I should also point out that there has been a somewhat disturbing lack of news about Jacob Turner so far this spring. He was assigned to Lakeland (high-A) to get a start or two in before moving to AAA when Smyly joins the Tigers, but he hasn't started yet, and it doesn't appear he'll be starting soon. It's possible he's just being held back to get stronger...but you have to be a bit concerned that maybe he's more injured than we thought.
adam wilk will start saturday...
wasnt Wilk the first one eliminated from the 5th starter spot?
has he pitched in toledo yet this year?
He has all the pitchability in the world, and he really knows what he's doing out there, but he just doesn't have the stuff. He has below-average velocity, and he doesn't have a true plus secondary pitch. He does have terrific control, but throwing so many strikes, combined with his lack of stuff, results in a lot of homers. As I pointed out in the prospect rankings, he actually gave up more homers (18) than walks (17) last year.
Very nice night down on the farm with three of the four full-season teams earning wins, and a lot of prospects having good games.
- In Toledo Andy Oliver apparently had his good stuff, giving up just 3 hits and 1 run over 6 innings while striking out 9 and walking 4. Unfortunately the bullpen blew the game for him.
- There were a lot of firsts in Class-A West Michigan, as 2B/SS Eugenio Suarez, RF Steven Moya, and LF Danry Vazquez all hit their first homer of the year. The gigantic Moya (6'7, 230) is known mostly for his power, but in the early going he has showed some real promising signs, going 2/2 tonight and drawing his 3rd and 4th walk of the season, after walking just 12 times and striking out 127 times in 86 games last year. His line after 6 games is .333/.429/.500. Moya's 2nd walk of the night came in the 8th inning, two batters before Vazquez hit his game-winning 2-run shot. He went 3/4 tonight, bringing his season line to .292/.333/.417.
- High-A Lakeland is just an offensive juggernaut this year, and they won 10-2 tonight. Daniel Fields went 2/5 with a double and a triple, bringing his season line to .343/.395/.543. He also has 3 steals in 4 tries. Nick Castellanos continues to rake, going 2/4, and bringing his line to .438/.457/.625. Not to be outdone, Tyler Collins collected two more hits, bringing his line to .469/.541/.563. Collins' hot start also earned him a honorable mention on Baseball America's first Prospect Hot Sheet for 2012. Avisail Garcia? Two hits, upping his line to .414/.485/.414, and he's 4/4 on steal attempts. Also encouraging was a second consecutive strong start from Brian Flynn, the 6'8 lefty with heat that can hit 95. He is now 2-0, 1.42 with 10 H, 1 BB, and 7 Ks over 12.2 IP. Seems like it's gonna be a real fun season in Lakeland.
http://www.detroitnews.com/article/2...351/1129/rss15But after saying goodbye to the big league club, Lakeland's hard-core crowd should be consoled by some lower-level stars now working for the Single A Flying Tigers.
Nick Castellanos, the top position prospect in the Tigers' hatchery, is batting .417 through nine games, while outfielder Tyler Collins (sixth round, 2011) also is batting .417. Avisail Garcia, who might have more physical gifts than any player on the Tigers' farm, was fifth in the league with a .394 batting average and might have drawn more applause for the .459 on-base percentage compiled by a 20-year-old who has had past strike-zone issues.
Daniel Fields also has been looking like the high-end prospect he was considered until an off-key 2011 dropped his stock — probably temporarily. Fields, who played at U-D Jesuit High, is batting .333 in nine games, with a home run, triple, and two doubles.
"That's a really good team in Lakeland," said Dave Owen, the Tigers' director of player development, who might be most pleased with the offseason changes made by Fields, 21, who cashed in on a big bonus in 2009 after the Tigers took him in the sixth round.
Fields had a surprisingly steady baptism at Lakeland in 2010, only a year out of high school, but slipped last season (.220) when his swing got long and his across-the-board numbers fell. He went to work during the winter with his dad, Bruce, the Cleveland Indians hitting coach, after minor league hitting instructor Toby Harrah had initiated adjustments during the October instructional camp at Lakeland.
