Detroit Tigers Top 34 Prospects

Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

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 third 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 I 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 Colt Keith 21.8 AA 1B 2025 50
2 Ty Madden 23.2 AA SP 2024 50
3 Wilmer Flores 22.2 AA SP 2024 50
4 Jace Jung 22.6 A+ 2B 2025 45+
5 Jackson Jobe 20.8 A+ SP 2026 45+
6 Parker Meadows 23.5 AAA CF 2023 45
7 Dillon Dingler 24.7 AA C 2023 45
8 Justyn-Henry Malloy 23.2 AAA 3B 2023 40+
9 Roberto Campos 19.9 A+ RF 2025 40+
10 Peyton Graham 22.3 A SS 2027 40+
11 Izaac Pacheco 20.5 A+ 3B 2026 40+
12 Reese Olson 23.8 AAA MIRP 2023 40+
13 Danny Serretti 23.0 AA SS 2026 40
14 Freddy Pacheco 25.1 AAA SIRP 2023 40
15 Joey Wentz 25.6 MLB SP 2023 40
16 Ryan Kreidler 25.5 MLB SS 2023 40
17 Gage Workman 23.6 AA SS 2024 40
18 Reylin Perez 18.6 R SS 2027 40
19 Mason Englert 23.5 MLB SP 2023 40
20 Cristian Santana 19.5 A SS 2026 40
21 Donny Sands 27.0 MLB C 2023 40
22 Josh Crouch 24.4 AA C 2025 40
23 Dylan Smith 23.0 AA SP 2024 40
24 Abel Bastidas 19.5 R SS 2026 35+
25 Sawyer Gipson-Long 25.4 AA SP 2024 35+
26 Andre Lipcius 25.0 AAA 2B 2023 35+
27 Brendan White 24.5 AAA SIRP 2023 35+
28 Tyler Mattison 23.7 A+ MIRP 2025 35+
29 Brant Hurter 24.7 AA SIRP 2024 35+
30 Keider Montero 22.9 AA SIRP 2023 35+
31 Troy Melton 22.4 A SIRP 2026 35+
32 Trei Cruz 24.9 AA CF 2024 35+
33 Tyler Holton 26.9 MLB MIRP 2023 35+
34 Zack Hess 26.2 AA SIRP 2024 35+
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50 FV Prospects

1. Colt Keith, 1B

Drafted: 5th Round, 2020 from Biloxi HS (MS) (DET)
Age 21.8 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 245 Bat / Thr L / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/50 55/60 45/60 30/30 30/50 40

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 have limited his reps during his first two full seasons in the Tigers org, most recently a shoulder injury sustained in the middle of 2022. Always an advanced contact bat, Keith added 30 pounds of bulk between when he was drafted and now, and he weighed in at 245 pounds when he showed up in Arizona for the 2022 Fall League.

The hit/power combination he showed when healthy in 2022 (.301/.370/.544) was clearly that of an everyday bat. He produced a 150 wRC+ and was making among the highest rates of hard, airborne contact in the minors when he got hurt, then raked in front of large swaths of scouts in Arizona. Keith clocks fastballs well and is short to the top of the strike zone. He shows enough bend in his lower half to dip and scoop low pitches, but Keith’s body has been trending in a stiffer direction as he’s bulked up and he may eventually struggle against low breakers for the same reasons Spencer Torkelson does if this continues.

The effects of Keith’s increased size are more evident on defense. Once a fair bet to stay on the middle infield, Keith 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’s trended athletically on defense, but there’s enough bat to support an everyday fit in an outfield corner and probably also first base if it comes to that.

2. Ty Madden, SP

Drafted: 1st Round, 2021 from Texas (DET)
Age 23.2 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 55/60 45/50 50/55 50/55 93-95 / 98

Madden has a prototypical starter’s scouting package with a classic, inning-eating frame and a deep repertoire. After he was a north/south arm slot guy in college, he and the Tigers have worked to alter his delivery over the course of the last two seasons, and his arm slot has come down more and more as Madden has adopted a more three-quarters slot and drop-and-drive usage in his lower half. The results are 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. He frequently sits 94-96 mph while peaking in the upper 90s, and Madden’s glove-side feel for breaking ball location is excellent. The shape of his breakers is not as consistent as their location — some of them are short, cutter-y and hittable even when they’re on the edge of the plate. His best are two-plane sweepers in the mid-80s. That Madden has maintained mid-90s velo across a big league starter’s workload (he threw 122 innings in 2022) while altering his mechanics is kind of incredible, and even more impressive is that he hasn’t skipped a strike-throwing beat. He’s going to have three above-average weapons and above-average command, and he has been remarkably healthy and durable. He moves into the Top 100 here and projects as a low-variance fourth starter.

Undrafted Free Agent, 2020 (DET)
Age 22.2 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Cutter Command Sits/Tops
50/55 60/60 45/50 40/45 93-96 / 98

Flores has emerged as the best current prospect among the 2020 undrafted free agents and spent most of 2022 carving up the Eastern League, where he also began the 2023 campaign. Born in Venezuela and signed out of an Arizona junior college, Flores stomped onto the prospect radar throughout the 2021 season, which he wrapped sitting 93-96 mph with a hammer breaking ball in the Fall League.

While Flores didn’t throw quite that hard throughout 2022, he did a lot to prove that despite a relatively violent delivery, he can throw strikes and work efficiently enough to be a starter. His fastball has sufficient action that it still plays at 92-93, and it pairs nicely with his curveball, which is a traditional power pitcher’s yakker with vertical depth. Flores will also show you an upper-80s cutter, which has more inconsistent shape but gives him a third viable weapon. His two breaking balls seem to be blending together early in 2023, a mishmash of his curveball shape but at his cutter/slider velocity. Poised to be a post-2023 40-man add, Flores worked just over 100 innings in 2022. He’s on pace to compete for a big league rotation spot in 2024 and work a full slate of innings, assuming a standard 20-inning bump year over year. It’s fair to consider there to be subjective and persistent relief risk here related to Flores’ delivery and the length of his arm action. Even if that’s the outcome, he’s probably a good enough reliever that you’d value him close to this range anyway, especially if his peak velocity returns with such a move.

