Detroit Tigers Top 34 Prospects by Eric Longenhagen and Kevin Goldstein January 7, 2022 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 our own observations. This is the second 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. A quick overview of what FV (Future Value) means can be found here. A much deeper overview can be found here. All of the numbered prospects below also appear on The Board, a resource the site offers featuring sortable scouting information for every organization. It has more details than this article and integrates every team’s list so readers can compare prospects across farm systems. It can be found here. Top Prospects Team Lists 2022 2021 ALBALCHWHOUBOSCLELAANYYDETOAKTBRKCRSEATORMINTEX NLATLCHCARIMIACINCOLNYMMILLADPHIPITSDPWSNSTLSFG ALBALCHWHOUBOSCLELAANYYDETOAKTBRKCRSEATORMINTEX NLATLCHCARIMIACINCOLNYMMILLADPHIPITSDPWSNSTLSFG Tigers Top Prospects Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV 1 Spencer Torkelson 22.4 AAA 1B 2022 60 2 Riley Greene 21.3 AAA RF 2022 60 3 Jackson Jobe 18.9 R SP 2026 50 4 Dillon Dingler 23.3 AA C 2023 50 5 Cristian Santana 18.1 R SS 2025 45 6 Reese Olson 22.4 AA SP 2022 45 7 Ty Madden 21.4 R SP 2024 45 8 Joey Wentz 24.3 AA SP 2022 45 9 Colt Keith 20.4 A+ 3B 2025 40+ 10 Beau Brieske 23.8 AA SP 2023 40+ 11 Ryan Kreidler 24.2 AAA SS 2022 40+ 12 Gage Workman 22.2 A+ SS 2024 40+ 13 Wilmer Flores 20.9 A SIRP 2024 40+ 14 Trei Cruz 23.5 A+ 2B 2024 40 15 Izaac Pacheco 18.6 R 3B 2026 40 16 Alex Faedo 26.2 AA SP 2022 40 17 Dylan Smith 21.1 R SP 2025 40 18 Roberto Campos 18.6 R RF 2025 40 19 Elvin Rodriguez 23.8 AAA SP 2022 40 20 Jason Foley 26.2 MLB SIRP 2022 40 21 Kody Clemens 25.6 AAA 2B 2022 40 22 Paul Richan 24.8 AA SP 2022 40 23 Manuel Sequera 19.3 R 2B 2023 40 24 Wenceel Perez 22.2 A+ SS 2022 40 25 Zack Hess 24.9 AA SIRP 2022 40 26 Wilkel Hernandez 22.7 A SP 2022 40 27 Parker Meadows 22.2 A+ CF 2022 40 28 Daniel Cabrera 23.3 AA LF 2022 40 29 Angel De Jesus 24.9 AAA SIRP 2022 35+ 30 Franklin Pérez 24.1 AA SP 2022 35+ 31 Tyler Mattison 21.9 R SIRP 2025 35+ 32 Andre Lipcius 23.6 AA 3B 2023 35+ 33 Jose De La Cruz 20.0 A RF 2024 35+ 34 Keider Montero 21.5 A+ SIRP 2023 35+ Reading Options Detail Level Data Only Full Position Filter All All C 1B 2B SS 3B OF LF CF RF LHP RHP 60 FV Prospects 1. Spencer Torkelson, 1B Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2020 from Arizona State (DET) Age 22.4 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr R / R FV 60 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 50/60 70/70 55/70 30/30 40/40 40 Torkelson was seen as one of the best offensive prospects in all of baseball before he even turned pro, as his production and underlying metrics at Arizona State broke some draft models. The first overall pick in the 2020 draft, Torkelson might not have had the breakout statistical performance some anticipated in his pro debut, but that speaks more to lofty expectations than actual results, as he reached Triple-A and showed he is nearly big-league ready after just 121 games of minor league experience. Torkelson has the potential to be an impact bat who hits in the three- or four-hole for a championship-level lineup. His raw power is near or at the top of the scale, but he’s also a sound hitter with a compact swing and feel for barrel control, with some scouts projecting a future plus hit tool once his closes up some holes at the bottom of the zone. His swing decisions are near-flawless, but he can get passive at times, waiting for the perfect pitch while laying off ones he has proven he can drive. While he never manned the hot corner in college, the Tigers dabbled with him there during the season, but the results failed to impress; he’s a low-twitch player with an average at best arm who is no more than a fringy defender at first base. Torkelson’s bat is his ticket to the big leagues, and it’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t think he’ll be a terrifying presence in the box for years to come and a strong candidate for 2022 Rookie of the Year honors. 2. Riley Greene, RF Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from Hagerty HS (FL) (DET) Age 21.3 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr L / L FV 60 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 45/60 55/60 45/60 40/40 40/50 45 Greene has done nothing but rake since early in high school, and now he’s done so all the way up through Triple-A, a level he reached weeks shy of his 21st birthday. Greene was sent to Double-A to start 2021 with just 24 games of full-season pro baseball under his belt, coming off a year spent facing alternate site pitching over and over again. He responded by hitting a combined .301/.387/.534 across the two levels. That kind of performance is astounding, and bolsters long-standing industry resolve that Greene has special hitting talent. His swing has a controlled ferocity (Greene has remarkable lower half flexibility) that creates all-fields spray, and comes with enough raw juice to put balls out toward either gap. His strikeout rate has been a little higher than is typical for someone with such a sterling on-paper track record, and he swung and missed at more in-zone breaking balls while he was with Toledo than we would have guessed. But again, Greene was only 20 and at Triple-A. His amateur prominence allowed him to show off the way he thinks about hitting, which we consider reason enough to expect he’ll make adjustments if he ever has to. While unathletic in some ways (we have him projected to an outfield corner), Greene is a fish in water where it matters most: in the batter’s box. We think he’ll hit enough to be a multi-time All-Star. 50 FV Prospects 3. Jackson Jobe, SP Drafted: 1st Round, 2021 from Heritage Hall HS (DET) Age 18.9 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 50/60 60/70 50/50 50/60 25/55 93-95 / 98 Jobe was the consensus top high school arm in the 2021 draft, and earned a near $7 million bonus as the third