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Detroit Tigers

Original Published Date: October 31, 2017

The Tigers are going through a transformation as they have moved some key players to build up their farm system.  They’ve moved from a bottom 10 farm system to Top 15, perhaps a little higher after the Justin Verlander trade.

Their strength is in pitching with Franklin Perez leading the list.  He’s a Top 50 prospect with a chance to see Detroit next season.  Alex Faedo, Matt Manning, Beau Burrows, and Kyle Funkhouser all have big league upside and should arrive with the next couple of years.  With the addition of Daz Cameron, the Tigers have a dynamic player that might have fallen in the public eye as an elite prospect, but not for us.  We still like him very much.

2018 could be grind as the Tigers look to remake their team, but the future is starting to look brighter with a chance for them to be contender once again by 2020.

Franklin Perez (RHP)

Highest Level: Double-A, ETA: 2018-19, Fantasy Ceiling: Top 25 SP

Franklin Perez was the big haul in the Astros trade for Justin Verlander at midnight on August 31st.   The 6-foot-3 Venezuelan has excelled since being signed in 2014.  In 50 appearance (36 starts), he has pitched to a 3.33 ERA striking out over a batter an inning with a 3:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

He split his time between High and Double-A last season, pitching to a 3.02 ERA, striking out 8.1 batter per nine while continuing to show great control.  He has top-of-the-rotation stuff and the size and currently pitchability to see time in the big leagues as soon as next season.

Scouting Report: Perez has the rare combination of size, stuff and pitchability that could allow him to pitch at the top of the rotation one day.  His arsenal is solid with a fastball that sits 92 to 94 MPH.  However, he’s still growing and the belief is that he could add a mile or two before he turns 20.  If that happens, his ceiling will take a big step up.  His best secondary pitch is a curve ball that can already miss bats.  He also shows a feel for a change-up but unlike many young pitchers, it’s more developed and missing bats.

While the arsenal is impressive, it’s made even better because Perez throws strikes.  The command is still inconsistent but he just turns 20 in December, so there is still plenty of development time remaining.  That said, what he did as a 19-year-old in his limited starts in Double-A was indeed impressive.

Fantasy Impact:  Perez has a ceiling of a number two starter and is the clear number one prospect for the Tigers.  He just missed my mid-season Top 50 but I will correct that to begin the 2018 season.

Alex Faedo (RHP)

Highest Level: DNP, ETA: 2019, Fantasy Ceiling: Top 40 SP

Many times I put a team’s top pick in their most recent draft at the top of this because the system is so bad, said player has to be better.  While Alex Faedo was the number one pick for the Tigers last June, his ranking comes through upside.  In other words, he has a chance to be really good.

Because of a lousy start to the season, he did fall to pick 19 in the draft.  However, he was coming off knee surgery over the off-season and as he got stronger, his stuff got sharper.  As an example, in the College World Series, he pitched 14.1 innings, struck out 22 and didn’t give up a run.  His Florida Gators went on to win the World Series.  Because of his extended workload in college, the Tigers did not allow him to pitch once he signed.

Scouting Report:  There’s a lot to like with Faedo.  He’s got great size at 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds with two plus pitches in his fastball and slider.  His slider is his money pitch and there is some concern that he relies too much on the pitch, potentially exposing himself to future injury risk.  The biggest concern is his inability to consistently repeat his delivery which is leading to below average control.

Part of the reason for his delivery issues is just his pure size.  Tall pitchers many times take longer to get their long levers to work in concert.  Also, he does leave his front side open a little too much and this is preventing him from finish off his delivery.  His delivery will be at the top of the list on things that he will work on once they get him into games next season.

Fantasy Impact:  Faedo does have the stuff to pitch as a number two on your fantasy squad.  However, he doesn’t have that 98 MPH heater and therefore I’m going to downshift and suggest his ceiling at “Top 40”.  He’s a top 100 prospect and should be owned in all Dynasty League formats.

Matt Manning (RHP)

Highest Level: Low-A, ETA: 2020-21, Fantasy Ceiling: Top 30 SP

With the ninth overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft, the Tigers selected high school projectable right handed pitcher.  Despite pitching well in 10 starts after he was drafted, Manning was held back in extended Spring Training before finally being sent to the New York Penn League.

