The Tigers' farm system may not be brimming with premier talent like the Chicago Cubs, but there have been some solid performances among the organization's top prospects in 2014. Here's a look at how our preseason top 10 have fared. Remember, take some of the numbers here -- especially the pitchers -- with a grain of salt. Some guys may be focusing on certain aspects of their game. While results are important, development is the name of the game in the minor leagues.
Note: All stats are through Sunday, July 6th.
1. Nick Castellanos, 3B
While no longer technically a prospect, Castellanos has once again shown an uncanny ability to make adjustments as the season goes on. He hit just .233/.281/.356 with 12 extra base hits in April and May. Then, things started to turn around. Castellanos has hit .304/.347/.461 with 13 extra base hits since June 1st, cutting his strikeout rate from 24 percent to just over 16 percent. Defensively, he has looked capable, but raw. The numbers bear this out, as he has been worth -16 defensive runs saved and a -6.4 UZR. Expect these numbers to improve as Castellanos gets more innings under his belt.
2. Robbie Ray, LHP
Ray helped quiet the critics of this offseason's Doug Fister trade by getting off to a hot start in Triple A, allowing a 1.53 ERA in his first six starts. He acquitted himself well in his first two major league starts while Anibal Sanchez was on the disabled list, allowing one run in 11 1/3 innings. He got roughed up by the Texas Rangers in late May and took a few starts to get back on track in the minors. However, his last three starts have been excellent. He has a 1.83 ERA in his last 19 2/3 innings while holding opponents to a .293 on-base percentage.
3. Jake Thompson, RHP
Thompson will be one of two Tigers prospects featured in this year's Futures Game after a solid first half. He has allowed a 3.08 ERA and 2.83 FIP in 15 starts for Advanced-A Lakeland. Thompson is one of three 20 year old starters in the Florida State League, though his numbers pale in comparison to more heralded hurlers Jose Berrios and Tyler Glasnow. Thompson has been hell on right-handed batters, holding them to a .516 OPS. Lefties are faring much better at .742, demonstrating the need for him to further develop his changeup.
4. Endrys Briceno, RHP
Briceno's 2014 season came to an abrupt end last week when he underwent Tommy John surgery. This is a big blow for Briceno, who many believe could have emerged as the Tigers' premier pitching prospect with a solid 2014 campaign. Now, he will basically lose two years of development time, making a transition to the bullpen more likely.
5. Jonathon Crawford, RHP
Crawford has put together a solid first half in his full season debut, allowing a 3.15 ERA in 74 1/3 innings. He is inducing ground balls at a 55.1 percent clip, but only has 53 strikeouts to 28 walks. He has shown flashes of potential -- his seven inning, nine strikeout performance against Dayton looks nice on paper -- but has struggled with his command at times. He is having trouble with left-handed hitters in particular, allowing a .347 on-base percentage with 12 strikeouts to nine walks. Regarded by some as the Tigers' top pitching prospect going into the season, Crawford has since been passed over by Thompson's more impressive numbers at a higher level.
6. Corey Knebel, RHP
Knebel made the quick leap through the high minors that many expected after his dominant pro debut at Low-A West Michigan last season. He allowed just two earned runs in 19 innings between Double and Triple A before getting called up to the majors. His first big league outing did not go well, as he allowed three runs in an inning of work. Things got slightly better for Knebel, and while he allowed five runs in 6 2/3 innings, he showed promise with a nasty curveball. He has a 3.86 ERA in 9 1/3 innings since returning to the minors, but is holding opponents to a .393 OPS during that stretch. His command still needs refinement -- he has 19 walks in 35 total innings -- but he has the potential to be an asset for the Tigers down the stretch this year.
7. James McCann, C
McCann has adjusted well to Triple A in his first tour through the league, improving his walk rate slightly from last season. His .703 OPS is below league average, but this is largely due to a lack of power. He has a solid .273batting average and .331 on-base percentage, neither of which has been impressive enough to unseat Bryan Holaday as the team's backup catcher. He has some massive platoon splits, mashing left-handed pitching to the tune of an .888 OPS and .407 wOBA. While not much of a prospect, there is some value to a backup catcher who can handle lefties, so don't be surprised if McCann is on the move in the next month.
8. Eugenio Suarez, SS
One of the biggest surprises of 2014, Suarez has taken a stranglehold of the Tigers' starting shortstop job. He made a mockery of the Eastern League in a repeat performance to start the year, jumping to Detroit after a short (but wildly successful) layover in Toledo. While he has fallen off lately -- he is hitting just .262/.340/.310 since June 20th -- his youth and upside leave fans optimistic for the future. Don't get ahead of yourselves, though: a healthy Jose Iglesias will be the starter next season.
9. Hernan Perez, IF
The forgotten man of the high minors thanks to Suarez's breakout performance, Perez has quietly put together a nice little stat line in his first full season at Triple A. He has been red hot as of late, hitting .336/.366/.530 since June 1st. While he does not have home run power, he ranks fifth in the International League with 22 doubles on the year. Many doubt whether he has the chops to handle shortstop duty on a regular basis, so unless he ousts Andrew Romine for a utility role, Perez's contributions to the 2014 club -- save for trade fodder -- could be limited.
10. Steven Moya, OF
Moya has continued to display his prodigious power in his first year of Double A ball, but his overall approach still needs work. He has 21 home runs in 83 games played, along with 23 doubles and a pair of triples. While his walk rate is still awful -- he has twice as many homers as walks -- he is hitting for a respectable .262 average. His walk total just reached double digits last weekend, but the power is very, very real. He has also shown some surprising speed given his massive 6'6" frame, swiping 12 bases in 16 chances. He is the lone Tigers position prospect in this year's Futures Game.