One day after naming the Detroit Tigers the 26th-best farm system in baseball -- we're not last! -- ESPN's Keith Law released his annual top-100 prospect rankings. After not placing on the list prior to the 2015 season, Tigers righthander Michael Fulmer shot all the way up to No. 48. He was the only Tigers prospect to appear on the list.
Law's ranking of Fulmer is the highest that the 22-year-old righthander has received this preseason. MLB.com put him at No. 53 overall, while Scout was a few places lower at No. 59. Baseball Prospectus ranked him the No. 89 prospect in Major League Baseball, while FanGraphs' KATOH projection model had him 84th. Baseball America has yet to release their top 100 rankings this year.
In his profile, Law describes Fulmer as "probably ready for the majors now, but since there's no room at the inn in Detroit, he'll likely start the year in Triple-A." The only criticism Law offers is of Fulmer's checkered injury history. Given his smooth progress through the better half of 2015, the Tigers are hopeful that Fulmer will be able to work 150-160 innings in 2016.
Missing on Law's rankings was righthander Beau Burrows, a borderline top-100 prospect and easily the second-best arm in the Tigers' system. Burrows was ranked the No. 98 prospect in baseball by Scout, but has missed out on the list at MLB.com, Baseball Prospectus, and FanGraphs. Burrows' biggest knocks are size and inexperience, while many scouts are impressed with how advanced his arsenal is for a teenager. Many expect him to begin the season at Single-A West Michigan.
Also absent from all top-100 lists this year is outfielder Derek Hill, who was the No. 85 prospect on Keith Law's rankings in 2015. Hill endured an injury-plagued 2015 season while hitting just .238/.305/.314 at West Michigan. The 20-year-old's biggest obstacles in 2016 are staying healthy and making progress with his bat. Lauded as an excellent defender with plus-plus speed, Hill has little defensive projection remaining.
Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager topped Law's rankings, as he has done at most other publications. Many expect that Seager will eventually end up at third base like his brother. Just behind Seager is Twins center fielder Byron Buxton, a player that has long been considered one of the best prospects in baseball. Buxton is one of seven Twins on Law's top 100, a big reason why he ranked them the third-best farm system in MLB.