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Projecting Tigers minor league rosters: The 2019 Erie SeaWolves

Minor league assignments will be announced soon, but we decided to take our best guess at who will be with the SeaWolves in 2019.

Isaac Paredes continues to showcase and advanced hit tool for a 20-year old.
Terri Nummer

Drooling over prospects in the lower levels of the minors sure is fun. It’s not until they reach Double-A, however, that we can really start to project a player’s viability as a Major Leaguer. Let’s take a look at who we think will get a chance to open the season in Erie.

Starting Rotation

Liarvis Breto
Anthony Castro
Alex Faedo
Matt Manning
Logan Shore

This rotation should be pretty fluid, as I fully expect both Casey Mize and Franklin Perez to be SeaWolves by the All-Star break in July.

Breto is an “org pitcher” who can start or relieve, and quietly had a very good season with Lakeland and Erie in 2018, posting a 3.21 earned run average and 73-to-18 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 61-2/3 innings of work. Castro was roughed up in a three-game audition with Erie last season, but really has nothing left to prove in the Florida State League. Some think it’s only the matter of time before the Tigers convert him to a reliever.

Faedo gave up 15 home runs in 60 Double-A innings last year. Reports out of spring training indicate that the velocity might be coming back, however, and he did still manage to strike out a batter per inning. In addition to the velo returning, he needs to command his full assortment and regain the bite on his slider that made him a first round pick in 2017.

Manning progressed perhaps more than any prospect in the Tigers’ system last year. His control was vastly improved and many believe he’s close to being MLB-ready, if he can just finish off mastery of his secondary command.

Shore — who pitched with Faedo at the University of Florida — made 13 starts for Midland in the Texas League last year as a member of the Oakland A’s organization, putting up a 5.50 ERA. He’s a change-up specialist who really needs to master his third pitch, the slider, to be effective at this level and above.

Improved command is just as vital to Alex Faedo’s success as the return of his velocity.
Terri Nummer

Relievers/Spot Starters

Nolan Blackwood
Drew Carlton
Mark Ecker
Eudis Idrogo
Eduardo Jimenez
Joe Navilhon
Nick Ramirez
Gregory Soto (suspended)
Trent Szkutnik
Burris Warner

Jimenez should be the closer. He successfully converted 15 of 17 opportunities for Lakeland last year, although he was not spectacular. Entering his age 24 season, Jimenez needs to justify his position on the 40-man roster.

Warner quietly had one of the best seasons in the entire system last year, with a 1.67 ERA and 87 strikeouts in 80-2/3 innings across both classes of A-ball. He and Idrogo can spot start as needed also.

Ramirez is a converted first baseman from the Brewers organization who has proven his ability at this level but was roughed up in the Pacific Coast League.

Ecker has been with Erie since August ‘17 but has been plagued by control problems and a fastball that doesn’t seem to move much.

Eduardo Jimenez is pitching to save his spot on the Tigers’ 40-man roster.
Tom Hagerty

Catchers

Chace Numata
Jake Rogers

Holes in Rogers’s swing and approach have been holding him back, but he shouldn’t stick around in Double-A much longer.
Terri Nummer

Rogers should be bumped up to Toledo by mid-season at the very latest. Numata is a plus defender in his own right. Kade Scivicque could join this group at some point and figures to bounce around the upper levels as needed if he’s retained at the beginning of the season.

Infielders

Sergio Alcantara
Harold Castro
Kody Eaves
Will Maddox
Danny Pinero
Isaac Paredes

It feels weird putting Alcantara and Castro down in Double-A, given that Alcantara will be on the 40-man roster for a second season, and Castro finished the year in Detroit. But the Tigers want Sergio to play shortstop every day and the other Castro, Willi, has the job up in Toledo locked down.

Harold Castro is a versatile org player who will bounce around where he’s needed. With the release of Dominic Ficociello last week, our best guess is that the Tigers are paving the way for Danny Pinero to make a permanent move over to first base. They sent him off to the Arizona Fall League to invest in him a little bit. While he hasn’t displayed much of a power profile, he is one of the few Tigers prospects who actually draws walks. At 6’5”, 235 lbs., perhaps hitting coach Brian Harper can help him tap into some raw power.

Paredes is the Tigers’ premier hitting prospect, and his bat is ready for Toledo. The only question is what the Tigers want to do with him defensively.

Sergio Alcantara’s glove is ready for the next level. Still just 22, he’ll return to Erie to try and improve upon his .667 OPS from a year ago.
Terri Nummer

Outfielders

Cam Gibson
Derek Hill
Troy Montgomery
Danny Woodrow

With the injury to JaCoby Jones, it’s possible that Danny Woodrow heads to Toledo to fill the vacancy left behind by Dustin Peterson. Montgomery has a .375 lifetime on-base percentage in the minors, but doesn’t have the power to match his corner outfield defensive profile. Gibson’s power hasn’t really come around either, and he lacks Montgomery’s hit tool.

The most intriguing name here is Derek Hill. Seemingly healthy, and entering his sixth season in the system, the former first-round pick should finally get his speedy profile out of A-ball this year. While everything about moving to Double-A and a smaller ballpark seems to work against Hill’s strengths, I just have a feeling that this is a move that will benefit him. Don’t expect him to magically develop a power stroke or even an advanced hit tool. But I do think this might be his best season as a pro.

Danny Woodrow impressively finished second in the Eastern League batting race in ‘18. The lack of power limits his upside to that of a fourth outfielder profile.
Terri Nummer

Season Opener

Mike Rabelo is coming up from Lakeland to manage the SeaWolves this year. Pitching coach Mark Johnson will also be making the leap from the FSL. The aforementioned Harper served as hitting coach in Toledo a year ago. Erie opens the season on Friday, April 5th, in the newly renovated UPMC Park against the Trenton Thunder (NYY).