2012 MCB Detroit Tigers Top 50 Prospects: #35 – #31


The Detroit Tigers Minor League affiliates seasons are officially in the books and the off-season is in full swing. With another season completed, the time has come for John Verburg and I to announce our 2012 MCB Detroit Tigers Top 50 Prospects List. Over the last month John and I have combined our lists to form a final product for our readers. Each players production, ceiling, floor and positional value ultimately determined their overall ranking. The finalized prospect list will be rolled out five at a time on my end covering each players background and a description on why they’re ranked that high and/or low. John will follow with a more detailed scouting report on each of the prospects.

Be sure to check back frequently and join the discussion as we work our way through the 2012 MCB Detroit Tigers Top 50 Prospects List.

2012 MCB Detroit Tigers Top 50 Prospects: #35 – #31

35. Kenny Faulk
Position: Left-Handed Reliever
Age: 24-years-old
Height: 6′
Weight: 210
2011 Team: Advanced-A Lakeland
2011 MiLB STATS: STATS: 52 2/3 IP   2-5  2.56 ERA  1.23 WHIP   8.5 H/9   2.6 BB/9  11.4 K/9  0.5 HR/9
2012 Projected Team: Class-AA-Erie


The Detroit Tigers selected southpaw reliever Kenny Faulk in the 16th round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft out of Kennesaw State University. As a senior he earned All-Atlantic Sun Conference honors after going 7-4 with a 3.16 ERA. In 42 2/3 innings of work Faulk racked up an impressive 56 strikeouts.

After quickly signing in 2009, Faulk reported to the Oneonta Tigers of the New York-Pennsylvania League. Faulk accumulated 2 wins with an ERA of 2.83 and racked up 28 strikeouts in 28 2/3 innings. He was also named to the NYP Mid-Season All-Star team that season.

In 2010–his first full season of pro-ball–Faulk was 5-4 with 12 saves, a 2.16 ERA and 78 strikeouts in 58 1/3 innings at Low-A West Michigan. He did not allow a home run the entire season and did not allow single a run from July through September.

Last season Faulk posted an impressive 2.56 ERA over 52 2/3 innings as the closer for the Flying Tigers. He continued to miss a fair amount of bats (11.4 K/9), limit walks (2.6 BB/9) and keep the ball in the yard (3 HR).

Why He’s This High:
His general approach to the game is exactly what I look for in a reliever. Faulk routinely pounds the strike zone, challenging opposing hitters. He has heart and seems to lack fear on the hill. He limits walks, keeps the ball in the yard and is very tough on lefties. People can knock his “stuff” all they want, I’m pulling for this kid!

Why He’s This Low:
Despite consistently putting up solid numbers, scouts continue to project him as more of an org filler. The fact that he was 24-years-old in Advanced-A Lakeland proves their point a bit. His ceiling is probably limited to a LOOGy in the show and perhaps I’m being a being a bit generous.

34. Ramon Lebron
Position: Right-Handed Reliever
Age: 22-years-old
Height: 6’1″
Weight: 180
2011 Team: Class-A West Michigan
2011 MiLB STATS: STATS: 34 1/3 IP   3-1 1.83 ERA  1.08 WHIP   4.7 H/9   5.0 BB/9  11.5 K/9  0.3 HR/9
2012 Projected Team: Advanced-A Lakeland 

The Detroit Tigers signed Ramon Lebron as a 17-year-old out of the Dominican Republic in September of 2006.

Lebrons Tigers debut was a brief one, lasting just 3 1/3 innings in 2007 for the Dominican Summer League Tigers. He surrendered six runs on three hits and five walks as an 18-year-old that season. Lebron returned to the DSL in 2008, logging 48 innings and accumulating a much improved 4.31 ERA. He managed to strikeout nearly 10 batters per nine innings but struggled with command walking 27 batters.

Lebron came stateside in 2009 as a starter/reliever for the Gulf Coast League Tigers. Lebron continued to rack up strikeouts (9.8 K/9) but continued to to struggle with walks (6.6 BB/9). The walks, coupled with surrendering nearly a hit per inning, yielded an unimpressive 1.62 WHIP over 50 2/3 innings.

