When compiling any list, it is essential to keep in mind these things tend to be very subjective, especially in the world of prospects. A prospect’s status can fluctuate as quickly as the stock market, depending on injury or a multitude of other factors. I have compiled this list based upon several things, including; scouting reports, contacts, statistics, and of course seeing the players in person.
I just want to say ranking 50 players is no easy task. I’m not looking for credit for it, that’s not why I say that. I say it because I am bound to be wrong on several players here. Last season, myself and ex MCB contributor James Chipman compiled the list together, and for the most part, I am pleased with our rankings. I tend to lean towards players with a higher ceiling, however, the Tigers system is one of the more difficult ones to rank. Please keep in mind that the difference between number 26 and 44 is relatively small, and in some cases you could argue that they could be easily switched. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
But lastly, prospect talk is meant to be fun, as is the rankings. Let’s generate some discussion on these guys.
Without further delay…
30. Alex Burgos- Starting Pitcher
Burgos has taken quite a tumble on the Tigers top prospects lists. Mostly in the teens heading into the 2012 season, Burgos lost all of the momentum he gained in 2011. The main issue? Command. Burgos seemed to be unable to locate the zone all season in Lakeland, leading to a difficult season in which he posted an ERA of 4.90. Burgos is still young at 21 years old, and doesn’t turn 22 until December so he has time. His fastball sits in the upper 80′s most of the time, owns a quality curve ball and solid change. But until he finds the strike zone again, Burgos won’t be much of a prospect.
29. Dixon Machado- Shortstop
Machado is a frustrating prospect. His body just doesn’t allow him to hit with any sort of bat speed. As many of you all know by know, Machado is rail thin, and lacks physical strength. It’s literally like a pre-teen swinging the bat. It’s too bad, because if he comes around, he actually shows a good idea of the zone, and recognizes pitches well. Defensively, he is what Tigers fans are looking for. He is slick, can make all the plays to his left and his right, and has a rocket arm. An arm that brings scouts to the stand. Machado is quick and runs well too. But oh that hitting…
28. Jose Ortega- Relief Pitcher
Ortega is a classic power reliever. Well, maybe not classic, but he throws really hard, mainly has two pitches, and lacks command. Its what keeps a prospect like Ortega from becoming a late inning big leaguer. Ortega can repeatedly bring fastballs to the plate in the mid 90′s, and at times shows a really good slider. He isn’t consistent enough though, and he is beginning to push that age where the Tigers might just move on from him. Guys with his arm tend to continue to get chances though, and he had himself his first cup of coffee in the big leagues in 2012.
27. Aaron Westlake- First Base
Many of you that read our site, probably know my feelings on Aaron Westlake. Once I saw him, I wasn’t sure why people believed that he was a premium hitter. I thought his swing was all about the top half, and there was some holes for pro pitching to exploit. Westlake does have some pop, because he is strong, but it appears that it’s mostly going to be doubles power. His struggles in low A at age 23 for a guy that is supposed to be a premium hitter is kind of a red flag for me, but he wouldn’t be the first to get better. I do know the Tigers like him. Defensively, he is a capable first baseman, and might even be a little better than average. Some think he could potentially play left field, but I’m not sure he is a good enough athlete for that.
26. Luke Putkonen- Relief Pitcher
Are we getting to the guys now that have real big potential? Well, anyone of these top 50 guys could play in the bigs some day, and some already have. Putkonen is one of those guys. Putkonen didn’t inspire a lot of trust from Tigers fans in 2012, but he isn’t the first guy to take some lumps in his first big league attempt. Putkonen does have a quality arm, and can get his fastball up to 96-97, and at times flashes a quality curve ball to go with it. I think Putkonen could work on hiding the ball a little better, and a little better command would help, but I am sure we are going to see him in the major leagues again at some point.