As the first installment of the top 30, I want to clue everyone in to a few guys who just missed. Based off ceiling alone, quite a few of these prospects would rank in the back end of the top 30, or even higher. However, for a myriad of reasons, they are ranked just outside. Remember, these rankings are not OFP or ceiling rankings. Steven Moya has a top 3 ceiling in the Tigers system. He won't be in the top 3. I actually ranked him outside of the top 10. I don't think it's very likely he reaches that enormous ceiling. These things need to be taken into consideration. As you may recall from the primer, I am not ranking anyone who has not played stateside in my top 30, but a couple of them will be featured in this list.
Abstract, but certainly interesting
Confesor Lara- A converted position player, Lara tried his hand on the mound in 2012 in the Dominican Summer league, and came stateside for 2013 in the GCL. You may remember him from my top 25 Tigers names from last year as well. Lara drew rave reviews in 52 innings of work. He sat 90-93 with easy arm action and a live fastball with good movement, and also a sharp slider that he was able to throw to both RH and LH batters alike. Even though he'll be 23 this year, he has virtually no innings on his arm. Lara throws strikes and attacks hitters, and he could be a fast mover through the Tigers system due to his advanced age and reliever profile.
Brenny Paulino- The man, the myth, the legend. Brenny has now undergone two shoulder surgeries in as many years, and I'm beginning to wonder if he'll ever step on a baseball field again. Shoulders are really, really fickle, I know this first hand. I have to keep him in this category, because he was an extremely promising, young arm only a few years ago. Brenny has an excellent pitchers body and exploding fastball from the right side. If he can get back on the mound, he's certainly one to watch.
Anthony Castro- Sometimes you have to give credit where credit is due, and this is a Mark Anderson special. Mark introduced Castro to the Tigers prospect community last year, and he's quite an intruiging right hander. Castro has enjoyed success in each of the past two years in the VSL. He throws in the low 90s with a pitchers body, good action, and shows nice feel for his offspeed. Castro is set to turn 19 in April, so I'd imagine that he'll be throwing in the GCL this summer. I'm anxious to hear reports on his progress.
Franklin Navarro- I have received mixed reports on Navarro, and he was relatively close to breaking in the top 30, but I'm anxious to see what happens when he gets to full season ball in 2015. He looks on track for an arrival in the NYP this season. Navarro is decent behind the plate, and shows good actions, especially for an 18-year-old catcher. At this point, it looks like he should be able to stay there. His game calling and game handling skills could use some work, but with proper development, those things should improve. At the plate, Navarro is a switch hitter, which is of course intriguing. He shows some pop from both sides of the plate, mostly gap power at this point. In the current state of the Tigers system, with some improvement, Navarro could be a top 10 prospect if he continues to look like a role 5 catcher in the next 12-18 months.
Domingo Leyba- After a nice season in the DSL, Leyba apparently turned some heads. It's nice to see good numbers in the DSL, or even the VSL, but those numbers don't mean a whole lot. I didn't really know too much about him until recently, when Baseball America put him in the top 10 prospects in the Tigers system. I vehemently disagree with that assessment, esspecially after learning more in depth about his profile. Leyba is a grinder in the MIF, without much physical projection left. He shows a good feel for hitting at the plate, has a nice approach, and at 18, has the profile to become a second division starter. However, he's so far away at this point, that it's still difficult to paint a picture. I'm not going to get very excited about an 18 year old guy tearing up the DSL, and until he comes stateside, I'm going to reserve judgment. However, he's certainly a guy to keep an eye on going forward.
Some flash, just want more
Dixon Machado- I have really soured on Machado. I haven't seen much, if any improvement at the plate in three years. At some point, posting .550 OPS' time and time again has to play into your status as a prospect. Of course, it's more about the process than the actual numbers, but Machado's process isn't much better. While he's added a bit of weight, he's still got to put on 20+ more pounds, and add a lot more strength. He doesn't hit the ball hard often enough, and hardly, if ever, drives it. While Machado still has the tools to become an every day SS, or even a good utility guy, it's hard to imagine him doing so unless the bat improves drastically. While Dixon's defense at SS is certainly plus, and he's got a rocket arm to boot, he's not Cale Iorg quality on D, and we all know how that worked out for Cale. He was recently removed from the 40 man this year, so we'll see what the 2014 calendar year holds. Machado needs PA's desperately (as he's only accumulated ~1700 since signing in 09), so hopefully he can stay on the field.
