Mid Season Organization Report: Top Prospects 1-15


With the trade deadline looming already, and the mid season past us, it is time to look at how the minor league system is producing. So far, it has been a successful run for many prospects. Wilkin Ramirez made his first appearence in the major leagues. Luke French has shown that he can be a competitive pitcher at the major league level. Ryan Perry opened the season with the Detroit Tigers, and though he had a hard time controling his pitches, his stuff was very impressive. Alfredo Figaro struck out seven in his very first major league start. Meanwhile, it has been a struggle for other top prospects in the organization. Brandon Hamilton has struggled in his return to the class A West Michigan Whitecaps. Cale Iorg struggled to start the season in Double A Erie. Many prospects have emerged that some of us have never heard of.  In part one of a two part series, Let’s take a look at what is broiling for the top 15 prospects in the system (Prospects are listed as Baseball America ranked them before the 2009 season).

1.) Rick Porcello, SP Det- We have all witnessed what he did in the first half for the Tigers. Porcello wore down late in the first half, and will get an extended rest. The rookie won’t take the mound for his first start of the second half until July 22nd. There is no doubt that Porcello has been and will be valubable throughout the rest of the season. Many consider Porcello’s situation identical to that of Justin Verlander’s.

"“We’ve talked about it a little bit because I went through something similar — not as drastic as his is — but in 2006, I was shut down for a period of time,” Verlander said. “You want to give your arm a rest, but you don’t want to get out of sync. I think I took off three days.”"

So Far Porcello is 8-6 with a 4.14 ERA in 2009. Not too bad for a pitcher who started the season in the major leagues, after only playing at the single A level.

To view 2009 stats, click here.

2.) Ryan Perry, RP Toledo- Taken in round one of the 2008 draft, Perry made the jump quickly to the major leagues. Starting the 2009 season in the Tigers bullpen, Perry went 0-1 with a 4.28 ERA in 26 games with the parent club. Perry was called on is some very tough situations, and while the stuff was adequate, the location wasn’t. Perry tossed 21 walks in 27 innings pitched. After a continued struggle with location, the Tigers sent Ryan Perry to AAA to work on his in game management. Since then, Perry has gone 12 innings, picked up three saves, and only 3 walks. Currently BB/9IP ratio has dropped four points. A redefined Perry could be the answer down the stretch for the Tigers, especially if a match at the deadline for a reliever isn’t met.

To view 2009 stats, click here.

3.) Cale Iorg, SS Erie- Compared to Boston’s once top prospect Nomar Garciaparra, Cale Iorg has had a tough time adjusting to AA this season. Hitting .230, with nine home runs and 12 doubles, the power numbers are there. Hitting wise, the struggles have continued. In 84 games this season, Iorg has struck out 93 times. The Tigers hope he is the shortstop of the future, but a lot of teams that the Tigers could hook up for a trade, need a shortstop of the future. Iorg is still one of the top ten prospects in this organization, but the Tigers love might have turned to lust after the first half of 2009. Despite the struggles, Iorg could see a callup to Triple A.

To view 2009 stats, click here

4. ) Casey Crosby, SP West Michigan-  For Casey Crosby, 2009 has been a continued success in his professional baseball career. In 76 innings pitched, Crosby has struck out 86. He has walked 40 hitters, which will need to come down in the future. A promotion is definitely on the way for Crosby. The 6’4″ Lefty has a fastball that is 94 MPH, and after tommy john surgery. It’s going to be a while before we see Crosby, simply because he lacks polish, but he could be one of the top starters on this squad in the not so distant future. The Tigers have made it clear that he is going to remain a starter, no matter what the need for bullpen arms is.

To view 2009 stats, Click Here

5.) Jeff Larish, 1B/3B Toledo- Larish made the Tigers out of Spring Training, playing in 32 games and hitting just .218. Larish, who broke the home run record held by Barry Bonds at Arizona State, is at the edge of prospect and pro player. He just hasn’t made the jump though to Major League success. In 36 games, he did have a .344 OBP. The Tigers weren’t that happy with his consistency, and at the AAA level Larish has been working on that in the second half of the season. At the AAA level, Larish has driven in a run every other game. The strikeouts need to come down (33 in 32 games in Toledo) but Larish is getting on base at a decent rate of .406. He should be the first offensive call-up when a bat is needed.