overall pick after scouts spent the spring scratching their heads looking for a weakness in his game. While his velocity varied at times during his senior year, at the bottom end of the scale he’d sit 92-94 and touch 96, and he had days when he’d get into the upper 90s while parked comfortably in the 95-96 mph range. What makes Jobe potentially special is that some scouts see his fastball as his least impressive pitch. His high-octane, high-spin slider is a present plus offering, and his low-80s changeup features massive separation and projects as another future weapon if he can add more movement to it. He also has a mid-70s slow curve with good depth, and while it will likely remain in his arsenal, it’s more of an early strike-stealer or surprise pitch than something to go to late in the count. Jobe is a phenomenal athlete who would have been a Day Two pick as a position player, and his delivery is smooth and well coordinated, allowing for a future projection of plus command and control. One could argue that the only things holding Jobe back from elite prospect status are the usual potential pitfalls (and they are numerous) for a 19-year-old who has yet to make his pro debut. That debut will likely take place in Low-A this season, and Jobe has the core of tools and ability to move quickly. 4. Dillon Dingler, C Drafted: 2nd Round, 2020 from Ohio State (DET) Age 23.3 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/40 50/50 30/45 45/45 40/50 60 Dingler was in the midst of a breakout campaign at Ohio State during the spring of 2020 when COVID ended the college baseball season. He entered the year having hit just seven home runs combined in his two underclass seasons, then hit five in just 13 games prior to the shutdown. He ended up being the first pick in the 2020 second round and spent the rest of the summer at Detroit’s alternate site. Then Dingler was shot out of a cannon to start 2021. He crushed High-A for about a month (.287/.376/.549) before being promoted to Double-A Erie, where he stayed hot for a couple of weeks before crashing back to Earth. Dingler was hitting .289/.346/.511 after his first couple weeks with Erie, then started striking out in about a third of his plate appearances and was shelved with a fractured thumb for a while. His end-of-season line at Double-A, even after the great start there, was .202/.264/.314. It’s fair to point to the thumb fracture as part of the cause for the late-season swoon (he had a hamate fracture in college, which may have contributed to his lack of early-career power) and the bumps and bruises of catching often have an impact on offensive output. Despite the simplicity of his footwork, Dingler’s swing can get a bit lengthy and uphill, leaving him susceptible to pitches in the upper half of the zone. Even with a 40 hit tool, he has enough pop to be an everyday catcher, and he’s already reached Double-A. The rate at which he began to strike out is concerning and indicates there’s still bust risk here, and perhaps projecting a 40 bat is too optimistic. But Dingler’s general athleticism is rare for the position and allows for continued projection on his defensive ability, which might eventually be very good, especially as arm strength becomes more important in the anticipated robo-ump era. While his late-summer swoon will impact where he fits within the 50 FV tier on our overall prospect list, we’re still betting on Dingler becoming an everyday backstop eventually. 45 FV Prospects 5. Cristian Santana, SS Signed: July 2nd Period, 2021 from Dominican Republic (DET) Age 18.1 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 165 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 25/60 40/50 25/50 50/45 40/45 50 Among the most polished hitters in the 2021 international class, Santana went to the DSL in 2021 and posted a great line, slashing .269/.421/.520 with nine homers in 54 games. His swing is compact but dynamic throughout the hitting zone, he has natural feel for all-fields contact, and his swing’s gentle loft creates power without compromising much contact. He was generating Placido Polanco comps as an amateur, billed as an ultra-polished wunderkind hitter more than a guy who was going to be among the DSL leaders in tanks. Santana did not come stateside for Detroit’s (limited) fall instructional activity and is among the higher-priority 2022 spring targets, as we’re still living off his amateur report with no compelling reason to shift away from those fairly lofty expectations. 6. Reese Olson, SP Drafted: 13th Round, 2018 from North Hall HS (GA) (MIL) Age 22.4 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 55/55 60/60 50/55 60/60 30/40 93-96 / 97 Like so many others, Olson experienced a pretty substantial velocity spike during the gap year and saw his fastball velo band go from the 91-95 mph range to 93-97, settling into the 93-95 band during the meat of his starts. That extra velocity complements an already deep coffer of secondary pitches that are so good that scouts disagree as to which is the best. His two-plane, 85-87 mph slider and his power changeup, which rests in about the same velo range, are both plus pitches, while Olson’s upper-70s curveball is merely above-average. There is trepidation regarding Olson’s delivery. He’s a stiff-legged, tightly-wound athlete with more mechanical violence than is typical for a starter, but even if those visual biases turn out to be meaningful, we’re talking about a high-leverage and/or multi-inning reliever based on Olson’s stuff quality. He was acquired from Milwaukee in exchange for a few weeks of Daniel Norris and projects to be part of the big league staff starting in 2023. 