Tigers Top 50 Prospect Profiles #35-#31
By John Verburg
As James mentioned, all of our prospect lists are going to be followed by myself doing mini-scouting reports on all of the prospects on the list. Most of these scouting reports are compiled from various sources of information including; scouting reports, sources around baseball, first-hand reports, statistical data, and most importantly James and myself actually seeing a majority of the players. I feel by incorporating all of these things together, we can give you some of the most accurate Tigers prospect information out there.
I am by no means a professional scout, but will say I have been following Tigers prospects, and prospects in general for over 10 years now, and have picked up enough information along the way to have an informed opinion.
Anyway, myself and James hope you all enjoy the series and the information……..
Faulk is a somewhat short stocky left hander that has been closing games for the Tigers organization the past couple of years. The honest truth of things is I don’t particularly find Faulk all that intriguing. At 24 years old in high A ball, he should be having some success, facing less experienced hitters. And he has done that. Faulk has managed to get strikeouts at a good rate featuring two primary pitches, a fastball and a change. Both pitches have major league average potential, his fastball sitting in the low 90’s most nights, though he is better off not pitching in back to backs due to a lack of desired physical conditioning. His fastball tends to be straight, and doesn’t get much downward plane, though he has learned to cut it here and there. His change is pretty straight, however, he does throw it with good arm action, and is able to fool younger hitters. It will be interesting to see if he can continue to get advanced hitters out without a true breaking pitch. Faulk doesn’t profile as a loogy because the change is his best secondary, but he could be a garbage man type at the big league level if all goes well. Maybe a Brad Thomas type?
Lebron is a somewhat short right handed reliever blessed with a strong arm. Lebron is pretty simple to analyze in a sense. If he can learn to routinely throw strikes with his fastball and develop a major league average breaking pitch, Lebron could end up as a set-up man in the big leagues. His fastball routinely sits in the mid 90’s, and has been clocked in the upper 90’s on occasion. His fastball lacks movement, but does have some life to it, as reflected by his 11.5K/9 strikeout rate. His curve ball at times has been a better than average pitch for him as well. Lebron has shown the ability to get some depth with good spin, however, there is a lack of consistency in the quality of the pitch. He has also been known to vary his delivery depending on which pitch he is throwing. As a one time starter, he did try a change up at one time, but it hasn’t developed into a usable pitch at this point. Lebron suffered a shoulder injury last season, and this will be a concern going forward. Given his relatively small frame, and effort with which he throws, he is destined to stick in the pen.
This is where we start getting into guys with some projection and some success. Palacios has an ideal pitchers frame that most scouts look for at around 6’3″ and 180lbs. He currently sits in the low 90’s with his fastball, though some believe there is potential for a little bit more. Palacios throws his fastball for strikes, though like any young pitcher, he could stand to learn how to move it around the zone better. His curve ball has the potential to be an above average secondary offering, and is pretty good right now. It’s not a true 12 to 6, but it has good break, and he does generate some swings and misses with it from time to time. Palacios throws the pitch around 10-12 mph slower than his fastball, and learning to use it effectively early in counts is a next step for him. His change is actually a splitter, and while it doesn’t have the MPH separation that you ideally look for, it is a usable offering for Palacios as he throws it with good arm speed and gets decent downward movement. There is definitely enough to like to monitor Palacios going forward. He does need to work on some things, but he has a workhorse type frame, and could be a mid-rotation innings eater if all goes well. If starting doesn’t work out, he could land in the pen as a late inning guy as well.
Having seen Torrealba pitch this season for the first time, I have to say a couple things. One, I was impressed because he looked good out there. Two, unfortunately he is going to have to work on some things to become a major leaguer. Torrealba is pretty slight of frame, and is a sub 6 foot right hander. This type of guy is usually a conundrum for scouts, because there isn’t the projection on his frame that they look for, but he gets outs, and has a pretty good arm. Torrealba can regularly pump fastballs into the low 90’s using a real quick arm action, though at this point, he lacks ideal command within the zone. He isn’t going to get much downward plane on the pitch because of his height, so he is going to tend to be a fly ball pitcher. Torrealba would be well served to begin to cut his fastball on occasion as he advances higher to give the hitters a different look. His curve ball when I have seen it flashes as above average, and he threw it at any time in the count. He generated swings and misses with the curve, however it was rarely a strike. I watched low A players chase, and that won’t be the case as he moves up the ladder. He is going to have to throw strikes with it as he advances. I do see Torrealba as more of a 6th/7th inning guy down the road, but I worry his command won’t get much better limiting his ceiling somewhat.
Okay, I think we went a little higher on Azcona than a lot of people would go. He is a talent, and at this point is all about projection, however, with a system as weak as the Tigers…….we figured that we could take a couple of shots on guys who haven’t necessarily put things together on the field yet. The reason for the projection on Azcona is he has a long lean frame that can easily support more muscle as he goes, and there is already some raw power there. At present, Azcona has above average speed, one of the stronger arms in the system, and the aforementioned raw power. He currently plays shortstop, but if his body fills out as expected, he could lose some mobility and wind up at 3rd base. Mechanically, he has a good swing for a young hitter, but needs work on plate discipline and recognition. Defensively he moves well at present, and coupled with the strong arm, could easily play 2nd or SS as well. SS is his natural position, and he just needs more experience at the position to get better. Given that he is just 20 years old, there is some time to work on his faults. Azcona is easily the most raw player that we have ranked this high at this point, and we should see over the next couple years what player he turns out to be.