"He's just shortened his swing a little," said Owen, a former big league player (Cubs, Royals) and coach (Royals) who worked last year as the Tigers' minor league infield instructor before earning his September promotion. "He's so athletic and he's such a great young kid. Even though he's repeating (Lakeland), we feel like it's a good place for him."
Castellanos, of course, is the group's big name and a decent bet to be in Detroit no later than 2014. He was drafted in 2010 and was regarded — by the Tigers and various other observers — as a steal when the Tigers were able to coax him to sign and bypass his University of Miami scholarship.
Castellanos, who is 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, is a right-handed hitter who has been slashing and burning at Lakeland on a par with what he did a year ago at West Michigan in his first season of professional ball.
He had three doubles and a home run in his first nine games and an OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) of 1.019.
"He has a special talent to be able to put the barrel of the bat on the ball," said Owen, acknowledging that learning third base might be trickier for Castellanos than polishing his hitting skills. "He has a good arm with good carry on it, and all the tools in place. It's just a matter of getting him more experience at third base on positioning and getting him accustomed to the speed of the game there."
Garcia is another young prodigy who was so promising so early he played at both West Michigan and Lakeland in 2009 as a 17-year-old. He has a hardware-store inventory of tools, beginning with size (6-4, 240) that comes with corresponding speed, power, defense, and most dramatically, with an arm out of the Al Kaline-Roberto Clemente manufacturing plant.
"Toby has done some things with his swing," Owen said. "His swing had kind of gotten around some balls instead of stayed inside. It worked real well in spring training."
"And, yes, he's a kid who would chase breaking balls, but with experiences and with a few adjustments, he's seeing more pitches. As big and as strong as he is, with his ability to run and throw, he's the total package."
Collins had a nifty debut last summer after the Tigers grabbed the 5-11, 215-pound left-handed hitter from Howard College, in Big Spring, Texas.
He batted .313 at Single A Connecticut and made a splash with all-around passion that makes coaches rave. Collins had three doubles and two stolen bases in his first nine games.
"This guy is 100-percent baseball," Owen said. "He's 22, so he's a little more advanced in baseball maturity, but this guy, first and foremost, can swing the bat. And he's a run-producer. His bat is his strong suit. He's one of those guys you can put into a lineup and he'll drive in runners. Solid guy."
Triple A Toledo
Who's hot ...
Brad Eldred, 1B/DH: A past big leaguer with the Rockies and Pirates, Eldred, 31, has a .367 batting average and .868 slugging percentage, thanks to three homers and six doubles.
Ryan Strieby, 1B/DH: Batting .344 with a .900 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) in eight games as he re-inserts himself into the top-prospects chase.
Ramon Garcia, RP: 1-0 with a 0.00 earned-run average and 0.25 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning) in four innings.
Luke Putkonen, RP: Now in the bullpen, Putkonen's healthy and throwing the way the Tigers had hoped when they drafted him in the third round in 2007. Two games, four innings, five strikeouts, one walk, two hits.
And who's not ...
Audy Ciriaco, SS: .125 in seven games
Matt Hoffman, RP: He'll get better, but the start has been rocky: 11.57 ERA in three games, with seven hits allowed in 21/3 innings.
Double A Erie
Who's hot ...
Rob Brantly, C: Batting .333 in five games, with a home run. Should be in the big leagues by next season, with a 2012 call-up in the cards.
Jordan Lennerton, 1B, and Bryan Pounds, 3B: Each has two homers in seven games.
Michael Morrison, RP: Three games, four innings, no runs, one hit, three strikeouts. Morrison was a 29th-round pick (2009, Cal State-Fullerton).
Kenny Faulk, RP: Following up a big 2011 with a nice start: 2.25 ERA in three games spanning four innings.
Tyler Stohr, RP: 1-0, with a 2.25 ERA in three games, four innings. Four walks a blemish.
And who's not ...
Michael Rockett, OF: In keeping with the weather, cool: .167 in six games.
Jared Wesson, SP: 9.00 ERA in two starts, thanks to 14 hits and six walks in nine innings.
