Detroit Tigers SS prospect Dixon Machado - Brad Barr-US PRESSWIRE
Looking to protect them from potentially being claimed in the Rule 5 draft, the Tigers added relievers Bruce Rondon and Melvin Mercedes along with shortstop Dixon Machado to the 40 man roster today, in addition to releasing Ryan Raburn.
I'm not going to do full scouting reports on these 3 guys, since I have reports on Rondon and Machado coming in the next month or so. Rather, I'll abbreviated prospect profiles, just to sort of introduce you guys to them.
Bruce Rondon, RHP
Most of you will have heard of Rondon by now. He of the triple-digit fastball, Rondon shot through the Tigers system in 2012, and was knocking on the door of the big leagues in September. He's in the running for the closer's job in 2013, and will almost assuredly pitch in Detroit at some point next season. He fits the "classic reliever" profile, in that he's intimidating physically (6'2". 240ish) and has a very intimidating fastball (100+). He's been clocked as high as 103 MPH on numerous occasions, and sits comfortably at 98-101. Also throws a slider and changeup, that both profile as future average to plus pitches. Tons of effort in his delivery, so he's strictly a reliever at this point. Has some reported attitude issues, but I'm hoping that he's worked through them. Made a ton of progress in 2012 with limiting his walks and getting easier outs, and rocketed himself up prospect rankings' lists, probably into the top 5 of the Tigers.
Melvin Mercedes, RHP
Mercedes is a name that the average fan isn't particularly familiar with, but that's what I'm here for. Mercedes has a future set up man profile, and some even see future closer. In 2010, he was rising quickly up prospect charts, but then had to have Tommy John surgery, which dropped him off some peoples' radars. He had a very good 2012 season, and is back on the radar, and the Tigers obviously like him a lot. He's a 2 pitch guy, with a fastball that sits 92-94 and can reach 97 or so in short bursts, and a slider that flashes plus quite often. Fastball has a lot of movement on it, specifically sink, and is often described by scouts as "heavy", meaning that the sink is so good that it results in tons of ground balls. With this repertoire, Mercedes definitely has future late-innings reliever written all over him, assuming that he can stay healthy. I'm a big fan, and obviously the Tigers are too. He spent most of 2012 in West Michigan, but given his success and the Tigers penchant to push prospects, it wouldn't shock me to see him at Erie in 2013.
Dixon Machado, SS
I've already seen a lot of people upset with the fact that Machado was protected. They google Machado's name, see his 2012 stats, and say "HE ONLY HIT .190 WHY DID WE PROTECT HIM???" Don't listen to these people, folks. They only see the partial story. Yes, Machado struggled at the plate in 2012. This is due to the fact that he is very, very weak physically. Incredibly thin/wiry, no strength whatsoever. This inhibits his ability to generate the bat speed necessary to make solid contact with the baseball, which in turn means that he makes a lot of weak contact, resulting in the low batting average. What it DOESN'T show, however, is that Machado is easily the best defensive infielder in the entire system. His glove earns 70 grades, and his arm grades out as 80 to some scouts. As I'm sure you are all aware of by now, that is insanely good. He also runs pretty well, good enough to potentially steal 15-20 bases at the MLB level. Commands the strike zone very well, but lacks the bat speed and strength (right now) to make that strike zone discipline play up in terms of batting average. I really like Machado, but he's not the first all-glove no-bat shortstop we've seen in the Tigers system. The Tigers HAVE to assume that he will hit in 2013, otherwise this move doesn't make much sense. Machado spent 2012 at Lakeland, so one would assume that he will be at Erie in 2013, depending what the Tigers choose to do with guys like Suarez and Loy.