2012 MCB Detroit Tigers Top 50 Prospects: #15 - #11

 

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: #15 – #11

15. Bruce Rondon
Position: Right-handed Reliever
Age: 21-years-old
Height: 6′ 2″
Weight: 235
2011 Teams: Class-A West Michigan
2011 Combined Stats: 40 IP 2-2 2.02 ERA  1.40 WHIP   5.0 H/9  7.6 BB/9  13.7 K/9  0 HR
2012 Projected Team: Advanced-A Lakeland 

Background:

The Detroit Tigers signed Bruce Rondon as a 16-year-old, from Venezuela in September of 2007.

The following year, Rondon made his Tigers debut as a 17-year-old in the Venezuelan Summer League. Used exclusively as a starter back then, Rondon started 13 games–including one complete game–over 55 1/3 innings. He posted a solid 3.58 ERA and 1.23 WHIP with respectable 3.3 and 5.5 walk and strikeout ratios.

Rondon came stateside in 2009, logging 11 1/3 innings in the Gulf Coast League. The season was essentially a wash though as he was sent back to Venezuela for the remainder of the VSL season.

In 2010 Rondon was given another go as he returned stateside in a new role. Rondon was moved from the rotation to the ‘pen. Several changes were also made to his mechanics and delivery. The changes yielded positive results; a solid 0.84 ERA and over a strikeout per inning. He logged 32 1/3 innings between the GCL and FSL that season.

In 2011, Rondon was assigned to Class-A West Michigan where he was the closer for the ‘caps. The shiny 2.02 ERA, 13.7 K/9 ratio and 19 saves were encouraging. Obviously the strike zone danced around a bit though, as reflected in his atrocious 7.6 BB/9 ratio. Once again he did an outstanding job of keeping the ball in the yard, surrendering zero home runs. He’s actually only surrendered two home runs total in four seasons of pro ball. A sore shoulder ended his season in late July but nothing about the injury seems to serious moving forward. Honestly I can’t help but wonder if the control problems were magnified by the injury. Despite missing the final month of the season, Rondon finished third in the Midwest League with 19 saves.

Why He’s This High/Low:
His mid-90s fastball has the ability to register in the upper 90s from his low, almost side-arm delivery. He also features a slider that many scouts forecast as an above-average offering. His velocity coupled with his ability to miss bats and keep the ball in the yard easily make him a top prospect. He is the epitome of what the Tigers look for in a late inning reliever. His command and control must improve though moving forward. There are also concerns about his weight and work ethic. Regardless, the pros outweigh the cons. If Rondon can stay at a decent weight and limit his walks, he easily projects to be an above average set-up man in the show.

14. Daniel Fields
Position: OF
Age: 20-years-old
Height: 6’1″
Weight: 200
Bats: Left
Throws: Right
2011 Team: Advanced-A Lakeland
2011 Stats: 432 AB .220 AVG .308 OB% 14 doubles 4 triples 8 home runs 46 RBI 4SB 49 BB 133 SO
2012 Projected Team: Advanced-A Lakeland 

Background:
The Detroit Tigers selected Daniel Fields in the 6th round of the 2009 MLB First-Year Player Draft out of Detroit Jesuit (HS) in Michigan.

As I’m sure you know by now, Fields is the son of former Tigers coach and player Bruce Fields. Fields grew up around the Tigers and supposedly hit his first home-run in Comerica Park with a wooden bat, at the ripe ole age of 12. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why the Tigers shelled out a $1.6 million bonus (top 20 money) for the then 18-year-old back in 2009.

The five-tool shortstop turned outfielder began his pro career in Advanced-A Lakeland as an 19-year-old in 2010. To put things in perspective, the league average at that level is between 22 and 23-years-old. Despite the age gap, Fields posted a .240 batting average with a .343 on-base percentage that season. He accumulated 27 extra-base hits, including 6 triples and 8 home runs. The line might look pedestrian, but Fields’ approach was way beyond his age.