7. Ty Madden, SP Drafted: 1st Round, 2021 from Texas (DET) Age 21.4 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 45/50 55/60 45/45 45/50 35/55 91-95 / 98 Madden spent much of the spring looking like a potential top 10 pick, but his stock started to dip late due to some inconsistent performance and teams’ concerns about his fastball shape after digging into his pitch data. He fell far lower than expected come draft day, and the Tigers were nothing short of thrilled to still see him available with the 32nd overall pick. Madden is a pure starter package with a classic power frame and a deep repertoire. He frequently sits at 94-96 mph while consistently getting into the upper 90s, but his delivery produces a natural downward plane on his fastball that has it playing below that velocity as he struggles to locate it at the top of the zone. His mid-80s slider has a bit of horizontal wiggle to it, but its success is driven more by velocity than big movement, while his changeup improved dramatically during his college years and is nearly an average pitch now. He has solid-but-unspectacular command, holds his stuff late into games and provides little reliever risk in his profile. Madden has No. 3 starter upside and could get challenged this spring with an initial assignment to High-A West Michigan. 8. Joey Wentz, SP Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Shawnee Mission East HS (MO) (ATL) Age 24.3 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 209 Bat / Thr L / L FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 45/45 50/50 45/50 55/60 45/55 88-92 / 94 Getting Tommy John surgery is never good, but at least Wentz timed it right, missing a 2020 campaign that was lost to the pandemic anyway. He was back in action in mid-2021, and while the results were inconsistent, a slow return to form was readily apparent. Wentz is a big-bodied pitcher with a low-90s fastball that plays up on spin and shape. His best off-speed pitch is one of the better changeups in the system, with velocity ranging from the low-to-upper 80s, as his likes to manipulate the pitch by changing the balance between speed and movement. He features two breaking balls, with his low-80s slider more effective than his slow curveball, and mixes all four pitches with unpredictable patterns. Like many returning from elbow surgery, Wentz struggled with command during his return to the mound, and the Tigers are hoping that he’ll return to being the precise pitcher he was after his 2019 acquisition from the Braves. Should that happen, Wentz could be a back-of-the-rotation piece as early as late this year. 40+ FV Prospects 9. Colt Keith, 3B Drafted: 5th Round, 2020 from Biloxi HS (MS) (DET) Age 20.4 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 35/55 45/50 30/50 40/40 30/50 60 Keith was a late-riser on 2020 draft boards and had teams debating whether to select him as a pitcher or a hitter, with some even considering developing him as a two-way talent. The Tigers did their homework and signed him for an over-slot bonus in the fifth round, where many teams had written him off as unsignable. Keith made his 2021 pro debut solely as a position player, and based on the results, the Tigers made the right call, as he hit his way out of extended spring training, was challenged with a full-season assignment and reached High-A as a teenager while hitting .286/.396/.393 over 270 plate appearances. Keith is an intriguing athlete who has surprised many with his quick conversion of tools into skills. He has simple, sound mechanics from the left side of the plate, and should grow into average power as he begins to add loft and backspin to his swing. He showed tremendous patience during his pro debut, but at times it was to his own detriment, leading to bad counts that could have been avoided. With plenty of athleticism and a plus-plus arm, he has the tools to be an excellent defender at third base, but his glove work remains rough around the edges, and he’s prone to making errors on routine plays. The Tigers gave him some playing time at second base early in the season, but that was slowly phased out as the season progressed, and the hot corner is where his future lies. After getting a brief taste of the Midwest League at the end of last season, Keith will return there to begin 2022, hoping to build on a year that exceeded all initial expectations. 10. Beau Brieske, SP Drafted: 27th Round, 2019 from Colorado State – Pueblo (DET) Age 23.8 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 50/50 50/55 45/45 45/55 45/50 91-94 / 96 No, not “Bill Brasky.” It’s Beau Brieske, a 27th round steal from the 2019 draft who has already reached Double-A and is likely to be a short-term rotation candidate for the big league club. Brieske goes right at hitters. His fastball’s shallow approach angle gives it bat-missing utility at the top of the zone and he knows how to use it to set up his sweeping slider. He’ll also occasionally create bat-missing action on his changeup, and can dump in a slower curveball early in the count to try to get ahead of hitters, though this pitch is hittable when it catches too much of the zone. From a body and pitch shape standpoint, José Urquidy is a good comp, though Urquidy’s changeup is at least a full grade better than Brieske’s is right now. His short arm action gives us hope that it might eventually become a more consistent out-pitch for him, making Brieske a No. 4/5 starter. 11. Ryan Kreidler, SS Drafted: 4th Round, 2019 from UCLA (DET) Age 24.2 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 35/45 50/50 40/50 50/50 50/50 55 Kreidler was a contact-oriented college infielder who hit just 17 homers during his three-year career at UCLA, and slugged just .350 during his initial foray into pro ball in 2019. He arrived with a new swing in 2021, and hit 22 homers while reaching Triple-A. Kreidler’s stance has narrowed and he actually has something resembling a stride now, which has given his swing more overall movement and athleticism without compromising his compact bat path. The change lead to a huge uptick in game power and also (counter to Kreidler’s previous output) more strikeouts. Proponents think this is at least partially due to the newness of the swing, while detractors cite a lack of breaking ball recognition as an issue independent of this change. Either way, of all the large-conference, Day Two statistical overachievers the Tigers have drafted during the last half decade, Kreidler is the one who has made the most meaningful alteration to his skill set. Even if the hit tool issues persist, shortstops with 15-20 homer power don’t exactly grow on trees. Coming out of UCLA, Kreidler’s big frame seemed more likely to mature in a way that pushed him to the 2B/3B area, but he’s held serve at short and is perfectly fine there. However, with Javier Báez now in tow, a relevant 2B/3B timeshare starting in 2023 seems like the more likely short-term outcome. 