Welcome back, everyone. Now, we're starting to get to the part of the list I like. While all prospecting is totally a "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" thing, these next few guys are often where people disagree. The top 8 prospects or so are typically industry consensus. Between 8-20 is where it gets interesting. Let's take a look and see what the Tigers system has to offer.
Remember, all of the things that I discussed in the original post still apply.
20. Jeff Thompson
Thompson was the Tigers third round pick in the 2013 MLB draft. First things first, he's a giant. Standing at 6'6" 250 lbs., it's obvious the Tigers think that he can be a middle of the rotation innings eater, speculating that his body can easily take the workload. From what I have seen on video via Bullpen Banter, can accrue via MLB.com, and the Oakland Press article written about him, it's easy to see why the Tigers took a chance on the big right hander in the third round. He's got a low 90s fastball, a solid slider, and the makings of a changeup. However, he's got a long arm swing, his fastball doesn't have much wiggle, and both of his off speed pitches need refinement. Thompson is kind of an unknown right now. However, he's someone that could easily be on the Tigers top 10 list in 12 months.
19. Austin Schotts
There is no denying Schotts' struggle so far in 2013. He's had trouble adjusting to full season ball, and his .192/.248/.249 line at WMI represents that. The Tigers have sent him down to Connecticut, where he's hitting .156/.250/.219 in 8 games. The numbers are bad, sure. But, there are a lot of things to like about Schotts' game. He's got a line drive swing, good poise and approach at the plate, and can easily handle center field. There is no denying that he is a plus, plus runner, either. I think what you're seeing here is a 19 year old kid having trouble against much older guys, and may take some time to adjust. Remember, he had an .812 OPS in the GCL last year as an 18 year old, so that ability is there. When I saw him at WMI, he looked a bit overmatched. The Tigers were in a tough spot because it was apparent that WMI was too challenging for Austin about 100 AB in, and yet, they didn't want to send him back to EST, as the college leagues hadn't started yet. I doubt that these early season struggles have any long term effect on Schotts, and with a nice bounce back, you could see him skyrocket up the prospect lists again next year.
18. Tyler Collins
Everyone saw Collins put his skills on display in spring training. Some people even thought that he was ready to make the big club. Collins is an interesting player. Some see him as a bench bat, others as a 4th OF, and there are still people who think he can be a second division starter. I'm about in the middle. I think Collins is a guy that may take longer than others to hit his prime. All Collins has done at any level that he has ever played at, is hit. The kid could hit on the moon. However, he's struggled mightily aside from a 40 AB stretch in Erie. His total line is .207/.317/.394, which isn't awful. In a two week period, he hit 7 of his 10 bombs, and while I haven't done the exact math, his OPS is probably in the .500's aside from the hot streak. That is a bit concerning. I still see a major league future for Collins. In fact, he's likely to be a guy that spends a decent amount of time in the minors refining his hit tool, and around 27/28, bursts onto the scene and has a few good years.
17. Will Clinard
Oh, boy. Now, I get a platform for my Will Clinard campaigning. I am a huge fan of Will. For those of you unfamiliar, Will is at AA Erie after earning a promotion already this season. He was selected in the 19th round of last year's draft, and has excelled in the minors so far. As a reliever, it's important to have a two qualities in order to succeed at the major league level: 1) throw the ball over the plate, and 2) have a plus pitch. Will has both of those qualities. He's got one of the best cutters in the minor leagues, which he will throw at any time, in any count. He's also got a slider/curveball that lag behind, and a change up that needs work. However, the cutter is his bread and butter, and his ticket to the majors. In addition to that, he's only walked 12 in 40 innings this year, and that's after only giving out 5 free passes in 28 innings at Lakeland. While I don't think that Clinard has a "closer" future, I could absolutely see him working out of the Detroit bullpen in the 7th inning, and soon.
16. Drew Verhagen
Another Tiger draft pick from last season, Verhagen proved that he was too good for Lakeland already this season. He was recently promoted to AA Erie and has had one good start, one not so good. Verhagen is another mammoth of a pitcher, checking in at 6'6" 230 pounds. He's got a 92-95 MPH fastball with some movement, and a change as well as a curve. I'd venture to say that the change is probably a bit ahead of the curve right now, but both have a little ways to go in order to be big league pitches. The question for Verhagen is: starter or reliever? He may be able to sit in the 94-96 range as a reliever, but the Tigers are going to give him every chance to start. It's fairly obvious that his secondary pitches are lagging a bit behind right now, evidenced by the 5 K's per 9 innings in Lakeland, albiet with an ERA barely above 2. Drew definitely needs to refine his command in order to take that next step as well. Verhagen could be well on his way to being a back of the rotation innings eater, or worst case, a middle innings reliever.
