Projecting Lakeland’s Position Players


I believe that I have cracked the egg on another series. And since I can’t put the yolk back in there, I might as well finish what I have started here. Just the other day, I gave you what I suspect will be the starting rotation for the Tigers high class A Lakeland Flying Tigers. Now it is time to follow it up with guys that could be supporting those pitchers in the field.

Here we go…..

1st base- Aaron Westlake

I initially thought that Westlake would be slated for West Michigan. And he might be. However, his age at 23 almost demands that he get pushed to Lakeland to start the 2012 season. Not to mention, he was somewhat of a priority draft pick in the 3rd round. Truth be told, I am not all that confident he is going to hit like the Tigers think. We shall see.

2nd base- Hernan Perez

All of a sudden Perez is starting to climb the Tigers prospect lists. There is some good reason for that. He showed a little bit more pop last season for West Michigan, and hovered near the .300 mark with his batting average for much of last season until a late season swoon. Perez also possesses solid athleticism and good defensive potential as well. Let’s see if he can take the momentum of the Arizona Fall League and parlay that into a good 2012.

Shortstop- Dixon Machado

Machado, also participated in the Arizona Fall League at the young age of 19 this past off-season. He was a little more overmatched at the plate, however, his glove will play at any level. Machado is a slick defender, and personally, I think there is some hope with the bat. He shows good speed, takes a healthy cut, and has a good idea of the strike zone. His biggest downfall is his frame, and there is some concern he won’t be able to add the much needed strength that the organization is looking for.

3rd base- Nick Castellanos

Yeah, the Tigers 2010 first round pick plays 3B, and if Miguel Cabrera sticks there, he might eventually have to move. The Tigers shouldn’t worry about that now however, so Castellanos is likely going to play 3B until he gets to the majors. The bat is what the Tigers and everyone else like about Castellanos anyway, and he is going to get the opportunity to show that off in Lakeland. He has tremendous hands, and will look to cut down on his strikeouts and increase his power numbers.

Outfielders- Daniel Fields, Tyler Collins, Luis Castillo

This is going to be an interesting position to watch when the rosters shake out after spring. I am projecting Avisail Garcia to end up in Erie right now, though it could very well be the case he ends up in Lakeland and Castillo ends up in Erie. If Garcia ends up in Lakeland, that is an impressive amount of talent in the Flying Tigers’ outfield. As it is, Castillo, Collins, and Fields could potentially provide an excellent defense, as well as put up some offense for the Flying Tigers pitching staff. Fields is going to have to show some improvement here, as it will likely be his third straight year in Lakeland, though he isn’t old by any stretch.

Designated Hitter- Clay Jones

Jones is likely what we call an organizational guy, but he can hit a little bit, and will likely be teaming with Aaron Westlake to play a little bit of 1st base as well as DH. Has some pop and can add a little stability to this lineup.

Catcher- Rob Brantly

Brantly rounds out what should be a very intriguing Lakeland lineup. While he got a cup of coffee with Lakeland last season and struggled, Brantly is expected to be better this time around. He is still somewhat of a bat first catcher, but the defense is coming along, and at the very least, he might be an intriguing trade piece for someone else down the road.

Reserves- P.J. Polk, Jason Krizan, Curt Casali, Matt Perry, Corey Jones, Ryan Soares

Reserves are pretty hard to predict. I can see Polk, Krizan and Casali for sure. Progression would suggest Corey Jones would move to Erie, but if Danny Worth doesn’t make the Tigers roster, he falls to AAA and I think that means Brandon Douglas plays 2B in Erie, keeping Jones in Lakeland. Perry and Soares are guesses.

I also don’t want to approach picking bullpens, as I didn’t for West Michigan either. There are way too many variables. I will say that a couple key contributors for Lakeland are likely to be Patrick Cooper, Michael Torrealba, and closer Bruce Rondon.

*Again, you can check out scouting reports on a lot of these guys by putting their name into the search box at the top right hand corner, or check out the MCB Top 50 and scouting reports below the “Featured Articles” Tab at the top of the page.