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……..
#10 Andy Oliver
Oliver is a power lefty who can get his four seam fastball into the mid 90’s, and his 2 seam fastball works around 91-92. The 2 seam fastball is his bread and butter pitch which Oliver throws with average command and movement on the pitch, getting good sinking action. His 4 seam fastball has explosive life and typically sits 94-95, and has touched 97. Oliver isn’t afraid to work on the inner half to right handed hitters, however consistency and command is an issue, as Oliver has trouble locating.
Oliver’s 2nd best offering is probably his change up. He typically throws his change up in the mid 80’s with good arm speed, and at times, this pitch looks like a plus offering. However, much like his fastball, his command of the pitch, and consistency of its effectiveness waiver, making it more of a show me pitch instead of a true out pitch at this point. It can at times look more like a batting practice fastball than a change up.
Oliver also owns a slider that he throws on occasion as well. This pitch has been a point of contention with those that have seen Oliver. Some have seen his slider as a potential plus pitch, and others believe he should just flat out stop throwing it. I am in the camp that believes Oliver should just pick the change up or slider and work on perfecting one or the either.
His command issues need to be ironed out, or he will quickly become a guy that falls off the radar entirely as a starter. I think his future is in the bullpen, but there is still potential here. This season is extremely important for Oliver.
Collins has taken a long path to becoming a professional baseball player. Recruited to play at Baylor, Collins kind of got lost in the shuffle after not being academically eligible, and then ended up at Howard JC in Texas. An under the radar pick in 2011 in the 6th round, Collins didn’t waste any time showing the Tigers organization that he could play.
One of the first things you notice about Collins is his build. Collins isn’t tall, but has a strong sturdy frame, and wouldn’t look out of place playing strong safety in the NFL. Despite his sturdy frame, Collins isn’t mechanical, especially offensively where he shows a nice compact smooth swing. Collins has above average bat speed, enabling him to put a charge in the baseball to all fields. His plate discipline is a plus, as he rarely goes outside the zone. There is good hand-eye coordination, and he effectively squares up baseballs on a regular basis. He projects to hit for average and some pop, and could be an on base guy as well in the future.
Defensively, Collins doesn’t project to be anything special. He runs well now, but as is typical, he should slow down some with age, making him an average runner in the future. The arm strength isn’t anything special, so it looks like he is going to be relegated to either CF or LF. Given his profile, LF is more likely, where he may never be an above defender. He should hold his own though.
If all goes well for Collins, his bat is going to carry him to a big league career, where he could be an offensive LF.
#8 Rob Brantly
Brantly was drafted as an offense first catcher in 2010 by the Tigers. His best attribute is that he has a discerning eye at the dish. Brantly projects as a guy who is going to get on base due to his ability to draw walks and control a strike zone. He uses all parts of the field and shows a willingness to take the ball where it is pitched. Brantly doesn’t project for a lot of power but could hit the gaps in Comerica Park consistently. His swing is quick and compact and can generate some back spin pretty regularly. Speed isn’t something that is going to be a big part of his game, but he isn’t as plodding as a lot of catchers, which is why some think if he doesn’t make it as a catcher he could play elsewhere, ala a guy like Ryan Doumit.
Defensively is where some of the questions come in for Brantly, and where there is a little bit of difference in the scouting world. His biggest question comes from his arm strength. Most see it as average or a little bit below average. He makes up for it a bit by being relatively athletic behind the plate and displaying pop times of 1.8 or 1.9 seconds, giving himself an opportunity to throw out runners. Brantly is known for having good footwork around the dish, and has the ability to block balls proficiently. He can sometimes get a little nonchalant and has to learn how to anticipate a little bit better. He is known for handling a pitching staff pretty well also. While Brantly may never be a plus defensive catcher, there is enough skill there for him to stick at the position. He is also continuing working on the nuances such as framing pitches.
Garcia is physically a beast, and one would think he lacks athleticism, but that just isn’t the case. Garcia is a true 5 tool talent and he is still learning the game despite playing this past season in Lakeland. There are some obvious things he needs to get better at, but patience would be suggested for the organization for a player like Garcia.
Offensively Garcia lacks present in game power, despite his obvious physicality. You can definitely see where he has the frame to add muscle and should project for more power down the road. He did hit more home runs in 2011 than he ever has with 11, and that number is likely to continue increasing. Garcia’s hit tool is going to be dependent on his ability to start managing the strike zone better. He is a free swinger to say the least, but he has very good hand-eye coordination for someone with so little batter’s box discipline. If Garcia learns to become more selective at the plate he could potentially be a .300 hitter going forward. Garcia also has plus speed, especially for someone who has a big body. He will probably slow down some as he gets older, but for now, he could probably steal 15-25 bases pretty regularly.
Defensively Garcia has all the tools necessary to become a premium right fielder. When he was in the Midwest League, many managers commented at how well he played the position. Garcia has a strong throwing arm from right field, and due to his speed is going to cover more ground than most that play the position. Garcia also shows good ability to get jumps, and charges balls well. He should be able to stay in RF for the duration of his career.
I don’t put a lot of comps on guys, because if they don’t become that player, I often hear about. Garcia really reminds me of Nelson Cruz though, both in body, and the time in which it is probably going to take him to develop. There is definitely a boom or bust label here, but the potential payoff is an above average RF.
Every so often a guy in the organization takes a tremendous leap forward. This year, Brenny Paulino comes in off of most top 50 Tigers lists to crack our top 10. Paulino has is what is considered an ideal and projectable pitchers frame, and at 18 years old, pairs that with some impressive present stuff. Paulino is currently working with a 3 pitch repertoire that includes a fastball, curve, and a change up.
Right now, the fastball is Paulino’s calling card. While he is still developing his command of the pitch, Paulino has already shown vast improvement in that area. That can come with experience, and still could improve given that he has yet to grow completely into his frame at this point. When he adds strength and body mass, Paulino should be able to more consistently repeat his delivery. The velocity on the fastball is already there though. Paulino comfortably sits in the 93-94mph range and has flashed upper 90’s at times. Given his youth and inexperience, most scouts believe Paulino is a guy that could sit mid to upper 90’s with the velocity, and maintain it throughout his start.
His curve ball is probably his best secondary pitch, and right now it looks like it has some potential. Paulino does show some ability to spin his curve ball, and there are scouts that believe it can become a plus pitch for him down the road. There is a lot of inconsistency here, and Paulino lacks the command needed for it to be a viable pitch right now, but he has thrown enough good ones to believe it could be an asset down the road. This pitch has really gotten better over the past year.
His change up lags behind his other two offerings, but Paulino has flashed on occasion some feel for the change up as well. If the other two pitches reach their ceilings, Paulino is really only going to need an average change anyway.
Paulino’s improvement shows us one thing. He seems to be a kid willing to work at his craft. There is a lot of rawness here, but guys that show flashes like he does, and have a work ethic to want to become a good pitcher, are ahead of the game. The Tigers are going to have to nurture this one slowly, but if all goes well Paulino’s arm strength makes him a potential top of the rotation starter. Even if that doesn’t work out, he could be a potential closer as well.