Detroit Tigers Top-25 Prospects
Do you know what 98 losses will get you? A No. 1 overall draft pick. And do you know what a No. 1 overall draft pick will get you? The future ace of your pitching staff. Okay, I know all of that varies year to year, but that’s how the last 12 months have gone for the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers didn’t really need to go with another right-hander with their top overall pick and could’ve easily bulked up the offensive side of things with a player like Joey Bart, Alec Bohm, Jonathan India, etc., but there sat Casey Mize staring them right in the face, too much to pass up. The majority of the top Tigers prospects were already right-handed pitching prospects and Mize instantly vaults to the top of the list.
Overall System Grade: C+
Minor League Affiliates
Triple-A: Toledo – International League
Double-A: Erie – Eastern League
Single-A (Advanced): Lakeland – Florida State League
Single-A (Full): West Michigan – Midwest League
Short-season Single-A: Connecticut – New York-Penn League
Rookie: Two teams each in the Gulf Coast League and Dominican Summer League
Also, make sure to check out the Fantrax Dynasty Podcast on the Fantrax Podcast Network with Nathan Dokken, Van Lee, and Ron Rigney.
New Top 25 Detroit Tigers Prospects
1. Casey Mize, RHP, DOB: 5/1/97, ETA 2020
2018 Stats (RK/A+): 13.2 IP, 3.95 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 2.0 BB/9, 9.2 K/9, .260 AVG
From No. 1 in the MLB draft to No. 1 in these rankings in just five short months. That didn’t take long. I don’t like to throw around the term “future ace” often, but Mize checks off all the boxes. First, he has a workhorse frame, clean mechanics, and a repeatable delivery with a 3/4 arm slot and solid extension. Barring something fluky, this should be a pitcher that turns into a workhorse innings eater, which is saying a lot in today’s game where starters don’t go as long as they used to.
When it comes to the arsenal, damn. I mean damn in a good way obviously. Mize uses a three-pitch mix with all three pitches easily being plus offerings. The fastball sits in the mid-90’s with life and his slider features hard, late-breaking tilt that generates plenty of swing and miss. Those aren’t even his best pitches either. Mize has a splitter that makes Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling jealous. I’m not some old, grizzled veteran here, but this is the best splitter I’ve seen since those two men left the game. Hands down. And to top it all off, he commands his entire arsenal well and limits his walks. Truly a stud rotation ace in the making. Can’t wait to get a first-hand look at Mize when he gets up to Double-A Erie in 2019.
Casey Mize, Filthy 88 mph Splitter (home plate view).
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 14, 2018
2. Matt Manning, RHP, DOB: 1/28/98, ETA 2020
2018 Stats (A/A+/AA): 117.2 IP, 3.29 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 3.9 BB/9, 11.8 K/9, .211 AVG
Up until June, Manning was the top dog in this system. The easiest way to describe him is a big man with a big arsenal and big strikeout upside. Manning toes the rubber at 6’6 and creates a good downhill plane on his fastball with solid extension in his delivery. In addition to a mid-90’s fastball that can touch 97-98 with life, Manning throws a hammer curveball with substantial downward movement. He also mixes in a change-up with some fade, though, it’s an inconsistent offering for him at the moment. Command has been an issue for Manning throughout his career, especially over the last two seasons. It looked like he had ironed out some mechanical issues over the course of the 2018 season, so the hope is that his command will progress in 2019 and beyond.
3. Isaac Parades, SS/3B, Bats: R, DOB: 2/18/99, ETA 2020
2018 Stats (A+/AA): .278/.359/.456/.815, 28 2B, 15 HR, 2 SB, 10.2 BB%, 15.1 K%, 432 AB
Here’s a name firmly on the rise for all you dynasty leaguers out there. Paredes offensive tools have been slowly progressing each season, adding more power and displaying improved contact skills over the last couple of seasons. He sets up with an open stance with deep load and times pitches with a sizable leg kick. Forward weight transfer is fluid and timed well with his swing. Paredes’ quick wrists and natural strength produces plus bat speed and he’s able to use the entire field thanks to his strong plate coverage and discipline that has led just a 13.6% strikeout in his minor league career with an 8.7% walk rate.
