It wasn’t all bad for the Tigers in 2023. Spencer Torkelson woke up and started hitting home runs. Kerry Carpenter hit 20 home runs. Tarik Skubal looked great after spending time on the IL to begin the season. Matt Manning looked good before getting hurt, and I still believe that Riley Greene has All-Star potential.
I loved the Tigers first-round pick last July, Max Clark. He looks a lot like Riley Greene with a chance to be an impact player. Colt Keith is just about ready, and Jackson Jobe shoved it last season. You heard me…shoved it. You can argue that he was among the best pitchers in the minor leagues. Throw in the likely return of Casey Mize, and I like the nucleus of the team.
Of course, they have to deal with the bad signing of Javier Baez, but on the bright side, Miguel Cabrera will be off the books. It’s a .500 team with a chance for more in 2024. Remember, it doesn’t take much to compete in the AL Central.
- Top Prospect: Max Clark
- Biggest Mover: Jackson Jobe
- Biggest Disappointment: Dillon Dingler
- Emerging Prospect: Seth Stephenson
1. Max Clark (OF, #3)
- Highest Level: Low-A ETA: 2026 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 30 OF
- Tools Summary: Extremely athletic with plus speed and plenty of bat speed to project future power.
Max Clark is one of the most athletic players in the 2023 Draft, with 70-grade speed and plenty of bat speed to project future power. In his limited play in Low-A, he had several hard-hit balls over 100 with a max of 104.5 MPH. While we had no trouble with the Complex League, his promotion to Low-A didn’t go as well as he only hit .154 in 11 games while striking out 29% of the time.
The Tigers will be careful with him, so I expect him to spend all of 2024 in Low-A. Once fully developed, the upside is a 15-30+ player with more power as he fills out.
2. Colt Keith (3B)
- Highest Level: Triple-A ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 15 3B
- Tools Summary: A feel to hit with 20+ home run power. A move to second or first base may be in the cards long-term.
Colt Keith was finally able to stay healthy and played extremely well over Double and Triple-A last season. He has a feel to hit with a league-average strikeout rate and 20+ home run power. There’s not much speed in his game, but I think the bat will play with a chance to be a full-time regular in the mold of Josh Jung. The Tigers continue to play him at third, but seeing him in the Fall League in 2022, I’m not sure the footwork is there for the position, so a move to second or first might be in the cards long-term.
3. Jackson Jobe (RHP)
- Highest Level: Double-A ETA: 2024-25 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 30 SP with upside
- Tools Summary: He started the season on the IL with a back issue, but when he returned, he showed the kind of stuff that made him the number three overall player selected in the 2021 Draft.
The Tigers’ 2021 first-round Jackson Jobe started the season on the IL with a back issue. In June, he returned to game action, and statcast showed some encouraging data. His fastball averaged 97 MPH, topping out at 98 with a spin rate of 2548. His breaking pitches all had crazy spin rates of 2800+, with his curveball tapping out at 3108. Even his change-up had nice fade. As good as his stuff is, the control might be better. In 64 innings, he struck out 84 and walked six! That’s ace-level stuff and what the Tigers hoped for when they dropped nearly $7 million to sign him out of high school.
Now that he’s healthy, a 2024 Major League debut may not be out of the question. The stuff and control are all there.
4. Jace Jung (2B)
- Highest Level: Double-A ETA: 2024-25 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 15 2B
- Tools Summary: He has developed a highly leveraged swing that produces more over-the-fence power but at the expense of some swing-and-miss.
Jace Jung has a similar skillset to his older brother, who was having a ROY season before he got hurt (again).
Jace is a hit first prospect with 20+ home run pop. In fact, the power has emerged faster than anticipated, which has consequently moved up his timing for his Major League debut. In 128 games across High and Double-A, he slashed .265/.376/.502 with 28 home runs.
The data suggests a highly leveraged swing, which is putting some pressure on his batting average as he’s striking out more than anticipated. The ceiling is a Top 15 second baseman with 20+ home run pop and limited speed. He’s moving so quickly that there is an outside chance we see him in 2024, although I think 2025 would be a more reasonable prediction.
