Detroit Tigers Can Clearly Produce Middle-Infield Talent


Many pundits (obviously not the ones at this site) will tell you that the Detroit Tigers farm system is horrid and, as a result, won’t produce much talent.

The poor opinions of the Tigers system haven’t stopped Detroit from developing players. The team has produced the likes of Drew Smyly, James McCann and Avisail Garcia in recent years, and used young players to trade for David Price, Anibal Sanchez and Francisco Rodriguez.

The one area where Detroit’s farm system excels is producing middle infield talent. Second baseman and shortstops are extremely important to teams, and the Tigers have developed some good ones as of late. Here’s a look at four of them.

Devon Travis  

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Shipped to Toronto for Anthony Gose, Devon Travis was excellent in his rookie season north of the border.

The second baseman posted a 2.4 WAR in only 62 games in addition to sound defensive metrics.

His offense wasn’t all that bad either. Travis fit right in with the slugging Blue Jays’ order, hitting .304 with eight home runs, 18 doubles and 35 RBI. The former Detroit farm hand also scored 38 runs.

While the trade for Gose was a bit head scratching given Travis’ status as one of the Tigers’ best prospects, the second baseman was blocked by Ian Kinsler on the organizational depth chart.

Willy Adames

Another top Detroit prospect who was dealt for an upgrade on the major-league roster, Adames was dealt for a slightly more high-profile player: David Price.

The shortstop was one of three players (along with Smyly and Austin Jackson) Detroit dealt to acquire Price.

At first, many thought Tampa didn’t receive enough for the Cy Young winner, but has Adames continued to develop. While he is still in the minor leagues, the shortstop is a consensus top-100 prospect, with going so far as to rank him as the number 37th prospect in baseball. The 20-year-old has already reached Single-A, and is extremely advanced for his age. The same publication rates Adames as a better prospect than notable minor leaguers Archie Bradley, Blake Snell, Mark Appel and Jameson Taillon.

Javier Betancourt 

Betancourt, Adames’ former double-play partner, is also advanced for his young age. Like Adames, Betancourt is also 20-years-old and played at the Single-A level during the 2015 season.

Able to man both middle-infield positions, Betancourt currently plays at second base. He hit .263 with 17 doubles, five triples, three home runs, 48 RBI and a 29 walks in 122 games. He only struck 44 times.

The Brewers clearly saw something in the player as well, seeing Milwaukee parted with closer Francisco Rodriguez to acquire the infielder.

Sep 6, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers shortstop Dixon Machado (49) makes a throw to first after Cleveland Indians left fielder Michael Martinez (1) dives in safely in the sixth inning at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Dixon Machado

Of all the infielders on this list, Dixon Machado may end up being the best of the bunch. The shortstop has the makings of an elite defender with a solid bat. The prospect collected 22 doubles, a triple and four home runs at Triple-A in 2015. He also added 48 RBI and 15 stolen bases.

Needless to say, the all-around game of the infielder will play well in Detroit. Machado can function as a utility middle infielder next season before eventually taking Ian Kinsler’s spot as the team’s long-term second baseman. Regardless of his role on roster next season, Machado is undoubtedly in position to be the second baseman in Motown for a decade. He’ll form an imposing defensive duo with Jose Iglesias

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Say what you will about the Detroit Tigers’ farm system, but you can’t deny they produce solid middle infielders as of late.