Edgar de la Rosa- I'll just rehash my scouting notes from this year, because they were pretty detailed. You can find more of these here "Huge, imposing pitcher. Seriously, he's gigantic. Every bit of his listed 6'6 240. DLR has a three-quarters arm slot, and a bit of effort in his delivery. He has trouble staying balanced after delivery, often falling off to the first base side of the mound, or even spinning in a circle after delivering the ball. Not only is that bad for fielding your position, but it's difficult to stay balanced and repeat your delivery/arm slot when your landing is so off kilter. For as hard as he threw (93-95), he was getting squared up relatively often. There were not a lot of uncomfortable at bats against him. He left his fastball up a few times, and it got pounded when he did. He had a slider at 81-82, but it didn't have much plane, and he couldn't throw it for strikes. The slider also lacked spin, and needed overall tightening. It was more of a vertical pitch than a horizontal one. He threw one change up, by my count, which wasn't really a usable pitch at this point. Overall, I view Edgar as a reliever, and think that it's possible he makes the transition next season. I wouldn't be surprised to see him add a tick or two as a reliever, and sit in the mid to high 90's consistently." I still feel the same way regarding DLR. He should end up as a reliever, and I'm interested to see how he can do in short bursts. The FB will certainly play, and hopefully he refines the slider into a usable out pitch. The low minors pitching situation is kind of a log jam right now, so I'm interested to see where he starts 2014.
Jose Valdez- I saw him earlier this year before he moved up to Lakeland, and I didn't come away terribly impressed. Valdez sat 93-94 with a slider that I could accurately describe as "meh." Granted, it was pretty cold out, although that didn't stop Robert Stephenson from throwing 110 MPH with a 7 pitch mix. I joke. Sorta. Regardless, Valdez was straight over the top with a long arm swing, that makes it relatively easy to see the ball the entire way. His delivery had no deception and the fastball was straight. However, his velocity improved in Lakeland to the mid-high 90's, and the slider was a bit sharper. I see him as a mid leverage reliever, and even though he's currently closing games, I don't see a closer's ceiling. There are a million relievers just like this, both in the Tigers organization, and all around baseball. Valdez didn't do much for me, and even though he's getting plenty of internet publicity for nice numbers between two levels this year, I don't see him as an impact arm at the major league level.
Jordan John- John probably has the highest floor of anyone on this list. He just missed the top 30 cut. In all fairness, it was a debate between he and Kyle Lobstein for the last spot on the list. I had to give the nod to Lobstein in this case, just because he's performed at a higher level than John right now, with similar type stuff, even though he's a couple of years older. John dominated MWL opponents this year, holding them to a 2.92 ERA in 111 innings of work, including a 13 K performance his last start of the season. He also had a 3.42 GB/FB ratio, which is promising. John will be 23 years old this year, and will most likely be in the rotation at Lakeland. As a guy from a power school, I'd expect to see him dominate the low minors, but it's always good to see thus far. John is your classic touch and feel lefty, who features an 88-90 MPH fastball with some run and sink, with a nice curveball and change that he's not afraid to throw at any time in the count. At 6'3 200, you hope John can add another tick on the fastball, as I know he's working on doing this offseason, and see what happens. He could fit into the back end of a major league rotation.
Dean Green- A big, hulking slugger, Green is really having trouble staying on the field. Plus, he's not a very good first baseman. It's clear the organization doesn't hold him in very high regard, as he bounced between levels as a 24 year old this season. He can certainly hit, although he can't do much else, and I'm holding out hope that he's a late bloomer in the high minors.