45+ FV Prospects

4. Jace Jung, 2B

Drafted: 1st Round, 2022 from Texas Tech (DET)
Age 22.6 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr L / R FV 45+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/50 55/55 35/55 35/35 30/40 45

Jung hit .328/.468/.647 over his career at Texas Tech, with more walks than strikeouts every single year. Despite lacking an obvious position, he was one of the 2022 draft’s most stable prospects because his track record as a hitter was so strong. If there was some dissent about Jung, it had to do with his swing. The pull-oriented lefty has an open stance with hands set similar to Chuck Knoblauch, with the tip of the bat angled toward the umpire, and he tends to take a longer, uphill path geared for airborne contact. Jung actually swung and missed in the strike zone a little worse than average in college and there was thought that his unique set-up was the cause. He’s been on everything so far in pro ball, though, and his hands are quick and explosive enough that A-ball stuff hasn’t flummoxed Jung. He’s shown some ability to serve stuff away from him into the opposite field gap, but mostly Jung is looking to yank pitches on the inner third and mistake breaking balls to his pull-side. Jung has had a tendency to stride open and leave himself vulnerable on the outer third of the dish. This might become a problem against upper-level arms who can execute good sliders away from him, but the elimination of shifts means Jung can lean into his pull-heavy style with just one infielder to rip contact past on the right side of the diamond.

The shift elimination is a double-edged sword for this guy because Jung is much bigger than the typical second baseman and lacks typical range for the position, which now can’t as easily be hidden with precise positioning. He’s fine making routine plays but tends to be too passive when it comes to attacking high hops, and his actions around the bag on double play turns can be compromised by how late he is approaching the bag. He projects to play second base, but to at best be a 40-grade defender there. He last played third base in 2020 and the pace at which the action unfolds at that position did not suit Jung, who really struggled with it. Priced into Jung’s FV is the possibility that his defense bottoms out. He’s going to hit enough to be an integral role-playing piece who has a righty-hitting sidecar with a better glove.

5. Jackson Jobe, SP

Drafted: 1st Round, 2021 from Heritage Hall HS (DET)
Age 20.8 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/60 60/70 50/50 50/60 20/50 93-95 / 98

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, running a FIP near 5.00 across 18 starts with Lakeland before finishing up with three fair outings at Western Michigan. After his velocity varied throughout his senior year — at times 92-94 mph, at others parked comfortably in the 95-96 mph range and touching above — Jobe mostly sat 93-95 in 2022. His trademark breaking ball, which has plus-plus spin and flashes huge depth, tends to finish in the strike zone and isn’t yet a consistent putaway pitch. Hitters in general seemed unphased by Jobe’s fastball/breaking ball combo and were comfortable parsing them from one another, even in A-ball. He didn’t throw a ton of strikes and the visual quality of his stuff was closer to average overall than plus or better.

It’s possible some of this was simply the growing pains of a teenage pitcher, and it’s also possible that this is what Jobe’s stuff will be under the stress of a whole pro season’s worth of innings. After the Tigers were very excited by how he looked when he arrived for 2023 camp, Jobe was shut down with lumbar spine inflammation in March, initially forecast with a 3-to-6 month recovery window. As of a couple weeks prior to the Tigers list publication, he had resumed throwing, but a specific timetable for his return had not been announced. The novel nature of the injury forced a reduction in FV because injury risk and volatility is now a bigger part of the prospect pie in this case, but there’s still impact starter ceiling here.

45 FV Prospects

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2018 from Grayson HS (GA) (DET)
Age 23.5 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr L / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 50/60 30/50 60/60 50/50 60

It’s rare for things to click for raw-but-toolsy, big-framed outfielders with strikeout issues, but Meadows’ 2022 is a recent example. After he had struck out in about a quarter of his career plate appearances and posted a 73 wRC+ in 2021, Meadows hit .275/.354/.466 at Double-A Erie and slugged 20 homers in 2022, earning a 40-man spot in the process. The 23-year-old is still growing into his 6-foot-5 frame and might yet add power in his mid-20s. He’s already has extra-base power to all fields with a relatively simple swing, though Meadows’ cut traverses the bottom of the zone and he’s going to have some trouble getting on top of high fastballs. Meadows will show you digs around 4.10 from home to first, plus speed that gives him the range to play center field. If he keeps filling out and can’t play there late in his 20s, a permanent shift to a corner should be counterbalanced by an uptick in power. He projects as the strong side of a platoon across the whole outfield, a source of power and speed on offense made somewhat frustrating by his strikeouts. He’s similar to Bradley Zimmer in a lot of ways, but he has better tactile feel to hit and should end up with an outcome north of Zimmer’s up/down career.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2020 from Ohio State (DET)
Age 24.7 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/30 50/50 30/40 45/45 45/55 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 (in part due to a broken hamate), then hit five in just 13 games prior to the shutdown. 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 and striking out in about a third of his plate appearances, ending the year with a .202/.264/.314 line there. He rebounded in 2022, posting a 107 wRC+ but still striking out in 32% of his PAs with Erie.

A meniscectomy shelved him for the start of 2023 and when Dingler returned, he did so receiving on one knee, which is a departure from the 2022 campaign. Because he only recently returned and has been eased back into catching, it’s unclear how this will impact some aspects of Dingler’s game. For instance, he was a great catch-and-throw athlete with a quick transfer, routinely popping around 1.90 from a traditional crouch, but he hasn’t really been tested in this regard since coming off the IL. The athleticism and receiving to be a do-it-all defender behind the dish is here, and much of Dingler’s prospect variance is tied to whether his hit tool and medium-sized frame will enable him to be a primary catcher or just a luxury backup. He swings through a ton of in-zone fastballs and really struggles to get on top of anything in the upper third of the zone. There aren’t many catchers capable of punishing mistakes with power the way Dingler does, but his bat-to-ball ability is also comfortably worse than the typical hitter at that position. He shares quite a few similarities with Jake Rogers and should end up playing a lot, producing about 1.5 annual WAR in a low-end primary catching role.

