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Detroit Tigers Prospect Report Mailbag No. 2

In our weekly mailbag segment, Brian answers questions from readers pertaining to the prospects of our Detroit Tigers.

Detroit Tigers C Bryan Holaday
Detroit Tigers C Bryan Holaday
Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

1) Outside of the usual names (Crosby, Oliver, Smyly) who do you see as an underrated or not well known starting pitching prospect? Would Wilk fall into that category?

I don't know if he falls into the "not well known" or "underrated" categories, but I'm a big fan of Jake Thompson. He's on my list of guys to write a scouting report on, and I'm sure Jeremy will profile him in the coming weeks. He was the Tigers first pick in the 2012 draft, and there has been plenty written on him, so I'll give you a couple more names as well. I'm a big fan of Edgar De La Rosa. He's huge (6'6") and already reaches into the upper 90's with his fastball. We should see him at West Michigan in 2013, and could be a very fast riser. Also, I like Logan Ehlers a lot as well. Didn't pitch much in 2012 after being drafted, but he could also be a fast riser up the prospect rankings boards with a solid 2013. As far as Wilk goes, I don't see a major league caliber pitcher. He could be an up and down guy, spot starting occasionally or pitching out of the bullpen, but I don't see the stuff to allow him to stay.

2) What can you tell us about Austin Schotts?

I'll have a full scouting report on Schotts coming in the next few weeks, but as for now, I can give you some info. He was the Tigers 2nd pick (3rd round) in 2012. Played shortstop in high school, but was immediately moved to center field by the Tigers. He's arguably the fastest runner in the Tigers system, consistently receiving 60-65 grades, and has been clocked as high as 70 speed at times. He's very, very athletic. Good base running instincts already, which allows his speed to play even higher. Still incredibly raw in CF, but shows a natural knack for taking the correct routes to balls, and his speed allows him to make up for some of the rawness. Solid average arm from CF, maybe a tick above average. He's a pretty good hitter already, and possesses solid XBH power. Drives the ball to all fields. Home run power could develop as he matures, but I don't see much more than 10-15 HR potential down the road, which is fine. Has some trouble with pitch recognition, but that's to be expected at this point. I see an above average regular ceiling, probably as a top of the order hitter.

3) Does Justin Henry have a chance of making the Tigers? Or any major league potential?

I like Henry...but as a very solid organizational player. His value is that he can play a variety of positions at least at an average level, but I prefer him in the OF. He commands the zone very well, doesn't strike out, walks a lot, etc. Has some decent speed, but no power to speak of. Do I think he could make the Tigers out of spring training? No. Could he eventually see the big leagues due to injury, similar to how Quintin Berry did in 2012? Yeah, I could see that. I could see him being a 4th-5th OF in spurts, more on the team as a defensive replacement/pinch runner vs. a regular player.

4) Which infield prospect is closest to securing regular playing time on the Tigers?

Right now, Bryan Holaday is definitely the closest, seeing as he's penciled into the Opening Day 25 man roster as the backup catcher. Beyond Holaday, the options are rather thin. The Tigers are set at the corners for the foreseeable future with Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera, so guys like Aaron Westlake, Dean Green, Jason King, etc, don't really have a place. Nick Castellanos is close, but as an OF. Up the middle, Eugenio Suarez is still at least 2 years away, along with Hernan Perez or Dixon Machado (if either of them are ever ready at all).

5) How about Eugenio Suarez? Does he have a chance to be an everyday player? How about by 2014?

I'm not 100% sold on Suarez's bat yet. I'm just not sure he can hit enough to be an everyday major league shortstop. I definitely think he has major league potential defensively. As a matter of fact, I'd probably give him a 60 grade for his defense, with his arm grading at 55. He runs pretty well, but isn't a burner. It will depend on his bat, of course. I think he COULD become an everyday shortstop in the future, but he has some developing to do. And keep in mind, he just finished Low-A ball in 2012, so even if he gets pushed to Double-A in 2013, I still have trouble seeing him being ready by 2014. I think we're looking at a 2015 ETA at the earliest for Suarez.

6) Who is your "dark horse" for 2013? Someone that will surprise most of the fanbase with how quickly and effectively they move through the system?

Will Clinard. That's all I'll say for now, as I have a scouting report on him ready to go. But watch Clinard closely. I like him a lot.