To view 2009 stats, click here

6.) Wilkin Ramirez, OF Toledo- Ramirez opened up his major league career the way he always dreamed early in 2009, when he was called up to fill in for Magglio Ordonez.

"“I always dreamed that my first big league hit would be a homer,” Ramirez told the Detroit Free Press. “Best feeling ever.”"

Ramirez has shown an impressive balance of  power, speed and hitting ability. With AAA Toledo, Ramirez is hitting .272 with nine homers, 30 RBIs and 27 stolen bases in 71 games. Despite the .271 average, Ramirez has a solid .342 OBP. If the Tigers need a push in late August and September, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Tigers call up Wilkin out of desperation, much like they did in 2007, when Cameron Maybin was called up after the release of Craig Monroe. Ramirez has also been thrown in as one of the names other teams would be interested in acquiring.

To view 2009 stats, click here.

7.) Scott Sizemore, 2B Toledo- Sizemore has quickly moved up the ranks in the Tigers organization. So much that talks of trading Placido Polanco have surfaced. Baseball America loves the production he is putting up so far this season. Baseball America sees him getting to the major league level sooner, rather than later. Scott Sizemore is hitting .281 at the AAA level in 21 games, but has been noticed because what he was able to do at the AA level, where he hit .307 and drove in 33RBIs. What scouts love about Sizemore is that his swing is compact, and despite the strikeouts, he grinds out deep counts. One negative on Sizemore is his defense. He will continue to work on that all the way to the Detroit Tigers roster. Many think he will be the starter in 2009.

To view stats, click here.

8.) Cody Satterwhite, RP Erie- Satterwhite is yet another hard throwing righty in the system, closing out games. With 10 games shut down in 2009, Satterwhite has made a good transition to the next level. In 38 innings pitched, Satterwhite has given up 39 hits, and 22 walks. Meanwhile, he has gotten out of jams with 44 strikeouts. It is possible that Satterwhite could see a debut in Detroit by September, but AAA Toledo is a higher possibility. There is no doubt that Satterwhite is the future in the bullpen for the Detroit Tigers. One thing that he will continue to work on is control and secondary pitches.

9.) Dusty Ryan, C Toledo- Ryan was expected to be the starter going into the 2009 season, but after a rough summer, The Tigers decided to trade for Gerald Laird. Ryan is still part of the solution at catcher in the future, but with Al Avila continuing to impress, Ryan’s future might be short lived. Ryan is hitting a lowly .183 at the major league level, and has struck out 7 times in five games. It looks like Ryan will be the backup catcher at least for the rest of 2009, filling in for the injured Matt Treanor.

To view 2009 stats, click here.

10). Brett Jacobson, RP Lakeland- Jacobson has struggled a bit so far in 2009, after a solid professional debut last year with the West Michigan Whitecaps. Another young relief arm in the system, Jacobson has a great pitchers body, with a low nineties fastball, and hard 12-6 curveball that has been effective at times. Many thought that Jacobson would move quickly through the system, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. In 26 games at Lakeland, Jacobson has a 4.97 ERA in 41 innings pitched. The scary part is that Jacobson has only tossed 13 walks, but has given up a total of 42 hits. It seems that the rest of 2009 will be used to learn how to pitch to hitters, and to possibly rebound. Jacobson is giving up just over a homerun for every nine innings pitched.

To view 2009 stats, click here.

11.) Casey Fien, RP Toledo- Many have believed that Fien should of had his shot with this Tigers this season and the numbers clearly state why. So far in 2009, Fien has struck out 49 hitters in a little over 45 innings. Fien, who was first discovered by the Tigers in 2006, and later after a solid performance in the Arizona Fall League has given up 42 hits this season. Of those, only 19 have been charged as earned runs. Fien relies on a sinker that sits in the low nineties. Hitters have made good adjustments on his secondary pitches, and have compiled a .247 average against. What has always impressed about Fien though, is his ability to get out of trouble. So far this year, he has held 71% of the hitters that reached on base. That is a stat that will get you to the Detroit bullpen pretty quickly.

