Detroit has not been viewed as having an elite system in recent years, though there should be more of an emphasis on building up their prospect base as they head towards a rebuild. That’s not to say that there isn’t potential upside, especially in the outfield where the team could see an impact in 2019. They will have to wait for a few others, but it could come quickly. Let’s take a look at who deserves our attention and can make an impact:
1) Casey Mize –
Grade – B+
ETA – 2020
Mize was selected first overall in the 2018 draft, and while it’s easily argued that he wasn’t the best talent available that shouldn’t be taken as a knock. It just means he may not have ace-type stuff, but he could still develop into a #2 type starter and one that could arrive quickly. That said, it wouldn’t be surprising if by mid-season he’s no longer viewed as the team’s best prospect.
2) Matt Manning –
Grade – B+
ETA – 2020
Manning pitched across three levels in ’18, including making a pair of starts at Double-A, posting an impressive 3.29 ERA and 1.20 WHIP over 117.2 IP. While he struggled with his control while at Single-A, it’s intriguing that the 20-year old (he just recently turned 21) improved his BB/9 as he advanced:
- Single-A (55.2 IP) – 4.53
- High-A (51.1 IP) – 3.33
- Double-A (10.2 IP) – 3.38
Pair the improved number with strikeout stuff (11.78 K/9, courtesy of a 13.9% SwStr%) and enough groundballs (42.9%), though we’d like to see the latter improve, and it’s easy to envision a top of the rotation stud developing. Standing at 6’6” and 190 lbs. there’s still room for further maturation with his stuff, and he obviously has the size teams look for. Don’t be surprised to see him truly breakout this season.
3) Franklin Perez –
Grade – B
ETA – 2020
Perez was a key piece of the Justin Verlander trade, and despite various injuries limiting him to 19.1 innings in ’18 there is still upside. He’s just a year removed from posting a 3.02 ERA and 1.14 WHIP over 86.1 IP showing strong signs:
- Strikeouts – 8.13 K/9 (courtesy of a 13.1% SwStr%)
- Control – 2.81 BB/9
- Groundballs – 35.7%
Obviously home runs are going to be a concern, based on the groundball rate, though a four-pitch arsenal should bring success. The upside is there to thrive as a starter, though the injuries and missed time do set him back slightly (especially since one of the injuries was a shoulder strain).
4) Daz Cameron –
Grade – B
ETA – 2019
Cameron played across three levels in ’18, including 57 AB at Triple-A, hitting .264 with 8 HR and 24 SB. He showed a little bit more power potential (25 doubles and 9 triples), though he likely won’t develop into more than a low double-digit home run threat. His speed is going to be his best asset, though we’ll have to watch his strikeout rate:
- High-A (246 PA) – 28.0%
- Double-A (226 PA) – 23.5%
- Triple-A (62 PA) – 24.2%
The fact that he posted a 10.2% walk rate at High-A and 11.1% at Double-A is promising, as is his improvement at Double-A and an overall 10.3% SwStr%. Assuming he can continue on that path, just maintaining his 23.5% strikeout rate at Double-A could lead to a .270/12/25 type season or better. He needs to prove he can maintain the approach and develop his power, however, before we push his grade.
5) Christin Stewart –
Grade – B
ETA – Already Arrived
Fantasy owners waited… And waited… And waited for the arrival of Stewart in 2018, and while it didn’t come until late in the season things should be vastly different in 2019 as he should open the year with a role in Detroit (either in the outfield or as the DH). No one has ever questioned Stewart’s power (he hit 25 HR in 453 AB in ’19), and the key was his ability to make consistent contact. Look at his SwStr% over the past few years:
- 2016 – 12.0%
- 2017 – 12.2%
- 2018 – 10.4%
Considering he spent the bulk of ’19 at Triple-A (444 AB) the improvement is important, especially when paired with a 12.8% walk rate. That could make him a .260+ hitter with power, and that could lead to an impressive breakout performance.
6) Isaac Paredes –
Shortstop (Grade – B)
There are questions as to how much power Paredes will develop, though hitting 15 HR (to go along with 28 doubles and 2 triples) split between High-A and Double-A is promising. He also showed an ability to make consistent contact, with a 6.0% SwStr% leading to a 15.1% strikeout rate and 10.2% walk rate. If the power is for real that would be an asset, though at 5’11” he’ll have to prove it. If he does he’ll start to gain significantly more attention.
7) Wenceel Perez – Shortstop (Grade – B-)
Perez played ’18 as an 18-year old (he turned 19 in October), moving from Rookie Ball to Low-A to High-A. There is no questioning his speed (13 SB over 251 PA), but the more impressive mark is his 9.6% SwStr% given the levels he played at and his age. It will be interesting to see if he can develop any power, but the speed and approach alone is going to thrust him onto radars. It’s possible he starts to garner a lot more attention this season, so keep a close eye on him.
8) Alex Faedo –
Right-Handed Pitcher (Grade – C+)
He showed strikeout potential (8.18 K/9 courtesy of a 12.4% SwStr%) over 121.0 IP split between High-A and Double-A, and also solid control (2.60 BB/9). The question is going to be his ability to keep the ball in the ballpark, with an overall 29.2% groundball rate. That ultimately plagued him at Double-A, with a 2.25 HR/9, so it will be interesting to see if the 2017 first round draft pick can make the necessary adjustments.
9) Parker Meadows –
Outfielder (Grade – C+)
The 2018 second round pick showed signs in his first taste of professional baseball, hitting .290 with 4 HR and 3 SB over 93 AB. Obviously the biggest red flag is a 21.7% SwStr%, though it’s a tiny sample size and he was playing as an 18-year old. There’s definitely enough upside to keep a close eye on him.
10) Will Castro – Shortstop (Grade – C+)
Castro was acquired from Cleveland in a deadline deal and after the trade he seemed to start putting things together. In 114 PA at Double-A he hit .324 with 4 HR and 4 SB before getting his feet wet at Triple-A. He hasn’t proven capable of drawing many walks (6.2% walk rate overall in ’18) and an 11.2% SwStr% could lead to more strikeouts (20.9%). There’s some intriguing upside, but there obviously are questions that remain.
Sources – Fangraphs, MLB.com, MILB.com, Baseball Reference
Make sure to check out all of our 2019 Top 10 Prospect Lists: