As with any ranking system, this list is subjective to the author. I will say that my rankings tend to lean more towards the ceiling on a player, but I do also take into account the floor of a player, and the likelihood the players can reach their ceiling. Numbers are nice, but when looking at prospect rankings, numbers can sometimes mean very little. For example, is it fair to judge a 20 year old in high A the same as a 23 year old in West Michigan? Of course not. Some numbers are good indicators but nothing beats seeing players in person, or talking to people who watch them. I have done both recently, and am going to watch even more in a couple weeks.
This list is different from the beginning of the year of course, and could easily change once again before next season.
Here we go…
30. Jose Ortega (RP)
Its kind of fitting that I am doing this today. After all, Ortega was just called up to Detroit to give the Tigers a fresh arm for their bullpen. Ortega has a fantastic arm. One that should rank much higher on this list if he didn’t have some pretty major command issues. Ortega’s fastball sits in the mid 90’s, and he also possesses a sometimes high quality slider. I don’t typically rank relievers high at all in prospect lists, and their are only a couple in my Tigers top 30, but the arm is good enough for Ortega to just barely sneak in.
So far on the season, Ortega has an ERA of 4.23 with Toledo, and has struck out an impressive 48 batters in 38 innings. However, he has also walked 34 batters in those innings. Ortega is just 23 years old.
29. Brian Flynn (SP)
I’ve been on record as saying I’m not sold yet on Flynn as a legitimate prospect. However, he does have a good fastball in the low 90’s from the left hand side, and for a starter, that will get you on the radar. Flynn also throws a breaking ball and a change up as well. The change up is better than the breaking ball at this point. Flynn doesn’t walk a ton of batters, but I wouldn’t say he commands well either. Opponents are hitting .291 against him this season. Ex-MCB contributor James Chipman seems to be a bigger fan of Flynn’s and has watched him all year, so maybe my experience seeing him in West Michigan last year has me devaluing his prospect status a little bit.
Flynn is a tall pitcher at 6’8″, and is just 22 years old this year. So far on the season, he has started 15 games for Lakeland, and is posting an ERA of 4.06.
28. Montreal Robertson (SP)
Robertson is a big strong right-hander that the Tigers drafted in 2011. He went later than his talent level suggests, because he was recovering from an arm injury. Robertson throws a heavy fastball, has a slider and a change up. What Robertson does well is generate ground balls with good downward plane on his low 90’s fastball. He also has strikeout potential as well with his improving secondary pitches. Honestly, if Robertson had remained in his relief role, he wouldn’t be on this list, but the Tigers have moved him to the rotation, and that improves his value. If it doesn’t work out, he could move back to the pen where there is potential to sit a little bit higher with the fastball.
Robertson, who just turned 22, is pitching in short-season Connecticut currently where in 3 games started he has an ERA of 3.46.
27. Alex Burgos (SP)
This is a big drop for Burgos from the pre-season rankings that we had here on MCB. That doesn’t mean there isn’t potential for Burgos, just means he has struggled to find any consistency from what we saw in 2011. Burgos is the owner of a three pitch repertoire that at times can waiver from start to start. I’ve seen Burgos as high as the low 90’s with his fastball, but the next start could have him sitting around 86-87. Part of that is a strength issue because Burgos isn’t very big at all. He has also lost command of his pitches this year as well. The good part is Burgos does have an idea on how to attack hitters on the mound, and his secondary pitches are at least solid, with his curve having a chance to be a little bit above average.
He is just 21, and I do like him slightly better than Flynn still, but he is going to have to fix whatever it is that is making him walk so many batters. He currently owns a 5.52 ERA in Lakeland.
26. Brett Harrison (3B)
I am going to be real honest about my own ranking here. This is probably quite a bit too high for Harrison. He is still very raw, and he just turned 20 a few weeks ago. Harrison was drafted last year in 2011 as an over-slot signing bonus for the Tigers, and impressed in extended spring training this season. So much so, he got the nod to Connecticut, while other over-slot prospect Tyler Gibson got sent to the Gulf Coast League. Harrison isn’t a great athlete, but should be able to stick at 3rd base with plenty enough arm strength for the position. His bat is still very raw, as he has to work out the strike zone, but there is power potential here.
So far, Harrison is struggling in Connecticut, hitting just .188 with 4 of his 9 hits going for extra bases.