Over the next several weeks, I'll be taking a look back at Baseball America's top ten Tigers prospects rankings. You may know some of these names, as they're still active with the Tigers or other teams. You may also see some names that you haven't seen in a while or that may make you laugh out loud. The retrospective continues with 2005.
10. Eulogio De la Cruz, RHP
De la Cruz is known more for being a part of one of the best trades in recent Tigers history than for anything he did on a baseball field. He was a supplemental piece in the Cabrera blockbuster in the winter of 2007. In 11 minor league seasons, the righty has a 3.80 ERA with 41 saves. He last pitched in the majors for the Brewers in 2011; his career ML ERA is 8.16.
9. Eric Beattie, RHP
A second-round pick in 2004, the right-hander Beattie had a historically bad 2005 season in the Gulf Coast League; in 10 games he posted a 20.25 ERA and issued 30 walks in 10 2/3 innings pitched. Compared to that, it got better, but his pro career ended in 2007 with the Red Sox. His career numbers in the minors: 3-4, 8.06 ERA, 117 walks in 77 innings.
8. Ryan Raburn, 2B/OF
I hesitate very little when I say Ryan Raburn is one of the most divisive characters in the history of the Detroit Tigers. Drafted by Randy Smith in 2001, Raburn was called up briefly in 2004 and was returned to the minor leagues before coming up full-time during the 2007 season. On paper, Raburn was a player that most of the league would covet; he had 20 homer power, decent speed, and could play several positions. But like a lot of Randy Smith draft picks, Raburn could never put it all together. After a disastrous 2012, the Tigers finally parted ways with the miscue-prone veteran.
7. Jeff Frazier, OF
Frazier was selected in the third round out of Rutgers in 2004 and toiled in the minors for the next half-dozen years between the Tigers and Mariners, briefly appearing with the Tigers in 2010. He spent 2012 in the systems of the Tigers and Cubs. Frazier's never established himself in any one particular specialty; he hasn't really hit for power (one 25-homer campaign), but isn't a consistent contact hitter either (.269 career). Furthermore, his career OBP in the minors is a relatively unimpressive .322.
6. Tony Giarratano, SS
A third round pick out of Tulane in 2003 (where he was an All-American freshman and all-conference infielder), Giarratano was a slick-fielding contact hitter who might have been the Tigers' shortstop of the future had he not had the durability of glass. Giarratano was called up in June of 2005 and hit .143 with a homer in 15 games. Then came the barrage of injuries; knee problems and shoulder problems eventually cost him all of 2007 and after he reinjured his shoulder during spring training 2008, he was released and subsequently retired at 25.
5. Humberto Sanchez, RHP
Sanchez stood an imposing 6'6'' and recorded better than a strikeout per inning in 2004 between Lakeland and Erie. Sanchez was an innings machine (three complete games in '04) and had cut his walk rate in half. However, despite an impressive 2.63 ERA in 2006 between Erie and Toledo, Sanchez never took that next step. The Yankees got him and tried to convert him into a reliever but his numbers faltered. After 2009 he left the minors and went to Mexico to continue pitching.
4. Joel Zumaya, RHP
Zumaya and his 101 mph fastball broke into the majors during the 2006 season after lighting up the minor leagues, and soon thereafter he was crowned heir apparent to the closer role. Let's see what happened next: bizarre injury after bizarre injury, a loss of command, some more injuries, released after 2011, signed with the Twins, got hurt again, free agent. In the end, another Tigers pitching prospect.
3. Justin Verlander, RHP
I really wanted to ooze sarcasm when writing this capsule, but I refrained because it's so much more rewarding to be serious about Verlander. Dude's good. Real good. Best pitcher in baseball two-plus years running good. Verlander was the second overall pick in the 2004 draft and is a five-time Opening Day starter and a five-time All-Star. He won the AL MVP award in 2011 as well as the Cy Young, and nearly won it again in 2012. He's thrown at least 200 innings in each of the last six seasons and has led the majors in pitches thrown in three of the past four seasons. He's also got two no-hitters to his credit and if it wasn't for Josh Harrison he may have a third. Verlander is an ace in every sense of the word.
2. Kyle Sleeth, RHP
Righthander Kyle Sleeth was the third overall pick in the 2003 draft and was going to be the ace that Nate Cornejo wasn't and Justin Verlander currently is. He was the #36 prospect in baseball according to BA before he had even thrown a professional pitch. He was 5-4 with a 3.31 ERA for Lakeland in 2004 and averaged nearly a strikeout per inning before he was promoted to Erie and was torched to the tune of a 6.30 ERA. Unfortunately, the worst was yet to come for the Wake Forest product. After missing the 2005 season, Sleeth recorded an 8.03 ERA between the GCL and Lakeland in 2006 and then went 1-9 with an 8.11 ERA for Lakeland and Erie in 2007 before he retired.
1. Curtis Granderson, CF
Curtis was the complete package in the minors and as a Tiger; he could hit for average, power, steal bases, field, and throw. In 2007 he joined the 20-20-20-20 club, as he doubled, tripled, homered, and stole at least 20 in each category. After an All-Star campaign in 2009, Granderson was dealt to the Yankees in the Austin Jackson three-way, and continued to become a limited player. Since joining the Yankees, he's become one of the game's best sluggers, but his average and stolen bases continue to plummet and his strikeout rate has risen exponentially.