Tigers to Tank 2019 Season to Rebuild

The Tigers have never been noted for their elite farm system. Since 2009 myworld has never rated them in the top ten. To their credit they have put their focus on making the playoffs, trading prospects like John Smoltz to get Doyle Alexander or Cameron Maybin to get Miguel Cabrera. They have also sacrificed number one picks in 2010, 2011 and 2012 to sign free agents Jose Valverde, Victor Martinez and Prince Fielder. Perhaps 2019 will be the year they appear in the top ten farm systems in baseball. Last year they had five players who made a Top 100 list, Beau Burrows, Christin Stewart, Alex Faedo, Matt Manning and Franklin Perez. 2019 saw them number 20, but of course there is more pride in winning a pennant race than a prospect race.

As noted by the number of pitchers rated in the Top 100, pitching is the biggest strength in the Tigers system, galvanized by a number of first round picks over the last couple years. Casey Mize was their top pick of the 2018 draft, the first player selected in the draft. The Auburn pitcher has three quality pitches, the best of which is a splitter that if it does not get swings and misses forces hitters to pound the ball on the ground. His fastball delivers mid-90s velocity and he has a quality slider. At 6′3″ and 220 he has the perfect pitcher’s build to eat up innings as an ace. Last year he made four starts at High A and was very hittable (.295 opposition average) despite his quality stuff.

Alex Faedo was their 2017 first round pick, but the 18th selection in the draft. Alex is another college drafted pitcher (Florida) who should rise quickly. At 6′5″ his mid-90s fastball comes down at the hitter with good sink. A plus slider and decent change are also in his repertoire. He does seem to give up a lot of fly balls, which led to 15 homeruns in 60 innings at Erie in his first year of professional pitching. In the more pitcher friendly Florida State League those fly balls resulted in only three homeruns in 60 innings. Those homeruns impacted his ERA (3.10 to 4.95).

Matt Manning was the 2016 first round pick coming out of high school. At 6′6″ he is another tower that bores a mid-90s fastball with excellent plane. His strikeout numbers were pretty impressive over three different levels (154 in 117 innings). Unlike Mize and Faedo, Manning relies on a curveball and change combination to complement his fastball. His father Rich played in the NBA and his brother plays basketball for Air Force, but Matt chose baseball as his profession and many hitters are ruing that choice.

Beau Burrows is the last of the fearsome foursome, drafted in the first round of the 2015 draft out of high school. His fastball also clocks in the mid-90s, but his secondary offerings (slider, curveball and change) are not quite as impressive. Last year the opposition hit him at a .251 clip and like Faedo he is prone to the fly ball. He started 26 games at Erie last year and may be the most ready to pitch in the major leagues by mid-season, if he can keep the ball in the park.

The best of the bunch may be Franklin Perez, who was acquired from the Astros in the Justin Verlander trade. Injuries last year limited him to just seven starts, three of those of the rehab variety. In his four starts in High A he had trouble finding the plate (8 walks in 11 innings) resulting in a .341 opposition average and a 7.94 ERA. He may have the best fastball in this group dialing just above the mid-90s with quality secondary pitches (slider, curve and change). The Tigers are hoping for a healthy season where he will likely pitch again in High A.

Kyle Funkhouser is not a guy with great stuff, drafted in the fourth round in 2016 but he can eat up some innings for you at the back end of a rotation. His fastball can reach the mid-90s but his secondary stuff is average. Early in his career he had issues with his command but he has improved in that area, though he will still have relapses where he struggles to find the plate. Last year he got two starts in AAA. With a good start to the 2019 season he could see himself in the Tigers rotation by mid-season.

Logan Shore is a pitcher similar to Funkhouser, not quality stuff but a good fit in the back end of the rotation. He was a second round pick of the Athletics in 2016 and was considered the ace of the Gators rotation that also included first round pick A.J. Puk. Shore was acquired in the Mike Fiers trade. The change is his best pitch with a fastball that sits in the low 90s. Last year in AA Midland he struggled to get hitters out (.306 opposition average) struggling to miss bats. The Tigers will probably have him start at Erie in 2019.

The Tigers are probably lacking in position prospects, but they have some good bloodlines. Daz Cameron could be their centerfielder my mid-2019. He is the son of Mike and like his father he can play a pretty good centerfield. Daz is another prospect acquired in the Verlander deal with the Astros. His hitting tools are not exceptional but if he can play centerfield he could be a productive bat near the end of the order.

Parker Meadows was a second round pick in 2018. He is the brother of Austin who was a first round pick of the Pirates in 2013. His tools are not as extensive as his older brother, but they could develop. There is some power in his bat and speed in his legs to cover centerfield.

Kody Clemons is the son of Roger. For Kody it will be his bat and not his arm that will separate himself from other major leaguers. While he plays second base his bat will keep him in the lineup. A lack of speed and an empty arm could prevent him from moving to the outfield or playing third base.

Christin Stewart was the Tigers first round pick in 2015. The Tigers have waited a long time for his development. The bat will hit for power but the glove is best suited to stay on the bench while he fills the DH spot. Like J.D. Martinez he could be put in left field and play a decent defense. With Miguel Cabrera geared for more DH time in 2019 to see him stay healthy Stewart may have to see more time in the outfield than should be necessary. Stewart does show good plate discipline taking his fair share of walks.

The Tigers acquired Isaac Paredes from the Cubs. While he hit .321 at AA Erie his tools don’t scream out at you. He makes good contact with the ball, drives it to the gaps and will provide you with decent defense up the middle. His best utilization may be as a utility player but the Tigers may be forced to make him their starting shortstop by 2020.

Jake Rogers may be one of the better defensive catchers in the minor leagues. His arm will stop a running game and he has all the tools to be a top defender behind the plate. The big question with Jake is whether his bat will carry enough production to fit as a starter behind the plate. Last year at AA he hit just .219. There is enough pop in his bat that he could hit 20 plus homeruns if he can win a starting spot behind the plate.

Dawel Lugo is another middle infielder whose tools would make him best used as a utility player. The arm is strong enough to play short but the range is lacking to play there on a regular basis. Second base would be his best starting option. The bat is best for the gaps. Last year he made his major league debut, hitting .213 in 27 games.

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