The Detroit Tigers are in rebuilding mode. “Future Friday” is a segment where we examine the prospects in Detroit and their future impact in the Motor City.
The Detroit Tigers sold off a lot of veteran talent over the past year in exchange for prospects.
While it can be hard for fans to see All-Stars like J.D. Martinez, Justin Upton and Alex Avila dealt, (not to mention franchise icon Justin Verlander), the return can be an exciting batch of prospects who will become the next stars in Detroit.
‘Future Fridays,’ is a weekly column where we pick a prospect, old or new, and delve into their expected impact on the team. We want to help Tiger fans identify the upcoming wave of prospects as they move into rebuilding mode.
MLB pipeline released their organizational top 30 prospects list. Here at Motor City Bengals, we have written prospect reports on nine of the top ten prospects on the list.
Today, we will round out the top ten with number eight on the list, left-hander Gregory Soto.
A late-blooming Lefty
The Tigers signed Soto as a fresh-faced 18-year-old out of the Dominican Republic way back in 2012. Soto did not reach full-season ball until 2017, spending the five previous seasons split between Rookie-Ball and short-season-A ball.
He exploded onto the prospect map in 2017 however, going 10-1 with a 2.25 ERA and a 10.88 K/9 across 18 starts in Single-A. He followed that up with five starts in High-A, going 2-1 with an identical 2.25 ERA and a 9.00 K/9.
This rapid acceleration prompted the Tigers to add him to their 40-man roster in advance of last December’s Rule 5 draft, protecting him from the grasp of other teams.
Despite only checking in around 91-93 miles per hour, Soto’s fastball earned a ’65’ scouting grade thanks to wicked movement and advanced control. The big question mark for the left-hander will be his ability to harness and locate his offspeed pitches. His ability to do so will be the determining factor on his future as either a starter or a reliever.
Scouting grades: Fastball: 65 | Curveball: 50 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 45 | Overall: 50
Soto’s curveball has nice life to it, and scouts believe it will be an above-average pitch in the major leagues someday. However, his changeup has yet to develop. If Soto cannot acquire a strong third pitch, his starting pitching career is likely over. A move to the bullpen would be in order, where his fastball could get up into the mid-90’s and he could rely exclusively on the heater and his curveball.
However, the Tigers would certainly like to see Soto develop at least an average changeup so that he can stick in the major leagues as a left-handed, ground-ball inducing starting pitcher.
Regardless of whether Soto ends up in the bullpen or the rotation, he has the tools to be a solid contributor in the Motor City for years to come. At 23 years old, Soto will likely make his major league debut in the next year or two. He has a bright future in the Motor City.