Top 10 Prospects (2018): Detroit Tigers: An Unassuming System That’s On The Rise

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

The Detroit Tigers are primed for a rebuild, and while they have acquired some intriguing prospects thus far (most notably from the Justin Verlander trade) the system is not currently in the best shape.  That could change quickly, as they have quite a few prospects who could take significant leaps forward this season, with a few currently “B” or “B-“ prospects potentially moving into the “B+” or maybe even “A-“ range.  Who should we be watching?  Where is the upside?  Let’s take a look:

 

1) Franklin Perez – Right-Handed Pitcher
ETA – 2018
Grade – B

Perez is widely considered the Astros’ best prospect, and splitting time between High-A and Double-A last season he posted a solid 3.02 ERA and 1.14 WHIP over 86.1 IP.  Of course his strongest skill was his control, to an extent:

  • Strikeouts – 8.13 K/9
  • Walks – 2.81 BB/9
  • Groundballs – 35.7%

There is more upside in the strikeout department, considering his 13.1% SwStr%.  A part of the Justin Verlander trade, the potential is there for him to also put it together quickly.  He has the arsenal (four-pitch mix) and size (6’3”) that we look for, and having pitched all of ’17 as a 19-year old there is clearly plenty of time for him to learn and develop.

 

2) Daz Cameron – Outfielder
ETA – 2019
Grade – B

Cameron only played three games for the Tigers after being acquired as part of the trade that sent Justin Verlander to Houston.  Obviously the Astros have no regrets about the deal, but don’t sleep on Cameron and the potential he brings.  Last season he hit .271 with 14 HR and 32 SB over 454 AB at Single-A, showing the potential for even more power (he added 29 doubles and 8 triples).  He also showed a good approach at the plate, with a 9.1% SwStr% leading us to believe that he could improve upon his 21.5% strikeout rate (or at least maintain it as he advances).

He has shown more swing and miss previously, but injuries have helped to slow his progress and likely played a role.  He clearly profiles as a player with 20/20 upside, and he has the bloodlines as he’s the son of former MLBer Mike Cameron.  He has the potential to be a breakout performer in ’18 and raise his grade to the B+ range (or better).

 

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3) Matt Manning – Right-Handed Pitcher
ETA – 2020
Grade – B-

Obviously the biggest question is his control, with a 4.41 BB/9 over 51.0 IP last season.  He also didn’t generate many groundballs (36.3%), though listed at 6’6” he has the ideal size and you have to think that he should be able to put things together and figure it out and further develop physically (he’s listed at 190 lbs.).  He also needs to gain more experience, which should go a long way, as he split his time in high school between baseball and basketball.  It’s going to take time, but as a 20-year old he should be afforded that.  It’s easy to argue that he has the most upside of any prospect in the system, it’s just going to take a lot of patience for him to get there.

 

4) Beau Burrows – Right-Handed Pitcher
ETA – 2018
Grade – B-

Splitting time between High-A and Double-A, there was a clear split in his production:

  • High-A – 1.23 ERA, 9.51 K/9, 1.69 BB/9 over 58.2 IP
  • Double-A – 4.72 ERA, 8.84 K/9, 3.89 BB/9 over 76.1 IP

Even at Double-A he was generating an ample amount of swings and misses (11.5%), and it’s hard to imagine him maintaining the unsightly 28.3% line drive rate that plagued him.  There are some questions about his height (he’s listed at 6’2”) and it will be interesting to see if long ball begin to plague him as he advances.  If it does his appeal will plummet.

 

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5) Christin Stewart – Outfielder
ETA – 2018
Grade – B-

Playing the year at Double-A (485 AB) he hit .256 with 28 HR (while also adding 29 doubles and 3 triples).  However there’s a lot of swing and miss to his game, with a 12.2% SwStr% leading to a 24.9% strikeout rate.  We’d expect those numbers to rise even further as he moves against more advanced pitching, and it could ultimately cripple his average.  There are a lot of similar prospects around the game, and with power rising it’s hard to get overly excited.

 

The Next Five:
6) Kyle Funkhouser – Right-Handed Pitcher (Grade – B-)
7) Alex Faedo – Right-Handed Pitcher (Grade – B-)
It’s easy to love his upside, but already having issues with both of his knees is going to drag down his appeal a bit.  A healthy and successful season could quickly change the outlook, but for now be cautious.
8) Isaac Paredes – Shortstop (Grade – B-)
9) Jake Rogers – Catcher (Grade – C+)
10) Mike Gerber – Outfielder (Grade – C+)

Sources – Fangraphs, MLB.com, MILB.com

Make sure to check out all of our 2018 Preseason Top 10 Prospect Lists:

AL EastAL CentralAL West
Baltimore OriolesChicago White SoxHouston Astros
Boston Red SoxCleveland IndiansLos Angeles Angels
New York YankeesDetroit TigersOakland A's
Tampa Bay RaysKansas City RoyalsSeattle Mariners
Toronto Blue JaysMinnesota TwinsTexas Rangers
NL EastNL CentralNL West
Atlanta BravesChicago CubsArizona Diamondbacks
Miami MarlinsCincinnati RedsColorado Rockies
New York MetsMilwaukee BrewersLos Angeles Dodgers
Philadelphia PhilliesPittsburgh PiratesSan Diego Padres
Washington NationalsSt. Louis CardinalsSan Francisco Giants

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