5. Justyn-Henry Malloy (3B/OF)
- Highest Level: Triple-A ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 50 OF
- Tools Summary: Big, strong kid with 25+ home run potential that needs to keep his strikeouts in check.
Justyn-Henry Malloy was initially signed by the Braves in the 6th round of the 2021 Draft. He’s a big, strong kid with plus raw power and an excellent understanding of the strike zone. His swing does get long, and sometimes he tries to hit every ball 800 feet, but he should be able to park 25+ home runs annually, provided he can keep his strikeout rate in check. At a minimum, he’ll be a three-true outcome player, as his walk rate has always been high. His biggest challenge is finding a defensive spot. The Tigers have played him at third, where the footwork has been a problem.
6. Ty Madden (RHP)
- Highest Level: Double-A ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 50 SP
- Tools Summary: He has a plus arsenal. If he can improve his command of his pitches, he could develop into a mid-rotation starter.
Ty Madden continues to make solid progress toward meeting his goal of being a Major League pitcher. His fastball averages 94 to 95 MPH and can touch higher with a plus slider, that is his primary out pitch. He also throws a curveball and change-up, with the latter succeeding against glove-side batters. He throws a lot of strikes but has yet to refine his command and, therefore, can get hit hard. The ceiling for me is a solid number four, maybe a number three starter.
7. Kevin McGonigle (SS, #37)
- Highest Level: Low-A ETA: 2026 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 15 2B
- Tools Summary: High-floor player who should hit with a bit of power and speed.
Kevin McGonigle makes excellent contact that should translate into a high on-base percentage player. There’s solid bat speed to project average future power, and at least early in his career, he should be able to steal double-digit stolen bases.
He played well in his professional debut, slashing .315/.452/.411 in 21 games across the Complex League and Low-A. There weren’t huge exit velocities in looking through his game log, so I maintain that he’ll likely have average future power or 12 to 15 home run pop.
8. Parker Meadows (OF)
- Highest Level: Majors ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 60 OF with upside
- Tools Summary: He has 15-15 upside but with strikeout issues that might pressure his batting average.
Parker Meadows was one of my sleepers entering the 2023 season, and while he’s had a solid season, he didn’t build upon his 2022 season. Specifically, the contact improvements did not carry over. There is average power and speed potential (15-15), but it will likely come with a .240 to .250 batting average with 70 to 80 points on top of that for OBP. That’s a borderline full-time regular. I will put his ceiling as a Top 60 outfielder with some upside, hoping that he will find more power in his game as he matures and fills out.
9. Wilmer Flores (RHP)
- Highest Level: Double-A ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 45 SP or Closer
- Tools Summary: He has a plus fastball-slider combination and is working on adding a change-up to the mix.
Wilmer Flores shot up Prospect Lists as he dominated in 2022 in High and Double-A. He returned to Double-A in 2023 and continued to pitch well, but the numbers were not as sparkling. He’s been working on adding a change-up, and that pitch is getting hit hard. It’s part of the process, and while that might cause some fantasy managers to lose patience, the fastball-slider he showed in 2022 is still intact. If the change-up develops, the ceiling is a number three starter. If it doesn’t, the fallback is a high-leveraged reliever. If he’s available in your league, it’s a player in which I would be investing.
10. Eddys Leonard (SS/2B/OF)
- Highest Level: Triple-A ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling: Middle Infielder, maybe a Top 15 2B
- Tools Summary: He should be able to post decent average and OBP numbers with 15 to 20 home run pop. It’s a borderline full-time player for me.
After repeating High-A in 2022 and holding his own, it was good to see the Dodgers promote Eddys Leonard to Double-A to begin the 2023 season. However, he did not perform, and with a 40-man roster crunch, he was traded to the Tigers at the deadline.
The Tigers started him in Triple-A, and he performed well, demonstrating his ability to make contact and showing the kind of pop he did in 2021 and 2022 with the Dodgers. He has filled out since he was signed in 2017, so speed will not be a big part of his profile going forward. I’m torn on Leonard. I think there’s a full-time regular in there, but it might be a soft regular.