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Detroit Tigers

The Tigers are in rebuilding mode and have improved their system greatly since the Dombrowski days.  You can argue that their top three pitchers: Casey Mize, Matt Manning, and Tarik Skubal can rival any organization’s Top three pitching prospects.  With the addition of Spencer Torkelson, they now have a potential middle of the order bat that should see the big leagues very shortly.  Riley Greene is also an exceptionally talented player and should see the Major Leagues in the next couple of years.  Throw in Parker Meadows, Isaac Parades and a bunch of expensive International signees and the Tigers are assembling a lot of offensive talent to complement what could be one of the better pitching staffs in the big leagues by 2022.

Prospect Quick Shot

  • Top Prospect: Spencer Torkelson
  • Biggest Mover: Tarik Skubal
  • Emerging Prospect: Cristian Santana

1. Spencer Torkelson (1B)

  • Highest Level:  Alternate Site ETA: 2021-22 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 5 1B
  • Tools Summary: He’s got double-plus power and an approach and contact skills to hit for average

Selecting 1:1 last June, the Tiger’s selected Arizona State First Baseman, Spencer Torkelson.  At 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds, he’s not a large man but has great bat speed and is short to the ball.  It’s his swing that should allow him to hit for average.  He doesn’t have a lot of holes and with quick wrists, he’s able to stay back on balls.  While he’ll be limited to first base, he has a chance to be a “near gold glove” quality there.  If you add it all up, he could slash .270/.350/.500 with 30 plus home runs with upside on the OBP.  In other words, the upside is that of Freddie Freeman.

2. Tarik Skubal (LHP)

  • Highest Level:  Majors ETA: 2020 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 30 SP
  • Tools Summary: The breakout pitcher of 2019 turned in a solid 2020 campaign with the arsenal of a number 2-3 pitcher

Tarik Skubal got the call this year in an August matchup against the White Sox and looked overwhelmed. Sure, he was touching 97 MPH but he wasn’t fooling anybody and the Sox were on everything.  But he got better and better and while the ERA was ugly at 5.63, StatCast tells a better story.  His four-seamer averaged 94.4 MPH with great spin.  His slider looks like a plus offering as well.  The curveball has huge velo separation but was hit hard.  In looking at video, the curveball looks sharp, so I’m not sure why batters hit so well against it. The change-up could be better but “the feel” should come over time.  Couple that with good control and emerging and I see a ceiling of a number two starter.

3. Casey Mize (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Majors ETA: 2020 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 30 SP
  • Tools Summary: Much more famous than Skubal, but Skubal has better current stuff

I ranked Casey Mize ahead of Tarik Skubal as we entered the season as I quite frankly didn’t have the courage to write what I believed.  Mize got the call at the same time as Skubal but Statcast shows a plus fastball at 93.7 MPH with nice active spin, but his secondary pitches grade out as average.  His slider is solid but only has a five MPH differential from his fastball.  Plus, his signature split-finger wasn’t fooling anyone as batters hit .313 when he threw it.  I saw a couple of his games live and felt the same way.  Perhaps his shoulder is still not right but what I saw and the stats back it up, he’ll be a number three starter with the stuff he threw in 2020.  I still have his ceiling as a number two because I do think there is more than he showed us in 2020.  Skubal had better stuff and it was from the left-side.  Advantage, TS!

4. Matt Manning (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Alternate Site ETA: 2021 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 30 SP
  • Tools Summary: One of the best pitching prospects in the game.  Stuff, size, and athleticism

Once Skubal and Mize were promoted, it became curious why the Tigers did not promote Matt Manning as well.  Later, we found out that he had a “slight” forearm strain.  While you never like to hear those words, we will go on trust and emphasize the “slight” in the public statement.  He’s the best athlete of the three and arguably has the best pure stuff.  He’s still trying to get his mechanics to synch up with his 6-foot-6 frame, so his control is not yet consistent.  The ceiling is a number two starter and for pure upside, I like Manning the best of the three.  However, he also has the highest risk profile so we rank him #3.

5. Riley Greene (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Alternate Site ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 40 OF
  • Tools Summary: Solid future power potential with a chance to hit.

Riley Greene was the fifth overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft and had a great start to his professional carer.  He has good bat speed and a good understanding of the strike zone that should translate into a 20-plus home run bat with a .250 to .260 batting average at the highest level.  He’ll have to guard against his swing getting long and creating holes, but assuming he can keep his swing compact, the bat should play.  At 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, he’s already a big kid, so long-term I don’t see stolen bases as part of the profile. 

6. Isaac Paredes (3B)

Isaac Paredes got the call in August last summer and looked overwhelmed in his 109 plate appearances in the Majors.  He slashed .220/.278/.290 with three extra-base hits.  He did post a 22% contact rate but didn’t post a Barrel during his time in the majors and had one of the lowest exit velocities in the game.  Granted, there’s not a lot to go one when you have four extra-base hits, but I think Parades will be better than this.  He’s got better bat speed than what he showed but his swing does lack loft, so I see more of a doubles-hitter than a home run hitter.  Plus, speed will not be a part of the profile.

