Detroit Tigers: Prospects entering make-or-break seasons

DETROIT- SEPTEMBER 27: A general view of Tiger Stadium prior to the final baseball game played at the 87 year old Tiger Stadium as the Detroit Tigets host the Kansas City Royals on September 27, 1999 in Detroit, Michigan. There was 6,873 games played at the corner of Michigan and Trumbul streets. The Tigers won the game 8-2. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Gettyimages)
DETROIT- SEPTEMBER 27: A general view of Tiger Stadium prior to the final baseball game played at the 87 year old Tiger Stadium as the Detroit Tigets host the Kansas City Royals on September 27, 1999 in Detroit, Michigan. There was 6,873 games played at the corner of Michigan and Trumbul streets. The Tigers won the game 8-2. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Gettyimages) /
facebooktwitterreddit
Prev
5 of 5
Next
Detroit Tigers
DETROIT, MI – APRIL 7: A general view of Comerica Park during the tribute to former owner Michael Ilitch during the opening day celebrations prior to that start of the game against the Boston Red Sox game on April 7, 2017 at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) /

Jose Azocar

Jose Azocar, to put it mildly, struggled in 2017. The 21-year-old outfielder spent his fifth minor league campaign with Detroit’s High-A squad. He hit a miserable .220/.246/.296 with 12 stolen bases in 431 at-bats. His walk-rate was a miserable 3.1%, and his 26.8% strikeout rate in High-A does not bode well for his future.

Azocar’s age works in his advantage. Even though he has been playing in Detroit’s minor league system since 2013, he is still just 21 years old. However, the presence of Derek Hill and Daz Cameron, not to mention under-the-radar prospect Cam Gibson, make Azocar’s path to the big leagues look very murky.

Azocar made it out of rookie ball in 2015 after posting a stellar .325 batting average with a 131 wRC+. He spent 2016 in Single-A, hitting .281/.315/.335 with eight triples and 14 stolen bases. He had a chance to turn some heads last year, but his ugly performance with the bat has likely soured many of the Tigers brass on his future.

What needs to happen

For Azocar to ever don the Old English D, he will need to prove that he is more than just a speedster. He has not shown that he is capable of drawing a walk, and while he has a 70-grade arm he is only slightly above average defensively.

Azocar will likely battle with both Gibson and Hill for a starting outfield spot in High-A Lakeland. Unless Azocar considerably outperforms both of them however, the Tigers will likely move them along. That may leave Azocar as either a trade piece or as a potential cut.

Next: Predicting the Tigers in 2018

The 2018 season is an important one for many players who are hoping to prove once and for all they deserve a job in the big leagues. For these four players in particular, it’s crunch time. Should be fun to watch as the Tigers get ready for another season.