There’s more power upside here also, with 25-30 home runs a realistic expectation giving the natural loft in his swing and above-average raw power. Overall, Paredes has the offensive tools to hit for both average and power, projecting as an above-average offensive performer at either shortstop or third base. While he plays both positions right now, a lack of speed and range will likely force him to the hot corner longterm.
4. Daz Cameron, OF, Bats: R, DOB: 1/5/97, ETA 2019
2018 Stats (A+/AA/AAA): .264/.343/.406/.749, 25 2B, 9 3B, 8 HR, 24 SB, 9.7 BB%, 25.7 K%, 473 AB
Slowly but surely, Daz Cameron has been climbing his way up prospects rankings, Over the last two seasons, Cameron 600 AB averages have been 14 home runs and 36 steals to go along with a .268 batting average. Cameron impressed out in the Arizona Fall League too, slashing .342/.435/.468/.903 with a homer and nine steals in 20 games. When you watch him hit, the first thing you notice is the bat speed. He’s simplified his swing over the last year or so and now shows a more direct swing path through the zone.
Pre-pitch, Cameron shows good balance with minimal load and explodes through the ball with solid hip rotation and forward weight transfer. This swing isn’t geared for much power, but Cameron has enough strength and bat speed to project home run totals in the teens. While not a speedster, Cameron is quick and athletic and should remain in centerfield long term. He’ll need to be a little more selective on the bases though if he wants to put that speed to good use against Major League catchers.
5. Franklin Perez, RHP, DOB: 12/6/97, ETA 2020
2018 Stats (RK/A+): 19.1 IP, 6.52 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 3.7 BB/9, 6.5 K/9, .261 AVG
Between a lat strain and shoulder tightness that ended his season early, Perez only managed seven starts in 2018 with not a lot to show for it. Basically, it was a lost season at a crucial time in his development. No need to worry though as the arsenal that had some lists rank him as a top-100 overall prospect still remains. Headlining that arsenal is his fastball/curveball combination, with both pitches grading as plus. The curveball is a true weapon for him with tight spin and strong downward break coming from a nearly over the top arm slit. Perez also uses a slider and a fading changeup, both of which are at least average offerings for him with above-average upside. With a diverse arsenal and solid command over all his pitches, Perez combines the floor of a SP3/4 with the upside of an SP2. I’m banking on the latter.
6. Alex Faedo, RHP, DOB: 11/12/95, ETA 2019/2020
2018 Stats (A+/AA): 121.0 IP, 4.02 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 2.6 BB/9, 8.2 K/9, .228 AVG
A big right-hander at 6’5 (thought he was 6’7 when I interviewed him), Faedo features two plus or better pitches in his fastball and tight slider with two-plane tilt. He’s able to command those pitches fairly well and induce plenty of weak contact, especially to right-handed hitters. The fastball sits in the low to mid-90’s with both arm side run and sink. He was locating it to both sides of the plate in the start I was at, and when he’s running it off the inside corner to righties, good luck. Lagging behind those two is a fringy changeup that lacks consistency, but has shown some fade when he’s throwing it well. Faedo uses a 3/4 arm slot and repeats his delivery, however, the extension in his plant leg is a little short. The upside here is either a bulldog No. 2 starter or a late-inning bullpen weapon.
7. Christin Stewart, OF, Bats: L, DOB: 12/10/93, ETA Debuted in 2018
2018 Stats (RK/AAA): .263/.363/.488/.851, 21 2B, 25 HR, o SB, 12.8 BB%, 20.3 K%, 453 AB
2018 Stats (MLB): .267/.375/.417/.792, 1 2B, 2 HR, 0 SB, 13.9 BB%, 18.1 K%, 60 AB
This might seem a little low, but let me explain. First off, I love Stewart’s raw power. It’s easily 60-grade and has translated into games, producing three straight 25-plus home run campaigns. With his raw power, bat speed, and slight uppercut swing path, I have no doubt that Stewart will be a 30-plus home run threat in the Majors. Now that we got that out of the way, the rest of his tools are lacking, some in a big way.
