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Prospect Viewing Guide: Erie SeaWolves

With Opening Day for minor league baseball being today (Thursday), I wanted to hurry up and finish my "prospect viewing guides". Erie is going to be really, really bad in terms of pitching. They have hardly any prospects on the entire staff; but conversely their positional players are pretty stacked with talent.

Detroit Tigers OF Prospect Tyler Collins
Detroit Tigers OF Prospect Tyler Collins

2013 Erie SeaWolves (Class Double A)

*Note: I've decided to change the format up here. Instead of just going in order of the roster listings, I'm going to organize the names into "non prospects", "fringy prospects", and "prospects".

Pitching Prospects

RHP Michael Morrison

-I've had no problem saying that I think Morrison will pitch in the majors this season. He's a big, 2 pitch reliever without a tremendous ceiling, but I can easily see a quality middle reliever here. His fastball sits in the low 90's, bumping to 94-95 in short bursts, and has a lot of movement which helps him get weak contact. He has a nice slider that misses bats as well. His command holds him back.

RHP Tyler Stohr

-Similar upside to Morrison, Stohr is mostly a 2 pitch reliever that can miss bats and get weak contact. His fastball will sit 92-93 with solid life, touch 94 or so but straightens out as it gets firmer. He also throws a slider that can miss bats, but it's hit and miss. He also "throws" a changeup, but it's not a very good pitch. He profiles as a middle reliever-7th inning guy long term, and if his command improves he has a nice MLB career lined up.

Pitching Marginal Prospects

LHP Kyle Lobstein

-Acquired from the Rays in the offseason via the Rule 5 draft; and then kept by Detroit in exchange for Curt Casali a few weeks ago. Lobstein will start in Erie, although he was given the chance to win the long reliever job with the Tigers in spring training. The hope is that he can add some velocity to his below-average fastball, considering he's a big guy with some projectability left. He also throws an average curve and a nice change up, but he lacks command and often leaves too many pitches in the middle of the plate. His upside is that of a #5 starter or long reliever.

RHP Warwick Saupold

-Signed out of Australia, Saupold spent most of 2012 in West Michigan's bullpen, but earned a promotion to Lakeland late in the season where he was transitioned into a starter. He did pretty well overall last season, posting a combined 3.13 ERA across 89 innings with an 8.3 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9. He will be in Erie's rotation and should post some solid numbers, but his prospect stock is marginal at best. He has a long reliever/5th starter upside, but it's kind of a reach to see even that.

RHP Tyler Clark

-Dominated Class A+ last season, and took over as closer once Rondon was promoted. His stats from 2012 are video game-esque, with a 0.63 ERA, 12.4 K/9, 3.6 BB/9, and 0.84 WHIP. He was hit around a bit in a very small sample size at Erie once he was promoted, so he'll head back there to help anchor the bullpen in 2013. Not much upside here, but I think he could be a solid middle reliever at the very top of his ceiling.

Pitching Non-Prospects

-RHP Cesar Carrillo

-RHP Robbie Weinhardt (yes, he's still around. And still bad)

-RHP Dave Kopp

-RHP Patrick Cooper

-LHP Matt Crouse

-RHP Derek Hankins

-RHP Victor Larez

-LHP Will Startup

-RHP Justin Souza

Editors Note: That was depressing

Positional Prospects:

C James McCann

-Best catching prospect in the system now, especially with Casali gone. Struggled with the bat in 2012 at Erie, but will never hit a ton. Excellent game manager, plus receiver, defender, and thrower. Bat has some projection remaining, and if it develops enough he could end up an average starter somewhere. As it sits, he looks more like an above-average backup, and as a right handed hitter, he looks like he has a future in Detroit.

C Ramon Cabrera

-Switch hitting catcher with solid contact skills and decent pop for someone his size. Struggles defensively. Solid arm, but the footwork behind the plate is shoddy and his receiving skills need work. Profiles as an offense-first backup.

SS Dixon Machado

-Will start season on DL. Plus-plus defender with elite arm from SS. Truly a pleasure to watch in the infield. Above average runner that can steal 20 bases annually. Finally put on some weight and strength; and it was noticeable at the plate in spring training. Finally has some bat speed. Has always had a nice approach at the plate, but made a lot of weak contact due to lack of strength. Should play in the majors solely because of defense, but if the offense comes along to an average level, he'll start.

2B/SS Hernan Perez

-Can play SS, so I'd assume he plays there until Machado comes back. Solid utility profile. Plus defender with plus arm from 2B, a tick down from that at SS. Runs very well. Virtually no power, but makes contact. Doesn't strike out a ton, but doesn't walk either. Aggressive approach which leads to weak contact when he expands the zone.

1B James Robbins

-Pretty much a prospect solely because of his power. Has plus plus raw power from the left side, but he's such an unrefined hitter that he struggles to get to the power in games. Decent defender at 1B, but still struggles there overall. Tons of swing and miss. Best bet for a major league career at this point is a power bat off the bench for someone. When he makes contact, the ball goes a long way. He just doesn't make solid contact all that often.

OF Daniel Fields

-We know the story here: Lots of tools, but hasn't come together fully. Would play CF in a perfect world, but with Jamie Johnson being in Erie as well, Fields will probably play LF. Potential plus defender with a bad arm; above-average speed allows defense to play up a tick. Struggles to make contact at the plate despite a solid approach. Hitting mechanics need work, but there's always hope held out for guys with his kind of tools. Looks like a 4th OF right now.

OF Tyler Collins

-Lit the world on fire in spring training, but still has a limited ceiling. He's a tweener. Doesn't have the speed or defensive skills to play CF, but doesn't have the power to profile well in a corner. He's a good hitter with average power, and should hit for a pretty high average wherever he goes. If he can get a bit more power, I see a solid everyday left fielder. If he can't, then he's more of a platoon guy at the big league level. Regardless, he's probably really nice trade bait for the Tigers due to the existence of Nick Castellanos and Avisail Garcia.

Positional Marginal Prospects

UT Wade Gaynor

-Gaynor is similar to Collins in that he's a tweener. He doesn't have the defense to stick at 3B or LF everyday, but doesn't have the bat to stick as a 1B. He has legitimate power, but the bat still has lots of swing and miss in it. Very good athlete and good runner for his size. Overall, he looks like a bench guy if it all works out, and a solid org guy if it doesn't.

OF Jamie Johnson

-I'm an unabashed Jamie Johnson fan. Personally, I think he's a better player that Quintin Berry. He doesn't have Berry's speed, but he's an above-average runner nonetheless who plays above-average to plus defense in CF (or LF). He has a very good approach at the plate, doesn't strike out much at all, and is more than willing to take a walk. Virtually no power at all; he gets his extra base hits by dumping the ball down the lines and running like hell. Overall he has a 4th-5th OF profile, but I don't think he's going to get that chance in Detroit.

Positional Non-Prospects

-OF Luis Castillo

-OF Marcus Lemon

-IF Brandon Douglas


Overall, if you're going to see Erie, you're going to watch their positional players. They should score plenty of runs with Collins, Fields, Johnson, Gaynor, and Robbins all projected to be in the everyday lineup; and should be really fun to watch in the field when Machado comes back and Perez slides back to 2B. Overall, they have a nice group of prospects here, but I don't think they're going to have a good season simply because they're pitching is awful.

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