The Detroit Tigers are known for their bevy of pitching prospects. However, two position players are projected very highly, according to one prospect projection system.
The Detroit Tigers farm system is littered with pitching prospects. Franklin Perez, Matt Manning, Alex Faedo, Kyle Funkhouser, Gregory Soto and Grayson Long are just a handful of the stellar arms waiting to get called up to the Motor City.
However, Detroit has not received nearly as much fanfare for their position player prospects. An advanced prospect projection system, created by FanGraph’s Chris Mitchell, believes that Detroit’s two best prospects are position players. The system is called KATOH, and it uses age, production, offensive and defensive performance, and various other data points from the last two minor league seasons to make a WAR projection for every player’s first six big league seasons.
Mitchell released his version of the Top-100 Prospect list, using KATOH’s war projections as the basis. Two Detroit Tigers players showed up on the list: outfielder Daz Cameron at number 16 and catcher Jake Rogers at number 17.
Cameron’s 8.3 projected WAR ranks him 16th on the list. He finishes fifth among centerfielders, behind Ronald Acuna, Kyle Tucker, Zack Granite and Lewis Brinson. He projects ahead of very highly rated outfield prospects like Victor Robles, Austin Meadows, Alex Verdugo and Harrison Bader.
Cameron slashed .271/.349/.466 with 14 home runs, 32 stolen bases and a nice 128 wRC+ in Single-A with the Astros last season, before getting traded to the Tigers. Cameron’s high ranking likely comes from his strong performance down the stretch.
Still, Daz Cameron has all the tools necessary to become a solid big league center fielder. At just 20 years old, he likely won’t be making an appearance with the Tigers until 2020 at the earliest. When he does, he has a chance to become an All-Star.
Rogers checks in at number 17 on the KATOH top-100, with an 8.2 projected WAR. He ranks second among catchers, only behind Carson Kelly of the Cardinals. Like Cameron, Rogers’ ascent up the KATOH list was predicated on an extremely strong season offensively in 2017.
Between Single-A and High-A, Rogers blasted 18 home runs and stole 14 bases. He added 25 doubles and four triples. He didn’t play much after coming over to Detroit, but his 2017 helped balloon his stock offensively.
Defensively, Rogers didn’t need any help. Already considered the best defensive catcher in the minor leagues, Rogers seems destined to be a very above average regular if he can hit even a little in the big leagues. He’s still a year or two away, but Rogers has a high-floor as a solid defensive catcher in the major leagues.
All told, it’s nice to see two Detroit position prospects get some serious love. KATOH is not a perfect system, but seeing Cameron and Rogers ranked in the top twenty among all prospects is a good feeling for a team in rebuilding mode.
Hopefully, Cameron and Rogers will help anchor the Tigers in a few years.