As with any ranking system, this list is subjective to the author. I will say that my rankings tend to lean more towards the ceiling on a player, but I do also take into account the floor of a player, and the likelihood the players can reach their ceiling. Numbers are nice, but when looking at prospect rankings, numbers can sometimes mean very little. For example, is it fair to judge a 20 year old in high A the same as a 23 year old in West Michigan? Of course not. Some numbers are good indicators but nothing beats seeing players in person, or talking to people who watch them. I have done both recently, and am going to watch even more in a couple weeks.
This list is different from the beginning of the year of course, and could easily change once again before next season.
Here we go…
25. Dixon Machado (SS)
Machado is slipping in the eyes of scouts, and quite possibly the Tigers organization. However, he has been a favorite of mine for a couple of years. There are still things to like with Machado. Defensively, he has the chance to be a top notch SS. He has good hands, a strong arm, and good lateral quickness. Offensively is another question, and unfortunately for Machado I’m not sure there is much he can do about it. Machado actually shows an ability to command the strike zone quite well. He is able to work counts and swings at strikes for the most part. The problem with him is when he does make contact, there is nothing behind it. His frame is so small, that unless he adds some muscle somehow, I don’t see how he can hit enough.
Machado is just 20 years old, and had a positive June where he hit .260 and got his OPS to .689 for the month. Overall though he is at .207 for the season. Still plenty of time, but the star is losing some of its brightness at this point.
24. Jason King (3B)
King was a fourth round draft pick out of Kansas State in the 2011 draft. He has battled injury since his college days, but is a good athlete, who gets the most out of his modest abilities. King is a grinder who does have 20 plus home run potential annually. He doesn’t strike out a ton, but is a little too aggressive at the dish from both sides of the plate, as he is a switch hitter. King does have some trouble with breaking balls, and doesn’t use the whole field enough to hit for a high average down the road. King should stick at 3B, and he does have strong intangibles which should carry him to AAA at the very least.
So far this season, King has struggled at West Michigan. He is hitting just .233 so far on the season, and only has 3 home runs. At 23 years old, he is going to have to show some improvement next season.
23. Adam Wilk (SP)
Wilk is the kind of guy that gets underrated often in these types of things. It’s not a knock on Adam, it’s just his ceiling is limited by his stuff, and the likelihood he has a long big league career is really slim. However, his floor is high, and he gets the most out of his stuff, maybe the most in the entire Tigers minor league system. Wilk is the quintessential soft-tossing lefty. His fastball mainly sits 86-88, and also possesses a curve and a change. There isn’t a ton of speed variation on his pitches, however, his change up is a little above average. His breaking ball is fringe as well.
I have no doubt Wilk will likely have another cup of coffee or two, but unfortunately for him, it’s going to be real difficult to carve out a long period of time.
22. Thomas Collier (SP)
Collier has been one of the fastest movers among Tigers prospects, at least as rankings are concerned. Collier was drafted last season by the Tigers, and has made a good impression. He is a Tommy John guy who lasted longer in the draft because of the injury. Collier possesses three solid pitches. His sinking fastball sits in the low 90’s, and allows him to limit the long ball. His slider has good quick break, and his change up has average potential. Collier is a strike thrower, however, as he moves up the ladder, he is going to have to command his whole arsenal, as none of his pitches represent as a true swing and miss pitch.
Collier has some back end of the rotation potential. He is 22 years old right now, and has a strong frame. Currently he is West Michigan’s best starter and has an ERA of 2.29 this season.
21. Curt Casali (C)
I’m not convinced that Curt Casali won’t be as good a player as 2nd rounder James McCann when all is said and done. Casali isn’t loaded with athleticism and tools, but is strong, and displays good intangibles. Two things that are important for a catcher. Casali has good power, and shows an idea of the strike zone with a bat in his hands. Behind the plate as a defender, Casali shows a strong aptitude for handling a staff and has a good arm.
The 23 year old Casali is currently in Lakeland after starting the year with West Michigan. On the season, he has hit .293 with an OPS of .887.