Top 24 Prospects: Detroit Tigers

Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the Detroit Tigers. Scouting reports are compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as from our own (both Eric Longenhagen’s and Kiley McDaniel’s) observations. For more information on the 20-80 scouting scale by which all of our prospect content is governed you can click here. For further explanation of the merits and drawbacks of Future Value, read this.

All the numbered prospects here also appear on THE BOARD, a new feature at the site that offers sortable scouting information for every organization. Click here to visit THE BOARD.

Tigers Top Prospects
Rk Name Age High Level Position ETA FV
1 Franklin Perez 20 AA RHP 2021 50
2 Beau Burrows 21 AA RHP 2019 50
3 Christin Stewart 24 AAA DH 2019 50
4 Matt Manning 20 A RHP 2022 50
5 Jake Rogers 22 AA C 2020 45
6 Derek Hill 22 A+ CF 2021 45
7 Daz Cameron 21 A+ CF 2021 45
8 Mike Gerber 25 MLB RF 2018 45
9 Isaac Paredes 19 A+ SS 2021 45
10 Dawel Lugo 23 AAA 2B 2019 45
11 Gregory Soto 23 A+ LHP 2021 45
12 Kyle Funkhouser 24 AA RHP 2019 45
13 Alex Faedo 22 A+ RHP 2020 45
14 Bryan Garcia 22 AAA RHP 2020 45
15 Sergio Alcantara 21 AA SS 2019 40
16 Anthony Castro 22 A+ RHP 2020 40
17 Elvin Rodriguez 20 A RHP 2022 40
18 Jason Foley 22 A+ RHP 2021 40
19 Gerson Moreno 22 AA RHP 2019 40
20 Victor Reyes 23 MLB OF 2018 40
21 Reynaldo Rivera 20 A 1B 2022 40
22 Sam McMillan 19 R C 2023 40
23 Spencer Turnbull 25 AA RHP 2018 40
24 Matt Hall 24 AA LHP 2019 40

50 FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Venezuela
Age 20 Height 6’3 Weight 197 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command
55/60 45/50 50/55 50/60 45/50

Acquired from Houston as part of the return for Justin Verlander, Perez has advanced command of a four-pitch mix that enabled him to reach Double-A at age 19. He’ll likely have a plus fastball and changeup at peak, while his breaking balls are still works in progress but promising.

So, too, is Perez’s ability to handle a full-season workload. He’s had some knee trouble, and Houston spaced out his starts pretty liberally late last year as a way to limit his innings. Then this spring he suffered a lat strain which has him shelved for several months. His 86 innings last year were a career high, so while Perez is advanced from a stuff and pitchability standpoint, he likely won’t reach Detroit and stay there until he’s capable of handling a bigger workload. He projects as an above-average big-league starter with a bit more developmental distance to travel than you might think given his level.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2015 from Weatherford HS (TX)
Age 20 Height 6’2 Weight 200 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command
55/60 45/50 45/50 50/55 45/50

The Tigers altered Burrows’ stride direction and his stuff played much better in 2017 than in 2016. He has four good pitches, but the mix plays down a bit due to fringe command, and we have him projected as a fourth starter. Burrows’ velo was down early this year, but that could have been due to the cold or the hip flexor injury he was shut down for during the middle of April.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2015 from Tennessee
Age 23 Height 6’0 Weight 205 Bat/Throw L/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/40 60/60 45/55 40/40 30/30 40/40

Stewart isn’t a good defensive outfielder, but he gets to his power and he has lots of it. Even as a DH-only prospect, Stewart probably hits enough to play every day, but there’s no room for him in the big leagues right now with Victor Martinez and Nick Castellanos both on the roster. Martinez is a free agent at the end of the season so expect to see Stewart, full-time, in 2019.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Sheldon HS (CA)
Age 19 Height 6’6 Weight 190 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command
60/60 55/60 40/50 30/50

Manning’s career has been a little slow to get going, but this can be explained away pretty easily. He was a multi-sport high-school star (he could have played basketball at Loyola Marymount) who threw a lot during the summer and fall before his senior spring, then he got off to a late start the following spring due to a deep run in state hoops playoffs. He was effective in the New York-Penn League last year then was bad upon promotion. This spring he dealt with an oblique strain and was only sent to an affiliate shortly before publication. He’s sitting 91-96 right now, gets way down the mound, can really spin a breaking ball, and it’s fine that he’s not racing to the majors. This is a power pitching prototype whose stuff looks intact after a spring injury.