While he’s managed to keep his strikeouts in check, his overall hit tool is below average and will likely be exposed once Major League pitchers figure out how to pitch him. Which, by the way, is on the outer half as most of his power is to his pull side. Offensively, he projects as a .240-.250 hitter with around 30 homers and zero speed. That lack of speed and below average throwing arm makes him a liability in the outfield and may push him to DH down the road.
8. Parker Meadows, OF, Bats: L, DOB: 11/2/99, ETA 2022
2018 Stats (RK/A-): .290/.377/.473/.850, 3 2B, 4 HR, 3 SB, 9.4 BB%, 29.2 K%, 93 AB
Whatever the Meadows family fed the Meadow boys growing up worked out very well. While the upside isn’t quite as high as his brother’s, Parker Meadows has an intriguing offensive skill set that is quite different from big bro’s. Austin is hit first with speed and a little pop while Parker is power first with a touch of speed and a questionable hit tool. Meadows is big at 6’5 and has the big strikeout numbers to match.
When he squares one up, you can almost hear the baseball screaming as it launches out towards the outfield seats. However, “when” is the key word there. Meadows has some length in his swing and has a propensity to get beat with high velocity, especially up in the zone. If he can shorten his swing and get a better feel for the strike zone, I could see a 45-50 grade hit tool down the road to pair with his 30-plus homer pop and double-digit speed.
9. Beau Burrows, RHP, DOB: 9/8/96, ETA 2019/2020
2018 Stats (AA): 134.0 IP, 4.10 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 3.8 BB/9, 8.5 K/9, .251 AVG
Man, this system is jam-packed with pitching talent. This is now the 5th right-handed pitching prospect in the top nine of the rankings. A prep right-hander and first-round pick in 2015, Burrows dominated in the low minors, but has stalled a little at Double-A. He’s shown great feel for his mid-90’s fastball and hammer curve and can command both pitches well, yet, his changeup and slider haven’t progressed much. The change-up has at least shown promise of becoming a Major League average pitch. With an easy, repeatable delivery and control not being an issue, Burrows looks like a strong mid-rotation starter to me with the upside of a #2 if he can develop that changeup more.
10. Wenceel Perez, SS, Bats: S, DOB: 10/30/99, ETA 2021
2018 Stats (RK/A-/A): .313/.363/.429/.791, 12 2B, 3 HR, 13 SB, 7.6 BB%, 13.5 K%, 231 AB
Fun name to say, fun skill set to project. That’s Wenceel Perez in a nutshell. Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2016, Perez has the potential for four above-average or better tools, with the lone exception being his power, which has a ceiling of around 8-10 home runs. Outside of that, there’s a lot to like. Perez has a clean swing and makes consistent, solid contact from both sides of the plate, with the left side being his best. This is definitely a contact-oriented approach which is perfect given his plus wheels. With his projected plus hit tool and speed, along with his strong plate coverage and feel for hitting, Perez should settle in as a table-setter and stolen base threat down the road. And defensively, he might be the best shortstop in the system.
11. Willi Castro, SS, Bats: R, DOB: 4/24/97, ETA 2019
2018 Stats (AA/AAA): .264/.315/.392/.707, 29 2B, 9 HR, 18 SB, 6.2 BB%, 20.9 K%, 497 AB
Castro signed with the Cleveland Indians back in the 2013 J2 signing period and was acquired by Detroit in the Leonys Martin deal this July. While the upside isn’t as high as the names above him, Castro brings a solid array of tools, mainly his speed, with a fairly high floor.
I wrote him up back in August along with a few other Tiger farmhands. Check out the full scouting report.
Don’t be thrown off by the jersey color. This was a doubleheader and New Hampshire came out in red for the second game after Erie was red in the first game. It threw me off too for a second.
12. Brock Deatherage, OF, Bats: L, DOB: 9/12/95, ETA 2020
2018 Stats (RK/A/A+): .326/.385/.504/.890, 8 2B, 6 3B, 7 HR, 19 SB, 8.2 BB%, 25.2 K%, 230 AB
Between Wenceel and Deatherage, this system has some 80-grade names. Can you imagine if we combined that into one name? Pitchers would cower in fear when Wenceel Deatherage came strolling to the plate. Alright, moving on. The Tigers drafted Deatherage in the 10th round back in June and he wasted zero time impressing in the minors as you can see above. Speed is his most prominent tool, grading out at a minimum of 70, which has already led to success on the base paths and plus range in center. There were some concerns about his swing and hit tool entering the draft, but Deatherage has cleaned that up some and should have at least an average hit tool moving forward with 15-20 homer pop. This is definitely a name trending up in dynasty leagues.
13. Jose De La Cruz, OF, Bats: R, DOB: 1/3/02, ETA 2024
2018 Stats: Did Not Play
I haven’t seen a whole lot of De La Cruz, but what I have seen has impressed me. First and foremost, he’s strong. Loud contact off the bat is common for De La Cruz and he projects to have plus raw power. While he’s obviously still very raw as a hitter, nothing about his swing is worrisome. At least, not yet. He can get a little long with his swing, but makes up for that with quick wrists. There’s a lot to like here offensively, in the power-hitting, corner outfield sort of way. Look for him to get some Rookie ball work in next season.
14. Kody Clemens, 2B, Bats: L, DOB: 5/15/96, ETA 2020
2018 Stats (A/A+): .288/.365/.450/.815, 12 2B, 5 HR, 4 SB, 10.5 BB%, 17.7 K%, 191 AB
How many sons do you have Rocket? Kody is the 3rd Clemens boy to get drafted, taken in the third round this past June, and could end up being the best of the bunch. Clemens is an offensive-minded second-baseman with average or better raw power from the left side thanks to a swing geared for hard contact in the air. He won’t be a masher, but 20-25 home runs seems about right. There are questions about how much average he’ll ultimately hit for, but I’m a fan of his swing. Clemens has quick wrists and generates easy plus bat speed with some natural loft. I’d put a projected future 50-grade on his hit tool. He’s also shown good control of the strike zone in the lower minors and it will be interesting to see if that trend continues next season in Double-A.
15. Kyle Funkhouser, RHP, DOB: 3/16/94, ETA 2019
2018 Stats (AA/AAA): 97.2 IP, 3.96 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, 4.5 BB/9, 8.8 K/9, .265 AVG
Won’t you bring me to, funky town! Okay, now that I got that out of my system, let’s talk about Kyle Funkhouser for a second. This is a player I’ve gone back and forth on many times, moving him up and down these rankings. First off, I’m not enamored by his arsenal. Sure, he sits in the low to mid-90’s with some life on his fastball, but none of his secondary offerings have developed into an out pitch. His slider has at least shown some promise as being an above-average offering with solid tilt when he’s throwing it well. But outside of that, both the curveball and changeup are fringe offerings at best. After displaying decent control in his first two seasons, Funky House’s 4.5 BB/9 in 2018 was nearly double his career 2.4 BB/9 entering the season. Though, with his clean mechanics and repeatable delivery, I don’t see this becoming a long-term issue. The upside here is of a mid-rotation starter.
16. Jake Robson, OF, Bats: L, DOB: 11/20/94, ETA 2019
2018 Stats (AA/AAA): .295/.376/.440/.816, 29 2B, 11 HR, 18 SB, 11.2 BB%, 25.2 K%, 482 AB
Everyone likes to talk about Christin Stewart and his potential 2019 value, but don’t forget about Jacob Robson. The speedy outfielder finished the 2018 season with Triple-A Toledo, and barring any free agent signings, could factor into the center field mix next spring. Robson’s best tool is his plus speed, though, that hasn’t translated into gaudy stolen base numbers quite yet and he’s only been successful on 61.4% of his attempts thus far in his career. That’s not going to get you the green light very often in the Majors, sorry to tell you Jacob. Robson has a quick left-handed swing, but I’ve noticed him getting out in front of pitches, finishing his forward momentum and setting the front leg down a little early, making his swing mostly his upper half. It’s also left him vulnerable to offspeed pitches. If he can clean that up a little bit, Robson has the plate coverage and contact skills to hit .270 or higher with double-digit pop. He should start out in center field, but might have to move to a corner outfield spot longterm.
