Detroit Tigers Top 31 Prospects

Kirthmon F. Dozier/USA TODAY NETWORK

Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the Detroit Tigers. Scouting reports were compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as my own observations. This is the fourth year we’re delineating between two anticipated relief roles, the abbreviations for which you’ll see in the “position” column below: MIRP for multi-inning relief pitchers, and SIRP for single-inning relief pitchers. The ETAs listed generally correspond to the year a player has to be added to the 40-man roster to avoid being made eligible for the Rule 5 draft. Manual adjustments are made where they seem appropriate, but we use that as a rule of thumb.

A quick overview of what FV (Future Value) means can be found here. A much deeper overview can be found here.

All of the ranked prospects below also appear on The Board, a resource the site offers featuring sortable scouting information for every organization. It has more details (and updated TrackMan data from various sources) than this article and integrates every team’s list so readers can compare prospects across farm systems. It can be found here.

Tigers Top Prospects
Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
1 Jackson Jobe 21.5 AA SP 2025 55
2 Max Clark 18.6 A CF 2027 50
3 Colt Keith 22.4 AAA 2B 2024 50
4 Jace Jung 23.3 AA 3B 2024 50
5 Ty Madden 23.9 AA SP 2024 45
6 Parker Meadows 24.2 MLB CF 2024 45
7 Kevin McGonigle 19.4 A SS 2026 45
8 Troy Melton 23.1 A+ SP 2026 45
9 Wilmer Flores 22.9 AA MIRP 2024 40+
10 Dillon Dingler 25.3 AAA C 2024 40+
11 Justyn-Henry Malloy 23.9 AAA 3B 2025 40+
12 Josue Briceno 19.3 A C 2028 40+
13 Tyler Mattison 24.4 AA SIRP 2025 40+
14 Peyton Graham 23.0 A SS 2027 40+
15 Paul Wilson 18.6 R SP 2028 40
16 Sawyer Gipson-Long 26.1 MLB MIRP 2024 40
17 Brant Hurter 25.4 AA MIRP 2025 40
18 Danny Serretti 23.7 AA SS 2026 40
19 Hao-Yu Lee 21.0 A+ 2B 2025 40
20 Max Anderson 21.4 A 2B 2026 40
21 Enrique Jimenez 18.2 R C 2029 35+
22 Keider Montero 23.5 AAA SP 2024 35+
23 Dylan Smith 23.6 AA SP 2025 35+
24 Gage Workman 24.2 AA SS 2025 35+
25 Trei Cruz 25.5 AA CF 2024 35+
26 Carson Rucker 19.4 R 3B 2029 35+
27 Devin Sweet 27.4 MLB SIRP 2024 35+
28 RJ Petit 24.3 AA SIRP 2025 35+
29 Yosber Sanchez 22.7 A SIRP 2026 35+
30 Andrew Dunford 19.0 R SP 2029 35+
31 Nestor Miranda 17.9 R 1B 2030 35+
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55 FV Prospects

1. Jackson Jobe, SP

Drafted: 1st Round, 2021 from Heritage Hall HS (DET)
Age 21.5 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
50/60 50/60 55/60 45/60 40/50 93-95 / 99

Jobe was the consensus top high school arm in the 2021 draft and earned a bonus of nearly $7 million as the third overall pick. He had a somewhat rocky first full season in pro ball; his velocity was down a bit compared to his peak pre-draft look and he ran a FIP over 5.00 across 18 starts with Lakeland. Hitters seemed unphased by Jobe’s trademark curveball despite its elite spin and huge depth. He struggled to throw strikes and the visual quality of his stuff regressed. Then Job was put on the IL to start 2023 and missed two and a half months recovering from lumbar spine inflammation, which is more a description of symptoms than a root cause, as this kind of inflammation can be brought on by arthritis, infection, or any number of other maladies. When Jobe returned in mid-June, he did so with a vengeance. Across 20 starts combined between the regular season and the Arizona Fall League, Jobe tallied 103 strikeouts and just 11 walks in 79.2 IP. His fastball velocity was living in the upper reaches of his career-long band, often touching 98-99.

Perhaps more significantly, Jobe has scrapped his curveball. He now utilizes a firm 87-92 mph cutter and a low-80s sweeper, and has upped his changeup usage considerably. Both of his new breaking balls have the same elite spin Jobe could create on his curveball, though neither of them has consistent shape nor finish yet. Considering he’s only used those new pitches for half a season and can spin them like he does, I’m projecting growth for both offerings. His changeup is arguably his most switched-on secondary now, as Jobe uses it against both lefties and righties. The changes he’s made in response to the ineffectiveness of his 2022 breaking ball have made Jobe a more complete pitcher. Will we see this kind of velocity from him across 120-140 innings? And will Jobe’s back issues be a persistent part of his career? These are reasonable things to wonder, but right now Jobe looks healthy, nasty, and fairly ready to pitch in the big leagues. Jobe isn’t on the 40-man yet (he doesn’t have to go on until after the 2025 season) and the Tigers have a ton of starter depth in front of him right now, but it’s feasible that at some point in the middle of 2024, he’ll be one of Detroit’s best five healthy starters.

50 FV Prospects

2. Max Clark, CF

Drafted: 1st Round, 2023 from Franklin HS (IN) (DET)
Age 18.6 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/70 40/45 20/45 70/70 40/55 40

Clark was a well-known, top-of-his-class high schooler several years before he was draft eligible because of his consistent, superlative performance in travel ball tournaments. He has sublime feel for contact and can really run, presenting the Tigers with an old school leadoff hitter’s profile as he enters pro ball.

With barrel control well beyond his years, Clark has rare hit tool projection for a high school prospect, spraying flush, all-fields contact with remarkable consistency. Though his swing doesn’t feature big lift and Clark lacks overt, frame-based power projection, the amount of contact he makes and its quality should enable him to hit for plenty of in-game power in pro ball — it will just likely manifest as 40 or 50 doubles rather than 30-plus home runs.