12. Gage Workman, SS Drafted: 4th Round, 2020 from Arizona State (DET) Age 22.2 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/35 50/55 30/50 50/50 45/55 55 Workman was one of the more divisive figures in the 2020 draft. On the plus side was an athletic, switch-hitting, left-side defensive stalwart who was just 20-years-old following his junior year at Arizona State, while on the other side was a strikeout rate that was nothing short of alarming. The Tigers gave him $1 million as a fourth round pick, and he showed both the good and the bad in his game during his pro debut; the debate about his future lingers on. Workman has made clear improvements with his swing decisions as a pro, and he’ll need those on-base skills, as it will be a struggle for him to be anything more than a 40-45 hitter as he progresses. While he has doubles power and could be good for 15-18 home runs as his game matures, he is easily fooled by even mediocre breaking balls, and will likely always rack up big strikeout numbers. Though some scouts put a 70 on his third base defense out of college, the Tigers moved him to shortstop. There, he impressed scouts with the glove in 2021, leading most evaluators to believe he can no only stay at short, but even end up being above-average thanks to fantastic instincts and actions to go along with a strong arm. Workman’s overall tools and skills make it easy to see a damn good utility player in the end, but the industry needs to see some unanticipated (positive) changes in his hitting ability to project him as an everyday player. 13. Wilmer Flores, SIRP Video Undrafted Free Agent, 2020 (DET) Age 20.9 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Command Sits/Tops 60/70 45/50 55/60 30/40 93-96 / 98 How did this happen? A year and a half removed from the 2020 draft and the best pitching prospect from that class’ Four Corners area isn’t a Sun Devil or a Wildcat, but instead might be an undrafted free agent who signed for $20,000. The Venezuelan-born Flores, drafted out of Arizona Western College, was among the youngest prospects in the 2021 Arizona Fall League and also one of the hardest throwing: the leviathan righty sat 93-96 mph and was up to 98. He also has two good breaking balls, the best of which is a plus-flashing, low-80s, power pitcher’s curveball. Flores’ build (especially at his age), his middling athleticism, and his immature feel for location all push him toward a bullpen outcome, but if he’s moved there permanently, he could sit in the upper-90s. He’s a high-variance relief prospect with a chance to work the later innings one day. 40 FV Prospects 14. Trei Cruz, 2B Drafted: 3rd Round, 2020 from Rice (DET) Age 23.5 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/50 40/40 30/40 50/50 40/50 45 A third-round pick in 2020 from a distinguised baseball family, Cruz felt like a low-ceiling, low-variance future big leaguer, but his pro debut was nothing short of a disaster, as he dealt with a nagging shoulder issue and just flat out didn’t hit. The good news is that he retained his top-of-the-line swing decisions, allowing him to put up league-average or better on-base rates despite batting averages well below the Mendoza line. Scouts felt like his swing was impacted by the shoulder problem, and though he can still sting balls into the gap (nearly half of his hits went for extra bases), his over-the-fence raw power is more in the 40-grade area. He played shortstop exclusively in 2021, and while he has the hands and fundamentals to succeed there, he’s a fringy runner who lacks twitch and will likely settle at second base down the road with some utility possibilities. The Tigers hope that a return to health will result in a return to performance, and Cruz might begin 2022 back at High-A Lakeland in an attempt to kick-start his rebound. The likeliest outcome here is a high-energy, grinding utility player with the ceiling of a second-division starter. 15. Izaac Pacheco, 3B Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2021 from Friendswood HS (DET) Age 18.6 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/30 60/65 25/55 45/30 30/50 60 Pacheco generated wildly varying opinions heading into the 2021 draft and while concerns about his hit tool kept him out of the first round, his immense power earned him a $2.75 million bonus as the 39th overall pick. That pop is Pacheco’s calling card, as present plus power in a high schooler is a rare find. Pacheco is a very large, very strong young man who is capable of light-tower shots when he really gets into one. The question is how often is he going to do that in game settings, because while his swing is filled with bad intentions, it’s also grooved for power, as Pacheco struggles to make in-pitch adjustments and doesn’t cover enough of the strike zone. He makes solid swing decisions, and the hope here is that he can produce enough power and patience to make up for what will likely be a sub-standard batting average. Big and getting bigger, Pacheco is surprisingly athletic for his size, and a move to third base is inevitable, although some scouts believe he can be a plus defender there. He is unlikely to be a quick mover, and there will be plenty of bumps in the road in his development. The swing-and-miss could doom him to a minor league career, but the upside is a true power bat who hits fifth in a good lineup. 