A Look Back: Prospects Who Made It To Detroit in 2012

Tigers RF Prospect Avisail Garcia - Gregory Shamus

As is true every year, several prospects made their major league debuts in 2012. Guys like Avisail Garcia and Drew Smyly were highly ranked heading into the season, so their successes weren't too surprising, but other guys seemingly came out of nowhere to contribute.

So yeah, season over. I cried, I curled in the fetal position hoping it was all a dream, I tried to make a deal with the devil but he wouldn't bite, I contemplated getting drunk, and all of the other stuff you do after a World Series loss. But, while I'm not over it yet, I'm at least back to the functioning world. So, with that being said, I thought that since this is a prospects site, why not take a look back at the prospects who made it to Detroit in 2012.

This is in no order other than what pops into my head, so yeah, here we go:

Avisail Garcia, RF

Garcia finally began to put his notable set of tools together this season, which resulted in good numbers at both Lakeland and Erie, and finally resulting in a late-season call up to Detroit. While in Detroit, we witnessed Garcia's great athleticism, good speed, rocket arm, and the fact that he looks a ton like Miggy. The plate discipline is a work in progress, as is the power, but both of those facets of the game will come in time. A lot of people are already penciling Garcia into the opening day 2013 lineup card, but I'd like to disagree with that. Garcia is still very raw, and while he's supremely talented, he needs to season some more in the minors. He will get some seasoning in winter league, and some more in Spring Training, but I'm of the opinion that he needs another 1/2 season in AAA. He's the RF of the future in my view, but not the RF of 2013.

MLB Stats (Not Including Playoffs):

.319/.373/.319/692. 47 AB, 15 H, 0 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 7 R, 3 BB, 10 K

Drew Smyly, LHP

Smyly was my pick in Spring Training to win the 5th starter job (pats self on back) and did so by beating out guys like Duane Below, Adam Wilk, Casey Crosby, and Andy Oliver among others. Smyly tore apart the world during his first several starts, showcasing the command and poise that saw him rocket through the minor leagues, while also striking out more batters than even I expected. Injuries derailed his 2012 campaign at times, as well as a little bit of regression towards the mean, but overall I think 2012 was a great success for Smyly, and I'd be shocked if he wasn't in the Tigers rotation to begin 2013. He's never been known for overpowering stuff, but he has a fastball that he can run up to 93-94 in bursts, a cutter that sits in the mid-80's that is very effective against RHH, and a mix of other offspeed pitches including a curve, slider, and change that all can be very effective when thrown right. Smyly does not have upside beyond a 3-4 starter, but considering the Tigers have one of the best top 3's in all of baseball, if Smyly can be a very effective 4 starter, it's a win in my book.

MLB Stats:

4-3, 3.99 ERA, 99 1/3 IP, 93 H, 33 BB, 94 K, 1.268 WHIP

Brayan Villarreal, RHP

Villarreal came into 2012 still retaining prospect status, although we had seen him in bursts during the 2011 season. A converted starter, he more or less set the world on fire in 2012, showcasing a fastball that sat in the mid-high 90's. touching 99 on several occasions, as well as a slider that flashed plus potential at times. He struggled with command at times, as well as composure, but it was still a very, very successful season. He was left off the postseason roster in favor of Rick Porcello, which ruffled a few feathers, but I think it was the right move, even in retrospect. Some were calling for Villarreal to be made the closer this season, especially during the stretches when Jose Valverde, Phil Coke, and Joaquin Benoit all struggled, but I don't see a closer profile. He should enter the 2013 season as one of the late-inning's guys, especially since he's effective vs. RHB and LHB. I expect he'll be a key cog in the bullpen in 2013 and beyond, but not as a closer.

MLB Stats:

3-5, 2.63 ERA, 54 2/3 IP, 38 H, 28 BB, 66 K, 1.207 WHIP

Casey Crosby, LHP

Crosby has been well-known to Tigers fans for a few years now, showcasing the pure stuff that profiles him as a potential 2 starter, but his command and injury issues have held him back. 2012 was a successful season for him because it was the first time he was fully healthy for 2 consecutive seasons, even if the numbers aren't mind-blowingly good. He made a few starts with the Tigers in 2012, with middling results, but the fact that he was healthy enough and effective enough in AAA to get the callup speaks volumes to me about his future potential. Some have called for him to move to the bullpen (a la Andy Oliver) which makes some sense if his command never comes under control, but as for this offseason and into 2013, I'd keep him as a starting pitcher. He'll start 2013 in AAA, and depending on how the Tigers go about solidifying their starting rotation this offseason, he'll probably be the "6th starter", so to speak, and will get the first look if injuries arise. Also potential trade bait.

MLB Stats:

1-1, 9.49 ERA, 12 1/3 IP, 15 H, 9 K, 11 BB, 2.108 WHIP

Bryan Holaday, C

Holaday was somewhat of an unknown to the average fan coming into 2012, but you better get to know him quick, since it looks like he will be the Tigers backup catcher in 2013. Holaday is known for his glove, projecting to have plus D as he develops. Also showcases a strong throwing arm, excellent leadership skills, and great game-calling ability. His bat is weak, neither projecting for power nor average as a professional, but for the sake of the Tigers needing a RHH backup, he profiles well in that role. He had a cup of coffee in the big leagues in 2012 when Laird and Avila each had their injury issues, showcasing a good ability to the work the count and his solid D. He'll never "wow" anyone, but as we've seen, solid backup catchers are incredibly valuable pieces.

MLB Stats:

.250/.250/.333/.583. 12 AB, 3 H, 1 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 3 R, 0 BB, 2 K

Jose Ortega, RHP

Ortega made his debut in 2012, throwing just 2 2/3 IP as a bullpen stop gap due to injury issues. Ortega is a small-ish reliever who throws a fastball and slider, with the fastball sitting in the mid 90's and the slider being a solid-averahe pitch. He could end up being a MR on the club over the course of the next several years, but when he allows his fastball and slider to straighten out and get up the zone, he gets hit hard, and his command is severely lacking.

MLB Stats:

0-0. 3.38 ERA, 2 2/3 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 4 K, 1.50 WHIP

Duane Below, LHP

Below is a helluva story: Later round pick, hometown kid, etc, etc. Below made the team out of Spring Training, and actually led the AL in wins for a couple weeks with 2, due to his relief appearances early in the season. He had a pretty solid year, showcasing the long relief ability that makes him somewhat valuable. He'll never be more than a LR/mop up guy, with the ability to spot-start if need be, but regardless, he's a great guy to have in the organization.

MLB Stats:

2-1, 3.88 ERA, 46 1/3 IP, 49 H, 8 BB, 29 K, 1.230 WHIP

Luis Marte, RHP

Marte made the Tigers out of Spring Training, but a late injury caused him to not be able to head north with the team, and he didn't make his debut until later in the season. With Marte, I think the Tigers have a legitimate 6th-7th inning middle reliever, but not much more than that. His stuff isn't particularly overpowering, but he has an ability to miss bats while not walking too many. I'm thinking that he will make the team in 2013, but could easily be an up-and-down guy as well.

MLB Stats:

1-0, 2.82 ERA, 22 1/3 IP, 19 H, 9 BB, 19 K, 1.254 WHIP

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