Single A Lakeland
Who's hot (in addition to Collins, Castellanos, Garcia, Fields) ...
Alex Burgos, SP: Two starts, 3.00 ERA, with 12 strikeouts in 12 innings. One of the Tigers' top pitching prospects, Burgos, 19, is 6-2, 185.
Matt Crouse, RP: No runs, one hit, in two games, spanning five innings. Crouse was a 24th-round pick in 2011 (University of Mississippi).
Tyler Clark, RP: No runs, one hit, two games (five innings): He was a 24th-round pick in 2010 (University of Missouri).
And who's not ...
James McCann, C: This won't last for Tigers' top draft pick in 2011 (University of Arkansas): .138 in seven games.
Victor Larez, RP: 10.80 ERA in three appearances. Larez, 24, is 6-3, 160.
Single A West Michigan
Who's hot ...
Steven Moya, RF: Tigers have been hot on Moya and recent numbers explain why: 1.004 OPS in eight games: .400 batting average, .471 on-base percentage, .531 slugging. Moya, 20, is 6-7, 229.
Aaron Westlake, 1B/DH: Nice start for Westlake, 23, who was the Tigers' third-round pick in 2011 (Vanderbilt). He's batting .361, with four doubles, in nine games.
Dean Green, 1B/DH: He tore it up at Connecticut last season and has sizzled at West Michigan: .316, with two home runs in nine games. Green, 22, was an 11th-round pick in 2011 (Barry University).
Jade Todd, RP: 1-0, with a 2.08 ERA in three games. Todd, 22, was a seventh-round pick in 2008 from Shades Valley (Ala.) High.
Michael Torrealba, RP: Things began to click last season for Torrealba, who has started impressively: four games, 41/3 innings, no runs, two hits, five strikeouts.
Ryan Woolley, RP: Three games, five innings, no runs, two hits, seven strikeouts. Woolley, 24, was a 13th-round pick in 2011 (University of Alabama-Birmingham).
Good to see Strieby get off to a good start. Hopefully he can turn himself into some nice trade bait.
Check back later
http://www.mlive.com/tigers/index.ss...-+MLive.com%29Jacob Turner throws four innings of no-hit ball for Lakeland in first outing of season
Jacob Turner pitched in a game for the first time in a long time. The results said he pitched extremely well.
Turner threw four innings of no-hit ball Monday night in a start for Single-A Lakeland. Turner walked two and did not strike out a batter.
Turner faced one batter more than the minimum in his four innings of work. Both baserunners who reached on walks were caught stealing -- one when Turner picked him off at first -- while one other Daytona player reached base on an error.
Turner left the game after four innings with Lakeland leading Daytona, 3-0.
It was the first game action for Turner since the Detroit Tigers shut him down during spring training due to tendinitis in his throwing shoulder.
Turner entered spring training as one of the favorites to win the job as the fifth starter for the Tigers, but he struggled early in Grapefruit League action before being forced to the sidelines due to tendinitis. Drew Smyly eventually won the job and has pitched well in three starts.
Turner allowed six runs -- five earned -- in four innings of work this spring. He went 4-5 with a 3.44 ERA in 20 starts at Double-A Erie and Triple-A Toledo last season.
Turner was 0-1 with an 8.53 ERA in three starts for the Tigers in 2011.
I'm planning on doing an update of my top prospects in a few days, but a couple quick notes.
- OF Avisail Garcia was named to Baseball America's Prospect Hot Sheet this week, checking in at #9
- Nick Castellanos is damn near leading the world in batting average right now, hitting .413 after going 4/5 last night. He still isn't hitting for much power, with only 1 homer and 8 doubles, but the kid can definitely hit.No. 9 AVISAIL GARCIA, RF
Team: high Class A Lakeland (Florida State)
Why He's Here: .476/.522/.905 (10-for-21), 6 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 6 RBIs, 2 BB, 4 SO
The Scoop: Garcia is repeating the Florida State League, but he's still one of the league's youngest players. This time around, he's enjoying plenty more success in a pitcher-friendly circuit, batting .391/.440/.522 through 17 games. Given scouts' concerns about Garcia's plate discipline and ability to hit breaking pitches, we'll need to see a larger sample of work to say this is much more than a hot stretch to start the season, but Garcia does have plenty of tools and hits one-irons in batting practice, so the raw physical ability is certainly there for him to succeed.