40+ FV Prospects

Drafted: 6th Round, 2021 from Georgia Tech (ATL)
Age 23.2 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 212 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/45 60/60 45/50 40/40 30/35 30

Malloy was a raw but toolsy third baseman out of 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 and hit .308/.436/.558 with more walks than strikeouts in his only year of actual playing time. Without a clear position, Malloy fell all the way to the sixth round, where he was drafted by Atlanta. Within a year and a half Malloy had coasted through Double-A. He hit .289/.408/.454 split mostly between High- and Double-A during his first full pro season, then hit .306/.438/.444 in the 2022 Fall League. The Braves traded him to Detroit for Joe Jiménez during the offseason and Malloy has continued to produce a huge OBP-driven line as a MudHen early in 2023.

His thunderous hands create big power in a short distance, and Malloy is capable of torching pull-side contact. His swing tends to cut through the middle/down portion of the zone, very similar to current Tiger Matt Vierling‘s swing. He gets right on top of the plate and is looking to yank as much as possible to his pull side. Curiously, while Malloy’s been able to produce a huge barrel rate, the rest of his TrackMan-generated hit metrics have been average or a little below.

A premium OBP and roughly 20 annual bombs would probably be enough for him to profile at third base, but Malloy has some real issues there. His range is fine but, as incredible as he looks in his uniform, he’s not a third base-worthy athlete in the hips and shoulders, and he can’t make enough of the throws from third to comfortably profile there. Yandy Díaz has some similar issues with bulk and stiffness but has still played third base part of the time for most of the last five years. Here Malloy is projected as a similar replacement-level defender at third, but he’s probably better suited for 1B/DH or left field, the latter of which he has a bit of experience playing. The offensive package isn’t enough to profile in an impact, everyday capacity, but is enough to play a part-time role in a platoon or a run-chasing alignment.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Cuba (DET)
Age 19.9 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/50 50/55 35/55 50/50 35/55 55

Campos, who signed for $3 million in 2019, lost what would have been his first pro season to the pandemic and performed at a slightly above league-average level as a 19-year-old in full-season ball last year. He’s off to a hot start in the 2023 Midwest League, where hitters don’t tend to get off to hot starts because of the weather, and we’re now a couple of years removed from when Campos’ strikeout rates were concerningly high. He could stand to have a better two-strike approach (this guy has the power to shorten up and still have a chance to do damage), but Campos has shown advanced vertical plate coverage and all-fields power. At age 20 he’s already chiseled and athletic in a way that would fit in on a big league field, and he has above-average bat speed and runs well underway. Because he’s already so muscular, Campos doesn’t have a ton of physical projection, but he’s otherwise a complete, well-rounded corner outfield prospect with a potent hit/power blend, bearing similarities to Hunter Renfroe.

10. Peyton Graham, SS

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2022 from Oklahoma (DET)
Age 22.3 Height 6′ 4″ 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 45/60 70

Graham’s combination of tools and body projection was so rare and enticing that he ranked 10th on the 2022 Draft list. Due to 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 will show you impressive pull 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 blown the doors off, performing at approximately a league-average clip in what amounts to his first couple months of pro at-bats.

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 maybe it’s 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 most confident in. Big Graham years look like Willy Adames‘ usual line, or like Dansby Swanson’s last few years in Atlanta, but it’s much more likely he ends up tracking like Jose Barrero or Tim Beckham.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2021 from Friendswood HS (DET)
Age 20.5 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/30 60/65 35/55 45/30 35/55 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 from a young lefty hitter is rare and meaningful, even with the hit tool warts. 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, and Pacheco struggles to make in-flight adjustments and doesn’t cover a ton of the strike zone. 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 he brings an amateur shortstop’s pedigree to a professional third base and could be a plus defender there. He is unlikely to be a quick mover, and as has been the case very early in 2023 (across the first month of the season, Pacheco’s in-zone swing-and-miss rate is close to twice the rate of his 2022 numbers), there will be bumps in the road of his development. Even with a 30-grade hit tool projected here, there’s going to be enough power for Pacheco to have a meaningful big league career. Big left-handed power like this tends to find a way to play, and Pacheco is also bringing a meaningful glove to the party.

12. Reese Olson, MIRP

Drafted: 13th Round, 2018 from North Hall HS (GA) (MIL)
Age 23.8 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 55/60 50/50 70/70 30/30 93-96 / 97

A 2018 high school draftee by Milwaukee, Olson came to Detroit in a 2021 trade for Daniel Norris. After an uptick in fastball velocity a couple of years ago, Olson’s four-seamer has been resting comfortably around the 94-95 mph mark and typically peaking around 97. His lack of command and mechanical violence both push him to the bullpen, but Olson’s arm strength and secondary pitch quality are both strong enough to consider him a special, multi-inning relief weapon.

Olson has had real trouble throwing strikes, especially with the fastball. While his surface-level walk rates improved drastically in 2022, visual evaluation of his feel to pitch and command was still pretty damning, and Olson’s strike% with his fastball (a paltry 59% in 2022) was very low. Part of this is due to Olson’s inefficient approach with the heater, which he tries to blow past hitters at and above the letters. His changeup has incredible action, sinking and tailing away from hitters with huge movement for a pitch that bends in in the upper-80s. His breaking balls span the low-to-mid-80s and also have lovely, two-plane shape and enough depth to be considered above-average pitches. Olson mixes his secondary stuff in pretty liberally and can go at hitters with all kinds of different pitches, he just does so with zero precision. Olson is now on the 40-man roster in his first option year and it makes sense for the rebuilding Tigers to give him as much time as possible to iron out his strike-throwing issues and, hopefully, profile as a five-and-dive type of starter. But realistically, he’s going to be a nasty multi-inning relief piece. That’s still an impact member of a pitching staff, but one I value here, a few tiers below Olson’s offseason Top 100 placement.