17. Jake Rogers, C, Bats: R, DOB: 4/18/95, ETA 2020
2018 Stats (AA): .219/.305/.412/.717, 15 2B, 17 HR, 7 SB, 10.0 BB%, 27.5 K%, 352 AB
One Jake followed by another Jake. You’ve heard the term, “back to back jacks,” but have you ever heard of back to back Jakes? Thank-you, I’ll be here all week. There’s no doubt in my mind that Rogers is going to have a long Major League career. He’s arguably one of the best defensive catchers in the minors with a strong throwing arm and good receiving skills. That alone is highly valuable and will keep him in the league for a decade or longer. But the question is, how much will he hit? So far, Rogers has shown plus raw power with an uppercut swing, but can get long with his swing and doesn’t project for more than a 40-45 grade hit tool.
18. Kingston Liniak, OF, Bats: R, DOB: 11/11/99, ETA 2022
2018 Stats (RK/A-): .235/.272/.290/.562, 8 2B, 1 HR, 8 SB, 3.8 BB%, 29.6 K%, 200 AB
A fourth-round pick this past June, Liniak possesses intriguing raw tools, but has a long way to go before he’s a finished product. Yes, you can say that about basically every prep bat drafted, but Liniak is rawer than most. If he was a steak you received at a restaurant, you’d ask your waiter/waitress to bring you a new, more cooked one. Liniak’s most notable tool is his plus speed which has already translated into success on the bases and helps him cover plenty of ground in center field. His swing is a little long right now, but if he can shorten that, a 45-50 grade hit tool is realistic with less atrocious walk and strikeout rates. He’ll never be a big power threat, but there’s enough raw power to reach double-digits in home runs annually. Once all the kinks get ironed out here, we could be looking at a 15/30 threat and an all-around solid center fielder.
19. Elvin Rodriguez, RHP, DOB: 3/31/98, ETA 2021
2018 Stats (A): 113.1 IP, 3.34 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 2.5 BB/9, 8.7 K/9, .253 AVG
Acquired in the Justin Upton deal, Elvin Rodriguez spent the entire 2018 season with Single-A West Michigan, showing why the Tigers wanted him as a return piece in that deal. Rodriguez sits in the low to mid-90’s with his fastball and pairs that with a hard curveball with good shape to it. Those two pitches are his bread and butter right now and his change-up is developing to the point where it projects as at least an average offering for him down the road. The upside is that of a #3/#4 starter with a solid floor as well.
20. Daniel Woodrow, OF, Bats: L, DOB: 1/26/95, ETA 2020
2018 Stats (A+/AA): .317/.371/.397/.768, 14 2B, 3 HR, 23 SB, 7.8 BB%, 18.6 K%, 363 AB
There are a few things working in Woodrow’s favor; Speed, contact, plate approach. Woodrow has hit .292 over his minor league career while striking out just 18.1% of the time. He displayed solid contact skills with a quick, line drive oriented swing and can use the whole field. While he hasn’t had the greatest success rate stealing bases, Woodrow’s speed grades as plus and should translate to 25-plus steals while continuing to have above-average range in the outfield. Due to the lack of loft in his swing, Woodrow will likely never hit for more than a handful on homers each season, but has the upside to hit .280 with 25 steals. That will play.
21. Derek Hill, OF, Bats: R, DOB: 12/30/95, ETA 2020/2021
2018 Stats (A+): .239/.307/.318/.625, 9 2B, 4 HR, 35 SB, 8.6 BB%, 28.5 K%, 343 AB
With arguably the best wheels in the system, Hill has intriguing upside, but his hit tool needs major work if he wants to become an everyday center fielder. Bat speed isn’t necessarily the problem here, it’s the rest of his swing and setup that I’m not a fan of. Hill’s hands start out away from his body, drop down when he begins his leg kick, then drift up slightly before moving forward through the zone. His lower half is fine, but the upper half is a mess. It reminds me of that scene from Talladega Nights when Will Farrell says “I don’t know what to do with my hands.” If he can clean up his swing and get to at least a 45-grade hit tool or so, Hill could become a speedy bottom of the order threat. If not, he’s a bench bat/4th outfielder.
