CSS Button No Image Css3Menu.com

Baseball Prospectus home
Click here to log in Click here to subscribe
<< Previous Article
Premium Article On the Beat: More Ques... (02/08)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Future Shock: Indians ... (02/04)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Future Shock: Impact R... (02/11)
Next Article >>
The Week in Quotes: Fe... (02/09)

February 8, 2009

Future Shock

Tigers Top 11 Prospects

by Kevin Goldstein

the archives are now free.

All Baseball Prospectus Premium and Fantasy articles more than a year old are now free as a thank you to the entire Internet for making our work possible.

Not a subscriber? Get exclusive content like this delivered hot to your inbox every weekday. Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get instant access to the best baseball content on the web.

Subscribe for $4.95 per month
Recurring subscription - cancel anytime.

a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Purchase a $39.95 gift subscription
a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Already a subscriber? Click here and use the blue login bar to log in.

top 11 prospects

Team Audit | DT Cards | PECOTA Cards | Depth Chart

Five-Star Prospects
1. Rick Porcello, RHP
Three-Star Prospects
2. Cale Iorg, SS
3. Ryan Perry, RHP
4. Casey Crosby, LHP
5. Wilkin Ramirez, OF
6. Dusty Ryan, C
7. Jeff Larish, 1B
8. Ryan Strieby, 1B
Two-Star Prospects
9. Cody Satterwhite, RHP
10. Casper Wells, CF
11. Zach Simons, RHP

Just Missed: Alfredo Figaro, RHP; Brent Jacobson, RHP; Scott Sizemore, 2B

Ranking Challenges: The gap between the Tigers' top prospect and all of the others in the organization is larger than it is for any team in the game. The system is crowded with mediocre prospects that would all be candidates for the ninth through 11th slots, and the three-star prospects would be legitimate in any order.

1. Rick Porcello, RHP
DOB: 12/27/88
Height/Weight: 6-5/200
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 1st round, 2007, Seton Hall Prep HS (NJ)
2008 Stats: 2.66 ERA at High-A (125-116-33-72), 5.31 DERA
Last Year's Ranking: 2

Year in Review: The best high school arm that's been seen in years was given an aggressive first-season assignment to High-A in 2008 and forced to concentrate on his secondary pitches, yet he still led the circuit in ERA.
The Good: Porcello has everything it takes to be a top-flight starter in the big leagues. His frame and arm action are nearly ideal, and he throws two plus fastballs-a 90-93 mph two-seamer with heavy sink, and a four-seam that can get into the mid-90s. He throws a slider and a curveball that both project as plus, while his changeup is highly advanced for his age and he has the confidence to use it as another out pitch. His command is outstanding, and he has the mound presence of a veteran.
The Bad: Porcello wasn't as dominant as many expected him to be as far as missing bats, but he was under a specific program that was designed to develop all of his offerings and get him to pitch efficiently, with one scout noting, "he was just toying with hitters really, as you could tell he could overpower them whenever he needed to." He'll still flatten a slider from time to time.
Fun Fact: Seton Hall Prep has produced a number of professional athletes, and also at least one professional sportswriter in Tom Verducci.
Perfect World Projection: He's a future big-league ace. With the sinker becoming such an effective offering, some have been throwing around Kevin Brown comps.
Glass Half Empty: There are scouts who believe he could pitch in the back of the rotation right now, so it's hard to see him being anything less than a good starting pitcher.
Path To The Big Leagues: It's shorter than you might expect.
Timetable: Porcello will begin the year in Double-A as a 20-year-old, and it won't shock anyone if he arrives in the major leagues before he's of legal drinking age.