Clark has Corbin Carroll’s high school skill set with something closer to a prototypical major league build and more present physicality than Carroll had at the same stage. It’s not as though Clark is put together like high school Manny Machado or Ken Griffey Jr., but he’s sinewy and strong, especially in his lower half. While some weight room warriors (like Spencer Torkelson and Jarred Kelenic) may have gotten so muscular and stiff that they began to have problems dipping to contact pitches low in the strike zone, Clark’s natural barrel feel should help mitigate this. He has special hit tool projection and speed, the latter of which should help enable him to stay in center field even though his feel for the position is only fair. Clark projects as an everyday center fielder whose pathway to superstardom is dependent on him either developing more home run power than I expect, or having elite plate discipline and on-base ability. He chased so infrequently after the draft that I believe the latter scenario stands a better chance of happening.

3. Colt Keith, 2B

Drafted: 5th Round, 2020 from Biloxi HS (MS) (DET)
Age 22.4 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 245 Bat / Thr L / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/50 70/70 45/60 30/30 30/30 30

Keith was a talented two-way high schooler who moved from Utah to Arizona to Mississippi over the span of just a few years, and his draft spring was interrupted by the start of the pandemic. Teams mostly understood his commitment to ASU to be pretty loose, and Keith signed for an over-slot $500,000 as a fifth rounder in the 2020 draft. Injuries limited him during his first two full seasons in the Tigers org, but he mashed when he played. He looked great during the 2022 Arizona Fall League, then clubbed nearly 70 extra-base hits in 126 games throughout a fully healthy 2023 split between Double- and Triple-A. During his stay in Toledo, Keith began to see more time at second base rather than his native third. He’s a bad defender at both spots but has a much greater chance at becoming passable (read: hidden) at second, where some of Keith’s issues with throwing are masked. There really isn’t anyone of offensive consequence standing in Keith’s way at the big league level, either at second base or third. If he keeps hitting like he was late in 2023, and as long as he’s not embarrassing himself at second base, he should be up at some point in 2024.

Keith’s offensive prowess is rooted in his raw power. He nearly killed managing editor Meg Rowley and her laptop in the auxiliary press box during his Futures Game BP when two or three of his dingers clanged off the face of the deck above her. Keith clocks fastballs well and is short to the top of the strike zone. He struggles with soft stuff in the bottom third of the zone, especially changeups, which he tends to swing over the top of. This will likely prevent Keith from being a plus contact hitter, but I don’t view him as being so risky in this regard that it threatens his whole profile. He’s a flawed player and his WAR output will be impacted by his lack of position, but Keith is going to slug enough to profile as either a DH or bad-gloved second baseman.

Keith has bulked up considerably since signing, and the effects of his increased size are evident on defense. Once a fair bet to stay on the middle infield, he is now fighting just to stay at third. He is stiff and bulky, his actions are well below average, and while he shows you a big arm when he gets to wind up and really let it eat, he struggles to throw from odd platforms. It’s feasible a team could live with him playing third base situationally, but it’s not ideal, and Colt is a 30-grade defender right now. He is similar to Nolan Gorman in the way he has trended athletically on defense, but there’s enough bat to support an everyday fit at the bottom of the defensive spectrum.

4. Jace Jung, 3B

Drafted: 1st Round, 2022 from Texas Tech (DET)
Age 23.3 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr L / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 60/60 50/60 30/30 30/40 55

Jung hit .328/.468/.647 over his career at Texas Tech, with more walks than strikeouts every single year, and despite lacking an obvious defensive home, he was one of the 2022 draft’s most stable prospects because of his track record. Jung seemed gassed after the draft and hit just one homer in 30 games, but his power output exploded in 2023; he clubbed 28 homers, half of them in just 47 Double-A contests during the last month and a half of the season. After 128 regular season games, Jung was sent to the Arizona Fall League, where he played third base. Since his sophomore year of college he had only played second base, and while he’s a capable pivot man on double plays, Jung is otherwise a below-average keystone defender. Some of what Jung struggled with at second base will follow him to third, but his lack of footspeed will be less of an issue, and Jung’s arm looked suited for the left side of the infield during his Fall League trial. Ideally Jung can be capable enough to shuttle back and forth between both spots.

Jung is dangerous all over the zone. He can crush pitches on the outer third into the oppo gap, and he’ll hit some epic pull-side homers. His swing has big, aggressive launch and he has enough feel for the barrel to weaponize it, though his style of hitting does cause him to whiff quite a bit in the strike zone. He does skilled, hitterish things in order to slug, but because of his style, Jung is likely to make below-average rates of contact. Ryan McMahon, or perhaps the last few years of Max Muncy (without such good plate discipline), is a good barometer for what to expect from Jung: a below-average infield athlete who trades a little bit of contact to get to huge power. Jung and Colt Keith are both talented enough to win jobs at some point fairly early in 2024. Keith is a second base-only fit for me if he’s going to play the infield at all, which would force Jung to third if both of them ascend. Though flawed, Jung should slug enough to produce like a 2-ish WAR player annually and be a core build-around guy in Detroit.

45 FV Prospects

5. Ty Madden, SP

Drafted: 1st Round, 2021 from Texas (DET)
Age 23.9 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
55/55 55/60 50/50 45/50 40/50 45/50 93-95 / 98

Madden has a prototypical starter’s scouting package, with a classic, innings-eating frame and a deep repertoire. He spent all of 2023 at Double-A Erie, where he chugged through 118 innings with a 29.7% K% and slightly discouraging 10.2% walk rate. After he was a north/south arm slot guy in college, Madden and the Tigers have worked to alter his delivery over the course of the last couple of seasons. His arm slot has come down more and more as he has adopted a more three-quarters slot, as well as more overt drop-and-drive usage in his lower half. The results have mostly been encouraging, as the shallower angle this creates on his fastball has fostered more in-zone bat-missing ability and better natural action on a changeup that needed to develop for Madden to hit his ceiling.

I think that some of his uncharacteristic wildness in 2023 was simply from this delivery being relatively new. Madden’s walk rate was high, but he has pitchability elements. He can manipulate breaking ball shape and either throw his slider for a strike or bury it for whiffs, he has a low-90s cutter that he’s still getting a feel for, and he knows where in the zone his fastball plays. Even in his final start of the year, Madden was parked in the 94-95 mph range. I consider him a high-probability no. 4/5 starter whose ETA is more likely 2025 due to the sudden glut of healthy and veteran options who are now ahead of Madden on the depth chart.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2018 from Grayson HS (GA) (DET)
Age 24.2 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr L / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/40 50/55 40/50 60/60 50/50 60

Meadows’ strikeout rate ticked back up again after a 2022 reduction, as he slashed .256/.337/.474 with a 23.8% K% and career-high 19 home runs with Toledo. He ended his season with 37 games at the big league level, pushing very near (but not past) the 45-day/130 at-bat rookie graduation boundaries as he slashed .232/.331/.368 with three more homers and a .308 wOBA, plus a superior .324 xwOBA based on his quality of contact. It’s about as big a major league sample as one can have to gauge a prospect without him graduating, and that xwOBA is above the big league average in center field. And Meadows is going to stay in center. Even at his size, he’s a comfortably plus runner who looked crisp patrolling Comerica Park’s sizable path of real estate in September.

Meadows is a little too long and vulnerable against up-and-away fastballs to project sustained offensive performance at this level, and he swings inside a lot of righty changeups as he cheats to try to cover that pitch. Execute a belt-high fastball and soft pitch away from him in sequence, and you’re either getting him out or limiting his raw power. He lacks the plus offensive attribute of an impact everyday player, but Meadows can oppo-poke soft pitches that don’t quite finish, and he crushes heart-of-the-plate mistakes. He’s a competent and dangerous enough left-handed player to project as a complementary regular, the lefty half of a center field platoon.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2023 from Monsignor Bonner HS (PA) (DET)
Age 19.4 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 187 Bat / Thr L / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 40/45 20/35 55/55 40/50 60

McGonigle’s well-rounded skill set makes him a high-probability big leaguer, perhaps more likely to play some kind of big league role than any other high school player drafted in 2023, but his ceiling is likely capped by what I perceive to be mature physicality that doesn’t leave much room for projection.

As impressive as McGonigle’s physical tools are — he has plus bat-to-ball ability, surprising power for his size, and a plus arm — his on-field acumen and fundamentals also carry a ton of weight. He has fantastic baseball feel and instincts, a well-calibrated internal clock at shortstop, and he appears laser focused and competitive between the lines. Unless you’re fearful that his present physicality is an indicator that he’ll eventually be too bulky to move around on the middle infield, McGonigle is a slam dunk shortstop with enough contact ability and plate discipline to have average everyday shortstop upside and a good utilityman’s floor. McGonigle is currently strong enough to do doubles damage in both gaps and to drop the bat head to golf out some pull-side homers, but his maxed-out build doesn’t allow for much long-term power projection, which is why he’s perceived to have a lower ceiling.

8. Troy Melton, SP

Drafted: 4th Round, 2022 from San Diego State (DET)
Age 23.1 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 55/60 50/50 45/55 35/55 94-96 / 98

Melton was one of the youngest college prospects available in the 2021 draft as well as a plus on-mound athlete, so when he had a really rough season with an ERA just over 6.00, it was easier to swallow a return to San Diego State. Melton reworked his arm action, had a great fourth year as an Aztec, and climbed into the fourth round of the 2022 draft. Melton was mostly drafted because he has a live arm and his mechanical adjustments made his fastball less hittable; the Tigers were tasked with developing the rest. They’ve begun to. Melton made substantial alterations to his slider in 2023, as the pitch picked up roughly five ticks of velocity compared to his college breaker. At times, it has devastating two-plane sweep.

There are an awful lot of late-bloomer traits here, as Melton was young for his graduating class, was mostly a catcher in high school, missed a season due to the pandemic, and now has a fairly new delivery and a very new breaking ball. I love Melton’s bounding, down-the-mound mechanics and his athleticism (big lower half bend and hip/shoulder separation here), and I think he may just be scratching the surface as a craftsman. Even though there are pitchers with similar or currently better stuff who are closer to the big leagues, I consider Melton’s chances of holding down a rotation spot for a contender down the road to be greater. If he continues developing at the rate he did in 2023, he’ll be a top 100 prospect a year from now.

40+ FV Prospects

9. Wilmer Flores, MIRP

Undrafted Free Agent, 2020 (DET)
Age 22.9 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Cutter Command Sits/Tops
45/55 55/60 45/50 40/45 92-94 / 97

Born in Venezuela and signed out of an Arizona junior college, Flores stomped onto the prospect radar throughout the 2021 season, which he wrapped peaking in the 97-98 mph range with a hammer breaking ball in the Arizona Fall League. His velocity has slowly been ticking down since then, and he sat mostly 92-94 in 2023 as he made 21 regular season starts (interrupted by a hammy strain) and then did a mix of starting and relieving in yet another Fall League.

His fastball still has in-zone bat-missing ability thanks to its other traits, but it isn’t the dominant offering of late 2021. Flores still has two good-looking breaking balls — a spike curveball and a cutter — that looked better to my eye in Arizona than they played on paper during the regular season. His knuckle curve’s shape plays nicely off his fastball, and Flores’ cutter/slider has above-average length, but varies in shape. He threw changeups at an 8% clip during the summer, but I didn’t see one in Arizona. He’s now on the 40-man, but the Tigers don’t need to rush a decision as to whether or not Flores is a starter or multi-inning reliever. He has all three option years left, and they have a fairly deep group of starters ahead of him after adding Jack Flaherty and Kenta Maeda in free agency. If you could guarantee me that Flores’ fastball would sit in the mid-90s if he was allowed to air it out an inning or two at a time, I’d prefer that to the low-90s starter version of him. I’m projecting him in relief here, but again, the Tigers have the depth and flexibility to see how things go with Flores as a starter for another year.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2020 from Ohio State (DET)
Age 25.3 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/30 50/50 30/40 45/45 45/55 70

Dingler has a luxury backup catching skill set similar to Jake Rogers‘, headlined by premium arm strength and limited by a bottom-of-the-scale contact ability. Dingler has lost a great many reps to injury — broken hamate, broken finger, and a 2023 meniscus surgery — and I suppose you could argue his hit tool will have late growth as he gets deeper into his 20s, but I am not inclined to project that. I do think he’ll have some peak years where, like Rogers or Austin Hedges, Dingler gets to enough of his power to perform like an average primary catcher, but he’ll likely be a runner-stopping backup for the bulk of his time as a big leaguer. Dingler began catching on one knee coming off the meniscectomy and took to it rather smoothly. He’s still not a great receiver, but neither his ball-blocking nor his throwing have suffered because of the move. Dingler routinely pops in the 1.80s and uncorked an all-world 1.7-second lightning bolt to the bag in late September with Toledo. He’s a medium-framed athlete who has been hurt a lot, which further funnels him into the backup bucket, but Dingler’s power and arm strength give him a pretty juicy toolset for someone in that role.

