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More Prospecting for Prospects

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As Rob Neyer mentioned today, this early part of the year is when baseball prospect lists begin to hit the streets. (Or the web. Or whatever.) We saw Baseball America's tally a couple of weeks ago. Two big ones now available come courtesy of ESPN.com's Keith Law and Baseball Prospectus' Kevin Goldstein. Both released their Top 100 Prospects list today.

In past years, such lists might have held a bit more meaning for Detroit Tigers fans, as we awaited the inevitable arrival of Cameron Maybin. But thanks to a kind of a big deal you may have heard about, most of that minor league prospecting fun went down south to the Florida Marlins' organization. (Maybin, by the way, is #13 on Law's list, while Goldstein has him at #10. Gorkys Hernandez and Jair Jurrjens are #83 and #86, respectively on Goldstein's list, as well.)

Thanks to the work of Team Dombrowski, however, Detroit's minor league system isn't completely wiped out. There's still at least one big ticket prospect to keep an eye on. Rick Porcello has enough hope attached to him to have been part of TigerFest and the winter caravan touring the state of Michigan in mid-January. So where does the Tigers' next great pitching hope stack up?

Law has Porcello as the 22nd-ranked prospect in baseball.

The top prep pitcher in the 2007 draft, Porcello has outstanding stuff and just looks the part of a big league ace. Porcello is already sitting at 92-94 mph and will touch 97 a few times an outing with two curveballs, both 12-to-6, one a late-breaker near 80 mph and the other a slower version in the upper 60s. His changeup shows promise; he turns the pitch over well, but slows his arm enough for hitters to notice. He has a very quick arm and a projectable frame, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see him sitting at 95-plus mph in a few years, working his way toward the top of the Tigers' rotation.

Yesterday, Law also listed each team's top five prospects. Porcello was followed by - in order - Cale Iorg, Casey Crosby, Danny Worth, and Brandon Hamilton. Earlier this week, he also listed Porcello as the fifth-best right-handed pitcher.

(Incidentally, Law's non-baseball blog has also become a favorite of mine. And I'm not just saying that because my personal blog is on his blogroll. Plug what?)

Goldstein, meanwhile, listed Porcello as the #11 prospect, right behind Maybin. He explained some of his thought process in a chat at BP earlier this afternoon. What his rationale comes down to is that he gave higher rankings to pitchers who could someday be pitching staff aces, rather than the most major league ready. (Law also had a chat at ESPN.com, which you can find here. There's a question about why Jurrjens isn't on his list.)

That's about it for Top 100 love of Detroit Tigers prospects. The pickings are kind of thin these days.