So, we're a good month into the minor league season, so it's time for an...
Update! The Tigers have been up and down so far this season, and the talent on the farm has been no different, although for the first time in recent memory, it's the position players who are up, and the pitchers who are down. We'll start with the bad.
1 - Jacob Turner - RHP - 6'5, 210 - (20)
We know that Turner was held back with a shoulder injury, and thankfully it doesn't appear to have been serious, but that's left us with just two mediocre starts in high-A. He has been fine, going 10 scoreless innings (although he allowed 4 unearned runs) with 8 hits, 3 walks, and 3 strikeouts. The low strikeout totals are a concern, but its likely that he's focusing on regaining his fastball command, and limiting his secondary offerings. Really, at this point we should just be happy that he's throwing again.
2 - Casey Crosby - LHP - 6'5, 200 - (23)
Crosby's first two starts were kind of ugly, surrendering 7 runs in just 7 innings, but his last two starts have been much better, and he now sports a 2-2, 5.00 record. Control is still a big issue for him, as he's issued 10 walks and allowed 21 hits in just 18 innings. On the plus side he has 16 strikeouts and he's still getting more ground balls than fly balls.
3 - Drew Smyly - LHP - 6'3, 190 - (22)
There's not a whole lot to say about Smyly that you don't already know. His early results suggest I had him far too low on the list, but we all need to remember that baseball is a game of adjustments, and at some point big-league hitters are going to adjust to him. He hasn't failed at any level yet, and we need to see him struggle a bit to know if he has what it takes to adjust. A couple of stathead things to point out though - Smyly's strand percentage is 100% (all his ER have come via homers), and his BABIP is .268, and neither figure is sustainable. Thus his FIP is 3.94, as opposed to his 1.23 ERA. That said, he's generating a hell of a lot more swings and misses than I expected, and I think we'd all be happy if the 5th starter posted a sub-4 ERA.
4 - Andrew Oliver - LHP - 6'3, 210 - (24)
Oliver's control problems have only worsened in his return to Toledo, and his chccnes of becoming a Major League starter grow slimmer every day. He isn't necessarily getting knocked around in AAA, as he has surrendered only 18 hits and struck out 27 in 26.1 innings. But, he sports a 4.44 ERA because he has issued at least four walks in every start -- 25 in all. He may be permanently broken.
5 - Brenny Paulino - RHP - 6'4, 170 - (19)
Paulino has not seen any game action yet, as the Tigers have kept him in Lakeland so he can gain strength and put some muscle on his rail-thin frame before heading to either low-A West Michigan or short-season Connecticut.
6 - Bruce Rondon - RHP - 6'2, 250 - (21)
Pretty much more of the same from big Bruce, though he is a little bit more hittable this year than he was last year. Still, he continues to throw hard as hell, missing the strike zone and plenty of bats in the process. Through 8 appearances and 9 IP he is 1-0, 4.00 with 4 saves, 6 hits allowed, 7 walks, and 16 strikeouts.
7 - Tyler Stohr - RHP - 6'2, 215 - (25)
Stohr pitched well in 6 appearances for AA Erie, giving up just 1 run on 5 hits and 4 walks, with 8 Ks though 8IP. Unfortunately, he just went on the DL with elbow inflammation, and I have no idea when he'll return.
8 - Duane Below - LHP - 6'3, 220 - (26)
As with Smyly, I probably don't have to tell you too much about Below. He has been outstanding in 12 innings out of the bullpen, surrendering no runs, no walks, and just 7 hits against 9 strikeouts. He's obviously not this good, but he's ideal for the long reliever/emergency starter role they have him in, and he should be able to continue contributing in that capacity.