Lebron was faced with an aggressive assignment in Class-A West Michigan to start the 2010 campaign. Lebron was definitely overmatched though, posting a 6.85 ERA over 47 1/3 innings. Similar to the levels before, he posted amazing strikeout ratios (10.5 K/9) but the walks continued to be a thorn in his side (7.4 BB/9). Making matters worse, Lebron was also surrendering over a hit per inning. Lebron would go on to finish the season splitting time between the Gulf Coast League and short-season Connecticut.

Lebron was used exclusively as a reliever last season in Class-A West Michigan. The move resulted in career lows in walks and hits per nine innings. Lebron also posted an impressive 1.83 ERA and a much more tolerable WHIP of 1.08. Unfortunately the 22-year-olds season was cut short in early July due to injury.

Why He’s This High:
Lebron is the epitome of what Dave Dombrowski looks for in a late inning reliever. He features a mid-90s fastball that occasionally reaches triple digits. He took a small step forward last year, lowering the walks and hits a tad while maintaining his impressive strikeout ratio. IF he can ever iron things out he’d be an asset to the Tigers ‘pen.

Why He’s This Low:
His small frame, complex delivery and history of command and control struggles keep him out of the top thirty. Lebron also fails to offer anything projectable beyond the fastball. Because of this I wonder how his stuff will fair against batters as the levels increase.

33. Wilsen Palacios
Position: Right-Handed Pitcher
Age: 21-years-old
Height: 6’3″
Weight: 180
2011 Team: Connecticut 
2011 MiLB STATS: STATS: 79 IP  5-5 3.08 ERA  1.10 WHIP   7.2 H/9 2.7 BB/9  5.5 K/9  0.8 HR/9
2012 Projected Team: Class-A West Michigan

The Detroit Tigers signed Wilsen Palacios as a 16-year-old out of Venezuela in July of 2006.

He debuted in the Venezuelan Summer League in 2007, logging 29 1/3 innings. Palacios allowed 37 hits, 12 walks and struck out 17 while posting a 4.91 ERA. He returned to the VSL in 2008, posting an impressive 1.52 ERA over 41 1/3 innings.

Unfortunately the majority of his 2009 campaign was lost because of a 50-game suspension for testing positive for anabolic steroids.

Palacios was brought stateside in 2010, splitting time between the GCL, Connecticut and Lakeland. He accumulated a combined 2.43 ERA and 0.95 WHIP over 74 innings that season. Palacios walked just 13 batters while striking out 67.

Last season Palacios returned to Connecticut which was a bit surprising to me. He posted a solid 3.08 ERA and 1.10 WHIP over 79 innings. The strikeouts dropped a tad and the walks jumped up a tick. He also allowed an uncharacteristic 7 home runs. To put things in perspective he allowed a total of 3 the previous 4 seasons.

Several scouts are pretty high on him and the results have backed up their lofty expectations thus far. I don’t see any reason why West Michigan or even Lakeland wouldn’t be his landing spot next season.

Why He’s This High:
Palacios has the ideal pitchers body and he already features a very solid repertoire. He has a track record for going very deep into games. Palacios also continues to limit walks and keep the ball in the yard. He’s commonly projected as a very solid, innings eater with a middle of the rotation ceiling.

Why He’s This Low:
Naturally I’m not very fond of the suspension. Beyond that I wonder why the Tigers held him back last season. The decrease in strikeouts and increase in home runs also was a bit concerning. Regardless, I’m still pretty high on Palacios.

32. Michael Torrealba
Position: Right-Handed Reliever
Age: 22-years-old
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 150
2011 Team: Class-A West Michigan
2011 MiLB STATS: STATS: 81 IP  5-3 2.22 ERA  1.25 WHIP   7.6 H/9 3.7 BB/9  9.9 K/9  0.6 HR/9
2012 Projected Team: Advanced-A Lakeland 

The Detroit Tigers signed Michael Torrealba as a 16-year-old, out of Maracay, Venezuela in July of 2006.

