Three players in the Detroit Tigers’ organization were listed among MLB.com’s top 100 prospects. Ranked at 15, right-handed pitcher Jacob Turner was the lone player to rank in the Top 50. Third baseman Nick Castellanos narrowly missed the top half, coming in at No. 51, and left-handed pitcher Drew Smyly cracked the list at No. 82.
Tampa Bay Rays’ pitcher Matt Moore is rated as the top prospect in the nation, edging out Washington’s Bryce Harper, and the Angels’ outfielder Mike Trout, who was last year’s top prospect.
Turner made his major league debut for the Tigers during the 2011 season as a 20-year-old. He struggled in his debut with the Tigers in three starts, putting up an 8.53 ERA, but the Tigers aren’t too worried about those statistics. Turner is the seventh-ranked pitcher and is expected to compete for a spot in the Tigers’ rotation this spring in Lakeland.
Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com had this to say about Turner.
Nick Castellanos is the fifth rated third baseman nationally, and the highest rated position player in the Tigers organization. The right-handed batting Castellanos is only 19 years old and spent last season at Low-A West Michigan. After a slow first month, Castellanos tore up the league with a .312 average, an on base percentage of .376, and an OPS of .803. He hit .332 after the first month of the season. He is expected to move up to Advanced-A Lakeland this season.
Statistically speaking: Two numbers jump out from Turner’s first two seasons in the Minors, showing a propensity to throw strikes and to get ground balls. The right-hander has walked just 2.1 per nine innings, and he hasn’t been afraid to pitch to contact, with a ground ball/fly ball ratio of over 1.00.
Scouting report: Turner has quickly become a fairly polished all-around pitcher, impressive given that he won’t turn 21 until May. He can crank his sinking fastball up to the mid-90s, generating many groundouts. Both his curve and changeup aren’t as consistent as his fastball, but they’ve improved vastly since he came out of high school. They both have the chance to be above-average offerings, at least, and he showed more willingness to go to them over the course of 2011. With a good feel for pitching that belies his years, he’s just about ready to help out in the Tigers’ rotation.
Upside potential: How about a very solid No. 2 starter behind Justin Verlander?
Castellanos was drafted with a supplemental pick in the first round of the 2010 draft. The Tigers paid a signing bonus of $3.45 million, a record for any player taken after the first round of the draft. Detroit lost its first pick in the 2010 draft as compensation for signing free agent Jose Valverde, but gained two supplemental first round picks as compensation for losing Fernando Rodney and Brandon Lyon as free agents. That kind of signing bonus may never be seen again after the first round due to the rules of the new CBA.
This is what Mayo said about Castellanos:
Scouting Report: He’s a good natural hitter who should continue to hit for average, especially as he gains better pitch recognition/plate discipline, something he did as he surged in the second half of 2011. He has good raw power and many of last year’s 36 doubles will become home runs as he matures. He played shortstop in high school but has moved over to third, where he’ll be more comfortable long term.
Upside potential: An All-Star-level third baseman who hits for average and power.
Smyly managed to crack the top 100 list for the first time and is the tenth rated lefty pitcher on the list. He was the Tigers’ second-round pick in the 2010 draft. At age 22, Smyly started last season at Lakeland, and moved up to AA Erie.
Smyly posted an impressive ERA of 2.58 in 80 innings of work at Lakeland. After his promotion to Erie, he was even more impressive, with an ERA of 1.18 in 45.2 innings. His K/9 ratio of 9.28 and his WHIP of 1.10, combined with the lowest ERA in the Tigers organization, earned him the distinction of "best pitcher" in the Tigers' minor league system for 2011.
Some excerpts from the scouting report on Smyly:
Scouting Report: Smyly is the prototypical advanced college lefty, one who relies on pitchability more than pure stuff. He has a four-pitch mix -- fastball, cutter, curve and changeup -- all of which are at least Major League average. He throws a lot of strikes and has a good amount of deception, keeping hitters off-balance well. If he can stay healthy -- he has some injury history -- he’s a fast-tracker who should be ready sooner rather than later.
Upside potential: He doesn’t have the ceiling of some prospects, but with his command and polish, he should be ready for the life of a No. 4-type starter soon.
Here is the complete list of MLB.com’s Top 100 prospects for 2012.