First thing's first- I'm sorry about the delay on the depth charts. The pitching ones will be coming out soon, but they're a battle- 3 or 4 solid hours of work and formatting requires me to make time, which is scarce right now. I'm also going to cheat like a dog on the relievers one and use the one in the BA Handbook (with a few adjustments, of course). They are coming though, I promise.
What I want to do right now is go over some of my sleepers within the system- and why I think they're sleepers- or anti-sleepers. There's some upside in this system with both arms and bats and I want to talk a little about that. Don't expect top prospects on this list- I'm not mentioning Turner/Crosby/Streiby/Schlereth here. Instead, I want to focus on the guys whose names you may know next year. I also want to focus on a few guys that I feel are overrated- we'll do four of each to make things even.
And, here we go.
Wade Gaynor- 3B
Sure, Gaynor has put up miserable numbers as of now. There is no defense for that, and he may turn out to be a bust. But he's got some ability, a lot more than those numbers show. Not only was he unlucky last year, but the tools he has at his disposal mean he could be a heckuva stick- he's got lots of power and above average speed. The problem is a very messy swing- so if that gets fixed, he'll be the next Scott Sizemore- not flashy or impressive, but a solid regular at a position where the Tigers need depth. While normally the odds of that are long, Baseball America notes his "strong work ethic", and that might work to his advantage.
James Robbins- 1B
Robbins is why I love the Tigers front office (specifically David Chadd and Mike Illich). He's a 30th round pick who signed for $235,000, and he may be worth it in the long run. He's got a good lefthanded swing- with both good bat speed and good power, and he's a former pitcher, so he has a good arm. I'd move him to LF or RF because of that cannon (and Miguel Cabrera/Ryan Streiby), but he's a poor athlete, so that might not work out well. The bat is really promising here, and he could be a huge steal in the 30th.
I'm cheating here. Big time. There's really nowhere but Iorg to go but up. I don't think he'll be an elite shortstop, and I'd bet against him being an above-average starter, but he's working off a ton of rust and a Tigers organization that decided to rush him. To be an optimist, Iorg managed to fix his defense, and if he's willing to take his reps in plate discipline exercises, he may just pan out. He'll be a good one if he can hit a curveball (or at least lay off the God forsaken thing). He's a good choice to be considered a post-hype sleeper, and I'm kind of rooting for him at this point.
Zach Simons- RHRP
Simons has an above average fastball, a good breaking pitch and sharp command (that got better at AAA- small sample there though). Sickles noted his reverse platoon split and extreme flyball tendencies in his 2009 book, and while the FB rate may be an issue, he's got good stuff and good command. BA didn't rate him in their top 30 prospects, and Sickles only gave him a C, but I expect to see Simons in Detroit sometime this year, and I can see him as ether a fireman-type or a decent setup guy. He's nothing special, but he should be better than Jason Grilli (the dude we traded for him).I think he's underrated right now, and he'll have an impact.
Andy Oliver- LHP
Oliver has the potential to make me look like a real idiot. He's a lefty that gets it up to 96- with movement, he's got a good changeup, and he's a big, athletic guy with a good delivery. But I don't trust anyone who loses a breaking ball- some say it was his slider, others say it was his curve. It doesn't matter. It's gone, and I'm not sure it's coming back. If it doesn't, he profiles as a reliever- albeit a good one. A bigger worry to me is what happens when the kid is placed under stress- the NCAA used him as a scapegoat in an anti-agent purge last year and the stress may have gotten to him- while Sickles uses that as an excuse, losing command and a plus pitch when thrown into the fire is not a good sign. I hope he proves me very, very wrong and we don't end up with another lefty reliever, but I have little faith.
Wilkin Ramirez- OF
This one is, surprisingly, not all about the plate discipline. The demotion to AA Erie isn't a good sign, but Ramirez's inability to translate his tools to results with success is a worse one. Ramirez has all the potential in the world- 25-25 ability, a swing that could lead to a .300 batting average and good enough wheels/arm strength to be a plus defender in the outfield. But at 23, we should be seeing something. He's got the potential to burn me, but I think Matt Wallace at Take 75 North is right- he's a 4th OF at this point.
Brennan Boesch- OF
When your upside is Marcus Thames, you've got problems. Boesch can smash, but there are questions about Erie inflating his HR numbers (thank you again, BA). He can't take walks and he can't hit for power without sacrificing a ton of contact ability. His swing is clunky and is full of holes. His defense is average. One-dimensionality only works if that dimension kicks major ass- his doesn't. Thank you, but I'll take an outfield of Wells/Jackson/Thomas with Ramirez on the bench over Boesch anywhere.
Alfredo Figaro- RHSP
Figaro is a personal favorite of mine- he's a fun little pitcher with a good fastball (especially for a little guy- he's only 6 foot). But he's got issues with his breaking stuff that results in less strikeouts than he should be getting. Scouting reports differ on his stuff wildly- I've seen BA say he has 3 swing-and-miss pitches while Sickles hates everything but his fastball/changeup combo. He's probably going to move to the bullpen and end up as a poor man's Fernando Rodney (his cousin). Disappointing- I really wish he could start long-term, but his upside there is very limited. He'll pitch in the majors, but not as a starter, which is disappointing.
Feel free to add predictions or ask questions in the comment thread.