Drafted: 6th Round, 2021 from Georgia Tech (ATL)
Age 23.9 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 212 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 60/60 45/50 40/40 30/35 55

Malloy was a raw but toolsy third baseman at a New Jersey high school in 2018, but a strong commitment to Vanderbilt prevented him from getting much actual pre-draft consideration. Two years of struggles with the Commodores resulted in just 39 total at-bats before Malloy transferred to Georgia Tech for his junior year. He slashed .308/.436/.558 with more walks than strikeouts as a Yellowjacket in 2021, his only collegiate season with actual playing time. Without a clear defensive position, Malloy fell all the way to Atlanta’s sixth round pick. Within a year and a half, Malloy had coasted through Double-A and a great Arizona Fall League stint with a career OBP north of .400. The Braves traded him to Detroit for Joe Jiménez during the 2022-23 offseason, and Malloy produced another huge, OBP-driven .277/.417/.474 line in 2023 with Toledo.

While not yet on the 40-man roster, Malloy is in position to compete for big league playing time in 2024 as Detroit’s third base situation evolves. Like most of the Tigers’ other upper-level position player prospects, he is not a particularly good defensive infielder. After he only played the infield in college, the Braves and Tigers have given Malloy about 50 starts in the outfield corners each of the past two seasons, and while he doesn’t look especially comfortable there, his air-it-out arm strength is plus.

Malloy’s thunderous hands create big power in a short distance, and he’s capable of torching pull-side contact, but I don’t believe he has quite enough hit tool to be a regular corner outfielder or third baseman. Big league pitchers will bully JHM in the parts of the strike zone that he struggles to cover, and in addition to the whiffs, I worry his plate skills won’t shine quite like they have so far because big leaguers know they can get him out in the strike zone. His best shot at securing a meaningful big league role includes defensive versatility that isn’t yet present in his skill set.

There is still some ironing out do to on defense, but the Tigers have the luxury of another year to do it before Malloy has to be put on the 40-man, and the field of similar players ahead of him is pretty dense, which makes me think it’s more likely that Malloy will debut in 2025 than in 2024. I have cautious optimism that Malloy’s defense will develop enough for him to play a role like J.D. Davis has in San Francisco.

12. Josue Briceno, C

Signed: International Signing Period, 2022 from Venezuela (DET)
Age 19.3 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/50 45/60 25/55 30/20 20/40 55

After a pedestrian 2022 DSL statline, Briceno had a monstrous 2023 on the Lakeland complex, where he slashed .319/.402/.529 with seven homers. He’s a huge-framed lefty-hitting catcher with nearly average raw power already at age 19. Briceno was among this system’s hard-hit rate leaders at a whopping 42%, one of the few lower-level hitters consistently hitting the ball 95-plus mph. His frame has trended in a somewhat scary direction since entering pro ball, as Briceno was a lean 6-foot-4, 200 pounds when he signed and is now probably closer to 230. That happened pretty fast, and he might end up being too big to catch for very long.

Briceno’s feel for contact and power potential give him a puncher’s chance of profiling at first base even if he ends up having to move. His swing has a swooping path capable of oppo spray, and he’s going to be strong enough to do big damage that way at maturity. Whether Briceno and his long levers will be able to catch up to premium, upper-level velocity we just won’t know until he faces it. He ended 2023 at Low-A Lakeland and is poised to be 19 for all of a full-season assignment in 2024. He arguably has the most overt upside of any low-level Tigers prospect besides Max Clark, and if Briceno can remain a catcher, you could argue his ceiling is even bigger than that because he has more overt power projection than Clark. Teenage catchers are already one of the riskiest player demos, but Briceno could be 2024’s Samuel Basallo.

13. Tyler Mattison, SIRP

Drafted: 4th Round, 2021 from Bryant University (DET)
Age 24.4 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 235 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 55/55 55/60 35/40 94-96 / 98

Mattison had a breakout 2023, as he added two and a half ticks to his fastball and was sitting 94-96 rather than just peaking in that range. Mattison’s fastball has always punched above its weight because of its carry and his deceptive delivery, but now it’s also fast, giving him three bat-missing offerings. Mattison also has a vertical curveball that sometimes has some arm-side movement that makes it a weapon against both lefties and righties. He still only uses his tailing mid-80s changeup occasionally, but that pitch had an absurd miss rate against lefties in 2023, north of 50%. Mattison’s leap in velo, repertoire depth, and ability to attack hitters of either handedness makes him more exciting that most middle relief prospects. I expect a September debut and think Mattison could end up working higher-leverage situations once he’s established.

14. Peyton Graham, SS

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2022 from Oklahoma (DET)
Age 23.0 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/35 50/60 35/50 50/50 45/55 70

I believed Graham’s combination of tools and body projection to be so exceptional and rare that he ranked 10th on my 2022 Draft list. Due to the risk associated with his hit tool, there was a gap between that ranking and where the industry saw him, and Graham fell to the second round and signed for $1.8 million.

Graham has impressive all-fields power even though he’s rail-thin, and his frame has room for another 15-20 pounds before compromising his mobility at short. He is an incredible athlete for his size, playing low-to-the-ground defense and showing big league-level comfort backhanding balls in the hole, hosing guys with his plus-plus arm. After he looked lost at the plate early during his junior year, Graham righted the ship and was much better during conference play, and he ended his college career hitting .320/.415/.584 while striking out 21% of the time. He has been conservatively assigned to Low-A Lakeland since signing with Detroit and hasn’t exactly blown the doors off, as he’s slashed .244/.341/.360 in 81 total games there, with his 2023 cut short by an abdominal strain.

