For the first time in a number of years, the Detroit Tigers are no longer the most important team in their own organization. Sure, we want to see the big league club succeed, but with the franchise now entrenched in its first rebuild in over a decade, MLB wins aren’t as important as minor league development. The Tigers have bolstered their farm system depth through the draft and trades over the past couple seasons, and now boast one of the better collections of minor league talent in baseball. They’re not a top system just yet — probably not quite top 10 at this point — but there is talent to be found here.
Now that we’re halfway through the season, it’s time to take a look at the farm system as a whole. We put together our top 30 Tigers prospects list at the start of the season, and it’s time to re-evaluate how they (and we) did.
6. Daz Cameron
Stats: 246 PA, .259/.346/.370, 3 HR, 10 SB at High-A Lakeland; 72 PA, .369/.431/.708, 4 HR, 5 SB at Double-A Erie
Previous rank: 7
The Tigers give out a Minor League Player of the Year award every season, and Cameron is an early frontrunner for the 2018 edition. He finished 2017 with a bang, hitting for average and power in Single-A ball. He continued to do the same in High-A to start the year, batting .287/.369/.415 through April and May. While he cooled off a bit in June, it didn’t stop the Tigers from promoting him to Double-A Erie, where he has been white hot. Cameron’s numbers will undoubtedly fall off at some point, but so long as he continues to display an advanced approach at the plate and more power than many originally gave him credit for, he will continue to climb the minor league ladder. Expect some top 100 buzz for him come next spring.
7. Isaac Paredes
Stats: 293 PA, .257/.336/.439, 18 2B, 8 HR at High-A Lakeland
Previous rank: 5
Paredes’ numbers don’t look all that great at first glance, but this is where context is key. His 18 doubles rank fifth in the Florida State League, and he’s in the top 20 in walks drawn. He is also just one of four teenagers in the entire league, one where offensive numbers are suppressed by summer humidity and MLB-sized outfields. Paredes’ 121 wRC+ in 72 games is more than adequate, especially as the club shifts him around the infield. He has started to play more second base over the past month, and even spent a game at third base. His arm will play anywhere in the infield, but his quickness and range might be stretched at short, especially if he adds any weight as he gets older. Don’t worry about the glove so much yet, though. If Paredes continues to hit, the organization will find him a position.
8. Jake Rogers
Stats: 242 PA, .204/.300/.364, 9 HR, 6 SB at Double-A Erie
Previous rank: 6
Jake Rogers had a rough start to the season, to say the least. He was hitting .157/.240/.224 through April and May, and looked awful doing so. In 152 plate appearances, he struck out 47 times, a 31 percent clip. Some wondered if the 23-year-old would be sent down, either back to High-A Lakeland or all the way to extended spring training, just to sort things out.
But, just as we shouldn’t read too much into short hot streaks — looking at you, Jake Robson Fan Club — we should overreact to sluggish stretches either. Rogers is still an elite defender behind the plate, and has some power potential in his bat. Said bat has perked up lately, as he is hitting .292/.400/.625 with six home runs since June 1. He has been seeing the ball well enough all year, and drew a healthy number of walks even when he was struggling. Rogers will get to the majors on his glove alone, and his plate discipline will help him stay afloat during the bad stretches. He’s a future All-Star if the bat takes a step forward.
9. Christin Stewart
Stats: 308 PA, .269/.351/.504, 14 2B, 15 HR at Triple-A Toledo
Previous rank: 8
Christin Stewart has done nothing but hit since the Tigers drafted him out of Tennessee back in 2015. He has continued to do so this season at Triple-A Toledo, where he has 14 home runs in just over two months of action. Recent calf injury aside, Stewart probably deserves to be in the major leagues at this point. Whether he appears in MLB action in 2018 is irrelevant; he is as sure a bet as you will find to draw walks and hit for power in the majors, even if the batting average doesn’t quite keep up. His glove is and will always be a concern, but the Tigers will be able to mask it somewhat when their designated hitter spot opens up in 2019. Barring further injury, he won’t be on this list in a year.
10. Parker Meadows
Previous rank: N/A
The Tigers latched onto Meadows early in the draft cycle and didn’t let go, eventually selecting him with the No. 44 overall pick in the 2018 draft. Meadows is a toolsy prep outfielder from Georgia, and the brother of Pirates outfielder Austin Meadows. Parker might not have quite as high a ceiling as his brother, but he still has the potential to be an impact player. He has a lanky, athletic frame which he leverages into plus raw power at the plate. He also has the athleticism and arm to play any outfield position at present, but will likely slot in as a corner outfielder as his frame matures. He isn’t a burner on the basepaths, but might swipe a bag here and there. The question is his hit tool. He has some swing and miss to his game, but if he can tighten things up with pro instruction, he could be a potential No. 5 or 6 hitter who plays above average defense in either corner.