He pitched well in nine starts, posting a 1.89 ERA while striking out over a batter an inning.  The performance earned him a promotion to Low-A where he got hit hard in his first outing before settling down over the remainder of the year.

Scouting Report:  At 6-foot-6 and 185 pounds, Manning has a ton of physical projection.  He throws in the mid 90’s but assuming he continues to fill out, the velocity could improve a full grade.  His secondary pitches are raw but he shows the ability to spin a curve ball.   He can’t yet throw it for consistent strikes and it lacks depth but the feedback I received was it could be a plus future offering.

What everyone raves about with Manning is his athleticism.  From the delivery to his ability to bounce of the mound to field his position is encouraging.  That’s not to mean his delivery is currently good; instead he has the ability to repeat his delivery with great momentum to the plate.  Once he gains experience and grows into his body, it could come together in the form of a top-of-the-rotation talent.

Fantasy Impact:  Manning is the type of young pitcher I love to roster in a Dynasty League.  He’s athletic, has size, throws hard with a solid upbringing.  It’s the ingredients of a Fantasy Ace.  The problem is he’s at least three maybe four years away from the big leagues and a lot can go wrong; or I guess right, depending on your perspective.  If you have the patience, he’s the kind of high risk pitcher that could pay significant dividends in the future.

Christin Stewart (OF)

Highest Level: Double-A, ETA: 2018, Fantasy Ceiling: Top 45 OF

There’s no question that Christin Stewart has double-plus power.  In 2016 he hit 24 home runs in the very pitcher friendly Florida State League and followed that up with another 28 home runs in 136 games in the Eastern League.  With those big home runs come two questions.  Will he hit enough to get to his power and does he have a position to play.

Scouting Report:  Stewart will strikeout a lot and there is always long term worries that it will result in a .230 batting average.  However, he’s never had that ugly 30% strikeout rate at any level in the minor leagues, so I’m slightly bullish on the hit tool.  Look, it’s never going to be Altuvian, but I believe he can hit .250 with a .330 on base percentage.  When you combine that with 25 plus home runs, I think he could be a real offensive force.

Defensively he’s a below average defender.  He’s primarily playing left field and has the bat to stay there, but he’ll be a defensive liability.  In fact, if you’re looking for a comp, the overall profile reminds me of Yasmany Tomas.  Big power, average hit tool and a bad defender.  When Tomas is healthy, which wasn’t much in 2017, he’s not bad.  I think Stewart can be a similar player.

Fantasy Impact: With 25 plus home run power, Stewart has a chance to be an impact fantasy player.  He’s likely a third or fourth outfielder, but could explode for a 40 home run season with a BABIP induced .280 batting average.  Therefore, there is definitely some upside.

Beau Burrows (RHP)

Highest Level: Double-A, ETA: 2018-19, Fantasy Ceiling: Top 45 SP

Beau Burrows made our May Pop Article XX as one of the early players in the minor leagues who was exceeding expectations.  He dominated High-A in his 11 starts, posting a 1.23 ERA with over a strikeout an inning will walking only 11 batters in his 58.2 innings of work.  Shortly after our article, he was promoted to Double-A.

While he found the going tougher posting an ERA of 4.72 in 15 starts, his strikeout rate remained strong but he started walking more batters.  The walks were curious as he has outstanding control, so we will need to monitor this into next year.

Scouting Report:  At a listed 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, Burrows is strong and compact with a sturdy base.  The arsenal is solid with a big fastball that sits 93 to 96 MPH but can touch higher in shorter burst.   He throws a hard curve and a change-up to complement the fastball and both show promise of being future quality pitches.  Burrows has good pitching mechanics and has all the ingredients to have plus control.

With his arsenal and ability to throw strikes, it’s easy to get excited about him.  The only negative that several people mentioned to me was his height.  They all questioned his listed 6-foot-2 measurement and one source told me “No way he’s taller than 6 feet”.  The confusion could be significant, as a lack of height will make it harder for Burrows to get plane on his pitches and that could make him more susceptible to the long ball.  However after two seasons, that has yet to be a problem.