There are hit tool issues here that threaten Graham’s whole profile. His pitch recognition (especially against sliders) and bat control aren’t very good, and he tends to swing through a narrow band of the zone, not showing great tactile feel to hit. It’s possible Graham will develop finer barrel control as he gets stronger and no longer has to incorporate his entire body to swing hard. That would perhaps help him move the barrel around with greater precision, but the slider recognition piece still looms. There are several hit tool bust risk indicators here, from Graham’s lever length to his slider chase, and it might be foolish to continue to be seduced by hitters like this. But the high-end outcomes for Graham are exciting and huge, and I want to round up on how I’m valuing him even though he has a high-risk evaluation. So much of this is predicated on him staying at shortstop, the aspect of his profile I’m the most confident in. Big Graham years will look like Willy Adames‘ usual line, but it’s much more likely he ends up tracking like Jose Barrero or Tim Beckham.

40 FV Prospects

15. Paul Wilson, SP

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2023 from Lakeridge HS (OR) (DET)
Age 18.6 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
40/45 20/50 45/50 40/50 20/55 92-94 / 95

Wilson is a solid high school lefty starter prospect with low-to-mid-90s heat and a good breaking ball, the sort who tends to get about $1 million – $1.5 million. Wilson signed for $1.7 million and did not pitch after the draft. He has a little less physical projection than is ideal from a high school prospect, but Wilson was throwing quality strikes with 92-94 mph velo. Aside from some inconsistency getting over his front side, his delivery is repeatable and consistent, and he’ll likely throw enough strikes to start. A mid-to-upper-70s curveball has average depth and middling consistency. There’s a perfectly fine foundation for a slow-developing no. 4/5 starter prospect here.

16. Sawyer Gipson-Long, MIRP

Drafted: 6th Round, 2019 from Mercer (MIN)
Age 26.1 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
40/40 60/60 50/55 45/50 91-93 / 96

Acquired from Minnesota for Michael Fulmer, Gipson-Long has carved out a place on Detroit’s 40-man roster and is poised to play either a spot start or long relief role in 2024 after making his debut in 2023. Both his changeup and slider are plus pitches that play down a bit due to SGL’s control-over-command style. There was a long stretch where Gipson-Long was only walking about 5% of opposing batters. On paper, that looks like high-end command, but the eyeball scouting report doesn’t corroborate that. Gipson-Long lives in or near the zone because his line to the plate is so assertive and direct, but he doesn’t have surgical touch-and-feel command, especially of his fastball.

Built like a statuesque quarterback, Gipson-Long takes a big, cross-bodied stride toward the plate, and works from a low-three-quarters arm slot that imparts sink and tail on his low-90s fastball. Hitters who struggle with low-slot righties aside, Gipson-Long’s fastball is fairly hittable, especially once opponents get a feel for his delivery. This is why he might be best suited for long relief, where he can lean even more heavily on his secondary pitches (his slider has big two-plane action, his changeup sinks a ton) and be a less efficient strike-thrower without knock-on effects for the rest of the pitching staff.

17. Brant Hurter, MIRP

Drafted: 7th Round, 2021 from Georgia Tech (DET)
Age 25.4 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 250 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
35/35 60/60 50/55 50/60 89-93 / 95

Hurter had Tommy John in 2019 and missed the 2020 season, which would have been his draft year at Georgia Tech. He made 15 healthy starts the following year and showed much better command than is typical for someone fresh off of surgery, ending up in the 2021 seventh round. The Tigers pushed him quickly in 2022, Hurter’s first full pro season, as he pitched 106.2 innings and reached Double-A, where he then spent all of 2023. Last year I wrote that Hurter looked like a lefty specialist, but his changeup has improved enough to give him a platoon-neutralizing weapon if he needs it. I still don’t think Hurter is a starter, as pitchers with his level of athleticism and a delivery like his are much more commonly found in the bullpen. But now that he has a changeup, and has demonstrated terrific east/west fastball command, one can see Hurter in an important bulk relief role.

18. Danny Serretti, SS

Drafted: 6th Round, 2022 from North Carolina (DET)
Age 23.7 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/55 40/40 30/35 40/40 40/45 55

He has a softer build and lacks quickness and range, but Serretti is a technically sound, well-rounded baseball player with great defensive hands and actions, and feel for contact from both sides of the plate. Unselected in the 2021 draft, Serretti returned to North Carolina for a fourth season and had a huge uptick in production, buoying his stock into the sixth round where he signed for just shy of $300,000, atypical for a fourth-year player. Serretti showed a continued upward trend in production as a pro until his offensive performance fell off a cliff when he was promoted to age-appropriate Double-A Erie. He’s not an especially explosive athlete, but he is graceful and in control of his body, which is composed like a soft serve Bryson Stott. His creativity and balletic footwork around the bag make him a shortstop fit.

So we have a switch-hitting shortstop with demonstrated bat-to-ball ability, a very strong heuristic profile undercut by a below-average level of overall athleticism. It’s important for Serretti to retain every inch of his range to continue profiling as a viable shortstop defender. His bat-to-ball ability sets him apart from some of the other low-ceiling utility infielders in this system.

19. Hao-Yu Lee, 2B

Signed: International Signing Period, 2021 from Taiwan (PHI)
Age 21.0 Height 5′ 9″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 50/55 30/50 40/30 30/40 50

Lee has dealt with injury for much of the past half decade. He suffered a severe back injury as an amateur before he signed with the Phillies for $600,000, and he’s been limited to fewer than 80 regular season games each of the past two years due to a broken hand in 2022 and a strained quad suffered just a couple weeks after the Tigers acquired him from Philly for Michael Lorenzen at the 2023 trade deadline.