He made his Tigers debut pitching in the Venezuelan Summer League in 2007 and 2008. 2007 brought mediocre results–5.65 ERA & 20BB/19K–in a small sample size of 28 2/3 innings. Torrealba took a giant step forward in 2008 though as an 18-year-old. Working exclusively as a reliever, he posted a 4-1 record, 2.06 ERA and opposing batters hit just .169 against him. He saw a dramatic increase in strikeouts 11.6 K/9 and a much improved walk ratio of 3.9 BB/9 over 48 innings.

In 2009 Torrealba arrived stateside pitching for Oneonta of the NYPL. Statically he enjoyed another successful season posting a 2-1 record and a 2.78 ERA over 35 2/3 innings. He maintained similar strikeout and walk ratios and held opposing batters to a .197 average. Torrealba split time between Connecticut and Advanced-A Lakeland in 2010 posting a combined 3.67 ERA and 1.13 WHIP over 41 2/3 innings. Despite the slight increase in hits and slight decrease in strikeouts, 2010 was yet another solid season. Torrealba posted a lower walk ratio 2.4 BB/9 and maintained an impressive clip of over a strikeout per inning.

In 2011, Torrealba was assigned to Class-A West Michigan where he was a late inning reliever. Last season with the ‘caps Torrealba continued to strikeout over a batter an inning–9.9 K/9–and he posted a shiny 2.22 ERA with 9 saves over a career high 81 innings. He proved that he could routinely be called upon to successfully  handle more than an innings worth of work. As the injuries piled up, he also became the go-to guy in the ‘Caps ‘pen.

Why He’s This High:
Torrealba more than held his own in West Michigan last season. I like his career track record of missing bats (9.9 K/9), limiting walks (3.7 BB/9) and keeping the ball in the yard (0.4 HR/9). You’d have to imagine that if all goes well next season he could see AA-Erie at some point. I think his time in AA-Erie will paint a much clearer picture of his future with the Tigers.

Why He’s This Low:
His small frame and high effort delivery are a little concerning to me. Torrealba also has a relatively low MLB ceiling. Opinions vary from sixth to seventh inning guy. There’s plenty to be excited about about though. I’m taking a wait and see approach though, so he’s not cracking the top twenty-five just yet.

31. Javier Azcona
Position: 2B/SS
Age: 20-years-old
Height: 6’
Weight: 185
Bats: Right-Handed
Throws: Right-Handed
2011 Teams: Connecticut & Class-A West Michigan 
2011 MiLB STATS: 190 AB .232 AVG .279 OB%  12 doubles 2 triples 6 HR 30 RBI
2012 Projected Team: Class-A West Michigan 

The Detroit Tigers signed Javier Azcona as a 16-year-old, out of the Dominican Republic in July of 2008.

He made his Tigers debut in 2008 in the Dominican Summer League. Azcona posted a .249 average and a .350 on-base percentage that season. The 17-year-old flashed a bit of power too, accumulating 11 doubles, 5 triples and 4 home runs.

The Tigers brought Azcona stateside in 2010 where he played in the Gulf Coast League. He posted a .256 average and a .296 on-base percentage in his sophomore season. Azcona also split time between third-base, shortstop and second-base.

Last season Azcona split time between Connecticut and Class-A West Michigan. The slick fielding middle infielder spent the bulk of his time at second-base and shortstop. The .232 average and .279 on-base percentage was a little discouraging. Azcona continued to flash occasional raw power though, belting 12 doubles, 2 triples and 6 home runs. He also earns rave reviews for his above-average speed and solid defense. He’s young and it’s mostly projection at this point but he’s an interesting prospect nonetheless.

Why He’s This High:
The present tools and projections that he possesses make him one of the better middle infield prospects in the Tigers system. He has a tendency to rush throws and become erratic at times. Regardless, scouts grade and project his defense above average moving forward.

Why He’s This Low:
As I previously stated its pretty much all projection at this point. Azcona could just as easily bust as he could turn into the projected starting MLB infielder.

2012 MCB Detroit Tigers Top 50 Prospects

#50 – #46

#45 – #41

#40 – #36


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