40 FV Prospects

13. Danny Serretti, SS

Drafted: 6th Round, 2022 from North Carolina (DET)
Age 23.0 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/55 40/40 30/35 40/40 40/50 55

He’s of 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. And Serretti has shown a continued upward trend in production as a pro, though he’s been a little old for his assigned level; he’s currently a 23-year-old at High-A to start the 2023 season. Most importantly, Serretti has become more and more difficult to make swing and miss over the last two years. 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. Even though he has a similar role projection, Serretti’s bat makes him more desirable than the other likely utility infielders in this system since it gives him a chance to hit his way into more than just a 1-WAR bench infielder’s outcome.

14. Freddy Pacheco, SIRP

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Venezuela (STL)
Age 25.1 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 203 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops
70/70 60/60 35/35 94-98 / 99

Claimed off of waivers from the Cardinals, Pacheco felt tightness in his elbow during a live batting practice session in Jupiter during the spring. Rather than put him on 60-day IL, the Cardinals designated him for assignment and the Tigers claimed him, then put Pacheco on the 60-day themselves. Healthy Pacheco was a 2022 breakout guy and has late-inning stuff, with a fastball that sits 96-98 mph with big riding life and a mid-80s slider that has curveball shape and action. Loose fastball command leads to walks and more in-zone contact against his heater than is typical of someone who throws this hard, so Pacheco is more likely to find himself in lower-leverage roles initially, with a shot to move into a more substantial one through refined command. He had no known timetable for return as of list publication.

15. Joey Wentz, SP

Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Shawnee Mission East HS (MO) (ATL)
Age 25.6 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 209 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/50 50/50 45/45 50/50 45/45 92-95 / 97

Wentz was one of the more sought after high school pitchers in the 2016 draft and an under-slot agreement with Ian Anderson at no. 3 overall helped facilitate his $3 million deal. Traded to Detroit for Shane Greene in 2019, Wentz has mostly held serve as a prospect, retaining arm strength similar to what he showed in high school while adding a pitch and overcoming a TJ. Wentz will routinely sit 92-95 mph and mix in his three secondary pitches a ton. He has four distinct offerings but can really only throw his fastball for strikes with any consistency, as all three of Wentz’s other pitches had a strike% lower than 56% in 2022. The unpredictable mix helps Wentz’ otherwise vanilla stuff to play, and his big, innings-eating frame portends a stable no. 5 starter future.

16. Ryan Kreidler, SS

Drafted: 4th Round, 2019 from UCLA (DET)
Age 25.5 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/30 50/50 40/40 40/40 55/55 60

Kreidler is a weird player who looks much more athletic on defense than he does in the batter’s box. He’s short to the ball on the inner third of the plate and sprays power to all fields when he gets a mistake in there. He is totally unable to cover the outer edge of the plate and takes a lot of awkward looking, ugly stabs at pitches out there. Big league pitchers are going to execute location against him enough to keep Kreidler from hitting very much, but he tends to damage the mistakes he sees. The more important feature here is that Kreidler can actually play shortstop. He has below-average range, but his actions, footwork (especially around second base) and arm strength are all plus. Kreidler makes a lot of fun, acrobatic plays and hoses guys even though he’s a bigger, slower dude. He’s going to be a glove-oriented bench infielder with a really bizarre power-over-hit offensive skill set.

17. Gage Workman, SS

Drafted: 4th Round, 2020 from Arizona State (DET)
Age 23.6 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/30 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 and 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. Still only 23, it’s plausible the late-bloomer traits will still bear fruit in a way that allows Workman to have a peak as a more impactful player, but here he’s projected as a glove-first utility infielder.

18. Reylin Perez, SS

Signed: International Signing Period, 2022 from Dominican Republic (DET)
Age 18.6 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/35 45/60 25/45 55/55 40/50 55

Perez is an electric athlete (maybe the best in the whole system) with plus switch-hitting bat speed and a swing geared for huge lift. Aspects of his physicality and swing are reminiscent of Jazz Chisholm Jr. at the same age, and Perez’s twitch, athleticism, and power are remarkable for a teenage middle infield prospect. The uphill nature of his swing and other crude feel-for-the-barrel elements give him significant long-term hit tool risk, and Perez struck out at a concerning 28% clip in the 2022 DSL. Purely on upside, Perez belongs up near Jackson Jobe on this list. But Perez’s contact issues are about as severe as Gage Workman’s and Ryan Kreidler’s, and Perez is several levels behind those guys. The risk he doesn’t hit enough to be anything at all counterbalances all that upside when it comes to valuing Perez’s prospectdom, but he’s an important player to monitor because his ceiling is huge if his hit tool gets to a more stable place.

19. Mason Englert, SP

Drafted: 4th Round, 2018 from Forney HS (TX) (TEX)
Age 23.5 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 206 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
40/40 55/55 45/45 50/50 55/60 90-93 / 95

Englert’s second healthy pro season was fantastic, as he made 24 healthy starts and pitched just shy of 120 innings with a 30% K% and a 7% BB%, commanding four pitches with aplomb while reaching Double-A at the end of 2022 with Texas. The Tigers made him their Rule 5 draft pick and Englert made the roster coming out of camp, providing length in low leverage spots out of the bullpen. He doesn’t throw very hard, sitting 90-94 mph and living off deception created by his arms-and-legs delivery and odd angles. After that, Englert mixes in an above-average changeup and two solid breaking balls — a mid-80s slider and upper-70s curveball — both of which he commands. He probably doesn’t have a huge long-term ceiling, but Englert’s feel to pitch is polished enough for him to have essentially made the leap from High-A to the majors. After a year in long relief it’s feasible the Tigers could option him and reengage with Englert as a starter, especially if he’s maintained an approximately 100-inning workload as a long reliever in 2023.