16. Alex Faedo, SP Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Florida (DET) Age 26.2 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 45/45 60/60 40/45 55/60 90-93 / 95 When the Tigers selected Faedo with the 18th overall pick in the 2017 draft, they envisioned a slam dunk starter who would make up for his lack of ceiling with a polished game that wouldn’t require much in the way of minor league seasoning. Little has gone right for Faedo over the last three years in terms of health, and after missing the 2021 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery, he’ll arrive in spring training having not taken the mound in a professional game in more than 30 months. The healthy version of Faedo has plus command and control of a solid three-pitch mix. His low-90s fastball leans towards the generic side based on spin rate as well as spin direction, but he spots it well and uses it to get ahead in the count and utilize two plus secondary offerings in his low-80s slider and a firm changeup that features plenty of deception and considerable fading action. With a return to form, Faedo profiles as a non-impact arm who can hold down a back-of-the-rotation spot, but as he’s already entered the latter part of his 20s, time is running short. Detroit will take it slow and steady as he finally returns to action, and the season will define just how much of a prospect is still present. 17. Dylan Smith, SP Drafted: 3rd Round, 2021 from Alabama (DET) Age 21.1 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 40/45 50/55 45/45 45/50 35/60 88-92 / 94 Smith had something of a breakout as a junior at Alabama, sitting 91-94 mph while consistently painting the glove-side corner of the plate with his two breaking balls. He also has some nascent changeup feel, and there’s hope for continued growth in this area, as Smith only threw 23 innings as an underclassman; his prime-time experience is basically limited to 2021. In general, he presents a great foundation of skills (breaking ball command, fastball carry, hope for changeup improvement) with pretty good physical projection for a college arm (Smith is very skinny, lithe and loose), and he’s now in an org that has been quite good at developing pitchers lately. Smith lines up with the other high-probability fifth starters in this system. He’s further away from the bigs than the others, but also has more perceived upside. 18. Roberto Campos, RF Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Cuba (DET) Age 18.6 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/50 55/60 25/55 45/40 40/50 50 After signing to a club-record international bonus of just under $3 million in 2019, Campos made his much-anticipated pro debut in 2021. And while his power was on display immediately — he hit a home run in his first at-bat and eight on the season — his aggressive approach and violent swing led scouts to have some questions about the overall utility of his hit tool. Campos certainly looks the part, with a large, chiseled frame that wouldn’t look out of place on a major league field, despite the fact that he doesn’t turn 19 until June. He’s already capable of massive in-game home runs, but his uphill swing creates some contact issues and plenty of mis-hit balls when he doesn’t time everything up well. He was primarily a center fielder during his summer in the Complex League, and while he moves well for his size, he projects more as a future average right fielder with a solid arm. All the 2021 season really did with reinforce Campos’ status as a high-risk/high-reward prospect with plenty of scenarios to move up or down on this list in dramatic fashion 12 months from now. 19. Elvin Rodriguez, SP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Dominican Republic (LAA) Age 23.8 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 40/45 50/50 50/55 40/50 89-93 / 94 Rodriguez was an advanced pitchability righty with oodles of physical projection when Detroit acquired him from the Angels for Justin Upton a few years ago. He finally had a little velocity bump in 2020, sitting in the 92-95 range rather than just peaking there. A graceful on-mound athlete, Rodriguez repeats his delivery with consistency, throws lots of strikes, and has pretty good command of his shapely breaking ball. Pitch data sourced from the regular season has Rodriguez throwing just one type of breaking ball, but his battery mates with Licey have been calling for both curveballs and sliders during Dominican Winter League play. The two pitches kind of run together. Now on the 40-man, Rodriguez is a low-variance fifth or sixth starter type. 20. Jason Foley, SIRP Undrafted Free Agent, 2016 (DET) Age 26.2 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops 60/60 45/45 40/40 94-97 / 100 Foley signed as an undrafted free agent after the Tigers saw him throwing in a collegiate wood bat league the summer after he was draft eligible. He was a tall, softer-bodied righty at Sacred Heart who took a little longer to grow into relevant velocity, which later became impact heat. He blew out and missed 2018 but his arm strength was back after his Tommy John, and now he works in the 95-97 range, touching 99, with heavy sink. Though Foley’s pre-surgery out-pitch was his changeup, he’s worked more with a slider since his return, and that has become his secondary offering of choice. His remaining option years may cause him to shuttle back and forth between Toledo and Detroit in the short term, but if he’s healthy, he’ll eventually be an on-roster middle reliever in perpetuity. 