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……..
#15 Bruce Rondon
Rondon is essentially a two pitch pitcher, but both have a chance of being plus pitches down the road.
Rondon has a tremendous arm. A relatively big kid, Rondon is currently more of a thrower than a pitcher. His fastball works in the mid 90’s, most of the time coming in around 92-95. He has been clocked in the upper 90’s at times, touching 98 on occasion. His fastball has some natural movement to it, and runs into right handed hitters with a little bit of sink. It is what you what typically describe as a “heavy” fastball and often generates weak contact. Rondon shows relatively little control of his fastball, let alone command. He throws from a low arm angle and even drops down side-arm. His delivery can get away from him time to time, as he needs to strengthen his core, and could be described as pudgy.
His slider is his other pitch that he throws regularly. At times, Rondon’s slider flashes as a plus pitch as well. When he stays on top of it, his slider shows good late break and is a swing and miss pitch for him. However, like most pitchers who throw with a low arm angle, he has a tendency to get under his slider, causing it to flatten out. Much like his fastball, he has difficulty commanding the pitch as well.
Rondon’s mechanics are an issue, as he has trouble repeating them. He isn’t particularly athletic, which means he is going to have to watch his body going forward. If he can get his mechanics in order enough to maintain a satisfactory walk rate, he has closer potential.
#14 Daniel Fields
Fields is a left handed hitting CF who played the SS position in high school. A multi tooled athlete, Fields was projected as a 2nd rounder by some coming out of high school and the Tigers felt a move to CF would allow Fields to take advantage of his athletic ability.
Offensively Fields has an all around game. He projects to hit for good power and could have a decent average going forward, and can steal some bases as well. His tools are good, but putting them to good use at this point is still a work in progress. Considered a raw baseball player still, there are some things to like for sure. One, Fields shows a willingness to work the count. He drew walks at a pretty good rate in 2010 for a guy that had no business playing in high A ball fresh out of high school. He is striking out a lot, both last year and this year, as he is still working on pitch recognition and handling breaking balls. Secondly, he has strong quick hands and shows ability to make loud contact to the whole field. Third, Fields has above average speed. He is still working on how to use his speed on a baseball diamond, but with his speed and raw power, Fields has 20/20 type potential as he moves forward.
Defensively, Fields is still a work in progress although he is showing to be a quick study. He has the ability to make the jaw-dropping play in CF largely due to his running ability, and is developing instincts quickly. As he continues to add strength, there are those that feel Fields is more of a fit for a corner OF spot, but I’m not convinced he couldn’t stick in CF. He just needs to improve his reads off the bat, and is working on his throws from the outfield. Being an old SS, Fields isn’t used to trying to get carry on his throws, but he does have above average arm strength to do so. Given his inexperience his quickness in which he is picking up the position, I would feel comfortable projecting Fields as an above average defender down the road wherever he plays.
Fields disappointing 2011 has taken some of the shine off of his status, however, the tools are still there, he is a classic boom or bust guy, and in this system that gets you ranked pretty high.
#13 Tyler Gibson
Gibson is the gem of the high ceiling picks the Tigers had in the 2011 draft. In fact, he might be THE high ceiling pick in the 2011 draft. Inked for 3 times the recommended slot, Gibson is the son of a college coach who shows an aptitude for the game that comes with that. Gibson is projected as a power hitting corner outfielder, who might fit better in left field down the road. Defense isn’t going to be his calling card regardless where he plays. His bat is going to be what carries him. Gibson, a left-handed hitter, has a powerful stroke that projects well as a power hitter in the future. He has a smooth swing that finishes with a little bit of uppercut, generating good backspin and loft on the ball. Gibson does tend to get pull happy, and it is going to take a hitting instructor in the minor leagues to convince him to use the whole field. His natural strength and bat speed will allow him to hit for power in every part of the park, and using the whole field will help his hit tool. Like any youngster, Gibson is going to have to show an ability to adjust to improved breaking stuff, and recognizing the variety of pitches out of the pitchers hand.
People differ on the type of athlete Gibson is, but most consider him to be an above average runner. Given that he was slated to play SS in college, I would suggest that Gibson has plenty of athleticism to move to the outfield, and depending on how big he gets, could steal a few bags as well. His arm isn’t what you would consider plus, and he will have to adjust on how he throws once he permanently moves to the outfield. I’m not sure at this point until we see some data whether or not Gibson will have enough arm for RF or not.
Gibson is arguably the most exciting player the Tigers drafted in 2011. In fact, the ranking reflects that Gibson was a little more highly thought of than Daniel Fields coming out of high school, getting the nod over Fields. Given his family background and power potential, if Gibson adjusts to breaking pitches and learns to use his power to all fields, he could be a regular at some point in the majors.
#12 Alex Burgos
Burgos is a young left-handed pitcher that I have had the privilege of seeing in person. A diminutive guy, he isn’t going to blow people away with the hard stuff, but I think there is a little more fastball than is often reported. I had Burgos sitting 88-91 all night, and he hit 92-93 on occasion. Seeing him once or twice doesn’t tell the whole story though. His fastball velocity has been inconsistent by most reports and he can fall to 85mph on occasion, but hopefully that will get better as he gets stronger. Burgos has a good idea of how to pitch, showing an above average curve ball, and an occasional above average change as well. Here is a report from one of my nights seeing him on the mound I did at Detroit Baseball Page.
Burgos is another guy that I was very happy to see, and I came away quite impressed. He isn’t a big kid at all, but he had a nice fluid, compact delivery that it looked like he repeated really well. He did on a couple of occasions try to overthrow, but he will get better with that as he gets older. His fastball ranged from 87-93 on the night, mostly sitting around 90. He didn’t have much fear going inside with his fastball and moved it to both corners rather well. He also elevated it a couple of times to get strikeouts as well. His curve showed some good tight break on it, and he got several swings and misses with it. He seemed to throw it in the mid to upper 70’s most of the time, and buried it a couple of times on the hitters back foot. Solid potential with this pitch. His last pitch was his change, and sometimes it can be difficult differentiating from the vantage point of where I was sitting. He did get a couple guys out on their front foots with the pitch, but I saw Burgos noticeably slow his motion when he threw his change.
Burgos has a back of the rotation type ceiling, and given his feel for pitching, I think he can continue carving up guys moving forward to AA. At that point it will be the big test for him as to whether or not he is going to be able to start in a major league rotation. A little bit better of a change up, coupled with consistent velocity of an upper 80’s/low 90’s fastball, Burgos looks like one of the more sure bets in the Tigers system. Needless to say, I like him quite a bit.
#11 James McCann
Every once in a while when doing rankings, you just have to put a guy higher than you would like. I have personal feelings on players that I set aside often, because these rankings aren’t just about personal feelings, they are about scouting reports and the feelings of people who do this for a living. McCann is one of those guys.
Offensively, McCann does project to hit for some power down the road and appears to have a good enough idea at the plate for an average hit tool as well. He won’t earn scouting grades of more than 55 for any of his offensive skill sets, which at the very least projects to be a major league back-up catcher. McCann is one of the lower ceiling/high floor college guys that the Tigers seem to like so well as of late. He still has work to do on pitch recognition at the dish, and can be a little stiff up there sometimes, sapping some of his natural strength.
Defensively, I have had various reports come in on McCann, though most appear to believe that he is going to be an above average defender, and has big league catching skills now. His pop times generally come in at under 2 seconds, and his solid athletic ability allows him to move well around the dish and block balls with some effectiveness. His intangibles help him even further defensively, as he works well with a pitching staff, has good baseball acumen, and frames pitches pretty well. His arm is good, and with a little professional instruction on his footwork to help his throwing, he could be a tough guy to run on in the future.
Overall, a solid back up catcher is nothing to sneeze at. It’s not particularly exciting either. I am a little less convinced of his ability to hit at this point, but concede when it comes to a catcher, hitting tends to be secondary. If he shows aptitude with the bat, say enough to hit .250 or so with 15 homers, he could be a starter at some point.
*Feel free to email prospect questions to me at [email protected]