Signed: International Signing Period, 2021 from Dominican Republic (DET)
Age 19.5 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 165 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/40 40/50 25/50 50/45 40/45 50

Santana was billed as one of the more advanced and complete hitters in his international class, but in parts of three pros seasons, he’s been more of a power-over-hit type who has begun to share time all over the infield. Some of that is due more to the presence of Peyton Graham on the Lakeland roster than his own issues at shortstop, though Santana has become strapping and thick in his lower half very quickly, and his defensive projection shifted off of shortstop more than a year ago. Along with Santana’s strength has come impressive power for his age, but his feel to hit has simply not been what was hoped when he was an amateur, especially his slider recognition. Santana had a concerning 25% strikeout rate in the 2022 FSL and was out of the gates slow early in 2023 when he was put on the IL with a left knee contusion suffered during a game in mid-May. The strikeout issues have been bad enough for long enough now to stop forecasting Santana as a potential everyday player. Unless he continues to develop much more power than is projected here, the hit tool is going to prevent that from happening even if Santana stays at short. He’s now in a hopeful role-player bucket behind some of the similar upper-level hitters who are better shortstop defenders.

21. Donny Sands, C

Drafted: 8th Round, 2015 from Salpointe HS (AZ) (NYY)
Age 27.0 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/50 50/50 35/35 20/20 45/45 50

A high schooler drafted in 2015, Sands spent over half a decade slowly traversing the Yankees system due in part to a logjam of catching ahead of and around him. He was traded to the Phillies to be part of their deep upper-level catching contingent during the 2021-22 offseason, but Garrett Stubbs established himself as JT Realmuto’s backup; the Phillies then flipped Sands to Detroit as part of the large Gregory Soto trade. When he was drafted, he was viewed as being at risk of a 3B/1B move, but he’s actually become a good receiver and pitch framer, especially at the bottom of the strike zone. He catches on one knee and his glove works from the ground back up into the zone on low pitches, which Sands tends to present in a convincing fashion. He’ll sometimes use a traditional crouch when he anticipates a steal attempt, and archer-like accuracy bolsters his average arm, popping in the 1.95-2.03 range, usually right on the bag. Sands has had real trouble on offense early in 2023 and has had an especially hard time laying off of high fastballs, but for the bulk of his career, he has been a stable bat-to-ball guy with surprising in-the-box athleticism for a huskier player. There’s no change to his FV despite his early season struggles, and Sands could still be a perfectly capable backup catcher at any moment.

22. Josh Crouch, C

Drafted: 11th Round, 2021 from Central Florida (DET)
Age 24.4 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/50 30/30 30/30 30/30 45/50 50

A catcher named Crouch who receives from one knee is an ironic injustice for those of us in the nominative determinism crowd. Crouch is an athletic catch-and-throw guy with a quick exchange. He does a little bit of everything on defense, enough to project as an average big league defender. Crouch is also a career .268/.338/.401 hitter in the minors, with most of that coming at High-A West Michigan in 2022. Of medium build, Crouch’s swing is super simple and compact. His footwork is so conservative that at times it looks unnatural and imbalanced. It’s a little beneath Crouch’s level of athleticism to have such a simple swing, but it’s kept him on time routinely enough for him to hit .268 so far. He can spray stuff up and away from him into the oppo gap and hook pitches on the inner third down the left field line for doubles. Everything here is pointing toward a high-probability 40-man spot as a team’s second or third catcher. He’s gone back and forth between Double-A and High-A early in 2023 depending on Detroit’s needs due to Dillon Dingler’s injury. He’s a post-2024 40-man add and the Tigers don’t appear to be pacing his promotion ahead of that schedule, so look for him to compete for the backup job in 2025.

23. Dylan Smith, SP

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2021 from Alabama (DET)
Age 23.0 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Splitter Command Sits/Tops
40/40 55/55 45/45 50/50 55/60 92-93 / 95

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 and 2022. The Tigers pushed him to Double-A to start 2023 and Smith looked the same, sitting roughly 92-93 with consistent command of a two-plane slider and a split-style changeup. He was shut down with a forearm strain after three outings and is undergoing physical therapy, per MLive Media Group’s Evan Woodbery. Aside from the injury, Smith is a stable no. 5 starter prospect with plus command. He is not an exceptional athlete and lacks deep physical projection, so there’s probably not a ton of ceiling here.

35+ FV Prospects

24. Abel Bastidas, SS

Signed: International Signing Period, 2021 from Venezuela (DET)
Age 19.5 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 165 Bat / Thr S / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 30/40 20/30 50/50 40/50 50

A well-rounded young infielder, Bastidas is an undersized switch-hitter with advanced feel for contact. He isn’t especially projectable and is more of a medium/low variance player who probably won’t grow into impact power and more likely has a long-term utility infield future. After a strong 2022 complex season, he began 2023 in extended spring training rather than with Lakeland.

Drafted: 6th Round, 2019 from Mercer (MIN)
Age 25.4 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
40/40 50/55 50/55 50/55 91-93 / 96

Acquired from Minnesota for Michael Fulmer, Gipson-Long has spent the better part of the last 12 months at Double-A, where he’s posted walk rates in the 4-6% range, a consistent career feature for him. He has a quarterback’s build and takes a big, cross-bodied stride toward the plate, working from a low-three-quarters arm slot that imparts sink and tail on his low-90s fastball. Gipson-Long is a control-over-command type, living near the zone because his line to the plate is so direct. Hitters who struggle with low-slot righties aside, Gipson-Long’s fastball is fairly hittable. He’s generated slightly above-average groundball rates in pro ball (about 47% since 2022) but not really enough to round up on his heater. But Gipson-Long goes right at hitters with east/west oriented stuff, and both his low-80s slider and sinking, mid-80s changeup have above-average action. A pretty sure bet to throw strikes and compete, he can mix in his secondary stuff liberally en route to a spot starter role.

