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Matt Manning is the top prospect in the Tigers’ farm system, according to FanGraphs

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Manning, not Casey Mize, topped FanGraphs’ top Tigers prospects list for 2020.

SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

Our friends at FanGraphs released their top Detroit Tigers prospect list for 2020 on Tuesday, and there were a few surprises to be found. Chief among them was the top name on their list; righthander Matt Manning, not Casey Mize, is the top prospect in the system, edging out the former No. 1 overall pick.

Mize is not far behind, however, at second on the list. He and Manning are the two 60-grade prospects in the system, head and shoulders above everyone else. They are followed by the same top five we have seen elsewhere: outfielder Riley Greene, lefthander Tarik Skubal, and infielder Isaac Paredes.

That Manning tops the list speaks more to his development rather than Mize’s shortcomings. Manning has, in FanGraphs’ words, “become the dream.” He has a lanky, athletic frame with a fastball that tops out at 98 miles per hour. Both his fastball and curveball received plus grades, and his developing changeup also received praise. “Manning is tracking like an All-Star starter and a potential top-of-the-rotation arm,” they concluded.

Don’t worry, though, they’re not bagging on Mize.

Mize has hellacious stuff. His four-pitch mix has actually gotten better since college because he and the Tigers successfully added greater demarcation between his cutter and slider, the latter of which now has more two-plane sweep. His entire repertoire is capable of missing bats, like Manning’s, but Mize’s split is superior to Manning’s change and he has an additional weapon, the cutter, that Manning does not.

The rest of FanGraphs’ list progresses as expected, for the most part. Righthander Alex Faedo and lefty Joey Wentz lead the 45 Future Value (FV) prospects, with Wenceel Perez, Daz Cameron, and Franklin Perez rounding out the top 10. FanGraphs’ team, headlined by Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel, doesn’t seem to be as bothered by Perez’ injury history as we are, though he has consistently fallen down their rankings ever since arriving in the system in late 2017.

The other surprises come further down the list. Righthander Beau Burrows and catcher Jake Rogers, a pair of prospects we had high up on our list, landed at No. 17 and 19, respectively, on FanGraphs’ rankings. Both are labeled as 40 FV prospects, a bit lower than we would have graded them given their proximity to the major leagues. Of particular concern for these two are Burrows’ secondary pitches (“When healthy...Burrows’ fastball was fine, but his secondaries were not.”) and the effect an automated strike zone will have on Rogers’ receiving and pitch framing, arguably his most valuable trait.

Other quick observations:

  • Alex Lange and Zack Hess, a pair of highly touted arms from LSU that will pitch out of the bullpen for the Tigers, are ranked 13th and 15th, respectively.
  • Dominican teenagers Jose de la Cruz and Adinso Reyes both received favorable placements, ranking 16th and 21st. Roberto Campos has plus raw power, and ranked 25th.
  • Jack Kenley and Ryan Kreidler, a pair of 2019 draftees, ranked 23 and 24th, just behind 2018 third round pick (and our No. 16 prospect) Kody Clemens.
  • Infielder Andre Lipcius, the No. 17 prospect on our list, is 30th in FanGraphs’ rankings.

Righthander Kyle Funkhouser is also ranked much lower than he was on our list, but that isn’t a big shock following two injury-riddled seasons. Rather, the last big “surprise” on FanGraphs’ list is the sheer number of prospects. Their team doesn’t rank a set number of prospects in each system, instead choosing to just rank those they find interesting or noteworthy. That the Tigers now have 38 players listed, after 26 and 24 in the past two seasons, speaks to the improved depth throughout the farm system. They still lack top end talent — only their top five prospects received 50 (average) grades — but the cupboard is far less bare than it was before.

Make sure to check out the full list at FanGraphs for more coverage.