It's that time of year. As we get closer to spring training, all the major baseball publications and websites will begin to drop their top prospects lists, and we have our first one.
Baseball Prospectus dropped their top 101 prospects for the 2024 season on Tuesday, which is available for free if you create an account. The Detroit Tigers were able to land five prospects on the list — all in the top 79.
Starting with the lowest ranked prospect on the list, we have infielder Kevin McGonigle at No. 79. He was taken 37th overall in last year's draft. Many considered him to be a first-round talent, and the Tigers snagged him in the competitive balance round A.
There were concerns about his signability, but he signed overslot with about four days to spare. He slashed .315/.452/.411 in 21 games between rookie ball and Low-A Lakeland last season. He showed advanced plate discipline for his age (19), walking more (18) than he struck out (10).
Next up at No. 66, we have Jace Jung. Jung was the Tigers' first-round pick in 2022, selected 12th overall. After a less-than-stellar showing in at High-A West Michigan in 2022, he needed a big year in 2023 to prove himself, and boy did he deliver.
Jung hit 28 homers across two levels, and had a .279 ISO at Double-A Erie. The plate discipline he was known for in college has translated to the pros so far. He started striking out a bit more last year, but it came in exchange for more power, so we'll take the more aggressive approach.
Jung has played second base in the minors, but started playing some third base in the Arizona Fall League this past fall. There's some thought that he could debut in Detroit at some point in 2024 and be the Tigers' third baseman of the future. We'll see if that works out.
You have to scroll up the list a bit to get to the next entry, which is OF Max Clark at No. 24. Clark was taken No. 3 overall by the Tigers last year, and performed well in rookie ball being coming back down to earth a bit at Low-A.
Clark has been grinding this offseason, which is unsurprising given his work ethic. He could be in for a breakout season in 2024.
Two spots ahead of Clark is Colt Keith at No. 22 on BP's list. Keith was a fifth-round pick in 2020 who burst on to the scene in 2022 at High-A West Michigan before a shoulder injury ended his season prematurely.
Then in 2023, he exploded, just demolishing Double-A pitching to the tune of a 163 wRC+ before being promoted to Triple-A Toledo. He cooled off a little, but he was still an above average hitter.
Keith is expected to make the Tigers' Opening Day roster in 2024, likely as a second baseman. The organization isn't as bullish on his arm as they used to be, so they have been moving him away from third base.
Last, but certainly not least, the highest-ranked Tigers prospect according to Baseball Prospectus is none other than Jackson Jobe at No. 17. What a difference a year makes. Jobe has gone from potentially falling off prospects lists entirely to being the second-best pitching prospect in baseball behind 2023 No. 1 overall pick Paul Skenes, who is ranked 9th.
After he recovered from a back injury that caused him to miss roughly the first half of the season, Jobe spent the rest of the year reminding everyone why the Tigers took him third overall in 2021. He walked just six batters in 62 innings pitched across three levels. Combine that with 80 strikeouts in that same window, and you have a strike-throwing machine developing right before our eyes.
The one issue he still has is the home run ball. He was very prone to that last year, but that will happen when you challenge hitters the way he does. Plus, they were usually solo shots. You can work around those. As long he keeps pounding the strike zone, he should be fine.
There's even some thought that he could see some time with the Tigers in 2024. I'm personally a little skeptical of that since he's only thrown 141.1 professional innings to this point, but if he dominates like he did in 2023, then I guess there's no reason to hold him back.
It's probably fair to say that Baseball Prospectus is more bullish on the Tigers' farm system than some of the other publications will be. We'll see what happens when other sites lke Baseball America and MLB Pipeline release their lists
Still, it's nice to see the Tigers farm system get some love. They haven't gotten a whole lot of that from national outlets over the years.