26. Andre Lipcius, 2B

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2019 from Tennessee (DET)
Age 25.0 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/55 50/50 30/40 45/45 40/45 55

Lipcius was seen as a late Day Two selection heading into 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 to being 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 to hit fastballs the other way and pull mistake breaking balls. 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. In part because of the presence of Justin-Henry Malloy, Lipcius has transitioned away from third base and more to 1B/2B/LF. He earns high marks for his makeup and baseball IQ, and likely for his regular IQ as well, as he was a nuclear engineering major at Tennessee. 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, an above-replacement Mark Mathias type.

27. Brendan White, SIRP

Drafted: 26th Round, 2019 from Siena (DET)
Age 24.5 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops
60/60 55/60 30/30 94-96 / 98

White experienced a velo spike upon a move to the bullpen in 2022, a spike that has continued into the early portions of 2023, as White has been sitting 94-96 mph. White’s high-effort delivery generates a mid-90s cut/ride fastball and weird sliders that sometimes also have uphill finish like a cutter. His delivery and release are all over the place, too inconsistent to project White as a short-term middle relief option; instead, he profiles as a dicey up/down option. He definitely has the stuff to pitch in a big league bullpen consistently and he hasn’t had this level of stuff for all that long, so perhaps better command is yet to come.

28. Tyler Mattison, MIRP

Drafted: 4th Round, 2021 from Bryant University (DET)
Age 23.7 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 235 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
50/50 55/55 55/55 50/50 30/40 92-95 / 96

Mattison sits in the 92-95 mph range and 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. He tends to pronate inside the baseball to create some tailing action on his heater, which helps him sneak under the barrel of righty hitters when he’s locating to the arm side of the plate. His primary breaking ball used to be of the north/south, low-80s curveball variety due to Mattison’s arm slot, but more often in the 2022 Fall League he worked with a cutter in the 85-87 mph range. His best secondary pitch might now be his 85-88 mph power changeup, which has even more finish that Mattison’s fastball. Without a true plus offering, Mattison fits in lower leverage relief, but his mechanical consistency and repertoire depth might enable a multi-inning role.

29. Brant Hurter, SIRP

Drafted: 7th Round, 2021 from Georgia Tech (DET)
Age 24.7 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 250 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
40/40 55/55 40/45 50/60 88-91 / 93

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 innings and reached Double-A. While Hurter continues to work as a starter, he’s mostly a two-pitch guy with a low-slot delivery, the look of a bullpen’s second lefty. He has fantastic arm-side fastball command and glove-side slider command, wreaking extra havoc on lefties who struggle to see the ball out of his hand. His changeup performed really well on a rate basis in 2022, but he’s only thrown it between 5-9% of the time during the last two seasons and that pitch’s usage needs to take a step forward if Hurter is actually going to be a fifth or sixth starter at the big league level.

30. Keider Montero, SIRP

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Venezuela (DET)
Age 22.9 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 55/60 50/50 40/40 40/40 93-95 / 96

Montero pitched 103 innings across 25 starts in 2022 and maintained arm strength (sitting 93-95 mph) that before he had only ever shown in shorter bursts. Despite his velocity and the natural spin (about 2,900 rpm) and shape of his breaking ball, Montero didn’t dominate A-ball and posted pretty average numbers (23% K%, 8% BB%, 4.51 ERA); he was left off the Tigers 40-man. He’s starting again in 2023 and was quickly promoted to Erie after a few great starts with West Michigan. He’s a four-pitch guy with below-average control. His conditioning could stand to improve, which might help Montero to move a little better and more consistently. He shows sizable hip/shoulder separation but isn’t mechanically consistent. Here he’s projected in relief, where Montero will hopefully throw a bit harder and have nasty enough stuff to overcome his mediocre command.

31. Troy Melton, SIRP

Drafted: 4th Round, 2022 from San Diego State (DET)
Age 22.4 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 40/50 40/45 40/55 30/40 94-96 / 98

Melton was one of the youngest college prospects available in the 2021 draft, 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, and climbed into the fourth round of the 2022 draft. He has a very live arm, sitting 94-96 mph and reaching back for 98. He’s in the midst of breaking ball alterations during his 2023 start at Lakeland, where Melton’s breaking balls have picked up roughly five ticks compared to his college breaker. This harder slider is in its infancy, as Melton has utilized an extremely fastball-heavy approach early on as a pro. There are some late-bloomer traits here as Melton was young for his class, missed a season due to the pandemic, and was mostly a catcher in high school. The Tigers have had some success molding high-octane arms and athletes, and Melton presents them with similar raw material.

32. Trei Cruz, CF

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2020 from Rice (DET)
Age 24.9 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 200 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

Cruz’s defensive versatility and switch-hitting will make him a back-of-the-roster utilityman, but his swings from both sides of the plate are grooved, and he’s not likely to hit enough to be an impact player or even a heavily-used utilityman. Already experienced all over the infield, Cruz began to fold center field into his arsenal during the 2023 season and he has taken to the position very quickly. He’s rangy and comfortable out there, and is a fundamentally sound infielder who plays with big effort. While he’s off to a hot start with the bat in 2023, Cruz lacks feel to hit from both sides of the plate. He can pull center cut mistakes with power from both sides of the plate, but Cruz will likely struggle to make contact at the big league level. His versatility, especially now that center field is a real part of what he’s capable of doing, should still enable him to have a big league career.

33. Tyler Holton, MIRP

Drafted: 9th Round, 2018 from Florida State (ARI)
Age 26.9 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
30/30 40/40 45/45 60/60 55/55 88-92 / 94

It was once hoped that Holton would have a velo spike coming out of his TJ rehab. He showed a plus changeup at Florida State and his fastball has other traits that would help it play as a dominant pitch if he could just throw harder than his pre-surgery 88-91 mph. That didn’t happen, and Holton’s fastball has basically been in the 88-92 range as a pro. His changeup and command have still enabled him to reach the big leagues, first with Arizona and now with Detroit (via waiver claim). He’s currently serving as a long reliever and should maintain a low-level swingman/spot starter role, especially while he has option years remaining. A relief role may enable him to more liberally mix breaking balls early in the count and avoid using his vulnerable heater.