While reduced sample sizes as a result of his injuries make this a bit less settled than I’d like, there are some statistical red flags here that caused me to slide Lee pretty substantially on this pass through the Tigers system. Chiefly, Lee struggles to hit fastballs. The way his swing works (he’s a bucket strider with a path that tends to produce opposite field contact, in the style of a righty, less twitchy Eddie Rosario) not only makes it very difficult for Lee to pull fastballs, but to hit them at all. Synergy Sports has him hitting just .160 against fastballs 88 mph and above in a 150-pitch sample generated by tracking 2023 Jersey Shore and West Michigan broadcasts. This, in concert with my Fall League look — during which Lee was regularly getting worked by fastballs around his hands — has me pretty skeptical that this is going to work even though Lee’s full-season contact data against all pitch types is closer to big league average. The big-bodied Lee needs to mash in order to profile because he’ll likely be a below-average 2B/3B defender due to a lack of range and athleticism, and I think it will only get harder for him to do so as he faces better velocity and pitchers who are better at determining and exploiting hitter weaknesses.

20. Max Anderson, 2B

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2023 from Nebraska (DET)
Age 21.4 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/35 55/60 30/50 50/50 40/50 60

Anderson is a very physical second baseman with plus bat speed. He hit (this is not a typo) .414/.461/.771 as a junior and more than doubled his career home run total with 21 bombs. Why wasn’t he a first rounder? His swing might not play in pro ball. Anderson is great at identifying and barreling low pitches, but his path is often underneath stuff at the belt and above. He’s often bent at the waist and spraying contact to the opposite field with his bottom hand-dominant swing, and he rarely pulls the ball (a common trait among hitters in this system). When he connects, Anderson puts a huge charge into the baseball, it’s just possible he won’t connect enough in pro ball.

He saw action all over the infield in college and was fine at both second and third base; after the draft, he only played second base at Lakeland. Even if he’s flawed as a contact hitter, so long as Anderson can play two spots, he has enough power to carry a part-time infield profile. However, the track record of players who enter this system with hit tool question marks and come out the other end having answered them has not been great lately. Anderson also did a lot of chasing in his 32-game pro sample. I can see why the Tigers wanted to take a shot on his power, even though it isn’t something I’d have done in the second round for just shy of $1.5 million.

35+ FV Prospects

Signed: International Signing Period, 2023 from Venezuela (DET)
Age 18.2 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr S / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 40/45 20/40 30/30 40/50 50

An international scout cross-checking his own reports on the 2023 international class with players’ 2023 DSL performances told me he thought Jimenez, who signed for $1.25 million, had a strong enough summer to reinforce his bonus amount. The stocky, switch-hitting catcher was tied for the Tigers DSL lead in hard-hit rate (31%), posted a 91% in-zone contact rate, and looks the part from a bat speed and barrel control standpoint, especially as a right-handed hitter. He’s a well-rounded hitter who has a shot to play a premium position with development.

22. Keider Montero, SP

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Venezuela (DET)
Age 23.5 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 50/50 50/50 40/40 40/40 93-95 / 96

For the past two seasons, Montero has maintained arm strength (sitting 93-96 mph) that he had only ever shown in short bursts before. In 2023, he did so across just shy of 130 innings. Despite his natural talent for spin (his curveballs and sliders often reside in the 2,650-2,900 rpm range), Montero hasn’t yet developed a good secondary pitch. He will deliver the occasional plus breaking ball, but his lack of command hinders either’s ability to be perform consistently. It would be a shame to waste Montero’s durability in a relief role, but he doesn’t have the pitch mix to comfortably project as a starter. Still just 23 and entering his first option year, Montero has a better chance to find a good second pitch if he’s forced to use them a lot working through the order multiple times. He’ll likely spend his option years back and forth from Toledo before hopefully gaining traction as a workhorse middle reliever.

23. Dylan Smith, SP

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2021 from Alabama (DET)
Age 23.6 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Splitter Command Sits/Tops
40/40 55/60 50/50 40/45 35/55 91-94 / 96

Smith was a pitchability righty who broke out during his draft year at Alabama. He missed a large portion of the 2023 summer with a forearm strain, and headed to the Arizona Fall League to pick up innings. In Arizona, Smith was a bit Jekyll and Hyde. In some outings, he was precisely locating 91-93 and his average slider; in others, he was wild and sitting 93-96 for a few innings. Smith’s slider has nasty late bite and bat-missing length. I’m skeptical that he’ll ever be able to sit 93-96 for an entire season as a starter and prefer the surgical version of him, sitting 91-94 with an east/west style of operation. He still needs to find a third viable pitch if he’s going to profile snuggly in the back of a rotation, so for now I have Smith projected as a spot starter.

24. Gage Workman, SS

Drafted: 4th Round, 2020 from Arizona State (DET)
Age 24.2 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 202 Bat / Thr S / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/20 50/55 30/40 55/55 55/60 70

The presence of Alika Williams and Drew Swift at Arizona State pushed Workman from shortstop to third base in college, but he’s successfully moved back up the defensive spectrum as a pro; he is now an above-average shortstop defender who’d be a 70 glove at third. Workman’s footwork and actions are incredible for a player his size. At a long-torso’d 6-foot-4, he has remarkable body control and an impact arm.

Because Workman was such a big-framed switch hitter, and a young-for-the-class draft prospect who wasn’t yet 21 on draft day, there was hope his bat-to-ball skills would improve in pro ball as he became more comfortable with his body and swings, but that hasn’t happened. Workman struggles with both chase and in-zone whiffs, and is likely to be a bottom-of-the-scale contact hitter. He’s likely to end up wearing a big league uniform across parts of a couple seasons because of his defensive ability, but Workman’s strikeouts will probably prevent him from occupying a consistent big league role.

25. Trei Cruz, CF

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2020 from Rice (DET)
Age 25.5 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr S / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/30 45/45 30/35 55/55 50/55 50

In addition to his multi-positional infield duties, Cruz began playing center field in 2023 and he’s taken to it quickly. He now has pretty special defensive versatility, he swings hard enough from both sides of the plate to run into the occasional extra-base hit, and he can handle the bat in bunt situations. These skills will likely make him a back-of-the-roster utilityman, but I worry Cruz’s lack of bat-to-ball ability will make it tough for him to be much more than that. He did hit a career-high 14 homers in 2023, and he’s super patient (he posts walk rates north of 15% every year), but he lacks barrel feel and is the sort of guy who hits .190 or so. If the Tigers suffer a rash of injuries at up-the-middle positions, then Cruz will debut in 2024.