To view 2009 stats, click here.

12.) Ryan Strieby, 1B Erie- Alongside teammate Casper Wells at AA Erie, a lot was expected power wise from Ryan Strieby in 2009. Boy has he been spectacular so far. Despite missing some games to injury, Strieby has played in 75 contests, hitting .310  and driving in 53. Despite breaking the hamate bone in his left hand last year, Strieby’s power remains to be there. So far, he has taken the ball deep 17 times and 14 of his 80 hits are doubles. 40% of the hits off his bat are extra base hits, and in 75 games, Strieby has drawn and impressive 48 walks. His defense isn’t the best in the game, and he doesn’t run well, but a promotion is soon to be in order for Mr. Strieby.

To view 2009 stats, click here.

13.) Casper Wells, OF Erie- After a much publicized Arizona Fall League appearance this off-season, the Grand Rapids, Michigan native has struggled with the stick at AA Erie. Hitting only .220 with five homers and 11 RBIs, the power just hasn’t been there yet. A lot of it has to do with a wrist injury that has been bugging him since April.

"“I kind of swung and slowed up, I couldn’t finish my swing — someone said it looked weird,” Wells said. “I was out in front and took the swing and I felt my wrist go weak and the pain shot down my arm. I couldn’t even grab the bat, and it hurt to keep my hand up, just kind of a sharp pain. I didn’t feel a pop or anything.”"

Wells only has one two hit game in July, and is still looking to settle in and find his stroke. Many think that Wells might be a fluke, but his slugging and OBP tell a different story. Despite the offensive struggles, Wells is getting on base at a .356 rate and is slugging .423.

To view 2009 stats, click here.

14. Brooks Brown, SP Toledo- Brown has done a solid job since joining the Tigers organization after being acquired for James Skelton in a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Moving quickly through the system, Brown started at AA Erie, going 5-0 with a 2.21 ERA. In 36 innings pitched with the Seawolves, Brown only allowed 8 walks and 9 earned runs. After six starts with AA Erie, Brown was moved to AAA for what many thought was seasoning to join the major league rotation. So far in ten starts, it has been a bit rough for brown. His control has been the major issue, walking 27 in sixty innings. What is really encouraging is that 60% of Brown’s pitches in AAA have been strikes, and he has struck out a hitter once every other inning. Once everything comes together, he could be another option in the fifth starter role for the Detroit Tigers. We will see if Brown can respond in the second half to veteran AAA hitters. So far they are hitting .268 against him.

To view 2009 stats, click here.

15. Freddy Dolsi, RP Detroit- After starting the year with AAA Toledo, Dolsi has been called on to fill some big shoes in the parent club bullpen. Stepping in after Ryan Perry’s struggle with controls, Dolsi has only seen nine innings of action in five different games. His work so far though has been impressive. Dolsi ha only walked one hitter so far, but hitters have a .275 average against him. Only time will tell if he is a true piece for this bullpen in the final months of the season, but so far he has done the job when asked of him. The year started off with struggles in AAA, but could end with a final spot in the bullpen come the last weeks of September.

To view 2009 stats, click here.


Overall, The Tigers top prospects have come out and proven that they are major league level talents. Ryan Strieby has been a guy that came out of nowhere to one of the best power hitters in the minor leagues. Scott Sizemore and Wilkin Ramirez have put themselves on the map as top overall prospects. Despite the fact that none of these names landed on Baseball America’s top 100 prospect list, it is clear that there is talent in this system. Even some players who have struggled, such as Cale Iorg and Casper Wells, have shown in some way that they can produce offensively. Overall the system is heading in the right direction. In the second installment, we will look at a lot of pitchers showcasing their stuff, and a catcher that is blowing away the scouts. It’s exciting to see that at some level, the Tigers have rejuvenated their system to some extent.

(This is part one of a two part series covering the Detroit Tigers organization top 30 prospects at the middle of the season. For prospects 15-30 stay tuned the rest of the week on Motor City Bengals.)