The Detroit Tigers’ 2017 season has not gone to plan, to say the least. Instead of contending for a playoff spot, they were forced to sell at the July non-waiver deadline. In doing so, they acquired a quintent of middle infield prospects with promising futures. Those new players, along with a solid 2017 draft class headlined by hard-throwing righthander Alex Faedo, have given the Tigers their deepest farm system in years.
Naturally, Tigers fans are excited. In order to capitalize on that fervor, we polled our commenters on how they would rank the Tigers’ prospects. If you’re interested in the individual rankings (and how certain players were clustered), you can check out our master spreadsheet.
#6: SS Isaac Paredes
MLB Pipeline Grades: Hit 50 | Power 45 | Run 45 | Arm 55 | Field 45 | Overall 45
First believed to be the “other” prospect received from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for Justin Wilson and Alex Avila, Paredes has drawn a lot of love from various sources for his diverse skill set. He hits for average and power, has enough quickness to play shortstop (for now), and has a strong arm that will play well anywhere on the infield dirt. After putting up excellent numbers in the Midwest League as an 18-year-old, some are even saying Paredes is better than former Cubs prospect Gleyber Torres, Baseball America’s No. 5 prospect in all of baseball prior to the 2017 season.
Even if Paredes doesn’t reach those lofty heights, he will certainly appear on a top-100 list soon. The teenager has a large frame that should see him add weight (and power) over time, but he does enough damage with the bat to slide over to third base without much difficulty. FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagen projected that Paredes’ hit tool will be an above-average skill at peak, with average raw and in-game power.
TigsTown’s Mark Anderson was also impressed, and put Paredes sixth on their midseason rankings.
Offensively, Paredes has developed much more rapidly than expected, showing a solid approach at the plate, strong contact ability that could result in above-average hitting ability, and developing power that could approach the average level.
While Paredes is still quite raw — what 18 year old isn’t? — he has the potential to be one of the best prospects in all of baseball. He held his own against competition several years older than him this year, and should move up to Advanced-A Lakeland next season. I wouldn’t expect the Tigers to be particularly aggressive with him, but he may force their hand if he continues to develop this quickly.
#5: OF Christin Stewart
MLB Pipeline Grades: Hit 50 | Power 55 | Run 40 | Arm 45 | Field 40 | Overall 50
Many people were surprised when the Tigers grabbed Stewart with the No. 34 overall pick in the 2015 MLB draft. He was the first college position player the Tigers had ever taken in the first round under Dave Dombrowski, and the first true “bat-first” college prospect they had taken in the top three rounds since Vanderbilt’s Aaron Westlake in 2011.
Fortunately, their patience has paid off so far. Stewart had flashed some emerging power during his final year at Tennessee, and it has blossomed in the pro ranks. He hit 24 home runs in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League last season, and followed that up with 28 homers in 136 games at Double-A Erie this year. He has plus raw power, and most publications (FanGraphs, MLB Pipeline) believe it will only fall by a half-grade in game situations. His hit tool is only average or a tick below, but this comes with a discerning eye at the plate; Stewart walked in 10 percent of his plate appearances this year, and was north of 16 percent at High-A last year. He isn’t a great runner, but could find himself jogging around the bases 25 to 30 times a year in his prime.
Stewart will need to squeeze every ounce of production out of his bat, because he has been described as a below-average defender (at best) in the outfield. His weak arm limits him to left field, if not to the designated hitter position as he gets a little slower with age.
#4: 3B Jeimer Candelario
MLB Pipeline Grades: Hit 55 | Power 50 | Run 40 | Arm 55 | Field 50 | Overall 55
If there were concerns about how well Jeimer Candelario would play at third base, his pick and turn to start a triple play last weekend all but kissed them goodbye. Sure, Candelario isn’t projected to be a plus defender at third, but his adequate glove and strong throwing arm will represent a major upgrade over incumbent Nicholas Castellanos.
MLB Pipeline went into more detail on Candelario’s glove.
Though Candelario lacks speed and quickness, he has worked hard to become an average third baseman after there were questions earlier in his career as to whether he could stay there. His hands and arm play well at the hot corner, and his instincts help him make plays, though he has also seen action at first base.
If Candelario plays an average third base, he will likely be an above-average player thanks to a bat that projects as a plus tool. FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagen says that Candelario “shows good bat control and hand-eye coordination, and makes in-flight adjustments to offspeed pitches that he’s capable of striking to all fields.” A switch-hitter, Candelario has put up solid numbers at nearly all of his minor league stops. Longenhagen notes that Candelario’s raw power is only a major league average tool, but that’s plenty of pop if he sticks at third base.
Even if he ultimately slides across the diamond, Candelario should be a productive hitter in the top half of the Tigers’ lineup for years to come. He has already reached the major leagues, and is putting up impressive numbers in his brief time in Detroit. Pencil him in as the team’s starting third baseman next year, because he won’t be on this list the next time we run it.