Continuing a look at the Tigers minor league teams and their season, I thought I would approach the lone full season playoff team tonight. Lakeland not only made the Florida State League playoffs, they won the whole thing and finished as champions. While championships in the minors mean very little in terms of talent on rosters, it certainly isn’t a bad thing for an affiliate to get some playoff experience. Again, what I am really after here is taking a look at some of the players on the roster, and seeing what kind of season they had. For the most part, if guys moved up I will take a look at them when I get to the team they finished with.
Green started the year with West Michigan, and performed well enough to get some time in Lakeland after coming back from an injury he suffered earlier in the year. Green isn’t going to be a defensive plus, or even really a mediocre defender, it’s going to have to be the bat that carries him forward. So far, it looks like the bat is quite good. Green hit .348 with the Flying Tigers, posting an OPS of .928. If the Tigers want to be aggressive with Green, they could push him to Erie next season to see how his bat plays in AA.
Collins is a guy that a lot of Tigers prospect followers have been following the past year. Why? Well, in a system full of toolsy guys that don’t control the strike zone, Collins is kind of the opposite of that. Collins hit .290 for the Flying Tigers this season with an OPS of .800. His BB/K ratio was impressive however, walking 58 times while striking out 64 times. Collins doesn’t have a lot of power, but the Tigers might very well have themselves another Andy Dirks type player in Collins, and as this season would indicate, that isn’t all that bad.
Perez improved as the season went on, operating as the Flying Tigers main 2B. Although he did improve, he ended up hitting just .261 on the season with an OPS of .636, which is disappointing considering he isn’t the tiniest of middle infielders. It’s looking more and more that Perez is going to end up a utility player at best, but every team needs those.
Machado is an enigma. He is so tiny, most people would have thought he would’ve filled out better by now. It just hasn’t happened. The rail-thin Machado does a good job of controlling the strike zone, but you certainly wouldn’t know it by his .195 batting average. That’s the kind of average that someone has no clue with a bat in his hand would carry. Machado is a slick fielder, and still young so I am sure the Tigers will continue to be a little patient with him. He has definitely taken a step back a this point though.
Casali has started to get on the radar of Tigers prospect followers as well. Casali is a good leader, a pretty good defender, and has the plate discipline and pop combination that could get him a big league career as a reserve. I’ve gotten to the point that I am a firm believer that Casali might have more value than James McCann, whom the Tigers picked in the 2nd round a couple years ago, eight rounds ahead of Casali. Between West Michigan and Lakeland, Casali finished with an OPS of .792. Good for a catcher. For anyone for that matter.
Burgos was one of the more promising pitchers in the lower minors last season. This season was a rough one for the young left hander. The problem with Burgos is he has seemed to lose not only command of his arsenal, but really control. Burgos walked 88 batters in his 121 innings. I suspect that he will be repeating Lakeland next season, if not working on repeating his mechanics.
Yep, the pickings are so slim in the pitching department for Lakeland, at least for true prospects, I have to talk about Verhagen who was drafted in the fourth round of the 2012 draft. Verhagen is the owner of a quality fastball, but still needs to work on his secondaries. He did alright going to high A right out of college and posted an ERA of 3.67 down the stretch for the Flying Tigers.
I will mention Tyler Clark if for no other reason than he was absolutely sensational numbers wise in Lakeland. His ERA of 0.63 shows he had a season to remember. However, I do want to caution people when looking at those numbers, Clark isn’t what you would consider a priority prospect, and isn’t likely to repeat that performance as he moves forward. Still, kudos to a great season for Clark.