45 FV Prospects

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2016 from Tulane
Age 22 Height 6’1 Weight 190 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 50/55 40/50 40/40 55/70 60/60

Rogers is probably the best defensive catching prospect in the minors, at least as far as traditional aspects of defensive evaluation are concerned. His arm strength, receiving, and ground game are all excellent and have been big-league ready since he was at Tulane. He has retained his contact issues, but a more athletic swing in pro ball has yielded more game power. As long as Rogers’ contact issues aren’t so severe that they poison the rest of his profile, he’s likely a big-league regular whose upside will be dictated by how much pop he can get to in games.

6. Derek Hill, CF
Drafted: 1st Round, 2014 from Elk Grove HS (CA)
Age 21 Height 6’2 Weight 190 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/50 45/50 20/45 70/70 55/60 50/50

Hill makes some spectacular defensive plays in center field and is a 70 runner despite his history of injury, but Daz Cameron is getting most of the Hi-A reps in center field right now. Hill flashed more power last year (his frame has matured and he focused on catching the ball out in front of him) and has had a good idea of the strike zone throughout his pro career. He has a chance to hit for some power, reach base at an above-average clip, and play a good center field, which would make him a good everyday player.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2015 from Eagle’s Landing Christian HS (GA)
Age 20 Height 6’2 Weight 195 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/50 50/55 30/50 50/55 50/55 50/50

Cameron’s skillset isn’t all that sexy, but it is complete, and everything about it plays up because he has a great feel for baseball. He’s not especially fast, but his instincts in center field are good, as is his control of the strike zone. He’s a high-probability big-league center fielder. You can interchange Cameron and Hill in this system depending on your personal tastes. Cameron is safer because he’s a better bet to hit, while Hill is the better defender.

Drafted: 5th Round, 2014 from Creighton
Age 25 Height 6’0 Weight 190 Bat/Throw L/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/45 60/60 40/55 50/50 55/55 50/50

Gerber made himself known to most of the industry during the 2016 Arizona Fall League. His contact issues against lefties might cause him to max out as a platoon option, but it’s going to be the larger half of one, and Gerber’s defense is good enough to let him play every day and just hit him at the bottom of the lineup against lefties. He projects as a power-hitting corner outfielder in the Seth Smith mold.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Mexico
Age 18 Height 5’11 Weight 225 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/60 45/50 20/50 40/40 40/45 55/55

Paredes has been of interest to scouts and in-office personnel since he was 17. He was young for domestic pro ball and had strong peripherals in the Rookie-level Arizona League back in 2016. He’s built like late-career Jhonny Peralta already and is probably not a shortstop for most clubs. In fact, some scouts who saw him in AZ wanted to move him behind the plate. Paredes’ bat still profiles pretty comfortably at second base and probably would at third. Unless he becomes an elite hitter, his upside is probably fairly limited, but the most important aspect of the profile, the bat, is also the most stable in his case.

10. Dawel Lugo, 2B
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2011 from Dominican Republic
Age 22 Height 6’0 Weight 190 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding
45/55 60/60 40/45 40/40 45/50

The Diamondbacks had begun transitioning Lugo from shortstop to third base before they sent him to Detroit as part of the package for J.D. Martinez. Since arriving in Detroit, he has seen a lot of time at second base, where Lugo’s high-maintenance build may not fit long-term, but where his bat has the best chance of profiling. Lugo has plus raw power but his approach is geared for contact. It’s not always pretty, but he finds all kinds of funky ways to get the bat on the ball and let his natural hand strength generate mostly doubles power in games. It’s enough to profile at second base every day if Lugo can stay there. If not, then he’s a second-division regular at third or a bat-first utility man.

11. Gregory Soto, LHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2012 from Dominican Republic
Age 22 Height 6’1 Weight 240 Bat/Throw L/L
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command
55/60 60/70 40/45 40/45

We don’t put many 45s on what we consider to be pure relief prospects, but Soto is one. His command issues are pretty severe, but his mid-90s fastball — 93-96, touching 99, plus a tick of perceived velo for extension — and plus-plus curveball make him a potentially dominant bullpen piece. He’s a dead ringer for current Rays LHP Jose Alvarado, who had similar command issues in the minors.

Drafted: 4th Round, 2016 from Louisville
Age 23 Height 6’2 Weight 220 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command
60/60 55/60 50/55 40/50

Welcome back, Kyle Funkhouser. His stuff was every bit as good in 2017 as it was when the “Funkman” was an underclassman at Louisville and had the amateur side of the scouting industry salivating. He was 94-96, touching 98, with good extension last year, and his changeup was better than it was in college while his slider’s effectiveness returned. His mid-rotation stuff is back, and now it’s about continuing to show he’s healthy (he missed a lot of 2017 with an elbow injury) and throwing strikes.

