With the Tigers slipping deeper and deeper towards full-on “tank mode,” fans hungry for bright spots in the organization are forced to occupy themselves with less sexy topics like trade deadline speculation, tracking Toledo and Lakeland in their pursuits for postseason play, and general prospect-watching. Regarding the latter, here is a look at the youngsters showing some promise down in the Dominican Summer League:
Perhaps the most dominant start for any Tigers’ Dominican Summer League player belongs to 18-year old lefty Rodolfo Fajardo. The Venezuelan product was very good in 18 appearances a year ago, but has been virtually untouchable through his first nine appearances in 2018. With 38 strikeouts to just five walks in 36-1/3 innings, Rodolfo has yet to allow an earned run in DSL action. Opponents are hitting just .172 against him and he hasn’t allowed more than three hits or two walks in any of his starts. At six-foot, three-inches tall and just 165 pounds, there is plenty of projection left in this frame. We should see him stateside in 2019.
Outfielder Esney Chacon is establishing himself as a potential elite base stealer. Another 18-year-old from Venezuela, Chacon has already swiped 27 bags in 36 attempts in just 48 games played. He only tallied 10 steals in 17 attempts a year ago, so his aggressiveness is paying off. The .080 isolated power won’t wow anyone, but the DSL isn’t the venue to be worrying about ISO. Chacon is exhibiting above average plate discipline and bat-to-ball skills, as evidenced by his 12% walk rate and 10% strikeout rate.
Shortstop Alvaro Gonzalez was one of the Tigers’ key international signees from 2017. Still just 17 years old, the Venezuelan native has been holding his own in the three-hole. 11 of his 37 hits have gone for extra bases, including six triples. Like Chacon, Gonzalez is walking at an impressive 12% rate, which is promising in terms of evaluating plate discipline at this level.
Jimmy Mojica, an 18-year-old outfielder from the Dominican Republic, has made significant progress since making his DSL debut in 2017, where he slashed just .223/.291/.264 in 66 games. Through 41 games this year, that line has skyrocketed to .326/.404/.479. With a more disciplined approach, Mojica has already exceeded his 2017 walk total in over 100 fewer plate appearances and is flashing some extra-base power with five doubles, four triples, and three home runs.
Switch-hitting catcher Eliezer Alfonzo, son of former big leaguer by the same name, was decimating DSL pitching through mid-July and earned himself a promotion to the Gulf Coast League. The 18-year old Alfonzo posted 43 hits, including 10 doubles, through 33 DSL contests. On top of his offensive prowess, Alfonzo threw out 48% (15 of 31) would-be base stealers. Splitting time at catcher and first base for the GCL Tigers West squad, Alfonzo is off to a 5-for-23 start since his bump-up.
Reliever Victor Acosta is a little older than the aforementioned prospects, having just turned 20 years old in June. Despite his age, Acosta was just signed to his first professional contract on May 8th of this year. He has quickly established himself as the go-to bullpen option for the DSL Tigers 2 team. Through 23-2/3 innings, Acosta has fanned 22 while walking just one batter, resulting in a 0.68 WHIP. He has converted four out of five save chances and held hitters to a .195 batting average.
Plenty of bright spots to look forward to in the Tigers’ future.