15. Daniel Fields
He has improved his stock significantly this year. Dan was given an extremely aggressive assignment when he was first selected. After a few injuries, he was sent to Lakeland, when in all honesty, he probably wasn't ready for the challenge. Holding his own the last couple of years, most likely playing above his pay-grade looks like it may have benefited Daniel. This year in Erie, he's got a .271/.356/.455 triple slash, with 32 walks and 11 steals. The question about Fields has been, and will continue to be his hit tool. He has plenty of swing and miss, and scouts, like I do, wonder if he will be able to make enough contact at the big league level in order to play consistently. He's got a little pop in his bat, good speed, and good instincts in the field, although his arm may not play in center or right field, and may be relegated to left. If the hit tool continues to improve, and the power is allowed to play a bit, you could be looking at a second division starter, or even a good 4th OF.
14. Corey Knebel
I know the organization wants Knebel to be a starter, but the question is: does Corey want to? He's expressed interest in remaining a shut down closer, and I'm interested to see how this situation plays out. I understand why they'd like him to start. Corey has got a prototypical pitchers body, a mid 90's fastball that can reach the upper 90's, a tight slider, and has flashed the possibility of a nice changeup. Put all that together, and you've got a middle of the rotation starter, with the potential for more. He's got a bit of a funky delivery, but gets his arm into a good throwing position. His control/command profile looks to be around major league average as well. If the starter thing doesn't work out, you could be looking at the shutdown closer. It all depends what is best for Corey and the organization.
13. James McCann
After not hitting at all last year, McCann has put up some solid numbers in Erie. He's got a .301/.337/.383 line, which is heavily influenced by a .350 BABIP, but it's good to see some strides made from last season. Behind the plate, McCann is solid. He's still a good receiver, a good thrower, and has excellent game calling skills. Overall, his catching is a plus. It hinges on the bat for me. If he is able to add a little bit of power, and consistently make contact, you're probably looking at an average starter or a "role 5" guy. If not, he's a nice backup. McCann is pretty steady all around, and is a high floor prospect. I'm confident that he will be a major leaguer. I just don't think he has that much upside.
12. Endrys Briceno
I have had the luxury of watching Endrys Briceno a couple times in person. I absolutely love this young pitching prospect. He's tall (6'5"), long, and loose, with a smooth arm swing. When I saw him earlier this year, he was in the high 80's low 90s, yet I have seen reports of him sitting in the low 90s and getting up to 95-96. Briceno has started to put it together a little bit in WMI and has a 3.67 ERA the last 10 starts. He needs to refine his command another grade to a grade and a half. He has the propensity to lose his arm slot, causing his fastball to come up and in to a right handed hitter. What I really like about Briceno is his change up. He consistently throws plus change ups, and can often spot the pitch, too. The breaking ball lags behind, and it kind of seems like he's not sure if he wants it to be a slider or a curve ball. That will come in time, I am sure. Briceno is an extremely intriguing prospect, and if he continues to be successful in Low-A, I would imagine that with his projectable body and big fastball, he will start to gain some notoriety.
11. Hernan Perez
Perez is a bit of a tweener for me. He's got some excellent tools, including a very good glove at 2B, with the possibility of a "plus" glove, a nice hit tool, and some speed to burn. However, his plate approach bothers me. He's got a 3.3% walk rate in AA right now, and has had trouble keeping his BB% above 5. I know that minor league numbers are not the end-all-be-all by any means, but I tend to be sour on guys who can't get their OBP above .320. There has been plenty of debate about Perez vs. Suarez, and as you can see, I have Suarez in my top 10. To me, it comes down to position scarcity. If Perez ends up as an average major league 2B, or even a bit above, which is his ceiling for me, and Suarez ends up as a tick below average, or even an MLB average SS, that's too tough for me to pass up. Major league average SS don't grow on trees. I can see Perez being similar to a guy like Omar Infante with a bit more speed. I just am not sure if he's able to be a "utility" guy, because he may be slotted to 2B, which takes a bit away from his value, too.