2012 MCB Detroit Tigers Top 50 Prospects: #30 – #26

The Detroit Tigers Minor League affiliates seasons are officially in the books and the off-season is in full swing. With another season completed, the time has come for John Verburg and I to announce our 2012 MCB Detroit Tigers Top 50 Prospects List. Over the last month John and I have combined our lists to form a final product for our readers. Each players production, ceiling, floor and positional value ultimately determined their overall ranking. The finalized prospect list will be rolled out five at a time on my end covering each players background and a description on why they’re ranked that high and/or low. John will follow with a more detailed scouting report on each of the prospects.

Be sure to check back frequently and join the discussion as we work our way through the 2012 MCB Detroit Tigers Top 50 Prospects List.

2012 MCB Detroit Tigers Top 50 Prospects: #30 – #26

#30 Brandon Douglas
Position: 2B
Age: 26-years-old
Height: 6’
Weight: 185
Bats: Right-Handed
Throws: Right-Handed
2011 Teams: AA-Erie
2011 Stats: 499 AB .281 AVG .320 OB%  30 doubles 3 triples 3 HR 46 RBI 22 SB 25 BB and 57 SO
2012 Projected Team: AAA-Toledo

BACKGROUND:
The Detroit Tigers selected Brandon Douglas in the 11th round of the 2008 MLB First-Year Player Draft out of Northern Iowa University. He quickly signed and made his debut in the Gulf Coast League in 2008. Douglas went on to hit a combined .328 in 274 at-bats in the GCL, NYPL, FSL and Midwest League that season.

He hit an impressive .322 in 329 at-bats for the Class-A West Michigan Whitecaps in 2009.

Douglas then split time between Advanced-A Lakeland and AA-Erie in 2010 hitting .345 in 281 at-bats.

Last season Douglas posted career highs in hits, doubles, RBI and stolen bases for AA-Erie. After hitting just .212 in April, Douglas rebounded and went on to finish the season with a respectable .281 average. He continues to put the ball in play and limit strikeouts–just 148 in 4 seasons–which is definitely encouraging. His walk ratio needs to improve and the strikeouts were a career high this year but overall 2011 was another solid season for Douglas.

Why He’s This High:
Although he lacks over the fence power, his hit tool is very impressive. Douglas routinely makes contact regardless of the pitch thrown to him. He sprays the ball to all areas of the field and has proved to be a tough customer to strike out. Douglas has also proven that he can use his solid instincts and speed to very quietly become a pest on the base-baths.

Why He’s This Low:
Scouts aren’t exactly in love with average defensive skill-set. They also limit his MLB ceiling to more of a platoon or bench role. I know they’re the experts but I tend to take their thoughts with a grain of salt. Douglas plays hard and works his ass off. A hot start next season in AAA-Toledo and a typical first half performance from Ryan Raburn just might punch Douglas’ ticket to Motown.

#29 Matt Hoffman
Position: Left-Handed Reliever
Age: 23-years-old
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 195
2011 Team: AAA-Toledo
2011 MiLB STATS: STATS: 62 1/3 IP   2-5 3.18 ERA  1.33 WHIP   8.7 H/9   3.3 BB/9  6.6 K/9  0.4 HR/9
2012 Projected Team: AAA-Toledo

Background:
The Detroit Tigers selected Matt Hoffman in the 27th round of the 2007 MLB First-Year Player Draft out of Owasso High School in Oklahoma.

Working primarily as a starter in 2008, Hoffman split time between Oneonta and Class-A West Michigan. Hoffman posted a respectable 3.39 ERA over 71 2/3 innings between the two teams.

In 2009 Hoffman split time between Class-A West Michigan and Advanced-A Lakeland. He logged 102 2/3 innings and posted a 4.56 ERA.

Hoffman returned to Advanced-A Lakeland to the start the 2010 campaign exclusively in a relief role. In 16 games–22 2/3 innings– Hoffman posted an impressive 1.59 ERA and microscopic 0.84 WHIP. Unfortunately Hoffman’s success failed to translate when they promoted him to AA-Erie and AAA-Toledo to finish the season. Hoffman posted a 7.42 ERA and 10.38 ERA over a combined 31 innings at both stops.

Last season, aside from a 1/3 of an inning in AA-Erie Hoffman pitched exclusively in AAA-Toledo ‘pen. Hoffman posted a respectable 3.18 ERA over 62 1/3 innings. He surrendered just three home runs and limited his walks but then again he yielded nearly a hit per inning too.

Why He’s This High:
Last season was definitely a step in the right direction for Hoffman. He must be on the Tigers short list too because he was recently added to the 40-man roster. His mid-90s fastball from the left side makes him an option if the Tigers are in a pinch for a southpaw.

Why He’s This Low:
Hoffman will likely see time in Motown next season but his MLB ceiling seems a bit limited to me. A LOOGy or mop-up role appears to be his future if everything clicks.

#28 Duane Below 
Position: Left-Handed Pitcher
Age: 26-years-old
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 205
2011 Team: AAA-Toledo & Detroit 
2011 MiLB STATS: STATS: 62 1/3 IP   2-5 3.18 ERA  1.33 WHIP   8.7 H/9   3.3 BB/9  6.6 K/9  0.4 HR/9
2012 Projected Team: AAA-Toledo / Detroit

Background:
The Detroit Tigers selected Michigan native Duane Below in the 19th round of the 2006 MLB First-Year Player Draft out of Lake Michigan Community College.

He signed quickly and split time between the GCL and NYPL in 2006. Below posted a combined 2-0 record with a 2.09 ERA over 43 innings of work.

