As James mentioned, all of our prospect lists are going to be followed by myself doing mini-scouting reports on all of the prospects on the list. Most of these scouting reports are compiled from various sources of information including; scouting reports, sources around baseball, first-hand reports, statistical data, and most importantly James and myself actually seeing a majority of the players. I feel by incorporating all of these things together, we can give you some of the most accurate Tigers prospect information out there.
I am by no means a professional scout, but will say I have been following Tigers prospects, and prospects in general for over 10 years now, and have picked up enough information along the way to have an informed opinion.
Anyway, myself and James hope you all enjoy the series and the information……..
#30- Brandon Douglas
Clearly Douglas’ best tool is his hit tool. Douglas displays exceptional pitch recognition and an ability to take the pitch to wherever it is being thrown. He does lack some bat speed as he isn’t going to drive the ball over the fence but a few times per year, but he doesn’t lack bat control. He displays good strike zone awareness and will draw a few walks, but gets by mainly on dropping singles all over the field. At his age, there isn’t any projection at this point so he is a what you see now is a what you get player. His run tool is average, as he doesn’t impress anybody with his straight line running speed, but his instincts are really good, helping his run tool play up. Over his career Douglas has a very successful SB% and that indicative of his instinctual ability.
Defensively, there is nothing to get excited about with Douglas. Second base looks like the only position that he could play, as his lack of power isn’t fitting for a corner spot. He doesn’t do anything real well at 2nd, nor does he do anything all that poorly. His range and hands are fringe average, and he reminds me of a Will Rhymes type at 2nd base, but maybe with a slightly better arm. His range isn’t fantastic, but he will give you all he has without embarrassing himself.
Douglas could very easily get a cup of coffee at some point, maybe 2012, but his chances would be better if he had more utility.
#29- Matt Hoffman
Because of his starting history Hoffman has a three pitch mix that he can go to. However as a reliever the pitcher has been focusing in on two pitches. His fastball and curve. The reason for all the buzz about Hoffman in the Arizona Fall League last season was because of the fastball.
Hoffman’s heater is his best pitch. And its a plus fastball that sits in the mid 90’s. Hoffman typically was sitting in the low 90’s before he started pumping fastballs in Arizona regularly at 94 mph. With Hoffman’s over the top delivery he gets good downward plane on his fastball, resulting in a good ground ball rate over his career (1.57 GO/AO). One of his biggest issues is locating the fastball. Hoffman can struggle at times with walking hitters, and there isn’t much movement at present, but is working on cutting the ball.
The curve ball flashes as a slightly above average offering and to rate its potential on a scouting scale (20-80), I would put it at a future 55. Hoffman’s biggest issue with all of his pitches is consistency and the curve is no different. Most times he gets good downward movement on the curve and shows an ability to throw the pitch for strikes. Other times he has a tendency to overthrow the pitch losing a little of the command and break. He does a good job from throwing the pitch out of the same slot from what I have seen, and with a little bit more consistency he could turn this into a potential plus offering.
Hoffman also possesses a change that isn’t a major part of his repertoire, although at one time, I felt it was a usable pitch. Hoffman will likely get an opportunity at some point in the majors in 2012 if he starts off in Toledo well.
#28- Duane Below
Below is a typical starting pitcher in that he owns three different pitches, operating with a fastball, curve, and a change up. As we saw, his fastball has a wide range of speeds, and can go anywhere between 88-94, but typically will sit around 89-91. Below shows a good ability to locate his fastball throughout the zone, though the pitch doesn’t have much movement. While he does move it in and out well, he does need to keep the pitch down more in the zone, where he generates a little more life.
His curve is his 2nd best pitch, mostly showing as slightly above average and flashing as plus on occasion. Below throws his curve typically in the high 70’s/low 80’s. He gets good break, though not a true 12 to 6 drop off the table curve. There is some loop to it, although he does generate swings and misses with the pitch. Like most of his repertoire Below has begun throwing more strikes with his curve adding to the quality of the pitch.
The change up is easily the least effective pitch of his arsenal as it has lagged behind developmentally. When he does throw the change it typically sits in the mid 80’s, and Below can throw it as high as 86-87, not giving the change up enough speed differential to be truly effective. When I have seen him he slowed his arm action down with the pitch and throws it more like a batting practice fastball. There isn’t much downward movement on the pitch or fade.
#27- Dixon Machado
Offensively, Machado is still a work in progress. At 6’0 and 140lbs or so, he is slight of frame and doesn’t have the broad shoulders you will look for to add a bunch of strength. At just 19 though, he still growing and there will be a natural increase in physicality. He has absolutely no power at this point, though I do believe he could develop gap strength. Machado’s biggest asset currently is his good plate discipline for his age, and he shows good hand-eye coordination. If he can continue to progress in this area going forward, he could fit nicely as a lead off/2nd hitter type at the top of the order, and could help him hit for average as he gains experience recognizing pitches. Machado possess more of a line ground ball stroke without a lot of loft to it. Machado is an above average runner, and I think he will hold that speed going forward. He gets good jumps, and just needs to gain experience reading pitchers, and when to take the extra base. He could steal 20-30 bases every year, and depending on the aggression of the manager, you could see 30 to 40.
Defensively, Machado is about as smooth as they come. He is projected as a plus defender as he goes forward, and his defense is what garnered him the 6 figure bonus to begin with. Machado does things easily from the SS position, and can lose a little concentration from time to time, or try and do the flashier thing when he doesn’t need to, leading to more errors. As he gains experience, I suspect he will cut down on those things, and some of his throws will be saved by better 1B. Machado possesses good soft hands, an excellent throwing arm, and moves laterally to both sides really well. Footwork can be a problem from time to time, but he has the athleticism that it shouldn’t be an issue going forward.
I don’t hesitate calling him a future plus defender who will more than likely be a big leaguer if a team thinks he can hit .250. That will be the question, and they might not even care if he hits that.
#26 Hernan Perez
Perez was Machado’s double play partner in West Michigan this past season. Offensively, Perez is still a work in progress, though the signs are there for him to be a productive offensive 2nd baseman. Perez uses a compact swing to drive the ball to all parts of the field. He does have some power, especially to left field, and does have the frame and ability to add a little strength going forward. Perez, much like a lot of young Latin players tends to be over-aggressive in the batters box, and that might be an understatement. He doesn’t strike out a ton (around 16.5%), partly to good hand eye coordination, but can struggle hitting good breaking balls on occasion. Running wise, Perez isn’t what you consider fast, though he isn’t a plodder. He has good instincts though on the basepaths and has added the SB this year as a legitimate part of his game. Over his short career stateside, Perez has nabbed 23 of 28 steals.
Defensively, Perez has made the switch to 2B for the Tigers in 2011. Considered one of the better defensive SS in the system prior to 2009, the Tigers made the decision to move him to 2B this year. He should be more than capable there going forward. Perez is a good athlete that has potential to be an above average defender. He has good soft hands, an arm that will definitely rate as above average from 2B, and should have above average range as well. He looks very smooth going to either side, and just needs some experience going forward. He does have 14 errors this year, but a lot of that is chalked up to youth, inexperience and learning to focus each and every play. Perez needs to stay focused and prepare, as a lot of his errors can be contributed to inexperience, and not being instinctual.