It’s that time of year again. Time to give this prospect junkie his fix. Last year, I did farm system rankings for all of baseball, and so I wanted to do so again. As I explain with any farm system rankings, this is a completely subjective business. I do watch minor league baseball, I do a lot of research on the players, and I do talk to people who do talent evaluation in baseball. I certainly don’t have the clout in the prospect world that the guys at Baseball America have, nor do I care to. This is meant to be fun for me, and hopefully fun and informative for the reader. At the very least it should allow for some debate from other teams’ fans, as well as allow Tigers fans a glimpse into other organizations farm systems, so when the Tigers make a trade, there may be some knowledge of who they are getting. Last year, the Texas Rangers took the top spot. Who will it be this year?
1. Nick Castellanos (3B)- Castellanos is one of the best young hitters in the minors. Has chance to hit for average, power, and be an adequate third baseman defensively. Some concern over the number of strikeouts, but he recognizes pitches well, and adjusts in the batters box. I’m not too concerned at this point.
2. Avisail Garcia(OF)- Garcia is a multi-tooled prospect that has already reached the majors. He has power projection, runs well for his size, has a great arm and can defend. Needs to show a little bit more patience at the dish, but has done a much better job of swing at strikes in the past year.
3. Bruce Rondon (RP)- I don’t like ranking relievers this high, but Rondon is a premium arm. He is a three pitch closer who has been clocked at 103 mph, and lives in the upper 90′s. The real key is there is movement on the fastball. His slider flashes as plus, and the change is usable.
4. Danry Vasquez (OF)- Vasquez is a young right fielder who has solid tools across the board but shows more ability with the bat. Vasquez has the potential to hit for average and projects to hit for power as well. Athletically he is pretty average, but will likely be able to stay in right field.
5. Jake Thompson (SP)- Thompson is a big bodied pitcher from the 2012 draft the Tigers got out of high school. He is pretty advanced for his age showing a strong three pitch mix. While there isn’t a ton of projection, Thompson has the makings of a mid rotation innings eater.
6. Casey Crosby (SP)- Crosby got his first taste of big league action last season, and could get some again this year. Crosby is a power lefty that sits in the low 90′s with his fastball, shows an above average curve, and generates ground balls. His command wavers and holds him back though.
7. Eugenio Suarez (SS)- Suarez doesn’t get rave reviews from scouts, but his skills will grow on you as you watch him. Not the most athletically gifted, Suarez makes up for it with instincts. While his ceiling may not be considered high, he continues to hit and defend at high levels, outperforming scouting reports.
8. Tyler Collins (OF)- Collins is another guy that doesn’t have any standout tools. He is likely relegated to LF defensively because the arm is below average, but he runs well, and has a really good idea at the plate. Collins has modest power, but should hit for average and be a good on base guy. If he becomes another Andy Dirks I wouldn’t be surprised.
9. Steven Moya (OF)- Moya is a mammoth of a human being, and with that, comes the power projection of a 30 plus homer a year guy. He was tapping into some of his talent last season before going out with Tommy John surgery. He is also a pretty solid athlete for a big guy as well.
10. Austin Schotts (OF)- Schotts is another 2012 draftee out of high school the Tigers got. Schotts’ best attribute is his speed right now, but he is a strong young man as well. He has potential to be a top of the order fireplug, who flashes a bit of power as well. He is learning things defensively in center, but should take to it with his athleticism.
Just Missed The List:
Castro is a sweet swinging second baseman. Paulino has a big arm and ceiling but had shoulder issues last season. Briceno is a young flamethrower, and De La Rosa is a big bodied youngster with a good fastball.
Castro is a young Latin pitcher with quite a bit of projection on him. He could move into this list by the end of 2013. Gillies has a dominant sinker and was better than expected in 2012.
The Tigers made 25th on this list on the strength of their top three prospects. While I may like Cleveland’s depth and upside a bit better on some of their guys, the top three for the Tigers all look like guys who could be at the least average major league ball players. Plus, there is some guys with some upside thanks to their Latin program which has gotten better. The 2012 draft was helpful to the organization, but this system needs to restock some of it’s depth that it has lost in trades in recent years. Position prospects had been an issue in the past, but now it appears to be the strength of the system, while pitching at the top levels is down. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Tigers ranked as low as 28th on some lists, but I believe in Castellanos, Garcia, and Rondon enough to give them the nod to 25.