Below was absolutely outstanding In his first full season of professional baseball in 2007. He racked up 160 strikeouts in 145 2/3 innings with the West Michigan Whitecaps. Below also recorded an impressive 13 wins with a 2.97 ERA.

I first had the opportunity to watch Below pitch in the Florida State League back in 2008. While the 4.46 ERA and 8-7 might not scream top tier prospect, his performance was very impressive in Advanced-A Lakeland. He continued to strikeout nearly a batter an inning and featured solid stuff.

Unfortunately Below was limited to just 40 innings in 2009 due to season ending Tommy John surgery. He returned in 2010 and logged 126 innings for the AA-Erie SeaWolves. Below posted a 7-12 record with a 4.93 ERA but allowed 17 homeruns.
Again, the numbers don’t blow you away but the number of innings was encouraging in his first season back.

Last season was an important season for Below as his prospect window was closing. He was added to the 40-man roster and very quietly put together an impressive season in AAA-Toledo. Below posted a 9-4 record with a 3.13 ERA over 115 innings for the ‘Hens. He earned a promotion to the Tigers near the end of the season accumulating a 4.34 ERA over 29 innings of work.

Why He’s This High:
Despite last seasons questionable numbers, Below appeared to offer some value. He has a pretty good shot of reclaiming his long relief role next season. I’m not quite certain that he can effectively hold it down all season though.

Why He’s This Low: 
There is little room for projection in Below’s game. He appears to be a mop-up reliever or spot starter at best. He has a tendency to allow to many hits, home runs and walks for my taste.

#27 Dixon Machado
Position: SS
Age: 19-years-old
Height: 5’11″
Weight: 150
Bats: Right-Handed
Throws: Right-Handed
2011 Teams: Class-A West Michigan 
2011 Stats: 429 AB .235 AVG .314 OB%  1 double 2 triples 28 RBI 25 SB 46 BB and 77 SO
2012 Projected Team: Class-A West Michigan 

Background:
The Detroit Tigers signed Dixon Machado as a 16-year-old out of Venezuela in July of 2008.

Machado made his Tigers debut in the Venezulean Summer League in 2009. His defensive skill-set earned race reviews but his bat was less-than stellar. Machado posted a .205 batting average over 234 at-bats. He drew 32 walks and stole an impressive 27 bases as a 17-year-old that summer though.

The Tigers brought Machado stateside the following season where he split time between the GCL Tigers and short-season Connecticut Tigers. As an 18-year-old, Machado posted a combined .265 average over 189 at-bats.

Last season Machado was faced with a very aggressive assignment in Class-A West Michigan. As expected his bat struggled, producing a feeble .235 average with just 3 extra-base hits. Despite posting a pedestrian .314 on-base percentage, Machado was able to steal 25 of 30 bases though.

Why He’s This High:
Scouts continue to rave about Machado’s glove. His excellent range, above-average arm strength, solid footwork and good hands project possible Gold Glove defense. Machado also features plus speed and solid base running instincts that could easily project him as a 20-30 steals per season guy.

Why He’s This Low:
Unfortunately he fits the mold of several other “glove only” Tigers shortstop prospects. He’s still very young so his window to add size and get on base at a higher clip is still pretty large. Essentially his future will continue to be dictated by the progress of his bat. Any development in his bat at all would easily make him a top ten prospect. I see Machado taking a one stop at a time promotional pattern similar to fellow prospect Gustavo Nunez to help iron things out.

#26 Hernan Perez 
Position: 2B/SS
Age: 20-years-old
Height: 6′
Weight: 160
Bats: Right-Handed
Throws: Right-Handed
2011 Teams: Class-A West Michigan 
2011 Stats: 503 AB .258 AVG .314 OB%  23 doubles 3 triples 8 HR 42 RBI 23 SB 38 BB and 87 SO
2012 Projected Team: Advanced-A Lakeland 

Background:
The Detroit Tigers signed Hernan Perez as a 16-year-old out of Venezuela in July of 2007.

Perez debuted with the Tigers in the Venezuelan Summer League in 2008. Perez posted a .226 average with 8 doubles, 4 triples and a home run over 265 at-bats.

The Tigers brought Perez stateside the following season where he split time between the GCL, West Michigan and Lakeland as an 18-year-old. Perez accumulated a combined .239 average over 197 at-bats. Surprisingly his best numbers came in Advanced-A Lakeland where he hit an impressive .264 over 72 at-bats.

Last season Perez spent the entire season in Class-A West Michigan. Unlike previous seasons, he spent the bulk of his time at second base last year. Perez posted a solid .258 average with 23 doubles, 3 triples and 8 home runs over 503 at-bats.

Why He’s This High:
Scouts rave over Perez’s defensive skill-set and athleticism. His above-average speed helps him defensively and makes him a solid base-runner capable of stealing 20-25 bases annually. His quick hands, strong accurate arm, solid footwork and plus range make him an above-average defender.

Why He’s This Low:
Despite already possessing a very solid glove, his bat is holding him back a bit. I’d also like the strikeouts to come down a bit and the walks to increase a tad. Perez has definitely made strides though, especially when you look at his performance in the AFL this past fall. I am very high on Perez, so don’t get it twisted, I’m just taking more of a wait and see approach though before he cracks the top 20.

2012 MCB Detroit Tigers Top 50 Prospects

#50 – #46

#45 – #41

#40 – #36

#35 – #31

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Tags: 2012 MCB Detroit Tigers Top 50 Prospects Brandon Douglas Dixon Machado Down On The Farm Duane Below Hernan Perez Matt Hoffman

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