I continue my series looking at the season of the Tigers minor league affiliates. I didn’t have much faith in Erie from the start of the season, and unfortunately it looks like my lack of faith was warranted. My apprehension about the Erie squad was mainly because at the start of the season there was a lack of marquee prospects to follow on the Seawolves. The best prospect of note to start the year was easily Rob Brantly. Brantly has since been traded to the Marlins of course in the Anibal Sanchez/Omar Infante deal, but minor league rosters seldom remain static, and Erie saw it’s fair share of prospects by the end of the year.
Fields didn’t get a lot of at-bats in spring training this year, but from what I saw, I was impressed. I felt that Fields was poised for a breakout season of sorts, but it never seemed to come to fruition. Fields started the year in Lakeland for the the third consecutive spring and didn’t do much to earn a promotion. He wasn’t terrible, but wasn’t especially good either. Still the Tigers moved him to Erie, and after a real rough start, Fields showed some signs of life. Fields hit .264 for the Seawolves in a little over 100 at-bats, posting an OPS of .711, while stealing 9 of 10 bases. Not eye popping by any stretch, but if he gets assigned there again next year to start, watch for that breakout.
We all know about Castellanos. What we all should realize at this point, despite his immense talent, Nick is going to need another year of seasoning. Dude doesn’t turn 21 until March of next year, so that is quite alright. Castellanos proved way too good for Lakeland, and early on it was looking like it was going to be much of the same in Erie. A late season slump knocked his batting average down to .264, but it’s his plate discipline numbers that were concerning. Don’t fret too much though Tigers fans. Castellanos is a natural hitter, and even if he does strike out some at the big league level, he is going to do his fair share of damage as well.
September 25, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers right fielder Avisail Garcia (34) hits a single during the second inning against the Kansas City Royals at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE
We are starting to get to know Garcia quite a bit as well. He has made vast improvements since I have seen him last. Still, Garcia is a work in progress despite his moderate success in the big leagues so far. Garcia is batting over .300 right now, but he is swinging at every strike he sees, and that has led to a lot of singles. He needs to learn which strikes he can do damage with, but that should come in time. He is clearly a promising young player that looks like he should get a full time audition possibly next spring. Personally, I think the Tigers should wait, but they haven’t always been known for their patience.
McCann isn’t a big time prospect by any stretch, and that is because I don’t think he will hit a lick. I could be wrong, but his numbers at Erie suggest a guy that is going to struggle with the bat. It was his first full professional season though, so I guess I should cut him some slack. Word is that McCann is strong defensively, and has solid intangibles. That, and the fact he was a priority draft pick could be enough for him to get some time in the bigs as soon as 2013, depending on what the Tigers do with Gerald Laird.
Rondon actually finished the season with the Toledo Mud Hens, but he spent most of the second half with the Seawolves. The fire-balling right hander really improved in 2012 and showed an ability to throw more strikes. His fastball/slider combo is devastating, and will likely get a look in spring training next season depending how things shake out for the Tigers in the free agent and trade market this off-season. That may not even matter. Guys with Rondon’s stuff don’t grow on trees, and that alone will put him into the bullpen conversation next spring.