Detroit Tigers: Fall prospects update
Let’s check in with the Detroit Tigers prospects after fall instructional ball action. Who are some of the names you should know about?
Now that the LA Dodgers are declared the World Series champions, we can get onto the business of the MLB off-season. While we wait for the Detroit Tigers to hire their next manager, let’s look back at fall instructional action and check out a few names you may or may not be familiar with in the Tigers’ system.
Friend of the website Kenon Carter (@Tiger_Lifer) and Terri Nummer (@Nterri) were tweeting out pictures during camp and one that caught my eye was one of 2019 draft pick Bryant Packard. Chris and I went out to West Michigan several times last season and saw Packard play. We even got a chance to speak to Packard before a game.
Packard lost 20 lbs during the off-season and as Lynn Henning of the Detroit News discussed in his article about what he saw down in Lakeland, ($) he is moving to first base. It makes sense for the left-handed bat to move there as Detroit is thin in terms of first base depth. Here is the before and after picture.
Packard did exactly what good prospects do when they are drafted out of college and head to Low-A. He mashed. Per his quote to Evan Petzold of Freep.com:
“I think I would’ve started in High-A,” Packard said. “My plan was to rake there, go to Double-A as soon as possible and open some eyes, and then start this year at the big-league spring training, open some more eyes and eventually be in Detroit.”
Check out the double he had here at West Michigan back from August of last season. Good swing here. With swings like that, he should be in Detroit in no time.
As Kenon Carter discussed in his blog, the Tigers’ depth at catcher is not a strength compared to other organizations. With internal discussions I have had with James Chipman of Prospects Live, Jacob Boes, and Chris, we agree that like others have mentioned, there is a lot of intrigue to Alfonzo’s bat.
The switch-hitting catcher had a very good year at short-season in Connecticut in 2019, hitting .318/.342/.374. Since coming stateside from Venezuela, he has done nothing but hit. We could see him start the season at Low-A (wherever that may be). Detroit needs a few feel-good stories about their international signings and this could be one of the first ones we have seen in a while. Here’s the other potential one.
Jose De La Cruz
This was the first appearance of De La Cruz stateside as the 18-year-old signed in 2018. As Jay Markle of Bless You Boys.com discussed, he was getting time in centerfield in instructs but it appears he could play right field as well. FanGraphs had his exit velocity at 109 which Jay points out correctly, for being 18, that stands out. Gage Workman, the 2020 Tigers pick, was listed at 110 just as an FYI.
If you look at his build, he already looks like a Major Leaguer.
Marco Jimenez lit up the radar gun, hitting 96-97, topping 98 according to Kyler Peterson of Perfect Game USA. He spent 2019 at short-season Connecticut. Ignore his numbers there. If he can use his curve more, he would continue a line of international relievers the Tigers seem to breed like horses during the past decade.
Max Green has seemed to gain some strength in the off-season. Chris, myself, and James Chipman are fans of his stuff including his curveball which Chip points out, has some wicked 1/7 action. His velocity as Chip pointed out back in August of last year, is sitting at 97-98. A lefty with that type of fastball and a curve that moves? I am looking forward to seeing what he does on wherever Detroit sends him next.
Wilkel Hernandez’s curve showed improvement from when we last saw him at West Michigan. Honestly, I thought he looked better overall.
I wanted to throw a few names that were not Riley Greene or Spencer Torkelson. They both had great camps but where Detroit will really need to succeed is having depth across the system. If you look at the LA Dodgers and how they won the World Series, that is a prime example of using the farm system to build a winner.