Hey everyone, come and see how good I look! Am I going to start off every article with an Anchorman quote? Maybe. Welcome to the Top 30 prospect countdown. I am your host Jordan Gorosh, and will be guiding you through this magical journey in prospectland. Before we get started, I want to lay out some ground rules (no touching of the hair or face). First, just because I rank someone low, or omit someone from the list does not mean any of the following: I think they're terrible, I think the Tigers should trade them, I think they are not a prospect, I have a personal vendetta against them. Second, because I rank someone high does not mean the following: I think they are untouchable, I think they will be a major league superstar, or I play favorites. Third, I will be using information from freely available internet sources. These include Bullpen Banter, Bleacher Report, Motor City Bengals, MLB.com (for the draft guys) Scouting Book, Twitter conversations, Out of Left Field blog, and Detroit newspapers. In addition, I have had the privilege of laying my own two eyes on many of these guys. Remember, a prospect is someone who has not crossed the threshold of 130 AB or 50 innings pitched. I know Avisail Garcia is really close to this, but to be honest, it makes me feel better to put him on. Without further adieu, let's get started.
30. Edgar de la Rosa
You're all going to click his MiLB.com page, look at his stats, see his 7.4 ERA and go "wut?". De la Rosa is a very big (6'6" 240) strong pitcher, who has projection that you can easily dream on. I had the chance to see him earlier this year. He sits in the low 90's with both a 4 seam and has a 2 seam fastball that has downward plane, and can reach back for more if he needs it. His change up is his go-to secondary offering, with the slider lagging a bit behind. A guy with this kind of stuff should garner better results, so it's no surprise that he sometimes struggles with command due to an inconsistent release point and mechanical issues. While he has not had the results that everyone was hoping for in West Michigan, if DLR can put it all together, you're looking at a middle of the rotation innings eater. He does carry a significant amount of risk, however, and his floor is essentially a sexy looking low minors starter. If you'd like to read more about him, Chad Hillman went to see him pitch also, and has a report here.
29. Dean Green
You all remember Dean. He's been a favorite of TPR for awhile now. While Dean hasn't played in two months, one thing is for certain, Mean Dean Green can mash. He hit in college, he hit at Connecticut, he hit at WMI, and he hit at Lakeland before his injury. While Green is an all-bat prospect, I think that his bat will take him all the way to the majors. At the end of the day, if you can hit, someone will find a spot for you.
28. Kyle Ryan
Kyle is a guy that I am admittedly higher on than others. Why? Well, he's tall, lanky, wirey, and left handed. As a pitcher, those are all good things the last time I checked. A 12th round pick out of high school, Kyle has moved through the Tigers system steadily. Listed at 6'5" 180, Kyle has a repeatable delivery, and throws strikes; two things I love in a pitcher. His stuff isn't sexy or flashy, as he features a fastball in the 88-90 range, a big league average curveball, and a "show me" change. Kyle has posted ERA's consistently in the mid 3's, and although he doesn't strike out very many, he couples that with good control and command, and for his pro career, has only walked 2 batters per 9 innings. Look, the object of pitching isn't to look "sexy". It's to get guys out. Kyle Ryan gets guys out. I think he will have to integrate his change up into his repertoire in order to reach the ultimate ceiling of a back end starter, however. Remember, Kyle has shown that he can eat a lot of innings, going 137 in 2011, 158 in 2012, and is on pace for ~170 this year. That is a lot for a guy drafted out of high school.
27. Jordan John
John is yet another high floor, yet lower ceiling lefty. He is a guy that I did not know a lot about before I saw him throw for WMI. John featured an 88-90 mph fastball, sometimes scraping the low 90s. He also featured a nice change up and curveball, and a slider that worked as a "show me" offering. This big lefty flat out knows how to pitch. He changes speeds, keeps people off balance, and has good control, with some nice command as well. Right now, he's too good for WMI, and I would like to see how he does in Lakeland. Strike throwing lefties can have success in the low minors, just because hitters are not very advanced. However, I think John has the potential to have major league success as a touch-and-feel lefty.