21. Kody Clemens, 2B Drafted: 3rd Round, 2018 from Texas (DET) Age 25.6 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/35 60/60 40/50 40/40 40/40 50 The best baseball player of Roger’s three kids who have gotten a look in pro ball, Clemens spent the year at Triple-A, where he continued to show solid power while the rest of his game was a bit lacking. With a solid approach and plus raw pop from the left-side, Clemens can be a dangerous presence in the box at times, but more advanced pitchers started to exploit his weaknesses in the upper half of the zone. It’s not a plus bat, nor special pop, and while he’s played three infield positions (all but shortstop) as well as right field, his below-average speed limits his range, though his defensive fundamentals are sound. He’s slated for a return to Triple-A in 2022, with the upside of a multi-positional bench bat who provides more value at the plate than with his glove. 22. Paul Richan, SP Drafted: 2nd Round, 2018 from San Diego (CHC) Age 24.8 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 30/30 40/40 45/45 45/50 55/60 89-91 / 93 Richan was a money-saving second-round pick by the Cubs in 2018, and his ability to throw strikes made him attractive to Detroit, who acquired him as part of the Nick Castellanos deal the following year. While he’s struggled to keep runs off the board at times, his measly 1.7 BB/9 IP points to his greatest strength: he is an extreme strike thrower. His fastball only sits in the 90-92 range, but he can dot both it and his average, low-80s slider, which serves as his primary secondary pitch. He can also take a bit off the breaker for more of a pure curve, which he uses as an early strike stealer, and while his mid-80s changeup is a bit firm, it has decent fade. Richan can be guilty of throwing too many strikes at times, offering too many drivable pitches when he’s ahead in the count. He doesn’t have a weapon that plays well in the zone, so he’ll need a certain level of artistry to succeed in the big leagues, artistry we project him to develop. 23. Manuel Sequera, 2B Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Venezuela (DET) Age 19.3 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/40 50/55 25/50 40/30 30/45 50 Sequera is a barrel-chested teenage infielder who hit for impressive power on the complex in 2021. What he has in present power he lacks in long-term projection, though, as it’s likely the muscular Sequera ends up as a shift-aided second baseman, or a third baseman during the bulk of his career. So long as he can keep the strikeouts in check, he has the pop to play a meaningful role at either of those positions at the very least. 24. Wenceel Perez, SS Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (DET) Age 22.2 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 35/55 40/40 30/30 60/60 50/50 55 Perez can play a viable shortstop and makes contact at an above-average rate, so he has a low-end utilityman’s floor. That’s also his ceiling, as the diminutive Perez has never really developed any kind of relevant game power. After exciting early-career power output, he plateaued at Low-A and spent time at that level spanning four — yes, four — years, from 2018-21. His slash-and-poke style of hitting is aesthetically pleasing, and Perez is a better defender than many of the big, shift-aided bodies on modern middle infields, so he’ll have some roster utility coming off the bench as a late-game upgrade in those areas. 25. Zack Hess, SIRP Drafted: 7th Round, 2019 from LSU (DET) Age 24.9 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 216 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 60/60 55/60 40/45 40/45 92-94 / 97 Hess reached Double-A at the end of 2021 and while he showed a continued propensity for missing bats, his combination of plus stuff and fringy command still indicates a future in middle relief rather than as someone who can be trusted in the later innings. With a long frame and violent delivery, it’s unlikely Hess will ever have anything resembling precision to his game, but he has the weapons to get hitters out simply by keeping the ball in the zone. His lively fastball sits in the mid-90s and can touch 97, while his low-80s slider has good sweep to it and is frequently his out pitch. A part-time starter in college, Hess has a solid low-80s changeup he’s confident using against right-handed hitters, but he barely threw it in 2021. His ability to throw strikes waivers from at-bat to at-bat, and declined overall in 2021, and he has a tendency to aim the ball when he needs a strike, leading to grooved pitches and hard contract. Hess will likely return to Double-A Erie to begin the year, and his future as either a legitimate bullpen piece or run-of-the-mill Quad-A arm-strength reliever will depend on just how much he can harness his arsenal. 26. Wilkel Hernandez, SP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Venezuela (LAA) Age 22.7 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 50/55 50/55 40/50 50/50 90-93 / 96 Hernandez is one of two rookie-level Angels pitchers Detroit received in the Ian Kinsler (Hernandez) and Justin Upton (Elvin Rodriguez) trades from a few years ago. Of the two, Hernandez has experienced a more dramatic uptick in velocity. Both had been in the 88-92 range with frames that portended more, but in 2019, Hernandez was suddenly 90-93 and up to 96, then climbed into the 92-96 that fall. He’s added velocity without losing the touch and feel that made him a viable starting pitching prospect on the Arizona backfields, and he now has pretty good command of his fastball and a low-80s, 10-to-4 curveball. Unfortunately, Hernandez got hurt during instructs and needed Tommy John in November of 2020, which caused him to miss all of last season. He’s a backend starter prospect pending rehab. 27. Parker Meadows, CF Drafted: 2nd Round, 2018 from Grayson HS (GA) (DET) Age 22.2 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/30 55/60 30/50 60/60 40/50 60 Meadows had yet another tough statistical season, slashing just .208/.290/.330 as a 21-year-old at High-A. His career mark is now .224/.303/.336, and while it’s clear Meadows is still growing into his lanky, broad-shouldered body, the pre-draft skepticism about his ability to hit is proving prescient. He is a toolsy late-bloomer candidate at this stage. 