Fantasy Impact:  Burrows has a ceiling of a mid-rotation starter with a chance to strikeout seven to eight per nine with better than league average ratios.

Daz Cameron (OF)

Highest Level: Low-A, ETA: 2020, Fantasy Ceiling: Top 45 OF

There was a great deal of hype surrounding Daz Cameron as a high school baseball player.  Part of the hype obviously involved his lineage, but he’s a great athlete with power and speed.

The hype got so high that at one point, some suggested that he would be the number one overall player selected in the 2015 draft.  As June rolled around and teams ran him through the paces, it was clear that while talented, he wasn’t close to being the best player in the draft and eventually signed for $4 million dollars as the 37th overall pick.

Cameron had a good season in 2017.  In 123 games in Low-A, most with the Astros, he slashed .271/.351/.463 while slugging 14 home runs and stealing 32 bases.  In fact, one would argue that he had a really good season.  But, because he’s Daz Cameron, I think people are disappointed.  I don’t think you should be as Cameron has a chance to be a solid offensive player while playing a gold glove center field.

Scouting Report: Cameron is a very much a tooled-up player.  He has plus speed, is a tremendous center fielder with enough bat speed and strength to hit for 15 to 20 home runs as he matures.  The best news is that his hit tool is starting to develop.  His contact rate has improved and he’s starting to control the strike zone better.

While injuries have slowed him, he’s an advanced enough player to see Double-A by the end of next season.  That would put him a 2019-20 schedule to make his major league debut.

Fantasy Impact:  Candidly, I think fantasy owners are sleeping on Daz Cameron.  He has true 20/20 upside with a chance to goose up his stolen bases, particularly early in his career.  Plus, I think he’ll hit enough to put up a .260 batting average.  That’s a really good fantasy player.  This off season might be the last time you can get Daz Cameron on the cheap.

Kyle Funkhouser (RHP)

Highest Level: High-A, ETA: 2019-20, Fantasy Ceiling: Top 30 SP with risk

Kyle Funkhouser was having an excellent season until an elbow injury ended his season on June 20th.  He was diagnosed with inflammation and fortunately the MRI indicated his elbow was structurally fine.  The Tigers are trying to rehab the injury and hopefully his burgeoning career will restart next year.

Before the injury, he was impressive.  In seven starts in Low-A, he was dominating to a 3.16 ERA, striking out 49 while walking 13 in 31.1 innings.  It was more of the same after his promotion to the Florida State League.  In oddly the exact same number of innings (31.1), he posted a 1.72 ERA while striking out 34 and walking six.  While advanced college pitchers are supposed to dominate in the lower minor leagues, it’s nonetheless great to see.

Scouting Report:  Funkhouser has good stuff with a fastball that sits 92 to 94 MPH and can touch higher with a plus curve ball that can miss bats.  He also shows a feel for a change-up but it’s clearly his third pitch.  His biggest struggle has been holding his velocity deep into starts.  From reports, that appeared to not be an issue last season.  Some inconsistent mechanics were solved and this allowed him to more easily repeat his delivery which improved both his velocity and ability to throw strikes.

Losing a half season to an injury was unfortunate.  Not only did he lose development, Funkhouser also turns 24 in January and has yet to hit Double-A.   While 24 is far from old, with a potential wonky elbow, it does add a lot more risk to the profile.

Fantasy Impact:  I added Funkhouser in a number of leagues after his fast start.  I’m holding on until I hear more about his injury.  His upside is a little higher than Beau Burrows but is ranked after him because of his age and elbow woes.

Jeimer Candelario (3B)

Highest Level: Majors, ETA: 2017, Fantasy Ceiling: Top 15-20 3B

Jeimer Candelario was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2010 and finally got a chance to fulfill his dream of playing in the majors when the Cubs promoted him on May 9th.  It was a short-lived promotion as he was simply filling in for Kris Bryant who moved to the outfield to spell an injured Jason Heyward.

