by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
While it appears that the Tigers are prepared to stay in-house for potential shortstop replacements, we can’t rule them out for making an acquisition (Stephen Drew, Nick Franklin or Didi Gregorius are all possibilities). Who on the existing roster could prove valuable, if they win the job? Let’s take a look at the candidates:
Perez saw 66 AB for the Tigers in 2013, hitting .197 with 0 HR and 0 SB in the process. Splitting time between Double and Triple-A last season, he did hit .298 with 4 HR and 28 SB over 429 AB. He has stolen 20+ bases in three consecutive minor league seasons, while also showing an ability to make consistent contact (14.1% strikeout rate over the past three seasons in the minors).
Is that enough to excite us, though? He’s not going to hit towards the top of the order, has little to no power and may not get many opportunities to run. In other words, his fantasy upside appears to be limited.
Acquired as part of the Doug Fister trade, Lombardozzi is rarely thought of as a shortstop. In reality his experience there is limited (20 games in the minors, 2 games in the Majors), but given the other internal candidates it’s not impossible that the Tigers take a look at him there.
From an offensive perspective, he does have some potential. He hit .298 in four seasons in the minors, while stealing as many as 30 bases in a season. However, the power is limited (17 HR) and the speed hasn’t translated to the Majors (9 SB in 674 AB over the past two seasons). With the ability to play the OF and across the infield, he’s probably better suited to be kept in a utility role.
Between High-A and Double-A in 2013 he hit .264 with 10 HR and 12 SB. Only 22-years old, there’s the potential that he improves in both categories as he continues to mature. Last season he had 30 doubles and 6 triples, after producing 34 doubles, 5 triples an 6 HR in 2012. While he’s not going to suddenly become a 30 HR threat, would it surprise anyone if he developed into a 15 HR threat?
He also just needs to learn how to be more efficient on the base paths, having been caught 14 times in 2013. In 2012 he had 21 SB in 30 attempts, showing that the potential could be there. Or maybe not… Rich Wilson of Prospect 361 (click here for his Tigers’ Top 10 prospect list http://prospect361.com/al-prospects/detroit-tigers/) said the following:
“Suarez has average speed and his ability in the lower-levels to run on catchers and pitchers with poor pickoff moves faded as he stole nine bases while getting caught 11 times in Double-A.”
There’s some potential, though it’s based on a projected increase in his power. Making the jump directly from Double-A and with a 19.9% strikeout rate in ’13, there would certainly be growing pains along the way.
He’s seen time in the Majors each of the past four seasons, hitting .242 with 2 HR and 1 SB over 219 AB in the process. In the minors over the past three seasons he’s hit .246 with 14 HR and 34 SB over 847 AB. He’s also posted a 24.4% strikeout rate. Thought of more as a utility player, he’s less than an ideal option.
Is anyone excited over any of these four options? From a fantasy perspective Suarez may offer the best upside, though it would be surprising if the Tigers didn’t go outside the organization to fill the void. If you want to take a flier in a deeper format grab Suarez, but for most owners this is more of a battle to watch from a distance.
Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Reference, Minor League Central, Prospect 361
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