The Connecticut Tigers, the Detroit Tigers' Class A-Short Season affiliate, finished the 2012 season with a record of 35-40. Their roster consisted of some solid pitching prospects without any real stars, and a few very good positional prospects, with depth among the lineup being the real issue.
OF Danry Vasquez:
Everyone knows of Vasquez by now. Very young, still very raw, but a potential star in the making. Vasquez, still only 18, began the season at West Michigan and struggled mightily. He was sent back to extended spring training, and then assigned to Connecticut when their season started. He played very well in Connecticut, hitting 3rd for the Tigers and led the team in BA, OBP, SLG, 2B, and RBI (among players who played everyday and were in Connecticut for the majority of the season). Scouts rave about his hitting ability, and he shows the potential to be able to hit for solid power as well. So far, similar to Castellanos, his power hasn't really developed beyond doubles, but as we saw with Castellanos this season, Vasquez's power will surely develop as he matures and adds strength. He still struck out a bit too much and didn't walk enough, but the hit tool is already above average with the potential for plus. He plays a solid-average LF, and could mature into a legitimate middle of the order hitter once his power develops. I expect we'll see him start 2013 in West Michigan, and ideally he stays there the entire season with good results. Baseball America recently ranked him the #9 best prospect in the NYPL, and his stock will only rise as he matures.
2B Devon Travis:
This is one of my favorite selections of the 2012 draft by the Tigers, Travis shined in the College World Series, showcasing his athleticism and solid hitting ability. He got hurt after 25 games at Connecticut, so his season was cut short, but in his limited playing time he hit for some solid power, stole a few bases, didn't strike out very often, walked a good amount, and showcased his above average defense at 2B. To me, he projects as a solid middle infield utility guy who can hit pretty well, but with some added development I could see him becoming an everyday player in the major leagues. He'll probably start 2013 in extended Spring Training, but I could easily see him in West Michigan or even Lakeland by the time the season ends.
CF Jake Stewart:
The selection of Stewart, similar to the selection of Travis, was one of my favorite selections in the 2012 draft by the Tigers. Similar to Mark from TigsTown, I'm pretty high on Stewart, higher than most of the reports I've read on him. He's a toolsy outfielder who hasn't quite put all of his tools together, but we've seen flashes of his good athleticism and solid pop. He lead Connecticut in both HR's (7) and SB (11), but also led the team in strikeouts (66), while batting leadoff for the majority of the season. When he makes contact, he barrels the ball very well, and I'm a big fan of his hands, which are very quick through the zone. The only issue is that he doesn't make a significant amount of contact, but once he improves upon his strike zone recognition and plate discipline, he has a 4th OF profile and could move rather quickly through the organization. I think we'll see him start 2013 in West Michigan, playing alongside Schotts and Vasquez.
There are several guys who show some projection from what I've read, but don't know nearly enough about to write up. These guys include, most notably, OF Pat Smith and OF Zach Kirksey (Who arguably has the best power of anyone the Tigers selected in 2012). Also keep watch on C Bennett Pickar who was widely regarded as one of the top defensive catchers in the 2012 draft, but doesn't hit very much.
And now for the pitching staff:
SP Edgar De La Rosa:
De La Rosa, the Connecticut staff ace, led the team in IP, ERA (among starters), and K's. He was a bit older at 21, but was very solid for the entirety of the season. His fastball sits 93-94, but he's been clocked at high as 98, and has some projection to sit even higher in the mid 90's, especially if he puts on some weight. He throws a slider and a change as well, both with the projection to be above-average pitches. De La Rosa is definitely one to keep an eye on, especially in 2013 where he'll probably begin the season in West Michigan.
RP Hunter Scantling:
Scantling is massive, at 6'8" 275, but for a guy his size, his fastball is rather fringy, generally sitting 89-91 and not going much above 93. For someone so big, I would expect higher velo than that, and perhaps he can add a few more ticks as he works with professional pitching coaches. He posted outstanding numbers this season at Connecticut, and will probably man the pen in West Michigan in 2013. Right now, his ceiling for me is that of a middle reliever, but that could increase with added velocity.