2. Cale Iorg, SS
DOB: 9/6/85
Height/Weight: 6-2/180
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 6th round, 2007, University of Alabama
2008 Stats: .251/.329/.405, .233 EqA at High-A (99 G)
Last Year's Ranking: 4

Year in Review:He's a big-money shortstop who showed a combination of polish and rust last season after a two-year Mormon mission.
The Good: Iorg certainly has the tools needed to be an everyday shortstop in the big leagues. He has fantastic defensive instincts with soft hands, a strong arm, and above-average range to both sides. His power is above-average for a middle infielder, and his max-effort style of play endears him to coaching staffs.
The Bad: Iorg's swing is hitchy and loopy and there are questions about his ability to hit for average down the road. His high-energy style of play can lead to an overly aggressive approach both at the plate and on the basepaths. Iorg's two-year mission makes him difficult to evaluate for some; on one hand he's shown tremendous potential for a player with so little experience, while on the other he's already 23 years old and has less than 500 pro plate appearances under his belt.
Fun Fact: Confused by all the Iorg's out there? Garth is Cale's dad, Dane is his uncle, and Astros farmhand Eli is his brother.
Perfect World Projection: He could be a Khalil Greene-type shortstop.
Glass Half Empty: Too many bad swings limit his offense, but his glove skills and power are enough to land him a utility job.
Path To The Big Leagues: Iorg is the best position-playing prospect in the system, and Adam Everett is hardly the long-term solution at shortstop for the big-league club.
Timetable: Iorg will begin the year at Double-A Erie, and there are some in the Tigers' organization who see breakout potential now that he's gotten his feet wet.

3. Ryan Perry, RHP
DOB: 2/13/87
Height/Weight: 6-4/200
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 1st round, 2008, University of Arizona
2008 Stats: 0.00 ERA at Rookie-level (2-0-0-4); 3.86 ERA at High-A (11.2-15-7-12), 6.55 DERA
Last Year's Ranking: N/A

Year in Review: One of the hardest throwers in the draft, he signed quickly and struck out 16 in his first 13 2/3 pro innings in '08.
The Good: Perry can flat out bring the heat, with a four-seam fastball that sat at 95-97 mph and touched 100 on several occasions toward the end of the college season. The velocity on his slider is equally incredible at 88-90 mph with good depth and tilt, and, unlike most relievers, he also has some feel for a changeup.
The Bad: He has always been more hittable than his stuff would suggest. His fastball has very little movement, and his inconsistent command often allows hitters to sit on the pitch. With Perry's three-pitch arsenal, some would consider making him a starter, but he struggled in the role in college, and any future conversion would involve some risk.
Fun Fact: Primarily a shortstop in high school, he pitched just eight innings as a senior at Marana High in Arizona and attracted little pro interest and no Division I college options until a University of Arizona coach happened to see him pitch in an American Legion game.
Perfect World Projection: He'll be a classic big-league power arm.
Glass Half Empty: He won't throw enough strikes, and it will prevent him from becoming an impact-level talent.
Path To The Big Leagues: Power arms generally don't need a path, but it's hard to provide specifics until we know what his ultimate role might be.
Timetable: Perry will spend much of the spring in major league camp, where a decision will be made as to whether to use him as a starter or reliever to begin the year. If he stays in the bullpen, he could move quickly.

4. Casey Crosby, LHP
DOB: 9/17/88
Height/Weight: 6-5/200
Bats/Throws: R/L
Drafted/Signed: 5th round, 2007, Kaneland HS (IL)
2008 Stats: 0.00 ERA at Rookie-level (4.2-4-3-2)
Last Year's Ranking: 3

Year in Review: This over-slot signing from 2007 returned from Tommy John Surgery late last season and wowed the team during instructs.
The Good: Crosby's combination of size, velocity, and left-handedness gives him special potential. His fastball sits at 93-95 mph, touching as high as 98 while at Lakeland this fall. He's a fantastic athlete with smooth actions, and team officials were thrilled with his work during rehab.
The Bad: Crosby's injury slowed the development of his below-average secondary pitches. He throws a hard, slurvy breaking ball that most would like to see refined into a true slider, and a changeup that he tends to either overthrow or give away with his arm action. Right now, he just needs innings.
Fun Fact: Of the six pitchers drafted with the last name Crosby, only one has reached the majors, and that's Ken Crosby, who finished his career with one big-league win.
Perfect World Projection: He could be an above-average major league starter.
Glass Half Empty: His other pitches don't develop enough, and he moves to the bullpen.
Path To The Big Leagues: We'll get to that once he has more than 22 batters faced in his pro career.
Timetable: Crosby is fully healthy, and the Tigers are excited about seeing what he can do. He'll begin 2009 close to home at Low-A West Michigan.