13. Alex Faedo, RHP
Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Florida
Age 21 Height 6’5 Weight 230 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command
50/50 55/60 40/45 45/50

Faedo was shut down after the draft to limit his workload after he threw a lot during Florida’s National Championship run. His stuff has been down this spring, more 88-91, touching 92 instead of the 90-94, touching 95 that Faedo showed in college. His secondaries are fine, but Faedo’s knee issues and this drop in velo are concerning, especially when you consider that his fastball also plays down due to poor extension. It’s reasonable to hope for a bounceback because Faedo has been good for so long, but he’s trending down this spring.

14. Bryan Garcia, RHP
Drafted: 6th Round, 2016 from Miami
Age 22 Height 6’1 Weight 203 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command
60/60 55/60 50/60 40/45

Garcia is missing 2018 due to Tommy John surgery. He sits 93-96, touching 98, when he’s healthy, and he has an average slider that plays up due to excellent command as well as a plus changeup. We think he has the stuff to start, and it isn’t as if he’s been so wild in the bullpen that it’s unquestionable from a control/command perspective. The Tigers have used him as a closer since he was drafted, but perhaps rehab gives them an opportunity to push the reset button on his development and try to squeeze some extra value out of him by stretching him out if they, too, think he has the talent for it.

40 FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2012 from Dominican Republic
Age 20 Height 5’9 Weight 168 Bat/Throw S/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/55 30/30 20/30 50/50 50/60 70/70

There’s a chance Alcantara is too low on this list. He’s a very good defensive shortstop who has plus bat control from the left side of the plate and a good eye for the zone. If his ability to reach base holds up as he reaches the upper levels of the minors, then he could be viewed as an everyday shortstop, but there’s some risk that Alcantara’s lack of power means upper-level pitching just attacks him with impunity and crushes his ability to reach base enough to profile.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2011 from Venezuela
Age 22 Height 6’2 Weight 180 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command
55/55 55/60 50/55 45/50

Castro has a Tommy John on his resume, which is part of why he’s 23 and still in A-ball. He has No. 4-starter stuff, but the injury history and some of the stiffness in the delivery presents some relief risk.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Dominican Republic
Age 20 Height 6’3 Weight 160 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command
45/55 50/55 45/55 40/55

Rodrigeuz was acquired as the PTBNL from the Angels in the Justin Upton trade. He has a wiry, projectable frame and should improve his already average stuff as he fills out and refines his feel for release. He’s more likely to remain a starter than a lot of the other pitching prospects in this system, and there’s a non-zero chance he grows into mid-rotation stuff, but realistically he’s a solid fourth starter at maturity.

18. Jason Foley, RHP
Age 21 Height 6’4 Weight 215 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Changeup Command
70/70 55/60 40/50

Foley is rehabbing from Tommy John and is currently in the “playing catch” phase of rehab as I write this. He sits 96-100, has a plus change when healthy, and is a late-inning relief prospect.

19. Gerson Moreno, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2012 from Dominican Republic
Age 21 Height 6’0 Weight 175 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command
60/60 55/60 45/55 30/40

Moreno was 93-96 in the 2017 Arizona Fall League and has been 95-98, touching 99 at various points in the last year. Moreno has a viable changeup, but the slider is the out pitch and good enough that he could be an eighth-inning type (or second-best bullpen arm, whatever you want to call it) if he tightens his command. Otherwise he’s a middle-relief prospect.

20. Victor Reyes, OF
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2011 from Venezuela
Age 22 Height 6’3 Weight 170 Bat/Throw B/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/55 50/50 30/35 60/60 55/55 50/50

Reyes was the No. 1 pick in the 2018 Rule 5 Draft. He’s a fourth-outfield prospect with awkward looking, but effective, bat control and plus wheels. Detroit is in position to let him play a lot in the big leagues and see if he becomes something more than that, but if JaCoby Jones continues to hit like he has this year, it probably means Reyes’ development stagnates due to a lack of reps.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from Chipola JC (FL)
Age 20 Height 6’6 Weight 250 Bat/Throw L/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/40 70/70 30/55 40/30 40/45 50/50

Chipola typically plays some games at Joker Marchant Stadium, and we think there’s a chance the Tigers knew something quantifiable about Rivera’s raw power that some teams perhaps did not. He has huge pop but is limited to first base, and we’re not totally sold that the bat will let him get to enough of it to profile.

Drafted: 5th Round, 2017 from Suwanee HS (FL)
Age 18 Height 6’1 Weight 195 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/50 45/50 20/40 40/30 40/50 55/55

McMillan got $1 million as a fifth-rounder last year. He’s an athletic catching prospect with the physical tools to stay behind the plate and a chance to make some kind of offensive impact. McMillan is going to be a long-term developmental project, and high school catchers are the riskiest of all the prospect demographics, but he has the most upside of any 40 FV on this list. There’s a chance he turns into an everyday catcher, but the prep catcher bust rate over the last ten years is staggeringly bad, and that’s accounted for in his placement here.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2014 from Alabama
Age 24 Height 6’3 Weight 215 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command
60/60 55/55 45/45 50/50 40/40

Turnbull is still starting, but he projects to the bullpen in a sinker/slider, middle-inning role. He sits 92-96.

