When compiling any list, it is essential to keep in mind these things tend to be very subjective, especially in the world of prospects. A prospect’s status can fluctuate as quickly as the stock market, depending on injury or a multitude of other factors. I have compiled this list based upon several things, including; scouting reports, contacts, statistics, and of course seeing the players in person.
I just want to say ranking 50 players is no easy task. I’m not looking for credit for it, that’s not why I say that. I say it because I am bound to be wrong on several players here. Last season, myself and ex MCB contributor James Chipman compiled the list together, and for the most part, I am pleased with our rankings. I tend to lean towards players with a higher ceiling, however, the Tigers system is one of the more difficult ones to rank. Please keep in mind that the difference between number 26 and 44 is relatively small, and in some cases you could argue that they could be easily switched. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
But lastly, prospect talk is meant to be fun, as is the rankings. Let’s generate some discussion on these guys.
Without further delay…
50. Fernando Perez– Pitcher
Perez spent 2012 with the GCL Tigers pitching at age 18. After starting slowly, Perez got better as the season wore on, posting an ERA of 2.79 in his last 10 appearances and a 4.24 ERA overall. At 6’3″ and 185lbs, Perez has the makings of an ideal pitching frame, and as he gains strength, could add velocity to a fastball that gets into the low 90’s. There is some definite upside here, and Perez showed an ability to strike batters out already, posting 43 in 46 GCL innings. As with many youngsters, Perez needs work on secondary pitch development and repeating his mechanics consistently. Perez could end up in the bullpen, but I would like to see him continue to develop as a starter.
49. Jamie Johnson– OF
Johnson to this point of his career hasn’t done much to distinguish himself from the pack of 4th or 5th outfield types in the organization. He has reached Toledo, however it was for only 10 games, so he really is only a step away from the big leagues at this point. His calling card is his patience at the dish. It’s not abnormal for Johnson to walk more than he strikes out, but he is going to have to show that he can get on base at about a .370 clip in AAA before he gets a shot. There isn’t much power beyond doubles to speak of, and Johnson, although not slow, is just an average runner. He is solid defensively, and can play multiple positions.
48. James Robbins– First Base
Robbins was an over-slot signing out of high school in 2009. Many teams considered him a better pitching prospect, but the Tigers saw some potential in his bat, so they put him at 1B. Defensively, Robbins isn’t bad at all. In fact he moves pretty well around the bag, and of course has the arm to make the necessary throws. I do think he could tighten up his frame a bit, though I am not sure that will make a big difference in his game. Robbins is all about power potential. He has gap power now, and it is beginning to turn into over the fence power, and it goes to LF or RF as a left handed batter. There are major contact issues with Robbins however, as he struck out 171 times last season for Lakeland. He did just turn 22 in September, so he still has some time.
47. Franklin Navarro– Catcher
I tend to try and shy away from prospects that haven’t even made it stateside yet, but with the Tigers shallow farm system, and some of these guys ability, a few have made the list. Navarro is the first. Navarro just turned 18 years old last month, and his calling card is his ability to hit so far. Last season in the Venezuelan Summer League, Navarro hit .315, posting an impressive OPS of .812. On top of it, Navarro is a switch hitter. Defensively he has a long way to go, and doesn’t have the strongest of arms, but that isn’t unexpected from someone so young playing the position of catcher. He is definitely worth keeping an eye on, and I believe we may see him stateside come 2013.
46. Michael Morrison– Relief Pitcher
Relief pitchers are the toughest to rank on lists like these. With everyone throwing as hard as they do these days, relievers have to really do well to distinguish themselves. Morrison, a Tommy John guy, had a strong 2012 for himself in AA Erie. Morrison struck out 72 batters in 63 innings for the Seawolves while posting an ERA of 3.14. His fastball can get up to the mid 90’s, but sits mostly in 91-92. He uses his breaking ball as a strike out pitch, and has potential as a 6th or 7th inning guy down the road. He turns 25 in December.