9 - Josue Carreno - RHP - 6'1, 210 - (20)
Carreno went just 7 total innings in his first two starts for West Michigan, but he has averaged 5.2 innings in his last three starts, and his overall line sits at 0-2, 3.75, with 24 hits, 6 walks, and 22 strikeouts in 24 innings. He's moving slowly, but he still has the upside of a #3 starter.
10 - Austin Wood - LHP - 6'2, 195 - (25)
Wood has looked like a lefty bullpen specialist since he was drafted, and he despite some ugly numbers in Toledo, he's still on track to fulfill that role. Overall, he has a 6.55 ERA in 11 innings, but only one of those runs has come against a lefty - a home run tonight. I don't know if the Tigers will want another bullpen arm just to get lefties, but he would be the primary candidate if Schlereth isn't healthy.
11 - Alex Burgos - LHP - 5'11, 190 - (21)
I was lower on Burgos than just about everyone else, because his raw stuff doesn't quite match the numbers he posted last year. He hasn't been awful in high-A, but he hasn't exactly been great either, posting a 1-3, 4.66 line through 6 starts. His main issue so far is that he's much more hittable than last year, surrendering 28 hits and 14 walks in 29 innings, but like Crosby in AAA, Burgos is still getting whiffs (23) and ground balls. He was removed from his game tonight after 2.2 innings, and I've not seen a reason why.
12 - Kyle Ryan - LHP - 6'5, 190 - (20)
I thought Ryan was definitely going to begin the year in Lakeland, but the Tigers had him repeat in low-A, and the results have been kind of ugly. He's 1-2. 4.40 through 28.2 innings in 5 starts, but he's given up 38 hits already and only stuck out 14. On the plus side, he's getting ground balls and has only issued 3 walks, but he clearly hasn't taken the step forward I was expecting.
13 - Adam Wilk - LHP - 6'2, 180 - (24)
You know Wilk by now. He's crafty, and he has good command, but his stuff just won't play in the Majors unless he learns how to be perfect. He continues to pitch well in the minors though, having given up just 4 hits and 1 run over 12 innings. His door to the Majors isn't completely closed, but at this point it looks like his only value will come from being an emergency starter.
14 - Luis Marte - RHP - 5'11, 200 - (25)
Marte won the last spot in the bullpen thanks to a terrific spring in which he posted a 2.77 ERA and racked up 16 Ks in 13 IP, but a hamstring injury has kept him out for an entire month, and it may be another two weeks before he returns. I think he can play a big role in the bullpen this year, because unlike a lot of Tigers relievers, Marte throws strikes, and he can actually get strikeouts thanks to a very good breaking ball and a fastball with some late jump to it.
15 - Matt Hoffman - LHP - 6'2, 200 - (23)
Hoffman was getting battered in Toledo to the tune of a 9.45 ERA, with 14 hits and 2 walks against just 4 Ks in 6.2 IP. He was diagnosed with a shoulder strain, and he hasn't pitched since April 23.
16 - Jay Voss - LHP - 6'4, 200 - (24)
Voss got destroyed in his first two starts, giving up 7 ER and 16 hits in 9.1 innings, and he was pulled after 1 inning in his 3rd start. He was diagnosed with an elbow injury that will keep him out several months, but it shouldn't require surgery.
17 - Brian Flynn - LHP - 6'8, 240 - (21)
After his first three starts, Flynn looked like one of the few bright spots in the Tigers stable of pitching prospects, giving up just 2 runs, 14 hits, and 2 walks against 12 strikeouts in his 19.2 high-A innings. Unfortunately, he has been murdered in his last two starts, giving up 22(!) hits and 9 ER in 8.2 IP. Not sure what to make of it, but it looks eerily similar to what happened to Hoffman and Voss, so let's hope Flynn is healthy.
18 - Melvin Mercedes - RHP - 6'3, 200 - (21)
One of two players named Melvin Mercedes in the minors, Detroit's pudgy dynamo has reasserted himself as a solid relief prospect, posting a 1.93 ERA with 1 save, and 10 Ks against 6 hits and 4 walks in 9.1 IP, with a ton of ground balls for low-A West Michigan.
