All right, we're getting to the home stretch here. I will dedicate a bit more time to these guys, because they are in the top 10. Remember, the same rules apply as the first two parts of the countdown. Let's dive in.
10. Eugenio Suarez
It was really close between he and Hernan Perez. They both have their positive and negative points. However, the main separation for me is the positional difference. Suarez is a SS right now, and it seems like he's going to be able to stay at short. He can always move to second or third in a utility role, if he's not able to stay at short long term. I, for one, believe that he can. Suarez has had some trouble making errors at SS this season, but the profile is "solid" there. He shows good actions, a major league quality arm, and decent range. As I say with catchers, like shortstops, two way guys at these positions don't grow on trees. When you see someone who, like Suarez, could be an average defender with an average bat for the position, and has a very good chance to do so, that is an extremely valuable player.
At the plate, Suarez has a passive, but pesky approach. His advanced numbers have remained virtually identical for the last three years at three different levels. 10% walk rate (extremely good for a young MIF especially) 20% K rate, .125 isolated power (slugging-batting average). Those numbers are very solid for a soon to be 22 year old SS who has always been a young guy for the level he's playing at. If he can continue that type of production to the major league level, and can hit .250, even with a small regression in BB% and power, a line like .250/.340/.350 would make him, with the solid defensive ability that he possesses, primed to be a very good second division SS. For his pre-arb and arb years, that's a huge bargain.
9. Kevin Ziomek
I really liked this pick for the Tigers. While I do not always agree with their draft strategy in general, I would have actually been okay had the Tigers selected Ziomek in the sandwich round. However, they got him in the second round, and I thought that was really good value. The lefty from Vanderbilt had been pegged in the first round after a stellar freshman year. However, after an inconsistent sophomore year, and even a very successful junior year, he slipped to the second round. This happens often in baseball. High school guys come out of nowhere, or college players improve. Nonetheless, Ziomek is an intriguing prospect.
This past year at Vanderbilt, the 6'3 left hander had an extremely solid line, especially in the SEC: 119 IP, 79 H, 40 BB, 115 K, 1.00 WHIP, 2.12 ERA. I hand calculated his FIP to 2.60 as well. FIP, if you're unfamiliar, is an advanced way to determine ERA. I always like to say that ERA tells the story of the past, while FIP (and xFIP, SIERA, and other advanced measures) predict the future. A 2.60 FIP is extremely good, even for college.
Ziomek stands at 6'3" 200 lbs. He has a good pitcher's body. From what I have seen on video, he has a bit of funk to his delivery, which is totally cool with me as a left hander. He's got some deception. According to Bleacher Report -- and this isn't the first time that I have seen this either -- Ziomek has the propensity to lose his arm slot, and have inconsistent mechanics. This is probably what caused him to slip into the 2nd round instead of being a sure fire first rounder. The stuff is there. He features an 89-91 MPH fastball, which sometimes gets as high as 93. Normally, he's got very good control and command of that offering. He's got a slurvy breaking ball that sits in the mid 70's. It can elicit swings and misses. It's got some tight spin, and from his particular arm slot, could prove effective. Ziomek is known for his change up. There is no doubt about it. His change is big league ready right now, and flashes plus, to even plus, plus.
Without the slight mechanical issues, Kevin has the potential to be a fast riser through the Tigers system. He's an extremely polished lefty, with third starter upside. He's got a pretty high floor, too. I wouldn't put a Smyly comp on him because they do have different repertoires, but they are similar in some respects: both came from the SEC, throw in the low 90's, had success, similar draft spots, show polish and poise, etc. I see Ziomek as a sure fire major leaguer. I know that a concern about him could be the inability to miss a bat an inning at the next level. However, the last time I checked, the pitcher's job was to get outs. Kevin Ziomek gets people out.
8. Steven Moya
I wish the Tigers had more guys like this. Its kind of unfair to Moya, who is so incredibly raw, to be in the top 10, because it puts unfair expectations on him. In reality, and I know Tiger fans hate to hear this, the odds all of Moya's tools come together are relatively low. He's got an extremely high ceiling. No doubt about it. But, his floor is equally as low. The 6'6" 250(?) pound left hander looks like an adonis. He's built like a defensive lineman. Moya's body oozes projectability, I mean, he hasn't even grown into his REAL 'man' body yet.
Everyone who is familiar with Moya knows about his legendary batting practice displays. He launches balls into orbit. Moya has 80 raw power. He hasn't tapped into all of it in game situations yet, but its easy to imagine what would happen if he did. Once in awhile, Moya sends home runs deep into the night. However, there are some discernable issues with his game right now. If you were to look at Moya's minor league stats, and keep in mind, this is one guy whose stat lines definitely do not tell the story about what kind of a prospect he is, you'd see some huge flaws in his game. For one, his walk rate is abysmal. It's in Delmon Young territory. Two, he strikes out often. 8 K's for every walk is no way to succeed at the plate.