26. Carson Rucker, 3B

Drafted: 4th Round, 2023 from Goodpasture Christian (TN) (DET)
Age 19.4 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/40 40/55 20/50 40/40 30/50 55

Rucker is a projectable infielder who was signed away from a Tennessee commitment for $772,500. He has a strong top hand that generates impressive pull power when his swing is on time, though his lever length may not always allow for that in pro ball. His present power and long-term power projection are Rucker’s carrying tools, while his relatively grooved swing creates some hit tool risk that will prove more concerning if Rucker outgrows short. For now, he’s a raw developmental infielder with a shot to have corner-worthy power.

27. Devin Sweet, SIRP

Undrafted Free Agent, 2018 (SEA)
Age 27.4 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/45 45/45 60/60 45/45 90-93 / 95

Sweet was a 2018 undrafted free agent senior sign by Seattle who, after a 2019 breakout, stagnated at Double-A for most of three seasons before making his big league debut in 2023. He has since hopped around waivers to Oakland, San Francisco, and now Detroit just before list publication. Sweet’s Bugs Bunny changeup is a stinker and embarasses a lot of hitters as it parachutes into the center of the zone. He sets it up by throwing his fastball way above the zone, so that it and his changeup look identical leaving his hand. A mid-80s cutter, which sometimes has two-planed slider movement, rounds out a three-pitch relief mix that should play in an up/down role. Trick-pitch changeups like Sweet’s tend to be sufficient for low-leverage, single-inning impact, and he’ll likely being up and down in 2024 regardless of whose roster he ends up on.

28. RJ Petit, SIRP

Drafted: 14th Round, 2021 from Charleston Southern University (DET)
Age 24.3 Height 6′ 8″ Weight 300 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/50 55/55 45/50 40/40 93-97 / 99

The ironically named Petit has the measurables of an NFL tackle and upper-90s peak arm strength that should facilitate a bullpen role starting in 2025. Because of his size, Petit’s fastball has plane that makes it more hittable, and so he relies heavily on his 83-86 mph slider in virtually all counts. He threw changeups more often during the season than what I saw in the 2023 Arizona Fall League, and it’s a pitch that is more of a grounder-getter than a bat-misser. His feel for locating it is actually pretty good. There’s enough here to project Petit as an optionable up/down guy, but he needs to find a true plus weapon if he’s going to hold down an active roster relief role.

29. Yosber Sanchez, SIRP

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (TEX)
Age 22.7 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Command Sits/Tops
60/60 45/50 30/35 94-97 / 98

Released by Texas in the fall of 2022, Sanchez showed huge arm strength in Florida for his new club throughout 2023. He routinely sits 94-97 mph, sometimes with close to 20 inches of vertical movement. Built like a catcher, Sanchez and the Tigers are tasked with finding mechanical consistency so he isn’t walking nearly six batters per nine going forward. His mid-80s breaking ball has good depth but not especially sharp bite. If even one thing (better control or a better curveball) develops here, we’re looking at a solid reliever.

30. Andrew Dunford, SP

Drafted: 12th Round, 2023 from Houston Co. HS (TX) (DET)
Age 19.0 Height 6′ 7″ Weight 235 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Command Sits/Tops
50/65 20/55 30/45 20/40 94-95 / 97

Dunford signed for just under $370,000 to eschew a commitment to Mercer. He has an exciting combination of projection (he has room for another 30-plus pounds of mass) and athleticism (big drop-and-drive and hip/shoulder separation), especially for a pitching prospect this size. He only threw four innings after signing, but Dunford’s fastball averaged 95 mph out of the chute. Dunford and the Tigers have a ton of work to do on his command and breaking ball situation (he had an inconsistent curveball in high school and is basically starting from scratch in pro ball), but he was a fun mid-six figure pull on the third day of the draft and is an important low-level prospect to monitor.

31. Nestor Miranda, 1B

Signed: International Signing Period, 2024 from Dominican Republic (DET)
Age 17.9 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/30 60/80 25/60 30/30 20/40 45

Miranda was eligible to sign last year and, at nearly 18 years old, was one of the oldest non-pitching prospects in the 2024 international class. He has absurd power for a teenage hitter, the kind of juice you can feel in your chest when he connects. Currently a third baseman, Miranda is almost certainly ticketed for first base over time, which puts a ton of pressure on his hit tool to facilitate all that power. The Tigers signed Miranda for $1.5 million.

Other Prospects of Note

Grouped by type and listed in order of preference within each category.

Not Quite Enough Defense
Andre Lipcius, UTIL
Eddys Leonard, UTIL
Luke Gold, 2B
Wenceel Pérez, CF/2B
Eliezer Alfonzo, C

Lipcius and Leonard are both on the 40-man roster. Both can kind of play all over the diamond and make an average rate of contact, but neither of them is an especially good defender at any one spot. They’re fine replacement players, but it’s tough to envision either of them holding down a big league role for a good team. It was encouraging to see Gold get to power again in 2023, and his swing is geared for such huge lift that I think he can play a Mike Brosseau-ish 2B/3B combo role if he can continue to improve defensively. Pérez fell off the list when he stopped playing shortstop. He now has some experience in center field, and if it turns out he can actually play there (he is not as good a defender as Trei Cruz, in my opinion), then he’ll stick around on the 40-man as upper-level depth. Little Eliezer Alfonzo has great bat-to-ball ability but doesn’t have the arm to catch.

Young Hitters
Juan Hernandez, 2B
Franyerber Montilla, SS
Javier Osorio, SS
Samuel Gil, 2B

Hernandez and Montilla are both a cut above the rest of this group. Hernandez, 17, is a sweet-swinging, lefty-hitting infielder who hit .292 in the DSL. He could wind up with a 50 hit/50 power combo, which he’ll need every bit of to profile at second base. Montilla is a projectable switch-hitter who had a much better year in his second DSL season. His swing is explosive but still a little out of control, which I think is okay for a switch-hitter his age. He’s got the biggest ceiling of this group, a potential switch-hitting shortstop with clumsy pop, in the Rodolfo Castro mold. Osorio can play shortstop, but his breaking ball recognition is not good and I don’t have a lot of confidence that he’ll hit. He signed for a little over $2 million last year. Gil is a compact middle infielder with bat-to-ball ability but very little physical projection.