34. Zack Hess, SIRP

Drafted: 7th Round, 2019 from LSU (DET)
Age 26.2 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 216 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 55/60 40/45 30/30 92-94 / 97

The Braves tried to use the pool space they would have saved by signing Carter Stewart to an under-slot deal to land Hess in 2018, but he went back to school and got about a quarter million the following year. He has projected as a reliever for pretty much his entire life as a prospect, at times looking like a late-inning weapon. After reaching Double-A and the Arizona Fall League in 2022, Hess seemed tee’d up to reach Detroit in 2022, but instead he blew out during the spring and had TJ before spring training had even begun. Hess was back in time to break camp with West Michigan on rehab assignment, but he was shut down after just five appearances. Other teams’ internal systems list his reason as returning to the IL as “right elbow surgery,” but it’s unclear if Hess has simply had a setback during recovery from the 2022 TJ or if he’s gone under the knife again. A Tigers contact did not want to confirm injury specifics for this list. Healthy Hess can touch 97 mph, and his low-80s slider has good sweep to it and is frequently his out pitch. Hess also has a solid low-80s changeup, but he barely threw it in 2021. If it turns out he’s had another season-ending injury, then he should probably just be in the honorable mention section of the list since a big part of the optimism around Hess was that he’d race to Detroit once he showed he was healthy.

Other Prospects of Note

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

Catching Depth
Eliezer Alfonzo, C
Mike Rothenberg, C
Clayton Campbell, C

Alfonzo is a compact switch-hitter who is tough to strike out, but his tools are otherwise below-average across the board. Rothenberg is a switch-hitter with above-average bat speed and below-average feel to hit. Campbell is a huge teenager from New Zealand who has natural opposite field power.

One-Tool Bats on the Fringe
Wenceel Pérez, 2B
Manuel Sequera, 2B
Jose De La Cruz, OF
Mario Feliciano, LF
Luke Gold, 2B

Pérez is only a defensive fit at second base, but his 50-hit and 30-power combo, even with plate discipline, isn’t enough for him to be an everyday player there and he doesn’t have the defensive versatility to be a utilityman. Sequera has performed from a bat-to-ball standpoint so far, but he lacks obvious big league athleticism. De La Cruz has ridiculous power for a 21-year-old in an outfield corner but the hit tool projects short of a role there. Feliciano is a bounce-back candidate who, though currently injured, has moved out from behind the plate and to left field. I was a big Luke Gold guy before last year’s draft, but he looks surprisingly lost against pro pitching so far. He could be a bulky, power-hitting part-time second baseman if things come together.

Young Arms, Likely Relief Fits
Marco Jimenez, RHP
Dylan McCall, RHP
Carlos Pena, LHP
Ulices Campos, RHP
Edgardo Ibarra, LHP

Jimenez, 23, was struggling to command 95-97 mph heat and a good slider prior to being shut down with injury not long before publication. He’s the hardest thrower in Lakeland. McCall, 19, is a huge, 6-foot-8 projection prospect signed as a 2022 undrafted free agent out of Fort Collins, Colorado. He was up to 91 with a slow, vertical breaking ball in high school. Pena, 24, is a little lefty who has struck out a ton of guys early on with West Michigan using a vertical fastball/curveball combo that likely profiles in low-leverage relief long-term. Campos, 21, has been sitting 93-96 with highly variable strikes in Lakeland. Ibarra, 19, is another compact lefty with a short, deceptive arm stroke, low-90s velo, and a good vertical breaker.

Young Hitters with Upside
Javier Osorio, SS
Samuel Gil, SS
Carlos Pelegrin, OF

Osorio, 18, signed for $2.2 million in 2022, then had a rough DSL debut as the youngest player on the roster. Twitchy and lithe with above-average bat speed, he badly needs to get stronger. Gil, also 18, signed for $1.25 million in 2022 and is more of a skills-over-tools type. Pelegrin is one of the more projectable young hitters in the system at a lanky 6-foot-3. He’s currently hitting near the top of Lakeland’s order.

Other Notable Relievers
Elvis Alvarado, RHP
Braden Bristo, RHP
Blake Holub, RHP
Trevin Michael, RHP
Adam Wolf, RHP

Alvarado is a converted outfielder who has hopped around to a few different orgs at this point. His fastball averaged 97 mph last year but it plays down and so he tends to take a slider-first approach. He’s currently on the IL. Bristo is currently on the 40-man after flowing to Detroit from Tampa on waivers. He’s a cutter-heavy reliever without a real plus weapon. Holub is part of the late-game relief contingent in West Michigan, where he works with a riding 94 mph fastball and vertical breaker. Michael will show you 96 and a plus slider. The 2022 10th rounder is already 25 and got a quick hook to High-A from Lakeland. Wolf is a soft-tossing, low-slot lefty with a slider who could be a situational lefty in a pinch.

System Overview

The Tigers have struggled to fill their system with above-average hit tools. Be it their big international signees or the large conference college performers who they tend to take in the draft, there is only one above-average hit tool projected in this entire system (Danny Serretti). It’s strange because a mechanical through line in the system is the ultra-short, shallow load that usually prevents hitters from being long into the hitting zone. Yet even though many of the hitters above use a short load, they have issues making contact. Hit tool issues threaten huge swaths of this system, including most of the high-upside hitters. Even Jace Jung’s in-zone contact rates are pretty pedestrian. It’s been a big enough issue that a change to the club’s approach to drafting and signing hitters should probably occur under the new regime.

Lots of pitchers in this system end up with a delivery similar to the one Ty Madden has adopted, where they sit deep into their back side and use a shorter arm action. Joey Wentz and several of the lower-level arms have similar mechanical elements, they’re just most noticeable on Madden because he now looks so much different than he did in college.