7. Parker Meadows (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Alternate Site ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 50 OF
  • Tools Summary: Above-average speed with a little pop but needs to cut down on his strikeouts.  There is a fourth outfielder risk.

Austin’s little brother was drafted by the Tigers in the second round of the 2018 MLB Draft.  Like his brother, he’s pretty tooled up with above-average raw power who is a plus runner.  The Tigers have worked with him on making better contact and if he is successful, the ceiling could be a Top 30 outfielder.  While he’s still young, I’m going to move that ceiling to a Top 50 until we see progress.  The downside is a fourth outfielder.

8. Joey Wentz (LHP)

  • Highest Level:  Alternate Site ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 50 SP
  • Tools Summary: Velocity took a tick up in 2019 and with his plus control, his ceiling could be that of a 4-3 starting pitcher

In 2019, Joey Wentz saw a tick up in his velocity, and coupled with a changeup and curveball that he can throw for strikes, you can start to dream of a mid-rotation starter. He’s one of the players we need to see pitch in a game to see if the velocity increase is real or not. 

9. Daz Cameron (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Majors ETA: 2020 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 50 OF
  • Tools Summary: Toolsy player with 20+ stolen base potential but stock is falling

After a disappointing 2019 season, Daz Cameron needed a repeat of Triple-A to show the doubters that he could still develop into the player that many thought as he was coming through high school.  He’s athletic, has plus speed, and can run it down in the outfield.  But Covid didn’t allow that repeat and instead, he saw 59 plate appearance in the Majors where he hit .193.  The problem is poor contact and when he makes contact, there is weak contact.  He’s still only 24, but he’s looking more and more like a fourth outfielder at the highest level.

10. Adinso Reyes (3B/OF)

  • Highest Level:  DNP ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 3B with extreme risk
  • Tools Summary: A big international sign in 2018 with big raw power.

Reyes carrying tool is double-plus raw power who has a chance to hit for plus in-game power as he matures.  I believe strikeouts will be a problem but at least when he played in the DSL in 2019, his strikeout rate was better than I would have anticipated.  Still, the swing is long, and he swings with purpose so I am anticipating swing and miss will be an issue.

11. Dillon Dingler (C)

  • Highest Level:  DNP ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 Catcher
  • Tools Summary: Athletic catcher with some offensive ability.

The Tigers drafted Dillon Dingler in the second round of the 2020 MLB Draft.  He’s a good defensive backstop with intriguing offensive skills.  In his three-year college career, he walked nearly as much as he struck with a little bit of speed.  He showed more doubles power than over the fence, but I think he could develop that as he fills out.

12. Alex Faedo (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Alternate Site ETA: 2021 Fantasy Ceiling:  Reliever
  • Tools Summary: Strike thrower but lacks a true plus pitch giving him a ceiling of a reliever

I’ve been “low man” on Alex Faedo since the Tigers selected him in the first round of the 2017 MLB Draft.  I don’t see a true plus pitch with a fastball that sits in the low-90’s and average-at-best secondary pitches.  While the ceiling still could be a back of the rotation starter, I think a reliever is a more realistic ceiling.

13. Franklin Perez (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Alternate Site ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 SP with extreme risk
  • Tools Summary: Electric stuff but two years of shoulder problems have moved his risk factor to extreme.

Franklin Perez was the centerpiece of the Justin Verlander deal in August of 2017.  When the Tigers acquired him, they saw a young pitcher with electric raw stuff and a chance to be a mid-rotation arm, maybe more.  Unfortunately, he’s been placed on the IL five times over the past two years with shoulder problems and has only thrown 27 innings.  If you’re an owner of Perez in a Dynasty League, you should be worried.  The ceiling is the same, but the risk is highly elevated.  

14. Cristian Santana (SS)

  • Highest Level:  Int’l Player expected signed ETA: 2024+ Fantasy Ceiling:  Unknown
  • Tools Summary: Tooled up 2020 International signee

The Tigers once again dipped into the International pool in a big way and appear to be headed to land Cristian Santana.  He’s got a lot of offensive tools with plus bat speed and even an approach that you don’t typically see in 16-year-olds.  There’s a lot that can go wrong but the upside is extremely high.

15. Roberto Campos (OF)

  • Highest Level:  DNP ETA: 2024+ Fantasy Ceiling:  Unknown
  • Tools Summary: Big 2019 International sign for the Tigers who are projected to have plus power who can hit.

The Tigers spent $2.8 million to sign 16-year-old Cuban Roberto Campos last July.  Campos has plus raw power and showed the ability to hit as a youth before defecting from Cuba.  Because of his path to being signed, there are not a lot of amateur reports on him.  However, the Tigers made a significant investment in him and since they have one of the stronger baseball operations in the Latin market, Dynasty League owners need to take note. 

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