To err on the side of optimism regarding a potential outfield prospect, it takes a great deal more than just a good glove. The Detroit Tigers may have found just that in 19-year-old Venezuelan Jose Azocar. Starting off the 2016 season as a staple in the Low-A West Michigan outfield, Azocar is hitting .317/.333/.381 with 20 hits, including a pair of doubles, eight RBI and a 3.2 walk percentage.
While the term "toolsy" tends to be applied a bit too liberally within the league, the combination of plus speed and arm strength are working in tandem to build a quick case for Azocar. Just two years removed from entering Detroit's organization as a 17-year-old in the Venezuelan Summer League, Azocar isn't large by any means. He stands just 5'11, 165 pounds. You'll find the bulk of his swing coming in his upper body, making quick rotation at the hips with solid bat speed. Taking his inaugural assignment with Gulf Coast League Tigers in 2015, Azocar hit .325/.350/.428 with 10 doubles and 29 RBI.
Offensively, you won't find Azocar labeled as a power hitter anytime soon. Hitting his highest ISO of .103 with the GCL, it took an additional dip with Connecticut to .043 the same year. With West Michigan, his power appears to be on the rise again, but his build will require creativity to show ultimately how far he can drive the ball.
Defensively, Azocar has the ability to hold down any side of the field with eye catching range and speed, allowing him to cover a lot of ground with little effort. Despite an underwhelming build, projection remains high for Azocar, leaving a healthy amount of time to fine tune an already impressive skill set.
Advanced-A Lakeland: Christin Stewart, OF
The Detroit Tigers' first-round pick in the 2015 draft has already opened some eyes at the plate, hitting .241/.290/.537 with an .877 OPS and a boost in ISO from .205 last season with Low-A West Michigan to .288 with the Flying Tigers.
Despite the power numbers, Stewart also displayed a spike in his strikeout percentage, moving up to 26.4 from 20.8 through 51 games in 2015. At 22-years-old, plate discipline is a must and should tighten for Stewart and the season progresses.
In the outfield, Stewart hasn't grabbed much press with an average arm and lack of speed, but just three errors in Low-A last season show an ability to maintain while letting his bat offer the assistance that the Tigers organization is looking for.
Double-A Erie: Paul Voelker, RHP
Handling the pressure of a quick jump through the minor league system has the ability to speak volumes regarding the ability of righthander Paul Voelker. Returning to the club where he concluded his whirlwind 2015 season, Voelker once again finds himself in the closer's seat with the SeaWolves. Seven games deep into the regular season, Voelker is already 2 of 2 in save opportunities with 12 strikeouts and eight hits allowed over 6 1/3 innings without surrendering a run.
In 2015, the 23-year-old rifled upward, making an appearance in three of the Tigers minor league clubs in just 40 games. Between the three clubs, Voelker handled 18 of 20 save opportunities; striking out 63 in 55 1/3 innings, averaging 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings and 3.3 walks per nine with a 1.08 WHIP. It's safe to say that maintaining this consistency could land him in Comerica much quicker than you might think.
Triple-A Toledo: Steven Moya, OF
Labeled with 80-grade power from multiple sources, Steven Moya's ability to destroy a baseball has never been in question. The ability to do it consistently however, is another story. Looking to recuperate from a dismal 30.3 strikeout percentage with the Mud Hens in 2015, Moya appeared to make it his mission to obliterate the doubt by driving four home runs with a 1.187 OPS during spring training.
Boasting a revised stance and swing, that desired consistency has surfaced at a much quicker pace than expected with Triple-A Toledo, currently hitting .293/.317/.569 with an .886 OPS. Now 14 games in, Moya just posted his second two-home run game this season; the ninth time he has reached this mark since 2009.
After walking five percent of the time with the Mud Hens in 2015, Moya has kicked off the year walking just once in 58 at bats. A few offseason tweaks to his positioning at the plate are giving early hope for the version of Steven Moya that everyone is hoping will continue moving forward.