Baseball America is one of the most respected baseball related publications when it comes to evaluating minor league prospects. The magazine publishes a list of the top ten prospects in each organization, ranks the organizations in terms of talent, and puts out a list of the players with the best skills in each organization.
BA's list of top ten prospects in the Tigers' organization is out, with a couple of surprises for keen observers.
Second baseman Devon Travis, who was a surprise last year on BA's top 100 list of prospects in all of MLB at No 84, tops the list of Tigers' prospects this year. Not all scouts would agree with that assessment. The former 13th round selection in the 2012 draft is recovering from a core muscle injury, and expects to be fully recovered in plenty of time for the 2015 season. The Tigers have decided to move Travis to center field, a position of need in Detroit where Ian Kinsler appears to be lodged at second base for the next several years. But, as we saw with the third base shuffle, things can change.
Steven Moya, the left handed hitting outfielder who broke records with his staggering display of power, belting 35 home runs with 105 RBI at double- A Erie, is second on the list. Moya currently is in the Arizona Fall league, where he is second among all players with five home runs. He made his debut in Detroit last September, but figures to begin the year in the minors in 2015.
Absent from the list is Jonathan Crawford, the Tigers 2013 first draft selection. He posted an 8- 3 record with a 2.86 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP at low- A West Michigan in 2014.
Derek Hill, the Tigers 2014 first round pick, is fourth on the list. As a young player drafted out of high school, he is one of the most interesting players in the system, but is still very young and is thought to be a few years away.
The Tigers traded the best starting pitcher in the organization and the best relief pitcher in the organization, in Jake Thompson and Corey Knebel, to the Texas Rangers in the deal for Joakim Soria. They dealt young infielder Willy Adames along with Drew Smyly in the trade for David Price.
The report points out that, while the Tigers have had better regular season success over the past four seasons than any other major league team, their farm system leaves much to be desired.
BA sums up the report in this paragraph:
Few prospects in the organization have star potential. The pitchers are a mix of possible back-end starters and relievers. The position players are more steady than special, with Devon Travis blocked at second base by Kinsler. Steven Moya is an exception, with his electric power combined with a reckless offensive approach making for a high-risk, high-reward player. Derek Hill has exciting tools, but he’s a 2014 high school draft pick who struggled in his pro debut.