19 - Tommy Collier - RHP - 6'2, 205 - (22)
Collier has been very solid as a member of the West Michigan rotation, sitting at 2-1, 2.67 while surrendering 23 hits and 7 walks against 16 strikeouts in 27 innings. His peripheral stats aren't great, but he has enough stuff to make it to the Majors one day, and he'll probably move up my list by the end of the year.
20 - Jose Ortega - RHP - 5'11, 185 - (23)
Ortega remains shaky, but so far his second stint in Toledo has been better than his first. He has somehow managed to maintain a 3.77 ERA through 14.1 innings despite giving up 15 hits and 12 walks. He has struck out 19, and he's getting more ground balls than fly balls, but I suspect his ERA will balloon fairly soon if he doesn't stop collecting baserunners. If he can right the ship and post 10 scoreless innings or so, he has a chance to get called up to the Tigers if they need another relief arm.
A few others to keep an eye on:
- Kevin Eichhorn - (22)
Doing what he does - 2-1, 4.30 - 29.1 IP - 37 H - 5 BB - 13 K - 2.27 GO/AO
- Ramon Lebron - (23)
Baseball America ranked him pretty high, but thus far it's been the same old Lebron - 5.1 IP - 8.44 - 2 H - 12 BB - 9 K
So that was kind of depressing, but this will be pretty damn fun.
1 - Nick Castellanos - 3B - 6'4, 200 - (20)
Castellanos is a ****ing animal. He went 3/4 tonight, with his second homer of the year, a walk, and a strikeout. That raised his average to a pedestrian .417. He now ranks first in the Florida State League in AVG, Hits (40), Total Bases (56), OBP (.453), SLG (.583), and OPS (1.036) -- that last number is 82 points higher than the guy in second place. I should also point out that the Florida State League is considered the toughest hitting environment in the minors. If we need to ding him for something, he has made 6 errors at 3rd in 22 games, and he has 19 strikeouts to just 7 walks. But yeah, he's ripping the **** out of the ball right now, and while I think the Tigers don't necessarily want to move him to Erie so soon, he may force their hand. At this rate, he'll probably creep into the top 25 of most prospect lists.
2 - Tyler Collins - LF - 5'11, 205 - L/L - (21)
I'm higher on Collins than most, and he has done right by me so far, posting a .319/.388/.418 line with 3 steals in 4 chances in high-A. I have no doubt that he can hit, and he's not gonna strike out a lot, but he's probably relegated to LF, so he's going to need to hit a ton. And as of right now the major concern is his power, as he hasn't hit a homer yet. He does have 7 doubles and a triple, but I'd really like to see him hit at least 10 bombs this year.
3 - Danry Vasquez - RF - 6'3, 170 - L/R - (18)
The Tigers are pushing Vasquez aggressively, and he's struggling mightily right now in West Michigan. He did go 2/2 with a walk, a double, and 2 RBI tonight, but that only raised his average to .195. Originally envisioned as an ideal right-fielder, the Tigers have moved Danry to LF now, so like Collins, he's going to need to hit a ton to stay a prospect. On the plus side, he isn't striking out an exorbitant amount, and he's one of the youngest regulars in the league, having just turned 18 in January. His numbers are poor, but there's no need to get down on him as a prospect yet, and struggling is often more important to development than succeeding.
4 - Rob Brantly - C - 6'2, 205 - L/R - (22)
Brantly struggled after a mid-season promotion to high-A Lakeland last year, so I was a bit skeptical about how he would fare in AA, but he's been spectacular so far. Tonight he went 2/4 with a walk, a K, and his 3rd homer of the year. His overall line is now .373/.415/.627, which puts him second in the Eastern League in AVG and OPS, and first in SLG. He's just an average defender, having thrown out only 4 of 17 basestealers (24%), but as a left-handed catcher with hitting ability and pop, he's going to make for an awfully attractive trade chip.
5 - James McCann - C - 6'2, 210 - R/R - (21)
McCann has gotten off to a bit of a rough start in Lakeland, but he's been a bit hotter lately, bringing his overall line to .299/.347/.373 in 18 games. He hasn't shown much pop or patience, with just 5 doubles, no homers, and 3 walks against 13 Ks so far, but it's early, and he's still adjusting to the pro game. His defense is a mixed bag right now, as he has allowed 4 passed balls, but also nabbed 11 of 23 potential base stealers (48%). Just sort of solid.