26. Brenny Paulino
Paulino is a mystery man. He is an enigma wrapped in a mystery wrapped in..hopefully bacon because bacon is the best. Brenny has not thrown in a game since 2011, with shoulder issues. Shoulder issues are always bad. I can tell you that first hand. However, according to Mark Anderson, Paulino is throwing in extended spring, and could potentially see some time in the GCL this year. That is great news for the Tigers. Paulino stands 6'5", and at the age of 18, was hitting the mid 90's on the gun. Obviously, the off-speed stuff lagged behind, but the fastball is clearly his calling card. Brenny is the type of guy that, with a nice showing at the GCL could fly up the lists, or, with a growing injury history, find himself left off prospect lists entirely. We shall see.
25. Connor Harrell
I'm excited to get to West Michigan to see Connor live. He was the 7th round pick for the Tigers this year, and the organization may have a steal in Harrell. According to MLB.com, Harrell is very athletic with good tools across the board. He's got the ability to handle CF, and some pop in his bat, along with some swing and miss for sure. He is a good runner with solid range in the outfield. Harrell fell in the draft because he had a poor senior season, slashing just .241/.353/.433, but is off to a great start at West Michigan going .346/.433/.462 through 6 games. While I don't see him as a high impact guy, he's the type of player I would like to see the Tigers bring in more often: athletic ability, and potential to play up the middle of the diamond. Even if he has to eventually move to a corner OF spot, the tools should play.
24. Casey Crosby
Many of you know about Crosby by now. He's been in the Tigers system for what seems like ever. Crosby is a guy that I am "lower" on than the consensus. This is because, frankly, he cannot throw the ball over the plate. He has extreme issues maintaining his release point, sustaining his delivery, and has shown no propensity to command his fastball. He struggles after 75 pitches or around 5 innings, as well. While I understand that he is young, 24-25 is the tipping point for a prospect. If you're not throwing the ball over the plate by then, and having the same issues that you've been having your entire career, especially with his ~450 innings that he's got under his belt, it's just not going to happen for you. In my opinion, the Tigers should make Crosby a fireballing left handed reliever, and see if he can wreak havoc on left handed batters in high leverage spots. Frankly, I think the starter ship has sailed at this point.
23. Melvin Mercedes
In the Twitterverse, I read nothing but good things about Melvin Mercedes. This is a guy that the Tigers are obviously high on, as they added him to the 40-man roster before he had even reached AA ball. The first thing you should know about this Tiger reliever is that he is absolutely enormous. Bruce Rondon sized. According to John Verburg's report at Motor City Bengals, he's got a heavy fastball, usually in the 92-94 range, and can reach back for more if he needs it. Mercedes features a slider as well, which is not a true "put away" pitch yet, evidenced by his low strikeout numbers. I know that may be concerning to some, to see a reliever with around 6 strikeouts per 9, but he absolutely dominated A+ ball this season. Erie should be a good test for Mercedes, and I think that with a strong performance, you could see him in Detroit sooner rather than later. Remember, the Tigers will move relievers quickly, especially if you throw the ball over the plate.
22. Devon Travis
Oh boy. D Trav is a TPR favorite. I loved watching this guy play. What can I say about this second baseman that hasn't already been said? Travis is a gamer. He comes to play every day, and lays it all out on the field. He's got a great head for the game, which is easy to see on the field. He's got nice bat to ball skills, and is a good base runner. Is he the fastest or most athletic guy? No. Does he have a bunch of raw power? No. Does he have tremendous range at 2B? No. He's not a "toolsy" player. But, he makes all the plays at 2B, has enough arm to play the position, and has the potential to hit .275 with some doubles. He's also got a pretty high floor. With some adjustments and improvements, I could see Travis playing 2B in the major leagues, no problem.
21. Dixon Machado
Another guy who has been in the Tiger org for what seems like ever. I saw Machado a couple years ago at spring training. He probably weighed 130 pounds soaking wet. When I saw him this year on TV, he had bulked up noticeably, however, still could add another 20 pounds and still be skinny. Machado is lauded for his glove. He's got good feet, hands, and range at the shortstop position. Also, he's got an absolute freaking cannon for an arm. Plus, plus, potentially even elite. Machado could probably play defense in the major leagues right now. The question with Machado is: will he ever hit enough to play every day at the major league level? Sure, he's got some decent bat to ball skills, along with a nice approach at the plate (~10% BB rate the last two years) the issue however, is that he simply isn't strong enough right now to drive anything. Will that change as he fills out? Hopefully. Right now, I just want Machado to get back on the field. Whether it's in Lakeland or Erie, I don't really care.
Tune in tomorrow for prospects 20-11.