28. Daniel Cabrera, LF Drafted: 2nd Round, 2020 from LSU (DET) Age 23.3 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 40/45 50/50 30/45 40/40 40/45 50 Cabrera’s entire prospectdom has been built on his on-field performance. He hit consistently enough in high school and in the SEC to become an overslot second rounder in 2020 despite generic ability. Cabrera’s visual evaluation is pretty vanilla, with everything except for his hit tool grading out as at least a little below average. There was still justifiable hope that the hit tool would carry him to a corner outfield platoon role since he had never done anything but rake before, but he performed below the league average during his pro debut, and made surprisingly poor swing decisions after what was perhaps an ill-advised promotion to Double-A. Still on the radar, Cabrera is now a bounce-back flier more than an imminent big leaguer. 35+ FV Prospects 29. Angel De Jesus, SIRP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (DET) Age 24.9 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops 70/70 55/60 30/30 94-96 / 97 De Jesus signed late for an international prospect, at 19, and he was slow to develop until a 2019 breakout. Since then he’s been a two-pitch power reliever with 30-grade control due to release inconsistency. He spent 2021 at Double- and Triple-A missing bats and walking guys, sitting 94-96 with explosive movement. He’s well-built but not very athletic, and while De Jesus’ slider has nasty break, like any slider its effectiveness depends on location, which De Jesus doesn’t always have feel for. He’s an up/down reliever. 30. Franklin Pérez, SP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Venezuela (HOU) Age 24.1 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 197 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 40/50 50/60 45/50 55/60 40/50 87-90 / 91 Pérez was seen by many in the industry as the best prospect heading from Houston to Detroit in the Justin Verlander trade, but he tenure with the Tigers has been nothing short of depressing. The Venezuelan hurler has thrown just 27 innings since being acquired in the summer of 2018 due to a variety of maladies, including shoulder surgery that cost him the ’21 season. In the past, Pérez touched the mid-90s, featured a pair of solid breaking balls, showcased a promising changeup, and wrapped that in an athletic package that filled the zone. At this point, it’s impossible to say with any accuracy how much of that potential remains, as the once teenaged phenom is now 24 and has just seven games of upper-level minor league experience, all of which came way back in 2017. Pérez is still a prospect for what he’s shown in the past, but he has to demonstrate some semblance of a future to remain here next year. 31. Tyler Mattison, SIRP Drafted: 4th Round, 2021 from Bryant University (DET) Age 21.9 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 235 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Command Sits/Tops 50/55 55/60 30/40 92-95 / 100 Mattison has a power arm and has touched 100 in the past, but he more often sits in the 92-95 area. He has an extremely vertical arm slot, but a tall-and-fall delivery means he works with downhill angle rather than flat plane, which makes his fastball a little more hittable in the zone than other backspin fastball guys. His breaking stuff also has big depth because of the arm slot. He’s at least an up/down relief prospect, one with helium if the velocity sustains its previous peak and Mattison finds greater release consistency. 32. Andre Lipcius, 3B Drafted: 3rd Round, 2019 from Tennessee (DET) Age 23.6 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 35/55 50/50 30/40 45/45 35/55 55 Lipcius was seen as a late Day Two selection heading in his 2019 season at the University of Tennessee, but after hitting eight home runs in his first two years with the Volunteers, he exploded for 17 bombs as a junior and elevated himself into a third-round pick. He failed to replicate that power during his pandemic-delayed pro debut, but did show good swing decisions and positional flexibility. Lipcius is a grinder who gets the most out of limited tools. He identifies pitches well and uses a contact-oriented swing with occasional pop. He showed good hands and a solid arm at both second and third base in 2021, but he’s a well below-average runner with limited range at both positions. He earns high marks for his makeup and baseball IQ, and likely for his regular IQ as well, as he majored in nuclear engineering during his college years. Making it as a right-handed-hitting utility player who can’t play shortstop is a tough row to hoe, but that’s also Lipcius’ likely ceiling. 33. Jose De La Cruz, RF Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (DET) Age 20.0 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/35 60/60 35/55 45/30 30/50 60 De La Cruz has plus raw power, incredible for a player his age. Poor pitch recognition and a relatively grooved swing drive an awful lot of swing-and-miss, too much to support a right field profile. The hit rate for prospects like this tends to be pretty low, but there’s a meaningful plus tool here, and De La Cruz is still very young, so he lines up a tier ahead of the Others of Note. 34. Keider Montero, SIRP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Venezuela (DET) Age 21.5 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 50/55 45/55 40/45 35/45 93-95 / 96 Montero is an interesting young prospect with big arm strength for his age. He sat 91-94 in 2019 then 94-96 during ’20 instructs, and mostly sustained that last year, when he was parked in the 93-95 range throughout the season. His slider is crude, a mostly horizontal-breaking pitch in the 78-82 range. It has elite spin but isn’t a visually impressive pitch. He has a pretty good strike-throwing