Stock Up: Tigers Minor Leaguers

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With the minor league season officially over for a couple of weeks, I wanted to touch on some of the players in the Tigers system that have increased their stock over the past year. Not all of these guys are going to be top prospects in the Tigers system, though some will.

In contrast, I will be doing a “stock down” as well tomorrow. I have chosen 6 players of each type (hey, 6 is better than 5), but today we start with the more positive “stock up”.

1. Drew Smyly

Smyly has done about as much for himself as any prospect in the entire system. Though he was ranked at the back end of the top 10 by most services, Smyly has now pushed himself forward with an outstanding year. The 22 year old left-hander dominated in the high class A Florida State League, earning a promotion to AA Erie near the end of the year. Smyly looked even better at the higher level, going 4-3 in 8 appearances and 7 starts, with an ERA of 1.18. He struck out more than a batter per inning in Erie as well. When our rankings come out for Tigers prospects on this site, I am sure that Smyly will have a place up near the top.

2. Jay Voss

This AA left handed starting pitcher was acquired by the Tigers in the Nate Robertson deal last year. Generally, Voss has been used as a reliever over his career, but the Tigers decided to use him as a starter in 2011. Voss, like Smyly, led a very similar path to the Erie Seawolves this season, though his promotion came a little quicker. After starting 6 games for the Lakeland Flying Tigers and a 3.21 ERA, Voss finished the season in AA Erie sporting a 9-7 record with an ERA of 3.67. At 6’4″ and 195lbs, Voss has an ideal pitchers frame, and has good quality stuff to match it. Voss might not have as high a ceiling as some of the other guys in the rankings, but it wouldn’t be surprising at some point to see Voss put on a Tigers uniform in 2012.

3. Kyle Ryan

Ryan makes the 3rd straight left handed starter on this list, and who knows, there might even be more. Ryan is about to turn 20 years old in about a week, so there is plenty of development still left for this youngster, but out of everyone on this list, he might be taking the biggest leap in rankings. Like Voss, he has a great frame at 6’5 and 180lbs, with some room to fill out a little more, potentially adding more velocity over the next couple of years. In his first full season appearance, Ryan more than held his own at 19 years old. Ryan finished the season with just a 6-10 record, but posted an ERA of 3.15. His BB/K ratio was impressive for a youngster at 1/3, and he got stronger as the year went on, posting a 2.16 ERA in his last 10 starts. Ryan is definitely one to watch.

4. Alex Burgos

Burgos is the 4th straight left handed starter to make this list. Burgos has a little bit more of a limited ceiling, partly because he doesn’t have near the frame that the other guys do. That shouldn’t shy you away from Burgos though. At 20 years old, he was really impressive in West Michigan, making 16 starts and finishing with an ERA of 2.19. Burgos almost averaged a K per inning, striking out 89 in 94 innings. The difference with Burgos is that he has a good idea of how to pitch at a relatively young age. He moves the ball up and down, and uses both sides of the plate as well. Given that he wasn’t much on the radar last year, he should see a significant move in the rankings.

5. Brenny Paulino

Paulino broke onto this season in the short season Gulf Coast League. Just 18 years old, this big right handed pitcher was one of the more impressive arms in the league. Paulino already has a solid fastball that sits low to mid 90’s, but he offers quite a bit of projection as well at 6’4″ and 170lbs. In eight starts with the GCL Tigers, Paulino finished with an ERA of 2.36. He also struck out a batter per inning, and earned himself a look at the end of the season for the Lakeland Flying Tigers. He was clearly over-matched in the Florida State League, but that shouldn’t be unexpected. Paulino is still a work in progress and needs to work on his secondary pitches and command. Still, the youngster has given notice that he is a guy to watch next season.

6. Hernan Perez

Perez is the only position player on this list. The good thing is that the big club is doing pretty well offensively right now, the bad thing is you still hope for more. Perez is a slick fielding 2B/SS who started to show a little bit of pop with the bat this season. Just 20 years old, Perez finished the season hitting .258 with the Whitecaps. His OPS was a somewhat paltry .677, however it still represents a significant development from the previous year. Also, Perez seemed to tire down the stretch, as his first half was significantly better, spending much of the season at .290 plus with the batting average. Perez has now positioned himself as probably the best overall 2nd base prospect in the organization, though that may not be difficult with the competition.

Just missed the list:

SP Edgar De La Rosa, OF Luis Castillo, RP Michael Morrison, RP Ramon Lebron, and 3B Bryan Pounds.

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