The approach of spring camp heralds another round of top 100 lists from prospect sites around the country. While we wait for MLB Pipeline and FanGraphs to re-evaluate the Detroit Tigers’ farm system, a few other notable sites weighed in on Wednesday, and it wasn’t pretty. In fact, the Tigers system was almost entirely panned by one outlet.
Baseball Prospectus’ new top 101 featured just one Tigers’ farmhand, starting pitcher Casey Mize, who checked in at number 36 in the country. Even looking to their next 10 who didn’t make the cut, there is no Matt Manning, no Isaac Paredes, and no Daz Cameron. It was...surprising. You can check the list out here for free.
Unfortunately, it’s just a raw list without commentary, so there isn’t a whole lot to say about it. Obviously B-Pro really is not a fan of the Tigers’ rebuilding effort thus far. But before you get your pitchforks, it bears remembering that these are somewhat outliers as opinions. Daz Cameron and Isaac Paredes, for example, at currently ranked at 42 and 43, on FanGraphs’ list. Cameron’s bat still has some question marks, but Paredes is widely ranked in the middle of most top 100 lists around the game, and was just this week seen on fire in the Mexican Winter League playoffs.
Isaac Paredes— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) January 22, 2019
The @Tigers' 19-year-old prospect belted this no-doubter in the @LMPbeisbol playoffs for @yaquis_oficial yesterday, boosting his postseason AVG to .354. How high will he climb on this list in 2019 https://t.co/NoeOsm2xnL pic.twitter.com/DyWkRT4MQV
It is worth remembering, that while the Tigers’ farm system feels infinitely deeper than it did a few years ago, and there are plenty of talented prospects, the Tigers still don’t have a unanimously hailed blue chip prospect other than Casey Mize. There are plenty of things to take issue with in the Baseball Prospectus list, but without multiple top tier prospects, even a system as deep as Detroit’s carries a fair amount of risk. Particularly as the Tigers’ system is heavily dependent on pitching. So no, Baseball Prospectus doesn’t hate the Tigers and wish ill upon them.
In a sunnier assessment, Baseball America had a lot of good things to say about two of the Tigers’ most important prospects. They ranked Casey Mize 16th overall, the highest any of the major sites have ordered him. Matt Manning checked in 50th, and Isaac Paredes was 94th overall.
As we’ve said before here at BYB, grading prospects is better done in tiers. FanGraphs does this extremely well, and is incredibly detailed and open with their approach. But they’re all opinions. Lists are fun, but the differences between one list’s 65th ranked prospect, and one at 110, is probably far smaller than the numbers might lead you to believe. Projecting young baseball players is very difficult, with huge failure rates, so it isn’t really worth getting too upset over.
It is interesting to consider the different methodologies and opinions of the different sites, though. Last year, B-Pro had Franklin Perez at 53, and Beau Burrows at 94. Someone there is not into Matt Manning, clearly. After making major strides in every part of his game as a 20-year-old, Manning’s risk has been substantially moderated in a lot of eyes, while the development of his curveball and changeup drew good reviews all season. Some just aren’t buying it yet. Perez’s injuries understandably tanked his stock heading into 2019, while Burrows just seemed to stay the course without much of an improvement this season as other talented players entered their list.
In the coming weeks, we should see updated lists from FanGraphs and MLB Pipeline. Drawing comparisons among all these, along with coverange from good sites like Prospects Live and Tigstown, as well as our own rankings, should remain an interesting exercise. But it doesn’t change the basic calculus. The Tigers have an awful lot of talented, but risky, young prospects, and how they perform in 2019 is going to tell us a lot about the status of the organization’s rebuilding effort.