The Detroit Tigers Minor League Affiliates have officially begun their spring training. The future stars of tomorrow are perfecting their craft on the backfields of Tiger Town.
Here at MCB we do our best to stay ahead of the curve with our Down on the Farm series. In addition to covering the top prospects,we strive to cover some of the projectable lower level prospects.
Similar to last season, I decided to roll out a list of lower level prospects that could take a step forward this season. This list isn’t about stats, it’s all about projectability. That being said, many of these prospects statistics leave a little to be desired. On the other hand, their skill-sets offer much to be excited about.
So, without further adieu, here’s a look at some of the prospects that either fell outside of our MCB Top 50 Series or failed to play much last season.
Steven Moya: If projection is your thing, then Moya is your guy. A beast of a man, Moya stands 6’6″ and weighs 220 pounds. The twenty-year-old features raw power grades second to none in the Tigers system. Even beyond the raw power, his defensive, base-running and plate discipline all need seasoning. The back of his bubble gum card will also leave stat heads a bit skeptical. The developmental road is likely to be extremely long for Moya. Regardless, there is plenty to get excited about when you look at Moya’s projectable tools. Patience will be paramount. The finished product could be something very impressive. Look for Moya to begin the ’12 campaign in Class-A West Michigan.
Juaner Aguasvivas: Proving that he’s more than just an impressive name, Aguasvivas tormented GCL pitchers last season. The 6’4″ 250 pound first-baseman paced the league with his .567 slugging percentage. His .315 average and .367 on-base percentage proved that he’s already made great strides in his game. He also lead the team in doubles, triple, home runs and RBI. The 22-year-old Dominican still has to sharpen several aspects of his game. Last season was certainly a step in the right direction though. I’m curious to see what the ’12 season has in store for him in full-season ball.
Melvin Mercedes: A year removed from Tommy John surgery, Mercedes spent the bulk of his time in Connecticut last season. Opinions will vary on guys like Mercedes, but I like what I’ve seen. He’s a bulldog on the mound, possessing exactly the mentality that you like to see in a late inning reliever. He has a tendency to become a bit wild and hittable at times. Still, keeping with the theme, the projectability is there. His deceptive delivery yields a low-to-mid 90s fastball that features a great deal of sinking movement. He also mixes in a slider that flashes plus-potential. The 21-year-old Dominican should see Advanced-A Lakeland at some point in ’12.
Harold Castro: Perhaps one of the biggest snubs from our ’12 MCB Top 50 Prospects series; Harold Castro. The (then) 17-year-old Venezuelan had a breakout season in the VSL in ’11, posting an impressive .313 average. The slick fielding second baseman features projectable range, arm strength and accuracy needed to be a plus fielder down the road. He already features above-average speed and the ability to hit for average. Castro should come stateside this season for some action in the GCL.
David Paulino: Excited about Brenny Paulino? Join the crowd. Now step outside the box a bit and feast your eyes on his younger brother David. You have to dream a bit more and once again I use that word projectable. Still, the 6’5 180 pound right-hander already has 15 shutout innings under his belt from last seasons DSL. Still filling out, David hovers in the upper 80′s. Ironically, Brenny didn’t breakout his mid-to-upper 90s fastball right away either. David’s frame also suggests added strength down the road, which should add velocity. The younger Paulino is probably more of a deep sleeper. Nonetheless, he’s on my radar!
Tyler Gibson: If you believe in projection as much as I do, Gibson is also your guy. The 18-year-old was plucked in the 15th round by the Tigers in last years draft. He features plus-plus speed that he uses well on the base-paths. His raw power and bat speed are already plus tools too. Although Gibson was a shortstop in High School, scouts like his arm for center field. He has the ceiling of a prospect that could hit for average and power. Similar to Daniel Fields, folks will have to be patient with his development.