Projecting the West Michigan Whitecaps Rotation


As spring training approaches quickly, the major league roster isn’t the only thing that will be taking shape. Guys will be trying to prove themselves across the organization, in hopes to get that aggressive promotion and to impress the Tigers front office. I thought I would spend a few moments and talk about some of the guys that we could see in the starting rotation in West Michigan. Hopefully, our Grand Rapids area readers, as well as all of our readers will enjoy a look at who we could see in Fifth Third Park this spring.

It can be difficult to project these things, so I might list a couple more than five. Here we go….

1. Brenny Paulino

Paulino is one of the fastest rising prospects in the Tigers system, as evidenced as going off the radar, to making it all the way to our 6th best prospect on the MCB top 50. You can find a mini-scouting report on Paulino here. I think he is most definitely one of the locks to be in the rotation for the ‘Caps, and I know, I for one, plan on making it out there to see him on at least one occasion this year.

2. Wilsen Palacios

Palacios pitched for the short-season Connecticut Tigers in 2011, and finished the season very strongly there posting an ERA of 3.08 in his 14 starts. Palacios came in at no. 33 on our top 50 list this season, and you can find his scouting report here. Much like Paulino he is a strong candidate to get his first full season assignment, and at the age of 22, he is going to have to start moving quickly.

3. Thomas Collier

Collier is the first 2011 draftee on this list, and it isn’t like he was a priority selection. Collier may have lasted until the 22nd round, but that was due in large part to injury he suffered on the college level. He has mid-rotation potential, and at 22 years old, is a likely candidate for West Michigan to start the season. Collier ranked #40 on our MCB top 50 prospects list, and you can find his scouting report here.

4. Brennan Smith

Smith should be familiar to those who watch Whitecaps baseball regularly. He has spent some time with the ‘Caps before, and even did so in 2011. When the draft came around in 2011, the Tigers sent Brian Flynn to West Michigan while Smith finished the season in Connecticut where he was stellar. Smith did not make our top 50 prospects list, but he just missed the cut, and I did do a profile of him here.

5. Matt Crouse

Crouse isn’t what you would consider a top prospect. His fastball doesn’t get up in the 90’s regularly, and his secondary stuff isn’t so good that he is going to wow a bunch of scouts. He did however put up strong numbers in Connecticut for the Tigers, and has shown an ability to command. Crouse would likely be a guy who could help solidify a minor league rotation with a couple of guys like Paulino and Palacios on it. He did not make our top 50 or get profiled at this point, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him on the Whitecaps out of spring.

Other candidates:

Usually when you look for guys that might break through, you look for a younger guy or a guy coming back from injury. One younger guy that could impress enough in spring could be Edgar De La Rosa. De La Rosa is a big bodied pitcher that is tremendously projectable. He doesn’t however show enough of a curve ball on a consistent basis yet. If he can do that in spring, maybe he starts with the ‘Caps.

Jeff Ferrell is a guy that the Tigers really liked. He has good stuff, and started with the Whitecaps in 2011, but his season finished early with Tommy John. If he is ready to come back, we could see Farrell as another option for the ‘Caps rotation in 2012.

Lastly, sometimes a guy will repeat a level. Usually it’s a younger guy who the organization might feel needs a little more development. The only guy that I can see that might fit that criteria could be Josue Carreno, though I think it is likely he is going to be a Lakeland Flying Tiger to start 2012.

Either way, it looks like there should be some interesting arms on the mound for the ‘Caps in 2012.