RP Joe Rogers:
Rogers is a guy that I was excited about when drafted, and after his 2012 season, I'm even more excited. He's a LHP that can get his fastball up to 94-95, but sits in the low 90's, and for a LHP that's very solid. He also flashes a plus curveball that grades out consistently as above average, but is a legitimate bat-missing pitch when its on. He posted great numbers in his first pro season, and could be a fast mover, especially if he stays in the bullpen and adds velo to his fastball.
RP Josh Turley:
Arguably Connecticut's best reliever, Turley posted outstanding numbers throughout the season and earned a trip to NYPL All-Star game. Turley's best pitch is his plus changeup, that offers exceptional deceptiveness. His numbers back up this claim, but I'd still like to see more strikeouts.
SP Hua-Wei Lo:
Lo is a converted position player who is reported to have a live arm. He spent some time in the GCL before being promoted to Connecticut. He still posted solid numbers at Conn, but they weren't the dominating numbers we saw in the GCL, which is, of course, to be expected. I don't really know a whole lot about Lo other than what I've written above, but I have feelers into several scouts and should hear back soon.
Some pitchers that posted good numbers/have some projectibility that I don't know very much about: Charles Gillies, Matt Davenport, and Alex Phillips
And now moving on to the hard numbers:
-OF Danry Vasquez (18): .311/.341/.401/.742 (72 Games at Conn). 289 AB, 90 H, 16 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 35 RBI, 36 R, 13 BB, 45 K, 6 SB
-2B/3B Tyler Hanover (23): .274/.336/.365/.701/61 Games. 230 AB, 63 H, 12 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 19 RBI, 25 R, 20 BB, 29 K, 10 SB
-OF Pat Smith (20): .214/.278/.313/.591/70 Games. 252 AB, 54 H, 11 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 28 RBI, 26 R, 21 BB, 67 K, 6 SB
-OF Jake Stewart (21): .218/.268/.347/.615/63 Games. 262 AB, 57 H, 11 2B, 1 3B, 7 HR, 21 RBI, 43 R, 19 BB, 66 K, 11 SB
-C Bennett Pickar (22): .205/.298/.263/.561/52 Games. 156 AB, 32 H, 4 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 12 R, 20 BB, 47 K
-SS/2B Jordan Dean (22) (CMU): .200/.269/.262/.531/44 Games. 145 AB, 29 H, 3 2B, 3 3B, 0 HR, 15 RBI, 14 R, 14 BB, 34 K, 11 SB
-SP Edgar De La Rosa (21): 4-4, 3,10 ERA, 72 2/3 IP, 66 H, 35 BB, 54 K, 1.39 WHIP
-SP Hua-Wei Lo (21): 2-4, 2.85 ERA, 66 1/3 IP, 55 H, 19 BB, 45 K, 1.30 WHIP (Split btwn GCL and Conn)
-SP Charles Gillies (22): 0-4, 3.40 ERA, 42 1/3 IP, 31 H, 17 BB, 42 K, 1.13 WHIP
-P Josh Turley (22): 4-0, 1.06 ERA, 34 IP, 23 H, 5 BB, 25 K, 0.82 WHIP
-P Alex Phillips (22): 1-0, 2.51 ERA, 32 1/3 IP, 28 H, 6 BB, 29 K, 1.05 WHIP
-P Joe Rogers (21): 2-1, 2.28 ERA, 23 2/3 IP, 20 H, 12 BB, 28 K, 1.35 WHIP
-P Matt Davenport (22): 2-1, 0.77 ERA, 23 1/3 IP, 14 H, 4 BB, 22 K, 0.77 WHIP
-P Hunter Scantling (23): 2-0, 1.23 ERA, 22 IP, 7 H, 6 BB, 21 K, 0.59 WHIP
That's it for me, folks. Any questions, comments, concerns, thoughts, etc, feel free to comment on here or contact me on twitter @TigersProspects or @B_Sakowski