24. Matt Hall, LHP
Drafted: 6th Round, 2015 from Missouri State
Age 23 Height 6’0 Weight 200 Bat/Throw L/L
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Changeup Command
45/45 60/undefined 40/45

Hall only sits 87-89, but his southpaw funk and plus curveball make it likely that he become a good lefty specialist.

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

Catching Depth
Grayson Greiner, C
Joey Morgan, C

Greiner is a workman-like grinder with average raw power. Morgan is selective at the plate and a good catch-and-throw prospect with fringy hit/power ability. Both project as backups or third catchers.

Bench Outfield Types
Jake Robson, CF
Jose Azocar, CF
Troy Montgomery, RF

Robson has a chance to hit his way to everyday duty. He is very selective and may have made a swing change last year as his ground-ball rate dropped from 63% to 46% in the last half of the year. Azocar is a 6 runner with a 7 arm but doesn’t do a whole lot else. Montgomery was part of the Kinsler return and had a good Fall League campaign. He’s a little guy who takes huge hacks and knows the strike zone well, but his physical tools are fringy.

Potential Back-End/Depth Starters
Tyler Alexander, LHP
Grayson Long, RHP
Wilkel Hernandez, RHP

Alexander is 88-91 with an average slider and changeup. Long is about the same, except right-handed. Hernandez was another long-term project acquired from Anaheim in the Kinsler deal. He goes 90-95 and will flash an average change and breaking ball.

Lesser Relief Prospects
Wladimir Pinto, RHP
Sandy Baez, RHP
Gio Arriera, RHP
Jorge Baez, RHP
Mark Ecker, RHP
Jeff Thompson, RHP
Zac Houston, RHP

Pinto touches 100 but his breaking stuff isn’t as good as the other arms in the system. He has an average curveball. Baez is 94-97 with heavy sink but his secondaries are fringey. Arriera has a plus change, and the rest are sinker/slider guys with fastballs in the 92-95 range. There are enough arms like this in the system that Detroit will probably have a great homegrown bullpen in another two years.

Middle Infielders Who Could Move
Alvaro Gonzalez, SS
Jose King, SS
Kody Eaves, 2B
Wenceel Perez, SS

Gonzalez got $1 million on the J2 market last year and should move up this list during the summer. He’s not overly projectable due to his modest frame, but he has good feel to hit and the footwork and arm for shortstop. King was part of the D-backs’ package for J.D. Martinez and is a plus runner who has strikeout issues. Eaves can hit and will probably have a bench role in the big leagues during the rebuild, and he may get a chance to prove he can hit enough to be more than that. Perez has good hand-eye coordination, which manifested itself in an 8% strikeout rate in the DSL last year.

Cistulli’s Guy
Selected by Carson Cistulli from any player who received less than a 40 FV.

Sandy Baez, RHP
While Baez appears to have his flaws — Longenhagen cites a lack of development on the secondary pitches above — pitchers with plus or better arm speed and better-than-average control tend to develop into useful major leaguers. That’s mostly what Michael Pineda was at some point. That’s what Garrett Richards was at some point, too. Both of them have been pretty good when healthy. (Carlos Frias also fit this basic profile, so it’s not an unimpeachable heuristic.) Through five starts and 26.0 innings, Baez has only walked 6.5% of the Eastern League batters he’s faced this year. That, combined with 94-97 mph fastball, gives him margin for error elsewhere in the profile.

System Overview

The Tigers’ rebuild is off to a promising start, as the 14 players on this list with a 45-or-better FV represents a well-above-average figure. Whoever they take with the No. 1 overall selection in June’s draft will almost certainly move to the top of this list. Auburn RHP Casey Mize is the favorite to do so as I type this, and if we were to do an extended mock draft, Mississippi prep RHP J.T. Ginn would be who we mock to be Detroit’s second selection. It’s still a fairly new regime, so there aren’t many player-acquisition trends to note here, but watch for continued interest in stick-first guys like Lugo and Paredes.

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 Previous work can also be found at Sports On Earth, CrashburnAlley and Prospect Insider.

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6 years ago

This list was really illuminating. I knew that the Tigers didn’t have many (or any) high-end prospects, but I wasn’t aware that they had largely rebuilt the depth of the system.

6 years ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

5 of the top 10 guys came in trades last summer, plus Candelario who most Tigers fans are impressed by.

And the next few years they should be in good draft position and not trading prospects or losing picks in free agency.

So it should be in good shape by 2020.