I decided to try something different for this article. We at Tigers Prospect Report have given our views on prospects within the organization, but as Tiger fans, we can obviously be biased. With the recent completion of Jordan’s top 30 list, I decided to ask a prospect expert from outside of our inner circle for his thoughts on the organization and the name that popped into my head immediately was Marc Hulet.
If you spend any time following prospects or visit Fangraphs.com, you most likely are familiar with Marc’s work. For those of you that aren’t familiar with Marc’s work, he has been the lead prospect writer at Fangraphs since 2008. In addition to his work at Fangraphs, he also writes a weekly article that appears on Thursday’s for MLB Trade Rumors and also contributes at Prospect Insider.
I value Marc’s opinion and input and have for a long time. Prior to his work at Fangraphs, I contributed to a few projects that Marc worked on and he has been one of the people that I have relied on learning how to cover prospects. I have written about prospects since 2005 and Marc has truly been a mentor to me.
Marc was kind enough to field my questions. Below is what we discussed and his views on the state of the Tigers.
TPR: Could you give your opinion on the state of the Tigers system? Where would you rank them currently?
MH: Tigers system is in the bottom third in baseball. The club has leveraged its depth well in deals for players like Miguel Cabrera so you definitely have to give them credit for that. I'm a fan of Danry Vasquez, who probably doesn't get enough love because of the weak system. With that said, I really didn't like the Tigers' recent amateur draft.
TPR: You mentioned that you didn’t like the Tigers draft. What did you see that struck you as odd? Was it the fact that the Tigers were pitcher heavy in the early rounds? Was that a mistake?
MH: It's never a mistake to focus on pitching. You have to be able to develop your own pitching if you're going to survive with the big boys. I didn't like the Tigers' draft because I don't see a ton of upside there. You've got some hard-throwing arms and some guys that could move quickly but the consensus seems to be that there were a lot of relievers chosen.
TPR: For the Tigers, there obviously is a lot of interest in the fan base in Nick Castellanos, especially with the MLB struggles this season of Andy Dirks. I think you may have seen him in the AFL. What are your thoughts on his bat and his defense?
MH: It's obviously a pretty new position for Castellanos so I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt. He's a long-term third or first baseman. Miguel Cabrera isn't going to be able to hold down the hot corner for that much longer so he'll eventually have a spot to move to. He lacks the prototypical power you look for from a third baseman or corner outfielder but he has a sweet swing and enough pop to make things interesting.
TPR: Relief pitching is a major concern for the Tigers right now. What arms do you look at in their system as possible future late inning options? Obviously Rondon is the guy that everyone looks at, but his secondary offerings have been inconsistent.
MH: Rondon is probably the best future option right now, but I agree that he's no sure thing. Melvin Mercedes is another guy to keep an eye on.
TPR: Austin Schotts is a kid that started this season in Low-A West Michigan after having a solid GCL season last year. He was a bit overmatched in the Midwest League and really has continued to struggle since being transferred to Connecticut. Were expectations maybe a bit to high on him coming into this season?
MH: I ranked Schotts fifth in the system prior to 2013 and I think his raw talent warrants that spot. However, the outfielder has been inexplicably rushed and it's Daniel Fields all over again. I respect the front office and their developmental staff but I don't like his handling whatsoever.
TPR: What would you say is the strength of the Tigers system? Are there any positions of excess?
MH: I think there is some outfield depth with the likes of Avisail Garcia, Danry Vasquez, Steve Moya and Nick Castellanos.
TPR: We have become huge fans of Devon Travis. He put up great numbers in West Michigan and plays a very consistent and solid second base. I know he is more of a high floor, low ceiling guy, but do you see MLB potential in him?
MH: He doesn't get a lot of love outside the organization and he's undersized but he does enough well that I could see him playing a role on a big league club, but probably off the bench.
TPR: How would you rate the development of Eugenio Suarez? Do you feel he is a possible option to replace Peralta at SS next season?
MH: His bat is still on the light side, so if the club is OK with a glove-only guy at shortstop then he could perhaps take over the job by mid-2014.
TPR: Outside of Rondon and Castellanos, who are some other prospects that maybe we overlook and should keep our eye on?
MH: I've already mentioned Danry Vasquez, Steve Moya and would also toss in Hernan Perez and Jake Thompson.
TPR: Jordan Gorosh, who is the lead prospect guru at Tigers Prospect Report recently completed his top 30 mid-season rankings. I was curious if you could take a look and see what your thoughts on it are?
MH: This was a very well done list… I couldn't find much fault with it… outside perhaps Schotts being a little too low. I wouldn't fault him for Detroit's mistake just yet.