Friday, March 18, 2011

Tigers Top 15 Prospects: 2011

Detroit Tigers Top 15 Prospects: 2011 

1) Jacob Turner
2) Andrew Oliver
3) Daniel Schlereth
4) Chance Ruffin
5) Casey Crosby
6) Drew Smyly
7) Robbie Weinhardt
8) Nick Castellanos
9) Daniel Fields
10) Brayan Villarreal
11) Casper Wells
12) Francisco Martinez
13) Charlie Furbush
14) Adam Wilk
15) Wade Gaynor

I'll give the same primer I give in all my profile lists - I generally rate players with higher projectability over those with greater upside. I don't do so to denigrate players with high upside - in the Tigers case, players like Nick Castellanos, Casey Crosby, or Daniel Fields. But simply because the likelihood that they don't reach most of that potential is very high.

With that being said, overall, I like the Tigers system. One of GM Dave Dombowski's goals as a GM has been to stock his system with a many young, high-upside, power arms as possible. That strategy has carried over to all aspects of his team building process. In the draft he has spent significant sums of money - frequently going way over slot - to draft a first round talent outside of the first round. That strategy has resulted in a bevy of impressive young arms, led of course, by Jacob Turner.

While Turner projects as a top-of-the-rotation arm, others like Andrew Oliver and Crosby also have a strong chance of contributing to the MLB rotation in some capacity. They both have good enough stuff to project as #3s - maybe even #2s. They also each have issues big enough that could relegate them to the back end of the rotation or bullpen. Other pitchers like Drew Smyly, Chance Ruffin, Charlie Furbush, and Adam Wilk, while lacking in upside, are all highly projectable and should contribute as bullpen arms or back-end starters.

For all of that pitching depth, what the Tigers lack, are impact bats. at this point players like Castellanos and Fields represent the Tigers best hopes to land an all-star caliber bat. Unfortunately, both are still very raw, and the odds of actually realizing that potential is fairly low. Other players like Casper Wells and Wade Gaynor should have a opportunities to contribute to the team as bench bats at least, and I could see either player being somewhat above replacement level regulars for a couple years.

Corey Ettinger is a Senior Writer for Baseball Digest as well as a proud contributor to both,, and He also provides extensive analysis of the American League Central Division at his own blog, AL Central In Focus. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @Coreyettinger for the latest updates, random thoughts and general tomfoolery. 

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