Young Pitchers
Luis Vasquez, RHP
Ericksson De Los Santos, LHP
Kelvis Salcedo, RHP

Vasquez is a 6-foot-4, 19-year-old righty who sits 88-90 mph, throws strikes, and has the makings of a plus slider. De Los Santos is a 6-foot-6, 17-year-old lefty sitting 88-89 who needs to add velo and command through development. Salcedo is a squat 17-year-old righty whose fastball averaged 95 mph in the 2023 DSL. He’s relatively projectionless and wild, but he has a huge arm for his age.

Famous Names
Justice Bigbie, OF
Roberto Campos, OF
Izaac Pacheco, 3B
Cristian Santana, SS
Jose De La Cruz, OF

Bigbie had a huge season and his underlying batted ball data is ridiculous. He is deceptively strong and had a hard-hit rate over 50% despite his skinny build. Bigbie looks beatable inside, around his hands; he sprays a ton of doubles-worthy contact just inside the opposite field foul pole. I came away from his Fall League look skeptical that he’ll continue to hit this well, and am pretty resolved that he can’t play center field. This is me leaning heavily on my eyeball look; Bigbie’s underlying Statcast-style data is so strong that I’m sure some teams value him as a prospect solely for that. Campos is still just barely the age of a draftable college outfielder, and he’s so physically gifted with power that he has a shot to be a big leaguer. But I’m worried about his slider chase and lack of power actualization, both of which are concerning for a righty-hitting corner guy. The rest of this group has fun physical tools, but they’re all running contact rates below 70%, well below an acceptable big league threshold. Pacheco, Santana, and De La Cruz were all high-profile amateur players.

More Relievers
Freddy Pacheco, RHP
Blair Calvo, RHP
Marco Jimenez, RHP
Luke Stofel, RHP
Jatnk Diaz, RHP
Nick Starr, RHP

Pacheco was claimed off of waivers from the Cardinals and put on the 60-day IL, where he spent all of 2023. He was re-signed to a minor league deal after the season. Healthy Pacheco sits 96-98 and has a powerful mid-80s curveball, though he’s probably too wild for high-leverage relief. Calvo was a nasty mid-90s/slider relief prospect with Colorado whose velo was down late in 2023. He was acquired for cash. Jimenez was one of the system’s harder-throwing guys before he got hurt in the middle of 2023. If he comes back sitting his usual 94-97, then he has a bullpen shot. Stofel was a 2023 undrafted free agent from Wright State who was sitting 92-96 with heavy sink late in the year. Diaz signed for a quarter million out of Hazelton High School in PA (Joe Maddon’s hometown) and sat 93-96 during his three FCL innings. His sweeper has plus raw spin, but he needs to polish his control pretty badly. Starr was a minor league Rule 5 pick from Texas who sits 94-95 and has a bevy of average breaking balls (slider, curveball, cutter).

System Overview

This isn’t a fantastic system — there are enough high-end guys that I’d consider it about average — but it’s poised to give Detroit’s big league club almost exactly what it needs in 2024, which could be how the Tigers win the division. They’ve add a few established vets like Kenta Maeda and Jack Flaherty to their rotation, and are also getting Casey Mize back from injury. Especially if Jackson Jobe is promoted aggressively, they have the high-end pitching and the depth to tussle with any of the AL Central teams. The number of 2B/3B prospects who are nearly ready for prime time should allow the Tigers to fill their holes at those positions from within. Parker Meadows provides a lefty-hitting partner to the deep righty-hitting outfield contingent already in place.

Do they have the ammunition to make a huge trade in the middle of the summer? That isn’t as clear. Because so many of their better prospects are close to the big leagues, landing a big fish at the deadline might also cost the Tigers pieces of their major league roster. If Scott Harris, like a lot of GMs and POBOs, is focused on building a sustainable operation, the Tigers might not be as willing to up the prospect ante as teams with deeper farm systems.

Some organizational trends and core competencies are evident throughout Detroit’s system. This club is good at developing pitchers. In addition to some of the other recent prospects who’ve taken leaps here (Tarik Skubal chief among them), Jobe’s on-the-fly breaking ball changes were impressive, as were Troy Melton’s. The changes made to Ty Madden’s mechanics were almost entirely proactive, after he had enjoyed tremendous success in college with a different delivery. Some teams have an “if it ain’t broke” approach to dev, whereas the Tigers seem confident that they know what’s best for a pitcher regardless of his track record.

There are also a lot of hitters in this system who struggle to pull the ball in the air. (Perhaps the kinder way to say it is that they have a proclivity for opposite field contact.) I’m not sure why this is the case. The acquisitions of most analytically oriented teams are trending hard in the other direction; they’re smitten with pull-oriented goons. In Detroit’s case, the guys with oppo contact tend to be vulnerable to whiffs on the inner third of the zone.

The other tendency here is that the Tigers have been apt to spend big international bonus money on big, strong guys with huge present power but usually way less projection than the average international amateur. Jose De La Cruz, Roberto Campos, and most recently Nestor Miranda are on-list examples. I don’t know that we’ve yet seen Harris’ true vision for this branch of the org. He was hired late in 2022 and, because international bonus pools tend to be committed a few years in advance, he’s probably inherited his first couple of classes of players from that market.





Eric Longenhagen is from Catasauqua, PA and currently lives in Tempe, AZ. He spent four years working for the Phillies Triple-A affiliate, two with Baseball Info Solutions and two contributing to prospect coverage at ESPN.com. Previous work can also be found at Sports On Earth, CrashburnAlley and Prospect Insider.

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wideman1926
4 months ago

Having a core competency is a step forward from the absence of one, baby steps.

roob
4 months ago
Reply to  wideman1926

It’s an intriguing infield situation for them. Gonna have some great bats with Torkelson, Jung and Keith but woof! The defense!

They can have a good OF defense, for sure. And, I like the future of their pitching. Overall, they should be competitive in their division for a while.