Detroit Tigers: Dillon Dingler among five rising AL Central prospects

Tigers catcher Dillon Dingler bats.
Tigers catcher Dillon Dingler bats. /
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Detroit Tigers
PEORIA, AZ – MARCH 7: Nick Pratto #88 of the Kansas City Royals bats during the game against the San Diego Padres at Peoria Stadium on March 7, 2021 in Peoria, Arizona. The Royals defeated the Padres 4-3. (Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /

Nick Pratto, 1B KCR

The resurgence of Nick Pratto has been equally improbable and awesome to watch. A first-round pick by the Royals in 2017, Pratto had the draft pedigree and the results to move quickly through the Royals system. That is until he hit the roadblock that was the 2019 season.

To put it bluntly, Pratto was one of the worst players on the Royals A+ Wilmington squad in 2019. He struggled to the tune of a .588 OPS and struck out over 34% of his at-bats, a performance that nuked his prospect status.

The 2021 season has been a resurgence in the best way for Pratto. Through 135 plate appearances in AA, he has a 1.152 OPS and has boosted his walk rate to 20%, nearly double his previous career-high. His resurgence can be traced back to a swing change he made during the lost season in 2020. He now utilizes an open stance in the box and uses a leg kick to find his timing.

Pratto profiles as an above-average defensive first baseman, so Kansas City has to be thrilled with his offensive improvements. He is trending toward becoming a regular lineup contributor at first base in the next year or two.

Jose Rodriguez, SS, CHW

Jose Rodriguez was a late addition to the White Sox International Free Agent class in 2018. He quickly garnered some attention from prospect evaluators for his strong bat-to-ball skills and barrel control for a player his age. Even for players like Rodriguez that show strong contact skills in rookie ball, it commonly takes a full-season debut before the prospect hype can really start to build.

Rodriguez just turned 20 and has a 117 wRC+ for Kannapolis, the White Sox low A affiliate. His strikeout rate has dipped just below 20% and he has shown the ability to spray line drives to all fields.

Right now, Jose Rodriguez profiles as a contact over power hitter, but he could grow into more power as he gets stronger and fills out. The jury is still out on if he can stick at shortstop long term, but he should rise up the prospect ladder even if his defensive home is elsewhere on the dirt.