Detroit Tigers Top 10 Prospects Following Draft
Detroit Tigers general manager Al Avila did a brilliant job in the draft this past week by adding minor league depth and high-upside talent. Here are the team’s top 10 prospects following the draft.
Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Michael Fulmer previously was the team’s unanimous top prospect. However, with the 23-year-old having moved on—he’s now dominating Major League hitters instead of minor league batters—the team is in need of a player to take up the title of top prospect.
Matt Boyd, Steven Moya and Daniel Norris could have been in contention for the title, however all three have gotten looks in the Major Leagues lately. In fact, Boyd has claimed a rotation spot with the Tigers moving forward thanks to some solid numbers 3.38 ERA, 17 strikeouts in 21.1 innings pitched.
While Moya and Norris are currently with Triple-A Toledo, they would both likely be with Detroit were it not for veterans like Anibal Sanchez, Mike Pelfrey, Justin Upton and Mike Aviles.
The top 10 list is also impacted by the struggles of a number of prospects. Wynton Bernard hit just .235 with a .286 on-base percentage for Toledo before being demoted. He’s put up a meager .091 batting average since joining Double-A.
Additionally, Jairo Labourt (the third pitcher acquired in the David Price trade) owns a 5.32 ERA in 47.1 innings pitched. What’s more, he also has 43 walks over the same span. Third base prospect Zach Shepherd is hitting just .196 with Lakeland.
That leaves us with this group of 10. So without further ado, here are the Detroit Tigers top 10 prospects following the MLB Draft.
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Should he sign, Manning would give the Tigers two ace-type pitchers to build around with him and Michael Fulmer. Like Fulmer, the latest Detroit draft pick features a blazing fastball and some solid off-speed offerings.
Listed at 6’6”, the towering right-hander would give Avila and the Tigers one of the game’s better prospects. The sky is the limit for Manning if he can develop all of his pitches.
Acquired at the trade deadline last July for Joakim Soria, JaCoby Jones could be the long-term solution at almost every positon but pitcher and catcher. An excellent athlete with tremendous upside, Jones has the potential to post a WAR in the 4.0 to 6.0 neighborhood if he can keep his strikeouts down.
As it stands, the strikeouts are the only real knock on Jones’ games. The 23-year-old can stuff the stat sheet. He’s already driven in 184 runs and hit 56 doubles, 45 home runs and 12 triples to go along with 48 stolen bases in just 291 minor-league games.
Jones has the potential to be a regular 20-20 or even 30-30 threat in terms of home runs and stolen bases.
Burrows could slot in with Fulmer, Manning, Norris and Boyd in a rotation that has the chance to be special. The 2015 first-round pick (22nd overall) is off to a stellar start in 2016, with a sparkling 1.99 ERA in 49.2 innings pitched for Western Michigan. Opponents have only hit .202 off the right-hander this season.
While some prospects like Labourt and Bernard have struggles, Jimenez has been dominant. In 17.1 innings pitched for Lakeland, the reliever has allowed just five hits and five walks while striking out a staggering 28 batters. He was recently promoted to Double-A, and has kept up the dominant streak by allowing just a pair of hits and a walk in five innings. Jimenez has fanned 11 batters since being promoted.
If he keeps these kinds of numbers up, Joe Jimenez could be in the Detroit bullpen by the time the playoffs roll around.
One of the more pleasant surprises of the season has been the development of 2015 first-round pick Christin Stewart. The slugging outfielder posted 30 extra-base hits (13 doubles, 10 home runs and seven triples) in just 71 games last season.
This season, he’s continued to produce at the plate. Stewart has mashed 12 doubles and 16 home runs while driving in 39 runs. Despite a .246 batting average, the University of Tennessee product has drawn 44 walks in 60 games, driving his on-base percentage up to a healthy .394.
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Al Avila got excellent value when he nabbed former first-round pick Kyle Funkhouser in the fourth round of the draft. The college senior can hit the mid-90s with his fastball, and can mix in two solid off-speed pitches.
Back in 2014, MLB.com ranked him as the best prospect on Team USA, a roster that also included Carson Fulmer and Dansby Swanson.
It wouldn’t surprise anyone to see Funkhouser succeed as a starter for the Tigers when he’s ready for the Major Leagues.
Another recent first-round pick of the Tigers, Hill was taken in 2014. The center fielder hasn’t exactly started 2016 on fire at the plate—.246 batting average, .305 on-base percentage and 47 strikeouts in 45 games—but his elite speed and defensive upside make him an intriguing prospect.
Once he reaches the big leagues, Hill’s speed could see him finish among the leaders in stolen bases. What’s more, that same speed should help him become a solid defensive presence in the outfield.
A starting pitcher by trade, Alexander didn’t have the best start to the year. The left-hander failed to top four innings in his first two starts, but has been excellent since. The former second-rounder owns a 2.10 ERA and 51 strikeouts in an even 60 innings pitched.
To top it off, Alexander has allowed just 11 free passes all year with Lakeland.
Outfielder Mike Gerber had an extremely productive season in 2015. With Single-A Western Michigan, the prospect hit .292 with a .355 on-base percentage. He also scored 74 runs and hit 31 doubles, 10 triples and 13 home runs. To top things off, the slugger stole 16 bases and drove in 76 runs.
Gerber hasn’t been as productive this season—a .238 batting average, 23 extra-base hits and 31 RBI in 59 games with Lakeland—he still shows potential at the plate. He will need to start making adjustments soon, however.
Vaulting into the top 10 is Matt Hall. A sixth-round pick in 2015 out of Missouri State, the left-hander has been nearly as dominant as Jimenez. In 10 starts with Western Michigan, the 22-year-old is the owner of a sparkling 0.65 ERA in 55.1 innings pitched. During that span, he’s fanned 63 batters while allowing just 36 hits.
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In his minor league career, the starter has pitched to a 1.51 ERA and 9.8 strikeouts per nine innings. If he can continue to replicate those numbers, he’ll be on the Detroit Tigers’ roster before all is said and done.