This system is below average. The near-ready high-end role player group (anyone in the 40+ tier or above) is about average, and the likes of Parker Meadows and Justyn-Henry Malloy should be up to help support the platoon-heavy cause relatively soon, but the system lacks any modicum of depth in the way of high-end players. For a team that’s still in a rebuilding phase to only have 12 40+ FV prospects or better is not good. There are a few players on expiring deals (Michael Lorenzen, Matthew Boyd) who might net something at the trade deadline, but not so much as to move the needle on the system’s evaluation. The Tigers need to do well in the next couple of drafts to avoid treading water behind Cleveland and Minnesota (at least) in this division for the foreseeable future.





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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synco
9 months ago

I was thinking yesterday about how disastrous the last few years have been for the Tigers, out of a lot of promise. Mize/Manning/Tork/Greene were all ticketed for stardom, and while it’s still early-ish, it looks like 0 for 4 right now.

GoodEnoughForMe
9 months ago
Reply to  synco

Skubal is the only “success” story and he is already 26 (!) and still has a lot of rehab ahead, it’s bad. Missing on that many early first round prospects is extremely not good.

sadtrombonemember
9 months ago

I keep going back to these and figuring out where they could have done better. Manning looks like a bust and Greene certainly doesn’t look like a star, and it is super bad to miss on the #1 pick twice. But:

1) The guys picked after Manning have also all been busts. You would have to go 9 spots down to Gavin Lux to find someone who didn’t.
2) Greene looks like a better pick than the guy just after him (CJ Abrams), and while Nick Lodolo (and to a lesser extent, Josh Jung and Shea Langeliers) would have been better picks it’s not like anyone thought those guys were as good as Greene or Abrams.
3) Torkelson has been really bad, and the two guys picked after him are better bets to succeed (Kjerstad and Meyer) but those guys were shocks to be taken that high. After them, you have to go to #8 (Robert Hassell) and #15 (Mick Abel) to find anyone who looks any good.
4) Mize was an awful pick but until this year, the only guy in the Top 10 who looked like a major leaguer was Jonathan India. Now, maybe Jarred Kelenic too.

So yeah, it was bad, and clearly other teams are much better at this stuff than they were, but it’s not like it was super obvious they screwed these up at the time. It’s really only obvious now because they screwed up four times.

Last edited 9 months ago by sadtrombone
PC1970
9 months ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

Yeah, they had some bad luck when they had the #1 pick. They didn’t get the Washington NationalsStrasburg/Harper no brainer double.

Mize WAS clearly the obvious #1 choice the year he was picked. Kelenic was the other guy they were in on, but, the Upper Midwest had a terrible weather spring, so he barely played & it was just too risky.

Tork was the COVID year where players barely played. Before the year it was him or Austin Martin & Martin got hurt before COVID hit. With no other data points, Tork was the only logical pick.

Now, you could certainly argue that they COULD have done more to develop these guys & taking Manning & Jobe in the Top 10 was bad.(Hint- Like RB’s in football, don’t take SP’s in the top 10!)

Really the issue is total lack of international success & going with corner bats with big power/bad hit & college utility IF types. This system is seriously lacking in athletes.

Last edited 9 months ago by PC1970
kingharbaughmember
9 months ago
Reply to  PC1970

I think it’s funny that this comment mentions Strasburg being a no brainer at #1 while also saying not to draft a pitcher in the top 10.

sadtrombonemember
9 months ago
Reply to  kingharbaugh

To be fair, Strasburg was a college arm.

( And also once in a generation pitching prospect, although that is less relevant)

PC1970
9 months ago
Reply to  kingharbaugh

Sadtrombone has it right. I meant to have HS in the line about taking SP in the Top 10 & left it out.

That’s what I get for posting while on a Zoom call..

will1331member
9 months ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

How much does this speak to bad draft pools vs bad player dev? In another comment you allude to them forcing the same mechanical tweaks on most of their pitchers, which seems to be the antithesis of what top orgs like TB and LAD are doing?

GoodEnoughForMe
9 months ago
Reply to  will1331

Dev was really, really bad and multiple minor league pitchers in the system have openly talked to press about how refreshing the new regime is by focusing on individual strengths and customizing development plans.

Last edited 9 months ago by GoodEnoughForMe
PC1970
9 months ago

Some players at High A have also mentioned how they had no nutrition program to speak of & didn’t even make sure the minor leaguers got a quality meal at the ballpark until this year

What did they think 20-22 year old guys, most of whom have no $$, are going to eat? Maybe since the Tigers are owned by the Illitch’s, they thought Hot n Ready’s & Crazy Bread were nutritious meals?

If true..well, it explains a lot.

Cool Lester Smoothmember
9 months ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

Just want to throw out that Greene is 3 years younger than Lodolo, Jung and Langeliers, and has been quite a bit better in the MLB than the latter two.

sadtrombonemember
9 months ago
Reply to  synco

At least Greene looks like he can be a major leaguer of some kind, a 4th outfielder type. The other three look like enormous busts.

section144
9 months ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

He’s probably better than a 4th OF type.

bada87bingmember
9 months ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

For his career so far he has produced 1.7 WAR (with a 100 wRC+) in 132 games across his age 21 and 22 seasons.

He is already out-pacing a 4th outfielder type production and he doesn’t turn 23 until after the season. Clearly he is on a better trajectory than a 4th outfielder type.

sadtrombonemember
9 months ago
Reply to  bada87bing

If you think he sticks in CF, he’s an everyday guy. I am still skeptical.

willl
9 months ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

He’s on pace for 3.5 WAR/150 this season. Pump the brakes on relegating him to a 4th OF.

Cool Lester Smoothmember
9 months ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

He’s 22 years old. The bat shouldn’t be nearly viewed as a finished product.

CoachLindsay
9 months ago
Reply to  synco

Greene will be fine when he gets some bats around him. Manning has good stuff but needs to learn to use it. Not sure Fetter is the guy to help him. Mize and Tork had bust written all over them from the get go.

Domingo Ayala
9 months ago
Reply to  CoachLindsay

Manning has good stuff? His stuff has been terrible in the majors.