Hitting dominates the top part of the Tigers prospect list right now with names like Spencer Torkelson, Riley Greene, and Dillon Dingler, but they aren’t the only ones. There’s some upside to numerous bats throughout the organization. On the other hand, in terms of depth, this is the side of the equation where the Tigers aren’t very deep and don’t really have a track record of good drafting and development.
Rounding out the back half of the Tigers’ top 30 list involves a lot of debate with no obvious right answers. Most of the hitters we included in the latter half of our new prospect rankings are college hitters who haven’t really performed as hoped thus far. A few young international hitters who have potential but remain quite raw as hitters rounds things out. However, that left quite a few names we’ll be keeping a close eye on, but who haven’t done much other than show some interesting tools so far.
These are five hitters who were talked about but didn’t quite make the Bless You Boys top 30.
The Tigers have been dipping more heavily into bats lately during international free agency. They’ve added top prospects such as Roberto Campos, Cristian Santana, and Manuel Sequera that way. Switch hitting shortstop Bastidas is in that conversation, but on the fringes. His addition was almost shadowed by the hype of Santana in the 2021 IFA class for the Tigers. The 18-year-old Bastidas struggled a bit in his debut in the DSL, slashing .188/.324/.276, but he showed a great ability to draw walks as the OBP would suggest. He did a little bit of everything, swiping 12 bases while hitting four doubles, three triples, and two homeruns.
As is the case with most IFA signings, Bastidas is still very raw in his abilities. He’s 6’2”, 165 pounds with plenty of room to grow into his frame. As he puts on that good weight he should generate some more pop and could lose some of that speed. Neither of those are a given, however. Overall, his game is very smooth right now. He can play shortstop well, and he’s got a lofty swing from both sides of the plate and quick hands that suggest he will grow into power as he adds to the frame. He’s likely to come stateside this year and spend time on the complex to continue developing his raw tools.
After finding success with college catcher Dillon Dingler in 2020, the Tigers dipped back into that pool in the 2021 draft to select Duke backstop Michael Rothenberg. He made a strong case for his hitting abilities against lower level competition, slashing a combined .267/.391/.378 in 90 AB across the complex and Low-A. His approach, as expected from college hitters, is also advanced. He posted a K/BB ratio of 18/15 in his small draft year sample. Not to mention, prior to offensive struggles in his final college season, Rothenberg was viewed as one of the better hitting catcher in the country.
Good lottery ticket here for the #Tigers in Michael Rothenberg. The bat backed up in 2021, but in 2019 and 2020 he was seen as one of the best hitting catchers in the country. If they can rekindle that thump, could have a big league piece.— Joe Doyle (@JoeDoyleMiLB) July 13, 2021
Beyond the offense, Rothenberg is defensively sound. He has a big arm behind the plate to gun down would-be stealers. He adds to the list of solid catchers to join the Tigers organization with something to prove. Right now he’s probably the most talented behind Dingler. His swing path is fluid and he can get some lift on the ball. Offensive consistency in 2022 could cause his stock to skyrocket.
Michael Rothenberg, C - Duke. 2020 elig. .341/.531/.585 slash during abbreviated season. Switch hitter w/ some pop from behind the dish. #MLBDraft pic.twitter.com/PVrznyeI5z— Kyler Peterson (@KPeterson813) April 11, 2020
It’s possible that no prospect in baseball saw his stock take more of a hit than Bryant Packard during the 2021 season. The good news is that it had less to do with his abilities, and more to do with a struggle with injuries. He showed glimpses of what made him such an intriguing prospect entering the season, but was not able to perform consistently in a season where he really needed to gain traction into the upper minors. He slashed just .222/.310/.369 with six homeruns through just under 200 AB in High-A during 2021.
The book on Packard is that he is a solid hitter, so it’s concerning when that doesn’t happen. He doesn’t offer anything defensively to help carry him if the bat does not. His swing and his abilities still showed through, despite the struggles. He can hit for power and he can do it to all fields. He still did that during the season. His swing is quick, compact, and he has a good ability to cover the zone with his barrel. A healthy 2022 season could very easily put his name back in the conversation of the Tigers top prospects. He’s likely to start in West Michigan again, but could move quickly if he produces.
Bryant Packard goes deep for the second night in a row. His 5th of the season. pic.twitter.com/VjvxgBL842— Tigers Minor League Report (@tigersMLreport) July 3, 2021
We are heading back to the 2021 draft pool to round out the five hitters that just missed. Outfielder Ben Malgeri was the Tigers 18th round selection out of Northeastern. He posted some solid numbers in Low-A during his draft year, slashing .266/.348/.380 in 158 AB. His game is well rounded with some power and speed. He proved to be too advanced for the Low-A pitchers in many instances. It was a good year to kick off his career.
He’s listed at 6’1”, 215 pounds, and he’s got a very strong build. That’s where a lot of his power comes from. Malgeri’s swing is a compact motion and it allows him to muscle balls over the fence. It also means it’s very tough to beat him with velocity on the inside part of the zone. If he comes out in 2022 and continues to hit against more advanced competition he will become a name to watch within the Tigers organization.
Ben Malgeri is H O T at the right time… Sheeeeesh! pic.twitter.com/nr1Vd5llrc#NCAABaseball x @GoNUbaseball— NCAA Baseball (@NCAACWS) May 30, 2021
IF Adinso Reyes
Another of Al Avila’s big ticket international free agents, signing in 2018 for $1.45 million out of the Dominican Republic, Reyes stateside debut as a 19-year-old in 2021 was rocky, but we’re going to give him the benefit of the doubt after missing valuable development time in 2020. The likely third baseman has the hands and arm to develop into a solid defender, as well as the power potential to fit the position. Unfortunately he was a mess at the plate for much of his limited debut, only finding his footing late in the season.
Reyes did launch seven homers in just 184 plate appearances in the FCL and the above-average power potential remains intact. However he had a tough time dealing with breaking balls early on, struck out a lot, and the hard contact present in his Dominican Summer League debut in 2019 was only occasionally in evidence. For now, we’re going to hang in there with Reyes and look for his pitch recognition and discipline to improve substantially with more reps. He needs to make adjustments, both mechanical and in his approach, in order to continue to hold that interest next season. He remains more project than prospect for now.