While their name suggests otherwise, Baseball Prospectus has not always been the authority on prospects in the baseball world. However, they are quickly making up ground. Their annual release of the top 10 prospects in each organization has arguably become as anticipated as those from Baseball America. Today, BP released their top 10 Tigers prospects list, and the results are as expected.
Outfielder Derek Hill tops the rankings, as he has for many other publications. The 19 year old outfielder was the 23rd overall pick in last year's draft after drawing early comparisons to Torii Hunter for his defensive prowess. Hill was limited by a hand injury in his first taste of professional action, and hit .208/.296/.295 in 197 plate appearances at two levels. Many expect the Tigers to challenge Hill with an assignment to Single-A West Michigan in 2015, though he will be one of the youngest players in the league.
Catcher James McCann and outfielder Steven Moya sit behind Hill, as expected. McCann is expected to be the team's backup catcher in 2015, while Moya will likely spend the year refining his plate discipline and swing mechanics at Triple-A Toledo. Pitchers Buck Farmer and Kevin Ziomek round out the top five. BP is confident that both players could be mainstays in an MLB rotation if they progress as expected, with Farmer hitting his stride a bit earlier thanks to his rapid rise through the system in 2014.
The rest of the top ten consists of some familiar names. Left-hander Kyle Lobstein sits at number six after a solid MLB debut in the Tigers' rotation in 2014. However, his limited upside keeps him from rising to the upper echelon of the system. Right-handed pitchers Spencer Turnbull and Joe Jimenez are seventh and ninth, respectively. Turnbull is another prototypical Tigers draft pick: a big, burly SEC right-hander with limited upside. Jimenez has already been moved to the bullpen, but has a knockout fastball-slider combination that many think could make him a ninth-inning mainstay for an MLB club. Catcher Grayson Greiner is eighth, while shortstop Dixon Machado's solid 2014 season bumped him up into the top 10.
In the same article, Baseball Prospectus also released a list of the ten best players in the system under 25 years of age. To no one's surprise, Nick Castellanos topped this list. BP prospect writer Jordan Gorosh -- hey, we know him! -- notes that Castellanos' rookie season "went about as expected," but notes that he still has considerable offensive potential. Jose Iglesias, Bruce Rondon, and Anthony Gose sandwich Hill to round out the top five, while Hernan Perez jumps in with four other prospects in the bottom half of the top 10.
While the Tigers have one of the thinnest farm systems in the majors, their ability to mine talent from other markets and trade those prospects for major league talent has been universally praised. They will need to start getting more production from the farm system at the MLB level -- particularly from the bullpen -- but a shallow set of prospects has not limited them from staying competitive over the past decade.