6 - Avisail Garcia - OF - 6'4, 230 - R/R - (20)
Garcia has gone hitless in his last 2 games, sending his average plummeting to .362, which is still good for 2nd in the FSL behind Castellanos' .417 (Third place right now? .330). Garcia also shows up in the top 5 in the league in R, H, SLG, and OPS, and he has begun to tap into his plus raw power and speed, with three homers and five steals in as many tries. He still refuses to walk (only 3 in nearly 100 plate appearances), and more advanced pitchers will certainly take advantage of his aggressiveness. He's repeating in Lakeland, and has a good chance of seeing AA before he turns 21 in June.
7 - Tyler Gibson - OF - 6'2, 190 - L/R - (18)
Gibson remains extremely raw, and as such he has been held back in extended spring training.
8 - Aaron Westlake - 1B - 6'4, 235 - L/R - (23)
For a 23-year-old senior sign in low-A, Westlake's numbers are pretty troubling. He's hitting .240/.321/.323, with no homers and 8 doubles. He's known for his patience and power, but only the patience has shown up so far. He needs to start mashing soon to even be relevant next year.
9 - Jamie Johnson - OF - 5'9, 180 - L/R - (24)
I was higher on Johnson than anyone else, and it's making me look kind of dumb now. I thought his combination of hitting, patience, speed, and defense gave him an outside chance of seeing the Majors at some point this year, but as of right now he's repeating AA and hitting just .221/.337/.260, and he's been caught stealing twice in four tries. He is still talking his walks though, and he has a more acceptable .743 OPS over his last 10 games, so we'll see if he gets it together.
10 - Brandon Loy - SS - 6', 190 - R/R - (21)
I thought Loy had a chance of beginning the year in high-A or even AA, but he was sent to low-A, and after struggling initially, he has begun to show some signs of life. He's .278/.313/.356 with 4 steals in 4 tries, splitting time between SS and 2B. Offense probably won't be a big part of his game, but he has a shot to make it as a utility infielder.
11 - Daniel Fields - OF - 6'1, 200 - L/R - (21)
Fields is spending his third consecutive year in Lakeland, and his hot start made it seem like he may have figured things out, but he started looking like the player he was last year again, and then he went down with a strained muscle. He's still striking out too much (20 in 18 games), but he is showing signs of tapping into his raw tools, with 7 extra base hits already, to go with 8 steals in 9 attempts, and reports that his defense and arm in CF are much improved. Still worth keeping an eye on because of his high ceiling.
12 - Hernan Perez - 2B - 6', 160 - R/R - (21)
Perez got off to a slow start in Lakeland, but he has been playing better in his last 10 games, posting a .324/.366.471 line in that span. Strangely, he has two triples and a homer, but no doubles. He isn't striking out much (13), but he also hasn't walked much (4) in his 23 games, but he is 5/5 in SB attempts. The Tigers added him to the 40-man roster before the season, but I think it'll be at least another 2 years before he's ready for the Majors.
13 - Dixon Machado - SS - 6', 140 - R/R - (20)
Machado remains one of the more interesting prospects in the system to me, because of his above-average defense, speed, and patience at the plate. Unfortunately, he's still a stick-figure, and he's hitting just .203/.330/.270 -- though his 4 extra base hits are already one more than he had all of last year. The most interesting thing to me is his ability to draw walks (14 versus 12 Ks) despite having no power and barely hitting .200, but it's unlikely that he'll be able to continue this at higher levels when advanced pitchers go right at him.
14 - Bryan Holaday - C - 6', 205 - R/R - (24)
Holaday was doing his backup catcher thing in Toledo through 11 games, albeit ineffectively (.184/.262/.237), but he hasn't played since April 26th, and I don't know what happened to him. He's not gonna hit, but he'll probably eventually step in as the Santos/Sardinha/St. Pierre emergency catcher some day.
