Detroit Tigers

The Tigers took a step forward in 2021 with many impressive performances, particularly from “The Big Three pitchers”.  Next season, Riley Greene and Spencer Torkelson should join the party and while both will have growing pains, they could form the nucleus of what should be a solid lineup.  While Greene and Torkelson are the only impact players ready for the Majors, the Tigers have some interesting players that are a few years away including Jobe Jackson, their number one pick in June, and Roberto Campos and Cristian Santana, two recent international signees.  The Tigers window should open in 2022 or 2023 and with some financial strength to combine with the talent they have developed, they could give the White Sox a run for their money in the AL Central.

Prospect Quick Shot

  • Top Prospect: Riley Greene
  • Biggest Mover: Roberto Campos
  • Emerging Prospect: Cristian Santana

1. Riley Greene (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Triple-A ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 OF
  • Tools Summary: Toolsy player with plus bat speed and an excellent understanding of the strike zone.  He has future star written all over him

Greene has Future star written all over him.  He has plus bat speed, an excellent understanding of the strike zone and while he’s a good runner currently, as he fills out, I think he becomes a high single-digit stolen base threat.  But early in his career, he has a chance to go 20-15, maybe even 20-20 with a high batting average and OBP contribution.  He along with Spencer Torkelson were promoted to Triple-A in August and are set up for a mid-April promotion to the big leagues next year.

Ok, I know what you’re thinking…Greene is good, I get it…but is he really going to be better than Spencer Torkelson?  It’s hard to answer that, but he’s the better athlete, will steal bases and while his hit-tool is currently behind Torkelson, I think he’s going to hit.  For me, the total package Greene provides will be higher for fantasy owners.  I’m not saying Greene will be taken 100 picks ahead of Torkelson in a draft, but in the end, I must rank them and for me, the separator is the athleticism and the speed.

2. Spencer Torkelson (1B/3B)

  • Highest Level:  Triple-A ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 10 1B
  • Tools Summary: Plus power with a chance to hit and provide high on-base skills

I’ve seen Torkelson play multiple times now and I believe very much in the bat.  He’s patient at the plate, doesn’t swing at balls outside the strike zone, and has plenty of bat speed to hit for significant power.  It’s everything you want in a first baseman.  I’m not sure why he spent time at third as defensively, he’s average-at-best there. At first, he profiles as a Top 10 player at the position – perhaps with Freddie Freeman type of upside.  I used the word “type” to not put too high of expectations for fantasy owners.  The bottom line…he’s going to be very good.

3. Jackson Jobe (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  DNP ETA: 2024-25 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 30 SP with extreme risk
  • Tools Summary: It’s the starter kit for a top-of-the-rotation pitcher

With the Tigers on the verge of entering their competitive window, surely picking in the third hole last June, they would select one of the college players that could move quickly and help the big league team in a couple of years.  They didn’t do that and stuck by their development philosophy and picked who they thought would be the best big leaguer long-term.  They selected high school pitcher Jackson Jobe.  Oh, he has a chance to be good…really good, but he’s four years away and as we know, pitchers get hurt.  The arsenal looks promising with a fastball that can already touch the mid-90s, solid secondary pitches, and the ability to throw strikes.  Plus, he’s got good size and is very athletic.  On the upside alone, he’s one of the best prospects in the game.  It’s just going to take time and the Tigers will have to deal with the ups and downs of a young pitcher.

4. Dillon Dingler (C)

  • Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2022-23 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 20 Catcher
  • Tools Summary: Solid-average power but does not control the strike zone and chases too many pitches

Dingler was the Tigers’ second-round pick in 2020.  The Tigers have pushed him hard, starting him for a few games in Low-A, a couple of months in High-A, and the balance of the season in Double-A.  While I only saw him play in two games this season, the Tigers might have rushed him.  In 85 games, he slashed .239/.310/.407 with 12 home runs. Most importantly, he did not control the strike zone.  He struck out 27% of the time and only walked 5% of the time.  He was aggressive at the plate when I saw him, chasing pitches out of the zone.  He did have power, particularly in batting practice, but without a better approach, his ceiling is more a Top 20 offensive catcher.

5. Gage Workman (3B)

  • Highest Level:  High-A ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 3B or Top 60 OF
  • Tools Summary: The Tigers are working on adding loft to his swing to get more power.  It was a transitional year, but he improved as the season progressed

Workman was a sleeper for me in the 2019 draft.  In college, he had plus speed and an ability to make consistent contact.  It was a pretty stiff swing with little loft, so I was curious to see what would happen in professional ball.  The Tigers worked with him in 2020 to get more launch in his swing and started him in Low-A to begin the 2021 season.  While I didn’t see him, the stats would indicate that he didn’t add much power and he was striking out a lot more than he did in college.  He then got promoted to High-A and while the overall stat line didn’t look good, he played better as the season progressed, even hitting .325 over the last month of the season, cutting his strikeout rate to 24%.  He’s in transition, and transitions rarely go quickly or smoothly.  I still like the upside.

6. Roberto Campos (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Rookie ETA: 2025 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 OF
  • Tools Summary: Athletic with plus raw power but with swing and miss in his game

Campos is the most intriguing player in the Tigers system.  He signed for an impressive $2.85 million bonus in 2019 out of the Dominican Republic.  He’s got double-plus raw power but it comes with plenty of strikeouts.  However, he’s not just a grip it and rip it guy, as he’s showing some plate patience.  He recognizes spin and can lay off pitches out of the zone.  He’s got some speed now, but he’s already a big guy and will only get bigger as he fills out.  Everyone is looking for sleepers and I believe Campos fits that bill.

