April 01, 2012; Port St Lucie, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers catcher James McCann (81) gets congratulations from first base coach Tom Brookens (61) after hitting a grand slam in the sixth inning of the spring training game against the New York Mets at Digital Domain Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-US PRESSWIRE

Tigers Mid-Season Top 30 Prospects 20-16

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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…

20. Dylan Lavelle (3B)- No team listed

Lavelle is a 2012 draftee by the Tigers this year in the 18th round out of high school. At 6’2″ and 190lbs, Lavelle has a strong frame, and projects to be a guy who can hit for some pop and potentially average as well. He has arm strength enough for 3rd base defensively, however, he isn’t the most athletic guy, and should be a fringe runner down the road. The interesting thing with Lavelle is some consider him a 2nd to 3rd round talent if he hadn’t dislocated a shoulder this past season and missed some time. What is also interesting is it was reported that Lavelle had signed with the Tigers, however, neither Baseball America or MLB.com have him as signing. He hasn’t played for the Tigers anywhere yet, so maybe the initial reports of him signing were incorrect.

If he is in the fold however, Lavelle has a little bit more upside than that of 2011 high school draftee Brett Harrison.

19. Austin Schotts (OF)- GCL Tigers

Schotts was the Tigers 3rd round selection in the draft this year out of high school in Texas. Schotts’ best tool is his speed, where he was one of the faster high school players in the draft this year. Some scouts believe in his bat as well, and think that he could hit for moderate power and average as he gets older. He has a nice line drive stroke, but it can get long at times when he falls in love with trying to hit for power. He also has a pretty good idea at the dish and manages the strike zone well. Schotts’ arm is probably his weakest tool, and he is going to get a try in CF to start, and could ultimately wind up at 2B if that doesn’t work.

Schotts is off to a very strong start for his career, hitting .425 in his first 40 professional at-bats. He is hitting for some pop as well, posting an OPS of 1.114 so far.

18. James McCann(C)-Erie Seawolves

I can tell you already that I am going to have McCann rated much lower than most other “experts”. However, I don’t care. I meant it when I said I don’t believe his ceiling to be much more than that of Curt Casali. In fact, I think McCann is a backup catcher at the big league level. I just don’t believe in the bat as much as others. Some see a 15 home run type guy. I just don’t see the type of bat speed needed for that. I think McCann could hit for a decent average, though I am skeptical of much more than .240. The reports on his defense are good enough that if he hits for either average or power enough, that he could be a potential starter on a lower division type team.

McCann has been promoted to Erie after hitting pretty well for Lakeland earlier this season. His batting average there was .288. However, he is hitting just .200 for the Seawolves in AA so far, and his overall line is .261 on the season with an OPS of .655.

17. Harold Castro (2B)- GCL Tigers

I’m a little displeased at myself for not advocating a little more a top 50 slot for Castro during the pre-season rankings. His jump therefore is really big on this list. Castro is a pure hitter for someone so young. He has a nice level stroke, with the ability to spray the ball all over the field. Currently, Castro is a gap type hitter, though he does have a frame to add a little bit more strength, and potentially turn some doubles into home runs. Castro shows good speed on the base paths, and is solid with the glove at 2nd base. Easily one of the more intriguing prospects in the Tigers system at just 18 years old. He doesn’t walk a ton at this point, though he doesn’t really strike out either.

So far on the season, Castro is living up to his billing as a good hitter. For the GCL Tigers, he is hitting .357 with an OPS of .883.

16. Brenny Paulino (SP)- Extended Spring

We were very aggressive in our ranking of Paulino in the pre-season, and while I don’t regret that, we haven’t seen Paulino on the mound yet this year. Paulino was sent to extended spring training instead of breaking camp with the Whitecaps like was expected. The Tigers were working on Paulino to build strength, and since then it sounds like he has had some shoulder pain that has held him back. When healthy, Paulino has a projectable frame, a fastball that sits in the low to mid 90’s already, and good potential with his breaking ball and change up. Paulino still has front of the rotation type potential if all comes together, I just had to drop his ranking because we haven’t gotten any game reports on him this year.

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Tags: Austin Schotts Brenny Paulino Detroit Tigers Dylan LaVelle Harold Castro James McCann

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