Candelario was then traded in July to Detroit for Justin Wilson but found himself blocked again, this time by Nick Castellanos.  However, in a September call-up, Candelario primarily played third and Castellanos move to designated hitter.  Candelario is a better defender and I think the plan will be to move Castellanos to first in order to give Candelario the at-bats at the hot corner.

Scouting Report:  Candelario has solid all around skills but is just in the wrong system.  With a 26-year-old MVP blocking you, it’s nearly impossible to find playing time.  Eventually, the Cubs will trade him to allow him to have a major league career and backfill needs in other areas.

Candelario has the hit tool and line drive approach that should allow him to become a .270 to .280 hitter with a .425 Slug with plenty of doubles.  He’s strong and with enough bat speed, that 15 to 18 home runs is not out of the question.  He’s a 30-grade runner, so stolen bases will not be part of the equation.  If you add it all up, it’s a solid offensive profile.

Fantasy Impact:  Candelario is an intriguing prospect with the ceiling of a corner infielder with 15 to 18 home run potential and a .270 to .280 batting average.

Isaac Paredes (SS)

Highest Level: Low-A, ETA: 2020, Fantasy Ceiling: Top 15 SS

The Tigers got a nice haul when the traded Alex Avila and Justin Wilson and in return received Jeimer Candelario and Isaac Paredes.  While most prospect observers knew of Canderlario, almost nobody had heard for Paredes.  It turns out that he might have the higher ceiling.

As an 18-year-old, Paredes was having a nice season in South Bend.  In 92 games, he was slashing .264/.343./.401 with a 14% strikeout rate and a 7% walk rate.  After the trade, the BABIP increased and all the stats went up.  However, the most impressive thing was he walked as much as he struck out.  Again, at 18, that is indeed impressive.

Scouting Report:  Paredes best tool is his ability to hit.  He has a great level swing and an outstanding approach.  If he had more speed, I would suggest that he has a chance to be a .300 hitter, but without it, I’m putting the ceiling at .280.  The power is an open issue.  He does have good bat speed but the swing is more geared to contact instead of over-the-fence power.  While the increased home run rate after the trade was encouraging, I’m not yet ready to put his power at more than average (12 to 15 home runs).

Defensively, I think he eventually moves to third base.  While he has the arm to play short, he doesn’t have the athleticism.  The Tigers will likely keep him at short through next season, but don’t be surprised if you see the move to third or even second long-term.

Fantasy Impact: Paredes can hit and in today’s game, that makes him very interesting.  I’m not sure how much power or speed he will have, so that keeps him in the 150 to 200 range of best prospects in the game.

Bryan Garcia (RHP)

Highest Level: Triple-A, ETA: 2018-19, Fantasy Ceiling: Closer

Yes I know I’ve said that Joe Jimenez will be the future closer for the Tigers.  However, if that doesn’t work, Bryan Garcia is another guy to monitor.  Drafted in the sixth round of the 2016 MLB Draft out of the University of Miami, he’s simply been dominate since entering professional baseball.  In 73.2 innings, all in relief, he’s struck out 100 batters.  In the process he’s also saved 23 games.

Scouting Report:  Garcia signature pitch is a mid-90’s fastball with plenty of sink.  When I saw him earlier this year, he struck out the side and was dominate.  What I found curious though is that despite his sinker, he really doesn’t get a lot of ground outs.  Then again, when you strikeout 13+ per nine, I guess you just don’t get many non-strikeouts.  He also throws a hard slider that’s his primary out pitch.  It’s a nice pitch with tight horizontal action.

Fantasy Impact:  Garcia has a great arm and should be considered in deeper Dynasty Leagues.  Joe Jimenez is ahead of him on the depth chart but Garcia has a great arm.  Plus, guys get injured all the time.  Remember, you heard it hear first.

2018 Emerging Prospect

Juan Ramirez (OF)

Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2015, Juan Ramirez played very well in 46 games in the GCL this past season.  He hit .301 with nearly twice as many walks as strikeouts with 11 stolen bases.  He currently doesn’t have any power, but has enough bat speed that projecting him to hit with average power long-term is not out of the question.  He’s sushi raw, but there’s a lot to like.

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