Tigers Prospect Emailbag Questions Answered


As promised, you email me questions in, and I try and answer them. Questions can be Tigers system related or about prospects from any team in general. I would like to do this series more often, so the more questions the merrier. You can send questions to me at mcbjohnverburg@gmail.com, as well as any other thing related to Motor City Bengals. A big thank you to those who sent questions.

Without further delay, here we go…..

Q. I am wondering how you would rate the Tigers ability to develop talent through the minors.  It seems to me that they are one of the poorer teams at drafting and have a strategy of taking lower ceiling players especially recently.  What are your thoughts on the Tigers draft strategy and do you blame that for fewer home grown impact talent or do you think they are weak at player development (ie lack of development of secondary pitches on pitchers or developing position players that are all hit and no defense or vice versa).  thanks for your thoughts, i enjoy your articles. -Sean C.

A. This is really two questions here, and I would be happy to answer both.

Drafting. Personally, and this obviously will vary with the individual, I do not like how the Tigers draft. If you look at their recent history, they tend to lean heavily on college players, and really put their eggs into the one basket, and that is with their first rounder. Not having a first rounder in 2011, I thought the Tigers would get aggressive in the 2nd round, and they didn’t. Which is strange considering the loaded 2011 draft. There was plenty of high upside players around. Instead they had one of the more conservative drafts in baseball. 2008 was pretty abysmal, though people will point to Alex Avila, and tell me I’m crazy. However, when you draft 7 out of 10 relievers with your first 10 picks, it’s a little disappointing. They have been able to get some contributions from guys, but if you really look at the major league roster, the only players of real impact are Justin Verlander and Alex Avila, and possibly Brennan Boesch. How that compares with other organizations, I am not sure, but that might be worth looking at. They have done a good job of getting value from their picks that didn’t work and turned it into Miguel Cabrera, and Doug Fister to some extent. But their success rate of impact players isn’t really there, even if their success rate of guys making the majors is pretty good. Their drafts also lack diversity as of late. A better mix of college and high school would be ideal to me, but I don’t know that it’s going to change at this point, with the new CBA in effect.

I also tend to be in the camp that the Tigers don’t develop well either. I even think that David Dombrowski would probably agree to some extent, as they have made some significant changes to their development staff in the past year and a half or so. But this becomes a chicken and the egg argument kind of. Are they having trouble developing players, or do the players they get, lack space for which they can develop. It’s obviously a little bit of both, but the Tigers have had trouble getting toolsy players to develop on the field. Guys like Cale Iorg, Avisail Garcia, and Daniel Fields all offer high ceilings but aren’t putting it together on the field with any consistency. They tend to rush their best prospects, and I don’t necessarily disagree with challenging people, but on the pitching side, I would like to see their pitchers display dominance a little more before they are moved up.

Q. With the recent additions of Danry Vazquez and Adelin Santa to the Tigers organization. How do you feel about the Tigers international program. And do you see them getting even more involved with guys in the future? -Marc

A. Thanks for another question from Marc who asked one last time as well. The Tigers have really increased their efforts in the international arena, or more specifically Latin America since 2006. Some of the fruit of that labor is starting to show with guys like Brayan Villareal and Lester Oliveros making the major leagues in 2011. Francisco Martinez is another example of finding some talent down there. Despite some developmental issues talked about above, there is more talent from the international market in the Tigers system, than maybe ever. I don’t necessarily see the signings of Vazquez and Santa as some sort of indication of getting more involved, I almost see it as I do their drafting strategy. Getting that one player they believe in, and trying to get lucky on other guys.

Q. Which Tigers prospect that you have seen that you thought would make it for sure hasn’t? And in turn, what prospect did you think wouldn’t make it, has turned out to prove you wrong? -Tim S.

A. Good question. This is a tough one, and I am actually taking time to think about this one. As far as a guy that didn’t make it that I thought would. I would have to say Eulogio De La Cruz. Now, he did make the major leagues, but when I saw him, I thought for sure, he was going to be at least a solid major leaguer for years to come. Another guy in that vain was Tony Giarrantano. He did make it, and unfortunately injuries derailed him, but I thought he would become a productive offensive 2B for quite a while.

As far as a guy that has made it, and I didn’t expect to, I would have to say Jason Frasor. I didn’t think he really stood out much at all, but he has gone on to have himself a productive major league career. I think another guy that I didn’t really give a shot to, and not that he had a long career was Adam Bernero.

Its always difficult, especially when assessing guys at A ball or lower, who is going to take off once they get to higher levels. Brennan Boesch didn’t distinguish himself and start putting his tools to use until he hit AA really. There are guys like that in the minors now. As for who they may be, could be a guy like Steven Moya.

One thing is for sure, I am likely to miss on a bunch more guys.