Last season Fields returned to the Florida State League where he struggled a bit. His average dropped to .220 on the season and he struck out 133 times. Fields is a legit prospect though who’s simply learning on the fly and trying to put it all together.

Why He’s This High/Low:
Fields is a classic boom or bust prospect. It’s easy to discount his prospect status by a simple glance of his baseball card. Watching him play though is another story. Even A casual fan can tell that Fields has boat loads of potential. He’s a top notch athlete that takes great pride in his body and the game of baseball. Fields works his ass off on the diamond and I have yet to see him let his struggles effect his effort. It’s hard to make a top prospect case for someone with his numbers but I’m still a big believer in him long term.

His approach at the plate is much better than the strikeouts indicate. With numbers like he’s posted the last two seasons, its easy to believe that he’s hacking with his eyes closed. On the contrary, Fields appears to have a good idea of where the zone is. He routinely grinds out at-bats and waits for his pitch. I think he’s still adjusting to advanced pitching though, struggling a bit with the breaking stuff. People need to understand that at 20-years-old, he’s still pretty damn young for the FSL. While I don’t see him being an above-average hitter, I refuse to believe that he will hit below .260 in the long run. The projected pop is there too, I still think its realistic to project 20 bombs annually. Fields still needs to translate his plus-speed to the base-paths though. His speed and understanding of the game should easily yield 20 plus steals. He just hasn’t really got on-base enough to make that happen.  Defensively he features the plus-speed and arm the you like to see in a center fielder. He’s still learning the ins and outs of his new position though.

Many believe that a change of scenery and a promotion might be a cure for his less-than stellar statistics. I think a third season in Lakeland would benefit Fields more in the long run though. Either way, I expect Fields to crack out of his shell this season and post the numbers that we’ve been waiting for.

13. Tyler Gibson
Position: OF
Age: 18-years-old
Height: 6’2
Weight: 195
Bats: Left
Throws: Right
2012 Projected Team: GCL Tigers / Class-A West Michigan

Background:
The Detroit Tigers selected Tyler Gibson in the 15th round of the 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft out of Stratford Academy in Georgia. Gibson fell in the draft largely in part to signability concerns as he was heavily linked to Georgia Tech.

In 2011, his senior year, Gibson posted a video game like batting average of .444 for the Stratford baseball program. Gibson also chipped in with 9 doubles, 6 home runs and 21 steals.

He was a late sign, as expected, finally agreeing on a well-over slot bonus of $525,000. After signing, Gibson reported to the GCL where he hit .143 over a small sample size of 14 at-bats. In a nutshell, the more I read about Gibson, the more he reminds me of Daniel Fields. Expect his development to be a slow proceeds with several bumps in the road. The payoff in the end could be BIG though.

Why He’s This High Low:
The ranking is obviously based entirely on projection. Regardless, the Tigers were willing to fork out the cash, so he could potentially be a steal down the road.

Gibson is highly touted as premium athlete that projects plus-speed and projectable power. His speed should translate both on the base paths and defensively in the outfield. His bat speed is already above average but his approach at the plate needs some work. He has potential to hit for a decent average, depending on the reports you read. Without a doubt, Gibson was definitely a solid pickup that late in the draft though. Plucking that kind of potential that late is pretty rare.

The tools are present, it will be interesting to see how he handles things in his first full season of pro ball next year though. Hopefully the Tigers have learned from their mistakes with Daniel Fields and they wont push Gibson to fast. I think West Michigan might be to advanced for Gibson at this point. With that in mind I expect the Tigers to go their usual route and put him in Advanced-A Lakeland. I joke out of frustration, but I’m sure you all agree and feel my pain.

