Two Detroit Tigers prospects have drawn enough attention that they have cracked the all-important Top 100 List of 2017 Prospects.
For years, the Detroit Tigers farm system has been weak due to the wheelings and dealings of the form general manager. But, Al Avila has been working steadily to replenish it and protect the assets that he already has.
The two Tigers who cracked the Law’s Top 100 List from ESPN’s Keith Law include the steadily rising Christin Stewart and the relatively unknown Matt Manning. Law placed Stewart in the #92 spot and Manning a bit higher at #82.
Who is Matt Manning?
Manning is a 19-year-old who has played only at the rookie level. Standing at 6’6, he is imposing on the mound, but weighing only 190 pounds, it is clear he will need to build some muscle. He is a right-handed pitcher who is quite athletic and according to Law, “he punched out 46 guys in 29 innings against just seven walks” in the Gulf Coast League.
He can reach speeds up to 98 miles per hour and as a youngster right out of high school, he already has a breaking ball and a curve ball. But, he is young, so his arsenal has plenty of time to be tweaked to work in the Major Leagues. It looks like he will have to learn what Jim Price calls, “the art of pitching.”
Why Watch Christin Stewart?
Stewart has been an impressive force from the moment he set foot in the Tigers organization. The 23-year-old outfielder stands 6’0 and weighs 205. He has been playing at the Double-A level with the Erie Seawolves, but it is safe to predict he will see time in Triple-A Toledo in 2017. His biggest strength is at the plate. The young man can hit due to his short swing and ability to hit to all fields. He usually plays left-field, but Stewart is a hitter and he could eventually prove to be a solid replacement for Victor Martinez in the future.
In his two seasons with the Tigers Minor League teams, Stewart has good numbers. His batting average is .266, with an OBP of .381, SLG of .514, and OPS of .894. He has 40 home runs, 37 doubles, and 131 RBIs. He has also racked up a bunch of walks: 112. Like most Minor League hitters, he does need to reduce his strikeouts; he has 199 in his two seasons.
Tigers Improving Farm System
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It is clear that the Tigers are doing what they can to improve their farm system. Prior to releasing his first collection of prospects, he did share his thoughts about the 30 MLB teams and their minor leagues. In 2016, Law ranked the Tigers in the 26th spot. In 2017, he moved them up two spaces to the 24th position. While neither number is much to write home about, it is a sign that Avila is trying to improve the farm system.
He commented on the strength of the farm system being the pitchers that Detroit has a tendency to find. He also commented on Joe Jimenez (who should show up when Law releases the higher ranked prospects). But, he did comment on how “recent Tiger draft picks have had disappointing starts to their pro careers” (Steven Moya, anyone?). This problem could put the Tigers even lower in the rankings in 2018.
Sitting below the Tigers in the rankings include the Baltimore Orioles, the Kansas City Royals, the Los Angeles Angels, the Seattle Mariners, the Miami Marlins, and in the 30th spot – the Arizona Diamondbacks. The top farm system, according to Keith Law, belongs to the Atlanta Braves with the New York Yankees nipping at their heels.