The sell-off that the Detroit Tigers have been promised for months has finally materialized. The prospects were not as shiny as most had hoped, but fans are still generally happy at the return.
However, now that Justin Wilson and Alex Avila are gone, general manager Al Avila's logic is starting to come into focus. The three players acquired in the J.D. Martinez deal and the two acquired in Sunday evening’s trade with the Chicago Cubs have one big thing in common: they’re all infielders. While prioritizing a specific position may result in less-than-desirable packages by limiting your own returns, this second trade isn't dreadful.
Let’s meet the newest members of the Tigers organization.
The headliner of this deal, Candelario was rated by MLB.com as the Cubs' best prospect and will enter the Tigers' system at No. 3. He signed with Chicago as an amateur free agent back in 2010 for $500,000 and has slowly climbed up the ranks of the minor leagues until finally reaching the major leagues in 2016. He has made a handful of big league appearances in both 2016 and 2017, but has not performed very well.
Despite that, he still has considerable upside as an everyday major league player. His potential at the plate has kept observers interested, and his defense is not as bad as one might think from a bat-first corner infielder. FanGraphs thinks that, with a little more polish, he could be a slightly below average defender. The evaluators at MLB.com go a step further, grading his defense at a solid 50, or average.
His defense is aided by a strong arm, which is a need at the hot corner. Candelario is consistently praised for his above-average arm, his best defensive attribute. It will take time to determine whether he is able to manage average production with the glove, but he is an upgrade over current ham-fisted third baseman Nicholas Castellanos.
What really has scouts paying attention is Candelario's batting acumen. He is a switch-hitter who has an easy presence at the plate and brings a good approach with him. He has posted decent walk rates through his career; unlike many who do so, he has a discerning eye instead of mere patience and poor competition. His swing is smooth and geared to make contact. FanGraphs' Eric Logenhagen likes his bat, saying this in his January scouting report.
He has a combination of good bat control and hand-eye coordination that allows him to spoil tough two-strike pitches, he makes in-flight adjustments to offspeed pitches, and he hits to all fields (though most of his power comes to his pull side). He’s traditionally been a better hitter from the left side but has more leverage and power as a right-handed hitter. In aggregate, he projects as a plus hitter with average game power.
If everything clicks, Candelario’s bat will be a big plus down the road. Outside of him, the only other Tigers prospect who has a decent shot at being a major run producer is Double-A slugger Christin Stewart. Candelario’s defense may or may not come, but it is already better than that of Castellanos. All of that paired with his proximity to the majors cements Candelario's future as a big-league regular as almost certain.
Paredes, an 18-year-old shortstop, is way ahead of the developmental curve. While most international prospects at his age are trying to find footing on the roster of one of the many rookie ball teams, Paredes is currently posting a 113 wRC+ in the Low-A Midwest League.
re: Paredes...He's 18-yo, has physical projection, chance to play SS w/ strong bat, is already holding his own in a tough offensive league. https://t.co/o3SWYf28ZW— Mark Anderson (@ProspectMark) July 31, 2017
As Mark Anderson's tweet indicates, much of Paredes’ value rests with his abilities at the plate, not on the dirt. He profiles as a bat-first player with a slim chance to stick at shortstop, giving him a lofty ceiling. He will have to prove at every level that he can stay an up-the-middle player. Paredes’ frame is squat and thick, and he lacks the speed that rangy players use to their advantage on defense.
Unfortunately, his arm is his only above-average defensive ability. Many evaluators see him moving to second or third base, where his instincts and skills would play up and allow him to get regular time without being dragged down by poor glove work. Needless to say, as an 18-year-old hitting .264/.343/.401, bolstered by 25 doubles and seven home runs, Paredes will be known for his skillful hitting.
FanGraphs' Eric Logenhagen was kind in his evaluation of Paredes’ offensive ability.
He has average bat speed but a solid, well-timed weight transfer and power-friendly bat path that both allow for some in-game thump without hurting his ability to make contact. He hits to all fields.
For Paredes to be as valuable as Detroit's front office is hoping, however, he will need to continue his successes as he climbs the organizational ladder. He has little competition within the organization, so if he can be a passable shortstop or second baseman, it's easy to see him riding his bat to a decent career.