12. Alex Burgos
Position: Left-handed Pitcher
Age: 21-years-old
Height: 5′ 11″
Weight: 190
2011 Teams: Class-A West Michigan
2011 Combined Stats: 94 2/3 IP 6-5 2.19 ERA  1.01 WHIP   6.0 H/9  3.1 BB/9  8.5 K/9  0.4 HR/9
2012 Projected Team: Advanced-A Lakeland 

Background:
The Detroit Tigers selected Alex Burgos in the fifth round of the 2010 MLB First-Year Player Draft out of the State College of Florida in Manatee-Sarasota (FL). In his final season there, Burgos posted a 1.42 ERA in 95 1/3 innings while racking up 109 strikeouts and allowing just 29 walks.

His first taste of pro ball began in 2010 after he quickly signed and joined the Gulf Coast League Tigers in a relief role. Burgos posted a 1.54 ERA and held opposing batters to a .227 average in 11 2/3 innings. He also struck out over a batter an inning (15K) while issuing just three walks.

In 2011 the 20-year-old was assigned to Class-A West Michigan for his first full season of professional baseball. Unfortunately, bicep tendinitis forced Burgos to miss the first two months of the season. Once healthy though, Burgos instantly produced, putting up a 3-1 record and 1.35 ERA in four June starts. He went on to finish 6-5 with a 2.19 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP. He continues to strikeout nearly a batter per inning while posting respectable walk numbers. Burgos also held opposing batters to an impressive .189 average.

Why He’s This High/Low:
Burgos appears to get a wide range of reactions from scouts. Many are weary of his future durability because of his size. They also aren’t to fond of his mid-to-high 80s velocity. A fair amount of scouts are on the bandwagon that I’m riding though. Burgos was a bit young for West Michigan last season and he posted outstanding numbers. He’s shown that he can strikeout nearly a batter an inning while limiting the walks. He also does a fair job of keeping the ball in the yard. Having the “ideal pitchers frame” is always nice but I have a hard time discounting prospects because they failed to win the genetic lottery. Like all young pitchers, continuing to polish his secondary offerings and making adjustments will be his keys to success down the road. Burgos is a top pitching prospect in my eyes until he proves otherwise. I look forward to getting a better look at him next season in Advanced-A Lakeland.

11. James McCann
Position: C
Age: 21-years-old
Height: 6’2
Weight: 210
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
2011 Teams: GCL Tigers & Class-A West Michigan
2011 Stats: 48 AB .146 AVG  .222 OB%  2 doubles 1 home run 7 RBI  3 BB  13 SO
2012 Projected Team: Advanced-A Lakeland 

Background:
The Detroit Tigers selected Brian McCann in the 2nd round of the 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Arkansas.

In 2011–his Junior season–McCann hit .306 with a .388 on-base percentage in 209 at-bats. He chipped in 14 doubles, 1 triple, 6 home runs and 38 RBI.

Why He’s This High/Low:
McCann doesn’t appear to really excel in any areas. However, no tool seems to grade below average either. He’s solid defensively behind the dish. Probably a bit better defensively than Rob Brantly and a bit worse than Bryan Holaday in my opinion. Oddly enough I think his hit tools can be described as in between Brantly and Holaday too, with Brantly obviously being the best of the three. If numbers are what you’re after, he doesn’t project to hit much higher than .250 with around 10 home runs and some potential gap power I guess. Couple that with his solid defensive skill-set and it’s reasonable to project him as a solid backup catcher. You’ll see McCann as high as number seven in other Tigers rankings because of his high likelihood to reach his floor. His floor and ceiling appear to be about the same though giving me mixed feelings about even ranking him eleventh. Perhaps once I get a firsthand look at him I’ll warm up a bit. The pick seemed like a bit of a reach to me last June though.

 

2012 MCB Detroit Tigers Top 50 Prospects

#50 – #46

#45 – #41

#40 – #36

#35 – #31

#30 – #26

#25 – #21

#20 – #16

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Tags: 2012 MCB Detroit Tigers Top 50 Prospects Alex Burgos Bruce Rondon Daniel Fields Down On The Farm GCL Tigers James McCann Lakeland Flying Tigers Tyler Gibson West Michigan Whitecaps

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