While the Tigers have not had a very good farm system in recent years, that does not stop prospect analysts from digging down and finding the most notable players in Detroit’s pipeline. On Thursday, Baseball America took a stab by releasing their top 10 list for the Tigers organization. This list was a stark reminder of the sad state that Detroit’s system is in.
The player rated as the Tigers’ best prospect is Matt Manning. A 6’6, 190 pound right-handed pitcher from California with an electric fastball, Manning was drafted at 9th overall in 2016. Despite the fact the he throws a 97-mph fastball, Manning’s injury concern is relatively low, as his delivery is an easy, repeatable one. He has the ceiling of a No. 2 starter long term.
Many of the other players on this list made waves in 2016 as well. Outfielder Christin Stewart destroyed pitching in Advanced-A Lakeland and received a well-deserved promotion to Double-A at the end of the year. JaCoby Jones, despite a slow start in Triple-A, showed he deserved a September call-up and thrilled Tigers fans with his debut. Lefthander Tyler Alexander continued to dominate opposing lineups with seeming ease using pinpoint control and keeping walks to a minimum.
While the players featured on this list are some of the Tigers’ best, there are some flaws in its construction. First, right-handed relief phenom Joe Jimenez, who had a nearly perfect season in 2016 and is likely the future of the Tigers’ bullpen, was omitted entirely. Considering his raw stuff, solid control, incredible results, and proximity to the majors, Jimenez’s exclusion was shocking to most Tigers fans.
Another puzzling choice was the inclusion of relief pitcher Adam Ravenelle at No. 8. While Ravenelle is a dynamic pitcher with a truly plus fastball, he does not appear to be a better prospect than some players that he edged out, such as Jose Azocar, Spencer Turnbull, and Grayson Greiner.
Ravenelle’s ranking is not the only shocking choice on this list — it is joined by the low ranking of Derek Hill. The speedy outfielder has been considered one of the Tigers’ best prospect since his selection in the first round in 2014, which was considered a steal at the time. However, a combination of poor results and injuries have caused the experts to turn bearish, pushing his ranking all the way down to 10th on the list. This is not the first time Hill has been ranked this low, however. He was in the 10th spot in Baseball America’s rankings in 2015 as well.
Compiled by Baseball America’s prospect experts, the full list reads like this: