2012 MCB Detroit Tigers Top 50 Prospects: #10 – #6

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: #10 – #6

 10. Andy Oliver
Position: Left-handed Pitcher
Age: 24-years-old
Height: 6′ 3″
Weight: 210
2011 Team: AAA-Toledo
2011 Combined Stats: 147 IP  8-12 4.71 ERA  1.56 WHIP   9.1 H/9  4.9 BB/9  8.8 K/9  0.9 HR/9
2012 Projected Team: AAA-Toledo

Background:
The Detroit Tigers selected Andy Oliver in the 2nd round of the 2009 MLB First-Year Player Draft out of Oklahoma State University. Oliver compiled an 18-9 record, 4.02 ERA and 235 strikeouts over three seasons–230 2/3 innings–at OSU. The Tigers inked Oliver just before the signing deadline for nearly $1.5 million.

Oliver has been pushed pretty hard by the Tigers ever since he signed his name on the dotted line. Oliver made his Tigers debut in AA-Erie in 2010. He posted a 3.61 ERA with 70 strikeouts over 77 1/3 innings of work. He was then promoted to Detroit, making his debut in Atlanta. Oliver logged a quality starts in each of his first two outings as a Tiger, lasting six innings, surrendering just two runs each time. He struggled mightily over his next three starts though, earning him a demotion to AAA-Toledo. Oliver would finish the season 3-4 with a 3.23 ERA and nearly a strikeout per inning over 53 frames.

Oliver was assigned to AAA-Toledo to begin the 2011 season. Unfortunately, A promotion to Detroit at the end of May yielded even more inconsistency from the big left-hander. Oliver was serviceable in his first start against the Red Sox, but failed to escape the fourth inning in his next start against the White Sox. He was then re-assigned to AAA-Toledo where he finished out the season. Last season saw a statistical decline nearly across the board for Oliver. He allowed over a hit per inning and walked almost 5 batters per nine. Naturally that’s a recipe for disaster, so it’s not to difficult to understand why his ERA rose over a run and a half last season. To make matters worse he posted even worse numbers in the AFL. Oliver surrendered 19 hits, 16 walks and 11 runs over 17 innings in the desert.

Why He’s This High/Low:
Last seasons statistics made Oliver an even more difficult case to crack than he already was. He’s athletic and loaded with potential yet he seems to be falling apart at the seams.

Amongst all the uncertainty though lies one constant, Oliver has shown flashes of brilliance. His plus-plus fastball, left-handedness and ability to miss bats continues to keep him in the conversation. While the “stuff” is there, the results on a consistent basis just haven’t been there enough to warrant top prospect status.

The book certainly isn’t closed yet on Oliver but his window as a starter is beginning to shut. Next season will essentially be a “make or break year” for Oliver and his prospect status. I’ve been a big fan of moving him to the ‘pen–where he could have a huge impact–since he was drafted. Perhaps 2012 is the season that the Tigers finally wake up and smell the coffee.

9. Tyler Collins
Position: OF
Age: 21-years-old
Height: 5′ 11″
Weight: 200
2011 Teams: GCL Tigers & Connecticut Tigers
2011 Combined Stats: 166 AB .313 AVG  .366 OB%  11 doubles, 1 triple, 8 home runs, 32 RBI 6 SB  12 BB 17 SO
2012 Projected Team: Advanced-A Lakeland 

Background:
The Detroit Tigers selected Tyler Collins in the 6th round of the 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft out of Howard Junior College (Texas). Collins signed with the Tigers, passing up a commitment to TCU, for a reported $210,000.

Originally a Baylor Bear, Collins transferred to Howard Junior College after he was ruled academically ineligible. Last season Collins posted an eye-popping .488 average with 34 doubles, 4 triples, 19 home runs and 82 RBI in just 215 at-bats. His 33 walks helped him post an incredible .561 on-base percentage. He also chipped in with 16 steals.

After signing, Collins spent one game in the GCL before he was assigned to short season Connecticut. Collins was one of the most productive bats for the Tigers last season there. Despite only playing 42 games, he lead the team in home runs and produced the second highest total of doubles and RBI.

Why He’s This High/Low:
Collins is definitely a bat-first prospect. Scouts rave over his potential to hit for both average and power. They also forecast a pretty solid on-base percentage because of his knowledge of the strike-zone. There is uncertainty how his speed and defense will play as the levels increase though.

In a nutshell, his ranking is entirely based upon projection and a small sample size of data from short season ball.

I wouldn’t be to surprised if next season brings him an aggressive assignment in Advanced-A Lakeland.

8. Rob Brantly 
Position: C
Age: 22-years-old
Height: 6′ 2″
Weight: 205
2011 Teams: Class-A West Michigan & Advanced-A Lakeland 
2011 Combined Stats: 430 AB .274 AVG  .324 OB%  22 doubles, 1 triple, 10 home runs, 62 RBI  29 BB 56 SO
2012 Projected Team: AA-Erie

Background:
The Detroit Tigers selected Rob Brantly in the 3rd round of the 2010 MLB First-Year Player Draft out of UC-Riverside. After quickly signing, Brantly was assigned to Class-A West Michigan, where he hit .255 over 52 games.

Brantly returned to Class-A West Michigan in 2011. His bat was as advertised too as he hit .303 for the ‘caps in 75 games. Perhaps his only blemish on the season was his .219/.239/.322 line after being promoted to Advanced-A Lakeland. His overall numbers last season were impressive enough though for the Tigers to send him to the AFL. Proving that he belonged, Brantly posted an impressive .388 average over 49 at-bats there.

Why He’s This High/Low: 
Brantly is arguably the Tigers best catching prospect. While he’s widely considered a bat-first prospect, Brantly has made great strides to improve his game behind the dish.

While the Tigers are now suddenly loaded with quality catching depth at the minor league level, Brantly remains the sole prospect projected to achieve more than a back-up role in the show.

Initially I wasn’t as high on Brantly as others were. After watching him in Lakeland and seeing the hits pile up in the AFL I’m on board now though. It will be interesting to see the Tigers push Brantly and assign him to AA-Erie next season.

7. Avisail Garcia
Position: OF
Age: 20-years-old
Height: 6′ 4″
Weight: 235
2011 Team: Advanced-A Lakeland 
2011 Combined Stats: 488 AB .264 AVG  .297 OB%  16 doubles, 6 triple, 11 home runs, 56 RBI 14 SB  18 BB 132 SO
2012 Projected Team: AA-Erie

Background: 
The Detroit Tigers signed then 16-year-old Avisail Garcia out of Venezuela back in 2007. Garcia was highly regarded as a potential five-tool prospect.

Garcia began his tenure as a Tiger in 2008 in the Venezuelan Summer League. He hit a respectable .298 with 12 doubles, 2 triples, 7 home runs and 31 RBI that season.

After just one season in the Venezuelan Summer League, the Tigers brought Garcia stateside. In an extremely aggressive assignment, Garcia was assigned to the Midwest league in 2009 as an 18-year-old. That season Garcia posted a solid .264/.289/.324/.613 line for the Whitecaps despite being one of the youngest players in the league.

In 2010, the Tigers had Garcia repeat Class-A West Michigan. Garcia improved his batting average, on-base-percentage, slugging-percentage and also posted a career high 63 RBI. As if that wasn’t enough, he also swiped 20 bases.

Last season, Garcia was promoted to Advanced-A Lakeland where he was once again one of the younger players in the league.

Why He’s This High/Low:
The strikeouts, mediocre average and anemic on-base percentage obviously pop out as red flags. Even I’ll admit, it’s alarming, something’s gotta change. He’s gotta drastically reduce the strikeouts and find a way to get on base more often. That pretty much goes without saying though.

From a defensive standpoint, Garcia is arguably the best outfielder in the Tigers farm system. He moves well, runs routes well and has perhaps the strongest most accurate arm. He’s built like a linebacker, yet he runs well enough to be a pest on the base-paths.

Stat heads that are unimpressed with raw talent, living solely on results, will turn their noses up and scoff at a guy like Garcia. That’s fine though, we’ll forgive their ignorance. Garcia is a beast. In due time if just a few things click, he has the potential to emerge as a very special player.

Miguel Cabrera comparisons run ramped, I myself was guilty. The more I thought about it though, Garcia actually reminds me a lot of a young Vladimir Guerrero. There’s a lot to love about Avisail Garcia’s game. It will be even more fun to watch when everything clicks.

6. Brenny Paulino 
Position: Right-handed Pitcher
Age: 18-years-old
Height: 6′ 4″
Weight: 180
2011 Teams: GCL Tigers & Advanced-A Lakeland 
2011 Combined Stats: 51 IP 4-5 4.41 ERA  1.37 WHIP   7.6 H/9  4.8 BB/9  9.2 K/9  0.2 HR/9
2012 Projected Team: Class-A West Michigan 

Background:
The Detroit Tigers signed then 16-year-old Brenny Paulino in 2009 out of the Dominican Republic.

His first action as a Tiger came in the Dominican Summer League as a 17-year-old. Paulino finished 1-6 with a 3.88 ERA over 46 1/3 innings of work. Paulino walked nearly a batter an inning but he struck out an impressive 55 batters.

The Tigers brought Paulino stateside in 2011 as a 18-year-old. Paulino shined, posting a 4-3 record with a 2.36 ERA. He lowered his walk ratio to a much improved 3.5 BB/9 ratio, while continuing to strikeout nearly a batter per inning. After finishing the GCL season, the Tigers rewarded Paulino with a very aggressive promotion to Advanced-A Lakeland. He struggled, posting a 21.94 ERA over 5 1/3 innings. The exposure was good experience for Paulino though.

Why He’s This High/Low:
Despite being just 18-years-old, Paulino features one of the best fastballs in the Tigers Farm system. He hits the mid-90s with ease and can already pump it up to the upper-90s. Similar to the majority of young flame throwers, the plate tends to dance around a bit. Paulino made greats strides last season in the GCL though, drastically cutting the walks.

At this point in time, Paulino is all projection. He could just as easily fade away as he could flourish. Regardless, scouts love his stuff and see him as a potential frontline starter. Worse case scenario, if he fails to polish his secondary offerings, he has the velocity you love to see in a late inning reliever.

If you’re not big on projection than you probably have a hard time understanding Paulino this high. We have featured several prospects lower than him that have a greater chance of making it to The Show than Paulino. However, “IF” everything clicks, a guy like Paulino has the potential to be something very special.

 

2012 MCB Detroit Tigers Top 50 Prospects

#50 – #46

#45 – #41

#40 – #36

#35 – #31

#30 – #26

#25 – #21

#20 – #16

#15 – #11

 

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Tags: 2012 MCB Detroit Tigers Top 50 Prospects Andy Oliver Avisail Garcia Brenny Paulino Connecticut Tigers Down On The Farm GCL Tigers Lakeland Flying Tigers Rob Brantly Toledo Mud Hens Tyler Collins West Michigan Whitecaps

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