The 2016 MLB draft is fast approaching, so it's high time we start ramping up our coverage of this much-ballyhooed (not really) event. Before we start profiling the prospects who could be on the Detroit Tigers' radar for the No. 9 overall pick, we need to survey what currently lies in the team's farm system. Not every minor leaguer will be analyzed, but even those with a modicum of major league upside will make an appearance. After looking at their catching depth a couple weeks ago, we move on to the Tigers' corner infielders.
Casey McGehee (33) - R/R and Chad Huffman (31) - R/R
Neither Huffman nor McGehee have any projection left, and on the wrong side of 30, aren't even remotely considered prospects anymore. However, given the lack of projectable talent in the Tigers' farm system, they are manning the corner infield spots at Triple-A this season. Huffman has made 36 starts at first base and is hitting .317/.423/.591, while McGehee is batting .296/.349/.392 in 52 games.
JaCoby Jones will compete for playing time at the corner infield spots now that he has been called up to Triple-A, but should also see time at other positions.
Dominic Ficociello (24) - S/R
Drafted by the Tigers in both 2010 and 2013, Ficociello enjoyed a bit of a breakout season in 2015. He hit .293/.349/.415 in 128 games between Advanced-A Lakeland and Double-A Erie, earning him a trip to the Arizona Fall League. Ficociello flopped in the AFL, however, posting a .651 OPS in 19 games. He has gotten off to an even slower start in 2016. The bat is still a work in progress, but should he hold his own offensively, he has the defensive skills and versatility to serve in a utility role. A gifted defender at first base, Ficociello ranked among TigsTown's top five infield defenders in the system heading into the 2016 season.
Dean Green (26) - L/R
It's a major stretch to refer to Green as a prospect now, as he is days away from turning 27 years old. The big, burly first baseman has put up solid offensive numbers throughout his minor league career, but not the kind of gaudy figures many were hoping for when he was drafted in 2011. He was never going to see much major league action in Detroit with Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez in the fold, but Green's lackluster home run numbers and subpar bat speed have been his biggest downfall.
Zach Shepherd (20) - R/R
Aussie Zach Shepherd is one of the more interesting prospects in the Tigers' system. Shepherd posted monster numbers in the Gulf Coast League in 2014, then was able to largely hold his own at Single-A in 2015 after skipping a level. Now 20, Shepherd is almost three years younger than the average player in the Florida State League. His inexperience may be starting to show, with a .194 batting average and .621 OPS through 49 games. He has a 12.3 percent walk rate, however, which has been one of his calling cards since the Tigers signed him as an amateur. There are questions about his future at third base, but the Tigers will likely wait for his bat to develop before they worry about the glove.
Single-A West Michigan
Will Allen (24) - R/R
Originally drafted as a catcher, Allen's value has taken a hit now that the organization is using him exclusively at first base. He had shoulder surgery in 2014, but appeared to be past that when he hit .324/.387/.417 in 57 games for short-season Connecticut last season. His batting average has tailed off a bit at West Michigan this season, but is hitting for decent power with 20 extra base hits in 213 plate appearances. Sitting in Single-A ball at age 24 doesn't bode well for one's major league chances, however, and Allen hasn't taken the big step forward some were hoping for heading into this season.
Steven Fuentes (21) - S/R
Fuentes has been somewhat of a deep sleeper within the Tigers' farm system for a few years now. After a solid showing in the Gulf Coast League back in 2013, Fuentes lit up the New York-Penn league with an .831 OPS in 55 games in 2014. He made it to the Midwest League in his age 20 season in 2015, but things did not go well. Fuentes hit just .163/.236/.203 in 56 plate appearances. He has put up similar numbers in 2016 thus far, and while he is still only 21, he's a long, long way off from appearing on the Tigers' radar.
Randel Alcantara (19) - L/R
His home run totals wouldn't show it, but scouts are enamored with Alcantara's huge raw power. The 19-year-old Venezuelan put up a .903 OPS in 60 games in the Dominican Summer League last year, and should get his first taste of stateside ball in 2016. He's a question mark defensively, but teams will find somewhere for him to play if the bat pans out. There are a lot of hurdles for him to clear before we need to worry about that, though.