Like I have said in the past however, it's about the process, not the results. Moya needs to stay on the field. While he's 21 years old, he has had an extremely difficult time playing consistently. Taking a look at games played, Moya has 40, 86, 59, and 39 this year (and he has missed a decent amount of time already). Simply put, Moya needs at bats. It may take him a couple of extra years to develop, because he missed 50% of his plate appearances in his developmental years.
In addition to his mammoth power, Moya is a solid athlete, and while he is not currently up to major league average defensively, the hope is that he will get there. Honestly, I have no idea what Moya's ceiling could look like. Maybe something in the realm of Nelson Cruz. It's fun to dream on prospects like this. Like I said, I wish the Tigers had more of them.
Quick end note on Moya. He was struggling mightily after having some early success at Lakeland this year. However, in the last 2 weeks, he has been amazing. Over the last 10 games, in fact, Moya is carrying a .439/.477/.902 line with 4 HR 13 RBI 5 doubles and a triple. He has made adjustments to the adjustments that the league made to him. That is an excellent sign.
7. Harold Castro
If you aren't a devout Tiger fan, Castro is probably unknown to you. I have only laid eyes on him once in game action, and not in person. However, the reports about the kid are glowing. I asked Jason Parks specifically on Twitter about Castro, and he said that Castro has an innate ability to put the bat on the ball. He's a natural hitter. Baseball Prospectus ranked Castro 10th in their list of top Tiger prospects this year, and I thought that was rather aggressive, especially for someone that I was unfamiliar with. However, the Tigers obviously agreed, and dropped him in Lakeland as a 19 year old. Castro responded with a .277/.316/.329 line. He was above .300 for a decent amount of time, but had a rough patch at the end. It's a small sample, only 73 AB in fact. Castro has since traded spots with Devon Travis (which should have happened a month ago) so that each of them could get regular playing time. Castro was only playing 2 or 3 times a week, which is a peculiar way to treat a highly regarded prospect.
You may look at that slash line and not be impressed. However, for a 19 year old kid who had never played in full season ball before, it's pretty damn great. Holding your own as a teenager in High-A is nothing to scoff at, especially when you're playing up the middle of the diamond. Harold also put up a .311/.343/.420 line in the GCL, and .313/.352/.365 line in the VSL the year before. Castro stands 6 feet tall and checks in at 150 pounds. Needless to say, he's got some filling out left to do. He's not Dixon Machado skinny, but not far off, either. According to John Verburg at Motor City Bengals' scouting profile from December, he's got above average speed and has the tools in order to be a defensive asset at 2B. He's a good athlete, nothing stellar, but certainly not stiff in his motions.
The tool that I am really excited about here is the hit tool. Potential to hit close to .300 is there. Remember, he's extremely young and raw. But, you cannot teach the innate skill to make hard contact consistently. The other parts of his game will mature, and I am excited to see what Castro turns into. I will be sitting on another WMI series later this summer, and hopefully I get to see Castro for 3-4 games. Should be a treat.
6. Jake Thompson
The Tigers took Jake Thompson in the second round of last year's draft. He stands 6'4", 235 lbs. and throws right handed. Thompson had to stay down in extended spring training for the beginning of this season, supposedly due to a lack of velocity. However, those concerns have been shelved, as various reports, including Matt Snyder of Motor City Bengals who saw him in person last week, state that he is 91-94, and hit 95. I had the chance to watch a few innings of Thompson on MiLB.tv. and came away impressed. Jake has absolutely #shoved in his last 3 outings, combining for 16 IP, 9 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, and 20 K. As a 19 year old in the Midwest League, that's extremely impressive. Overall, Thompson has only surrendered 4 free passes in 23.2 innings.
I really like Thompson's delivery. He's long and overall smooth with loose arm action. His body is physically mature, however, Thompson may be able to harness his physical ability a bit better as he gets older, and could add a tick or two to his FB. I wouldn't be surprised to see him in the 92-95 range regularly. He shows poise and composure on the mound well beyond his years, and has a very good idea of how to pitch, especially for a teenager. I watched him pitch backwards even at times, as he threw his slider on the first pitch of a sequence. He definitely trusts the slider, and it has good break both vertically and horizontally. The pitch could tighten up a bit, yet it's easy to see a scenario in which the slider is a plus pitch at the major league level. The changeup, as it usually does, lags behind the other two offerings. Jake has shown the feel for the change, and with his high pitching IQ and feel, I would not be surprised to see the change up become an average offering.
All in all, Thompson is not an "ace". However, he could be a #2 or #3 starter, and I like him as much as any starter in the system. When I take my aforementioned next jaunt to Grand Rapids, I hope I get to see Jake throw in person. He could be special.