— emilycwaldon (@EmilyCWaldon) March 16, 2018
22. Bryan Garcia, RHP, DOB: 4/19/95, ETA 2020
2018 Stats: Did Not Pitch
It’s not often that I include relief pitchers on these lists unless they have considerable upside. Bryan Garcia has just that. He missed the entire 2018 season due to Tommy John surgery, but should return early in 2019 with a late-season Major League debut within reach. His mid-90’s running fastball and plus slider with two-plant tilt give him two plus pitches and the upside of a shutdown closer. Control isn’t an issue here either, which helps his case.
23. Logan Shore, RHP, DOB: 12/28/94, ETA 2019
2018 Stats (A+/AA): 91.0 IP, 4.45 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 2.1 BB/9, 7.3 K/9, .286 AVG
Coming over from the Oakland Athletics as the PTBNL in the Mike Fiers trade, Shore joins his former Florida Gators teammate Alex Faedo, though, Shore doesn’t nearly have the same upside. Shore is more of the pitch to contact variety, using a low-90’s sinking fastball and plus fading changeup most of the time. His slider isn’t nearly as effective as the other two and lacks consistency and flattens out often. We’re likely looking at a back-end rotation arm here.
24. Gregory Soto, LHP, DOB: 2/11/95, ETA 2020
2018 Stats (A+): 113.1 IP, 4.45 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, 5.6 BB/9, 9.1 K/9, .235 AVG
I’m going to give Soto a chance here. The fastball is electric, sitting in the mid-90’s with life, but outside of that, a lot of work needs to be done if Soto wants to reach the Majors. In addition to the heater, Soto mixes in a curveball and changeup, both of which are extremely inconsistent offerings. His overall command is a mess and makes his blazing fastball less effective than it could be. Ultimately, Soto likely ends up in the bullpen, but the door isn’t closed quite yet on him being a starter longterm.
25. Adam Wolf, LHP, DOB: 12/26/96, ETA 2021
2018 Stats (RK/A-): 37.0 IP, 2.19 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 2.9 BB/9, 7.8 K/9, .222 AVG
Take everything I said above about Soto and turn that around 180 degrees for Wolf. A big 6’6 southpaw, Wolf doesn’t overpower hitters with his fastball as Soto does. Instead, he mixes his four average to above-average offerings, all of which he can command. His fastball sits in the low 90’s out of a 3/4 arm slot and he recently added a cutter which has turned into his best pitch. both his curveball and changeup aren’t as advanced yet but show promise as Major League average offerings. Even though he doesn’t throw overly hard, Wolf’s solid four-pitch mix and feel for pitching should allow him to turn into an innings-eating #4 starter.
Others to Monitor
Dawel Lugo, 2B – Lugo makes enough contact to hit for a respectable average, but without much power or speed upside. He also has this weird fear of walks, drawing only nine all of last season.
Eliezer Alfonzo, C – 19-year-old Vebezuelan catcher/first baseman that has shown above-average contact skills and plate approach. Has walked more than he’s struck out thus far and even has a little bit of speed, although, there’s minimal power.
Esney Chacon, OF – Venezuelan speedster with 70-grade speed and decent contact skills. Chacon has swiped 58 bags in 122 Dominican Summer League games while hitting .267 and walking more than he strikes out (65 to 53). Little to no power upside.
Jose Azocar, OF – Former notable prospect in this system trending the wrong way. Managed to hit .297 in 2018 due to an inflated BABIP. Doesn’t show any power upside or strike zone control.
Dustin Peterson, OF – I’ll be honest, I almost didn’t include Peterson in these rankings. I mean, even the Braves DFA’d him in September. Ultimately, Peterson has the looks of a 4th outfielder or fringe starter with 15-20 homer potential if he adds a little loft to his swing and a decent enough feel for hitting to keep the batting average north of .250. He should get some run in Detroit at some point in 2019.
Other Team Prospect Reports
Eric Cross is the lead MLB writer and prospect analyst here on FantraxHQ and has been with the site since March 2017. In the past, he wrote for FantasyPros and FanSided. He is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA). For more from Eric, check out his author page and follow him on Twitter @EricCross04.