7. Ty Madden (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  DNP ETA: 2023-24 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 60 SP or Reliever
  • Tools Summary: Solid fastball-slider but with some delivery concerns that is prohibiting him from throwing consistent strikes

Madden was the Tigers supplemental first-round pick last June out of the University of Texas.  He had a solid season as the Longhorns Friday night starter pitching to a 2.45 ERA striking out over 10 per nine but walking a few too many (3.5 BB/9).  His arsenal consists of a solid fastball-slider combination.  The arm action is a very high 3/4 delivery that is causing some balance issues and likely the source of his control issues.  The Tigers will likely correct that and might have been doing just that at the Tigers Complex as he did not appear in a game in 2021.

8. Ryan Kreidler (3B)

  • Highest Level:  Triple-A ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 1B
  • Tools Summary: Traded off contact for power.  Still working through the transition.

Kreidler is a big kid at 6-foot-4 and while he’s a good athlete, I think a move to first could be in the cards.  In seeing him live this season, he’s increased his launch angle significantly in hopes of increasing his home run output.  The tradeoff though has increased his strikeout rate to an alarming rate.  In Double-A, he struck out 31% of the time and if it weren’t for a .341 BABIP, he likely would have hit .220.  Once he was promoted to Triple-A, the strikeouts did go down, but the sample size was small.  I still believe he has a chance to be a full-time regular, but he needs to work through the transition of increasing his launch angle while keeping his strikeout rate under 25% if not lower.

9. Joey Wentz (LHP)

  • Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 60 SP with upside
  • Tools Summary: Before TJS, he had the arsenal and control to be a mid-rotation pitcher.  Assuming the control returns, that is still the ceiling.  Until he shows that, we moved his ceiling down

Shortly after being traded from Atlanta to Detroit, Joey Wentz blew out his elbow and needed Tommy John Surgery.  Fully back in 2021, he struggled at times to find the plate but continued to show swing and miss stuff.  In 72 innings across High and Double-A, he pitched to a 4.50 ERA with 8 K/9 and over 5 BB/9.  The arsenal should allow him to be at least a number four starter at the highest level, but he needs to improve his strike-throwing ability.

10. Daniel Cabrera (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 OF with extreme risk
  • Tools Summary: He added loft to his swing to try and hit for more power.  The results are not yet there, but he’s athletic and Dynasty League owners need to be patient

Cabrera was drafted in the second round in 2020 after a solid career at LSU.  In college, the swing was simple and direct to the ball, but he’s added loft to his swing to tap into his power and the results are mixed.  He only slugged .395 in High-A and also struck out 22.5% of the time.  He didn’t hit after his promotion to Double-A, but it was in a limited sample size.  He’s yet another player trying to modify his swing and approach and at this point, it’s hard to point to the guy we think he could be.

11. Cristian Santana (SS)

  • Highest Level:  DSL ETA: 2025 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 SS with extreme risk
  • Tools Summary: Young Dominican shortstop with plenty of tools and bat speed to turn into a full-time regular at the highest level 

Signed in January out of Dominican, Cristian Santana had a nice season in the DSL showing power, speed, and a solid approach.  In 46 games, he slashed .275/.413/.503 with 7 home runs and 9 stolen bases.  The swing is simple and direct to the ball but does not have a lot of leverage, so his power is currently more doubles than home runs.  Over time, the Tigers will likely add loft to produce more over-the-fence power.  His 15% walk rate is encouraging and supports what I was told about his patient approach at the plate.  We should see him stateside in 2022 and he could start the season in full-season affiliated ball.

12. Izaac Pacheco (3B)

  • Highest Level:  Complex League ETA: 2024-25 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 3B with risk
  • Tools Summary: Double-plus power but with a long swing.  He’s only 18, so there’s no reason to dismiss the talent as there is 30 home run pop in the bat

Pacheco was the Tigers’ third-round pick last June.  His carrying tool is double-plus raw power.  The swing can get long and in his first exposure to professional ball, he did strike out 34% of the time.  He’s a raw talent that needs a lot of development, but if he can cut down on his strikeouts, he could be a future 30 home run player.

13. Parker Meadows (OF)

  • Highest Level:  High-A ETA: 2023-24 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 60 OF with risk
  • Tools Summary: A down season has placed concern about his overall ceiling

Parker Meadows, the younger brother of All-Star outfielder Austin hasn’t yet turned his tools into baseball production.  2021 was another example where he slashed .208/.290/.330 in High-A.  There have always been questions about how much he’d hit, but the power just hasn’t yet emerged.  At 6-foot-5 and plenty of bat speed, you expect more than a .308 SLG with six home runs.  He turns 22 in November and needs to start showing some progress or his ceiling could be that of an extra bat.

14. Colt Keith (2B)

  • Highest Level:  High-A ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling:  Middle Infielder
  • Tools Summary: No standout tool but he makes solid contact with good on-base skills

The Tigers gave Colt Keith, their 4th round selection in 2020 an aggressive assignment to Low-A to begin the 2021 season.  He controlled the strike zone well with a 21% strikeout rate and a huge 16% walk rate.  The effort earned him a promotion to High-A in late August.  He has good bat speed but the swing is level, so unless he changes his swing, it’s going to be more doubles-power than over-the-fence power.  He also has a little bit of speed.  So, there are no standout skills here, and therein lies the problem.  I do think he hits and that could get him to the big leagues.  However, I’m not sure he’s a shortstop, so even putting a label on him as a utility guy is hard to do.

15. Javier Osorio (SS)

  • Highest Level:  Int’l Player expected to sign ETA: 2025+ Fantasy Ceiling:  Unknown
  • Tools Summary: Athletic with great bat speed and advanced pitch recognition skills

Osorio is expected to sign with the Tigers in January and is an athletic shortstop with plenty of tools to profile as a full-time regular at the highest level.  Those who have seen him praise his bat speed and pitch recognition skills.