track record and considerable arm strength for a 21-year-old but still put up an ERA over 5.00 in 2021, and the Tigers decided not to add him to the 40-man. There are enough components here (velo, strikes, feel to spin) to consider Montero a good sleeper. Other Prospects of Note Grouped by type and listed in order of preference within each category. Undrafted $20K Gems Gabriel Sequeira, LHP Chris Mauloni, RHP Nick Davila, RHP In addition to a few of the undrafted prospects in the main section of the list, the Tigers have this troika led by Sequeira and his terrific slider, which helped him strike out 74 in 47 IP, albeit as a 23-year-old in A-ball. Mauloni, 23, is a lower slot righty out of Jacksonville with two good breaking balls and an upshot fastball sitting about 93-94. He has a relief-only mechanical flavor. Davila has more of a starter look with more generic stuff, sitting 92 with an average slider and change. He could eventually be a spot starter. Performance Art Austin Murr, OF Bryant Packard, OF Ben Malgeri, OF Austin Schultz, 2B/OF This group consists of guys who have performed statistically, in either college or pro ball, and could realistically become bench pieces. Murr, 24, spent two years at a Des Moines JUCO then had two great seasons at NC State and was a sixth rounder in 2021. He had a measly 4% swinging strike rate in pro ball, though it was a relatively small, low-level sample. Packard has been on this list before but his performance took a dip in 2021 and we’re now a few years removed from the glow of his college track record, which is what put him on our radar in the first place. Malgeri did a box step around New England as an amateur, playing his freshman year at Holy Cross, summer ball with North Shore, then transferring to Northeastern and getting Cape reps before the draft. He has an OBP-driven profile. Schultz is a short-levered, multi-positional SEC performer drafted in the 10th round in 2021. Earn Your Stripes Eliezer Alfonzo, C Rayner Castillo, RHP Carlos Marcano, RHP J.D. McLaughlin, OF/RHP Iverson Leonardo, OF Gabriel Reyes, LHP Wilmer A. Fenelon, RHP The young guys. We want to love Alfonzo, 20, as he’s a young-for-the-level switch-hitter with good numbers, but his visual evaluation is more in line with a third catcher on a 40-man. Castillo is still 17 and has prototypical measurables at 6-foot-3, 170 pounds. He sat 90-92 in 2021 and has a 45-grade curveball right now. Marcano, 18, also has a plus frame, sits about 92, and has a solid curveball. McLaughlin is a big-framed junior college prospect from Arizona with a bunch of 40/50-grade tools and a chance to grow into meaningful mass. He has experience on the mound and at a few different defensive positions. Leonardo, 20, has above-average bat speed and good career numbers, but his swing is odd and he’s a three-year rookie ball guy. Reyes, 18, is an above-average athlete currently sitting about 90-91. Fenelon, also 18, sat 92 in 2021 and has a slider that some pitch metrics really like, but he also walked a batter per inning. Those three teenage arms are priority stateside follows for 2022. Older Depth Arms Garrett Hill, RHP Brendan White, RHP Michael Bienlien, RHP Wilmer Fenelon, RHP Erick Pinales, RHP Hill struck out 99 hitters in 75 innings while reaching Double-A in 2021, but the Tigers didn’t 40-man him. He sat mostly 91-94 during his Arizona Fall League stint, and his breaking balls, especially his slider, were harder than they were during the regular season. Hill’s splitter is his out-pitch, though. He’s a four-pitch spot starter type. White is a funky low-ish slot righty relief prospect with a big, sweeping breaking ball that spins in at 2900 rpm. Bienlein, 24, is another good find from NC State and has pitched well through the mid-minors while sitting 93-94 with an average curveball. That’s right, there are two Wilmer Fenelons in this system. They’re cousins. This Fenelon, 21, only pitched 11 innings in 2021 but he sat 97 while he did so. He also walked a batter per inning. Pinales sits 96 but has 20 control. System Overview The Tigers won just 77 games in 2021, but taken in context, the season was a rousing success. Some much-hyped young players began to contribute in the big leagues, the impact of new manager A.J. Hinch was easy to see, and the humble win total represented the club’s high water mark over the last five years. The Tigers aren’t good yet, but they’ve taken the essential and quite difficult step of going from being a club that is constantly re-tooling to one on its way. Now it’s time to take that next step toward actual contention. Most of Detroit’s progress in 2021 came on the pitching side, as the offense finished 11th in the American League in runs scored. But while the Tigers system isn’t exceptionally deep, it does feature a duo of 60 FV offensive prospects in first baseman Spencer Torkelson and outfielder Riley Greene, who are not only quite good, but also quite close to making their debuts in Motown after finishing the year with successful runs at Triple-A Toledo. If both can reach their potential (far easier said than done), the middle of the Tigers lineup will be transformed. Those two alone could end up producing as much as some systems will in their entirety. Other than 2021 first round pick Jackson Jobe, who is a long way away, the rest of the system is stocked with plenty of potential big leaguers, though few who look like future impact players. That’s fine, as the team has already sent the message that they are ready to spend in order to complement what’s coming from within, committing more than $200 million to Eduardo Rodriguez and Javier Báez this winter, while also trading for Gold Glove catcher Tucker Barnhart. While the White Sox aren’t going anywhere at the top of the AL Central, the Tigers have plenty of key indicators trending in the right direction, and look to be on pace for their first playoff appearance since 2014 in the coming years.