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…
35. Matt Hoffman– Relief Pitcher
Hoffman is busy right now down in the Arizona Fall League. A place he has been once before, which is also the place that kind of opened some eyes to Hoffman when he began touching the mid-90’s with his fastball. That isn’t typical as Hoffman is more of a low to mid 90’s guy, but being left-handed, that is going to open eyes. Hoffman is essentially a two pitch pitcher with that fastball and a curve, and while he has a change up, he isn’t terribly effective with it. He does suffer from command issues, and unless he fixes those, his ability to get out hitters at the big league level is going to be somewhat limited. He did show well in the spring last year, so maybe he could fit into the role as a second lefty this season.
34. Anthony Castro– Starting Pitcher
Castro is potentially the next in the line of young international prospects that turn into hard throwing pitchers with potential. We will hit a few of those later on this list. At 17 years old in the VSL, Castro held his own, posting an ERA of 3.38, and striking out a solid 46 in 53 innings. Castro already touches in the low 90’s with his fastball, and with his skinny frame, he should grow into more velocity. His breaking ball and change need some work, but there is potential with both. Castro does need work on throwing more strikes, but that isn’t unusual at this stage. It’s hard to put a guy this young, this high on a prospect list, but I’ve heard nothing but good things. We shall see…
33. Manuel Joseph– Shortstop
Joseph is an 18 year old shortstop that played in the Dominican Summer League for the Tigers in 2012. I like what the Tigers have here. Joseph isn’t big in stature, but he does possess some pop in his bat, producing an OPS of over .800 in his first season. He shows pretty good plate discipline and generates a fair amount of bat speed, and should be a guy that can produce gap power moving forward. Joseph is a good athlete who runs well, but needs to learn the nuances of effective base running. Defensively he has smooth actions at SS and a good arm. I’m not sure he if he will be stateside in 2013 or not, but he is certainly a candidate.
32. Logan Ehlers– Starting Pitcher
Ehlers was a big signing for the Tigers in the 2012 draft class. Drafted in the 20th round, Ehlers went in the 8th round just two years prior to the Toronto Blue Jays. The stuff isn’t fantastic, but it is plenty good enough, as Ehlers can move his fastball up to the dish in the low 90’s. His breaking ball has good bite and operates as a good swing and miss pitch. He also throws it for strikes when he needs to. His change up is developing, and he throws it with good arm action, and should be an average offering down the road. Ehlers is someone that could definitely make a quick move up the Tigers prospect lists by this time next year.
31. Curt Casali– Catcher
Casali made a name for himself this past season in West Michigan, and I personally don’t believe the young man is too far behind Tigers top catching prospect, James McCann. Casali isn’t a premium defender at the position, but he is good, showing good leadership skills and ability to call a good game. Athleticism is the issue for Casali behind the dish, but he does the little things like framing pitches well. Offensively, I don’t see a guy that hits a ton for average, but you have to like his plate discipline and power combination. Casali is willing to take a walk, and has 10-15 home run a year type power going forward. Since McCann was the higher priority pick, he will get first crack at a big league backup job, but I wouldn’t be surprised if ultimately Casali turns out to be the better player.