15 - Ryan Strieby - 1B - 6'5, 235 - R/R - (26)
It seemed unlikely that Strieby would get another chance to see time in the Majors, but with the Tigers offense faltering so much early, he's now a potential candidate to see some time at DH. Unfortunately for him, Brad Eldred was Matt Kemping AAA, and he deserved the first shot. Strieby isn't really doing anything special in Toledo though, posting a .257/.345/.475 line through 25 games, with 13 walks and 29 Ks. I don't think Eldred will last, so if Strieby can get hot at some point, we might see him yet.
16 - Eugenio Suarez - SS - 5'11, 155 - B/R - (20)
Suarez was kind of a fast riser last year, bashing his way out of the rookie-level GCL after just 12 games, and holding his own in the short-season New York Penn League. He's doing more than holding his own in low-A so far this season, posting a .327/.412/.480 line as the primary shortstop in West Michigan, placing him among the league leaders across the board. He is striking out quite a bit (25 in 26 games), but he's also walking plenty (12), and he's a good candidate to rise up this list quite a bit.
17 - Jason King - 3B - 6', 215 - B/R - (22)
Coming off a knee injury, King made his season debut tonight, going 1/4 with a walk and a double. He's an athletic, switch-hitting third-baseman with decent speed, and a bit of pop from both sides of the plate. He'll probably have to move to a corner outfield position down the line, but for now it's just nice to see him back in action.
18 - Steven Moya - OF - 6'6, 220 - L/R - (20)
Castellanos, Brantly, and Garcia have all been raking this year, but no one has been more of a pleasant surprise than big Steven Moya. It's hard to emphasize how much of a windmill Moya was last year in low-A, hitting just .204 with 127 strikeouts against 12 walks in 86 games. He struck out in 38% of his plate appearances, and walked in just 3%. It's still very early, and unfortunately Moya recently went down with a hamstring injury, but he appears to have made some amazing strides in just a few months. Before his injury, Moya was leading the Midwest league with a .377 AVG, and more remarkably, he was 3rd in OBP (.421). In 19 games he has 6 doubles, a homer, and 6 walks (8%) against 10 Ks (13%), and reports are that he is now coming to the plate with a plan, tracking breaking balls, and using the opposite field. These sorts of jumps in plate discipline are quite rare, and it's very early, so I'm trying not to get carried away, but the thing is, Moya has absolutely massive raw power. We're talking legit 70-grade, 35-homer a year kind of power, and if he has figured out how to hit, the Tigers could have something pretty special on their hands. Again, it's early, and it's only low-A, but he's almost certainly going to rise way up this list.
19 - Harold Castro - 2B - 6', 145 - L/R - (18)
Nothing to report about Castro, as he's still in extended spring training.
20 - Adelin Santa - 3B - 6'1, 190 (or 6'3) - R/R - (16?)
Even less to report about Santa, because he'll probably be headed to the Dominican Summer League this year.
I went more with upside in these last few guys, but there are a handful of other players who are worth keeping an eye on:
Curt Casali - C - .277/.382/.489 with 3 homers in West Michigan. Very interesting combination of power/patience early in his career. He's 23 though, so we need to see it against better competition.
James Robbins - 1B - He's hitting .204/.240/.344 with 38 Ks and just 4 walks. Needs a major approach adjustment or a new career.
Dean Green - 1B/DH - He's hitting .253/.330/.442 with 5 homers, which is solid, but he's a bat-only player and he needs to hit even more.
Brandon Douglas - 2B - Hitting .256/.363/.314 in AA, he's a fringe prospect at best.
Audy Ciriaco - 3B - His .218/.274/.397 line in Toledo is the best he's done there, but that's clearly not saying much.
Brett Harrison - 3B - In extended spring training.
Wade Gaynor - 3B - Was hitting .230/.319/.393 in Lakeland before getting called up to Erie today. Has been moved into a corner utility role, and he now appears to be something of an organizational soldier.
Cale Iorg - SS/UTIL - Still out with an injury, but could be back playing within the next month.
Javier Azcona - IF - No sign of him yet this year.