoted unless it's absolutely called for, but he's certainly doing nothing to lose to "all he does is hit" label.

RHP Chad Smith

This is sort of a wildcard for me. I've seen Smith a couple times, and I like what I see as a potential 7th inning guy down the line. He's in his 2nd season back from Tommy John surgery, so the command should finally be coming back to him, and it is. He has a live arm that can pump FB's at 92-94 consistently with nice action, and a solid looking slider. I think that he's too advanced for West Michigan, personally, but at the same time it's not hurting him at all to just get him innings to make sure he's 100% back before promoting him. I think once we see one of the Lakeland guys get promoted, Smith will be the first one to head south from West Michigan.

Others:

-OF Daniel Fields? I say no way, but he's finally coming into his own at AA.

-LHP Kyle Lobstein? Still giving up too many hits at AA, but he's striking out a batter per 9 and limiting his walks.

-RHP Warwick Saupold? He's cruising in AA.

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