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…
15. Edgar De La Rosa- Starting Pitcher
De La Rosa is a big framed right handed pitcher that has massive potential, but he has been coming along slowly. He is ranked this high because of a couple reasons. One, the Tigers weak system, and two, on the strength of his fastball. De La Rosa sits in a range of 92-98 with his heater. And while the velocity is good, he doesn’t generate good downward plane with it at this point, and is still learning to command the pitch. His secondaries have a ways to go, despite having improved quite a bit in the past 18 months. He throws a curve ball that occasionally shows good bite and a change up that has a chance to develop as well. At 22, his improvements need to continue to be rapid, but with his frame and fastball, he could be a workhorse top of the rotation type with secondaries improvement, and a little better command. The caution here is, high ceiling, low floor.
14. Endrys Briceno- Starting Pitcher
Briceno is another in the same line as De La Rosa. Though not as big as the 6’6″ De La Rosa, Briceno is projectable in his own right at 6’4″ and only 160 pounds. Briceno has a strong arm, and like De La Rosa, he has no problem consistently pumping fastballs into the zone in the low to mid 90′s. He generates velocity from quick arm action and has begun to get a little bit better with his slider and change up. Briceno has a little bit better control than De La Rosa, and is also a year younger. If Briceno adds some strength and fills out his thin frame some, we could see a consistent mid to upper 90′s fastball which would play in the back of a pen, even if he doesn’t make it as a starter. He likely will be in West Michigan to start 2013, and will likely go as far as the development of his slider and change will take him.
13. Andrew Oliver- Starting Pitcher
There is likely nothing that I can tell you about Oliver that you don’t already know, so I will keep this short. The Tigers finally put Oliver in the bullpen at the end of last year, and I believe that might be an area he could thrive. Certainly with a chance to be better than a Daniel Schlereth. However, I do believe he will get a chance to start again, and as we all know it boils down to strike throwing with Oliver.
12. Brenny Paulino- Starting Pitcher
It was tough ranking Paulino, simply because he didn’t pitch last year for the Tigers because of a shoulder issue. The Tigers didn’t seem to think it was a major issue, but I would rather have a pitcher go through Tommy John than have shoulder troubles. Not knowing how this will affect his stuff means Paulino could drop drastically, or even move up if it doesn’t affect him at all. Paulino at his best ceiling is a starter that could sit upper 90′s with his fastball, have an above average curve and a good change. Or, he loses velocity and never develops like it looked like he would and doesn’t make it above A ball. There is great promise here, and as I said before, I am an upside whore, so there you have a ranking of 12.
11. Harold Castro- Second Base
Castro is an about to turn 19 year old that has only been stateside with the Tigers for one year. Already, Castro possesses one of the best hit tools in the Tigers entire system. Castro shows a tremendous feel for the hitting zone for a young player, and while he needs to develop more patience, he has a good idea of the strike zone. He owns a smooth line drive stroke, that over time, I could see developing into occasional home run power. The type of player that could pop 10-15 homers a season. Castro also runs well, having stolen 15 of 18 attempts last season in the GCL. Defensively, I haven’t heard as much on Castro, though what I have heard suggests that he will be at least solid defensively at second base. I would like to see the Tigers push him to West Michigan to see how he handles it, but I don’t think he will start there. He is more likely slated for Connecticut.