Last week, one of our readers (@JTShunta) posted an interesting question for our Mailbag series: which new prospect that the Detroit Tigers receive this year is your favorite? It’s not an easy question to answer, as the Tigers have acquired several new talents since the start of the 2017 season. From a strong MLB draft class to the returns on several blockbuster trades, the Tigers have quickly restored a thin farm system to respectability.
Since we already recapped the 2017 draft a bit earlier this year, we’ll limit this question to just the mid-season trades.
This week’s question: Which new Tigers prospect are you most excited about?
Patrick O.: The highest rated prospect that the Tigers received in this summer's trades is Franklin Perez, the organization's new top pitching prospect and top overall prospect. But the club suddenly has multiple top pitching prospects, none of them with an ETA before 2019. I'm going for instant gratification, with Jeimer Candelario, whose ETA is right now. This is a 23-year-old switch hitter who can immediately replace Nicholas Castellanos at the hot corner and contribute offensively and defensively at the major league level. Nick's defense was not just bad, but historically bad, and he had to be moved to the outfield. Candelario was blocked in Chicago by Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo at the corners.
Brandon: I'll take Jake Rogers. The team has a lot of pitching and a few good positional prospects now, but Rogers may prove the key piece. Getting stronger up the middle has to be a focus of the rebuild, and good young catchers are next-to-impossible to acquire. You have to grow your own. Rogers may turn out to be fringy at best with the bat, but he consistently is rated as plus or better in all the other elements of the catcher's craft. If he can just be an average hitting catcher, he could prove a foundational piece, guiding the Tigers young pitching prospects for years when they start reaching the majors.
Ashley: I think Dawel Lugo could be interesting in a few years. The Tigers have a lot of infield talent right now that could go one way or the other, and Lugo has experience at shortstop, as well as second and third base. I think ultimately we might see Candelario at first base and Lugo at third, or Lugo as a replacement for Ian Kinsler. Lugo had some solid Double-A numbers with the Diamondbacks (less so with Erie) and it would be really nice in two or three years to look back and say the Tigers got a good return for the J.D. Martinez trade. We'll see how Lugo does when he gets to Toledo next year.
Rob: From last week’s Mailbag...
The Tigers have acquired several talented players in trades this year, but I’m most intrigued by shortstop Isaac Paredes. Still only 18, Paredes hit .264/.343/.401 with Chicago’s Single-A affiliate before the trade that brought him to Detroit. He faltered down the stretch, but this was his first full season in the professional ranks. There aren’t many teenagers in the Midwest League to begin with, and Paredes was able to hold his own while hitting for a bit of power along the way. He has even been compared favorably to former Cubs prospect Gleyber Torres, Baseball Prospectus’ No. 15 prospect in all of baseball before a midseason Tommy John surgery.
Jake: I will go with Daz Cameron. When the season took a turn for the worse after that horrific West Coast road trip in June, I told myself that I would consider the trade deadline a success if Al Avila acquired the team's center fielder of the future. At the moment, the Tigers don't have a ton of outfield talent at the major league level or in the high-minors. “Quad-A” players like Jim Adduci, Alex Presley, Tyler Collins and even Matt den Dekker have seen all together too much playing time this season. The jury is out on if Cameron can be the long-term answer, but he instantly changes the outlook of our farm. Scouts seem to think he'll be a respectable fielder. He has speed, and he had a great season offensively in the minors. I'm hoping one day him and Derek Hill have a battle for the starting center field role on the major league team.
Jay: While he is far from the most exciting player the Tigers acquired, I will be watching Grayson Long's season very closely. He blew away everyone who stepped up to the plate in the 2017 season, posting incredible numbers in Double-A. It is widely considered that he has the ceiling of a No. 4 or 5 starter, and he is a good bet to reach it. A dependable starter for the back end of the rotation is something that Detroit can't seem to get right. If Long works out the way the front office hopes, he can fill that void. A 180-inning starter who posts a sub-4.25 ERA is an absolute haul for one month of Justin Upton.