5. Wilkin Ramirez, OF
DOB: 10/25/85
Height/Weight: 6-2/190
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: Dominican Republic, 2003
2008 Stats: .083/.132/.111, .000 EqA at Triple-A (11 G); .303/.371/.522, .267 EqA at Double-A (110 G)
Last Year's Ranking: Not Ranked

Year in Review: He's one of the players in the system with the most tools, and Detroit's patience with him began to pay off in 2008 as he had a career year at Double-A.
The Good: Improved plate discipline was the key to Ramirez's breakout; he stopped swinging at every pitch he saw and began to better recognize which pitches he could drive. His raw power and speed are both above average, as are his throwing skills.
The Bad: His improvements in plate discipline were merely border-line acceptable; nobody is going to confuse him with Rickey Henderson or Tony Gwynn. He still lunges and chases pitches too often, and he'll likely always have a high strikeout total. A former third baseman, his play in the outfield is still rough, and his jumps and routes are both poor.
Fun Fact: In the 13 games in which he batted second for Double-A Erie, Ramirez went 20-for-49 with six home runs and a 1349 OPS.
Perfect World Projection: He'll be a power/speed corner outfielder with 20-25 home runs and 30 stolen bases annually making up for his below-average on-base skills.
Glass Half Empty: He'll settle for being a fourth outfielder.
Path To The Big Leagues: All of the current Tigers outfielders are signed for at least three more seasons, though Magglio Ordonez could be there longer if the team agrees on their expensive team options for more.
Timetable: Ramirez will begin the year at Triple-A, where he struggled during a brief showing last year. If the Tigers are competitive during the season, he could become trade bait.

6. Dusty Ryan, C
DOB: 9/2/84
Height/Weight: 6-4/220
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 48th round, 2003, Merced College
2008 Stats: .253/.340/.476, .244 EqA at Double-A (82 G); .315/.370/.548, .323 EqA at Triple-A (20 G); .318/.380/.500, .388 EqA at MLB (15 G)
Last Year's Ranking: Not Ranked

Year in Review: He's an organizational soldier who had a shocking breakout year in '08, including a late-season stint in the big leagues.
The Good: Ryan is a big catcher with some excellent tools. He works the count well and absolutely crushes mistakes with plus raw power capable of producing moon shots when he fully centers on the ball. On defense, he's most notable for his outstanding arm, a 70-plus on the 20-80 scouting scale.
The Bad: His swing has a hefty uppercut, so he's always going to be prone to strikeouts and he doesn't project to hit for much of an average. He's not especially mobile behind the plate.
Fun Fact: He not only attended Merced College, but he was also born in Merced, California, and he has a chance to become the first player ever drafted out of the school to hit a home run in the major leagues.
Perfect World Projection: He'll be a big-league catcher with power who hits toward the bottom of the lineup and who can shut down the opponents' running game.
Glass Half Empty: He'll make a nice backup catcher because of his swing-and-miss issues.
Path To The Big Leagues: It was relatively wide open before the Tigers traded for Gerald Laird and signed Matt Treanor.
Timetable: For now, Ryan will begin the year at Triple-A Toledo. If he builds upon or repeats last year's performance, he could force his way to the majors.

7. Jeff Larish, 1B
DOB: 10/11/82
Height/Weight: 6-2/200
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Signed: 5th round, 2005, Arizona State University
2008 Stats: .250/.341/.477, .269 EqA at Triple-A (103 G); .260/.306/.375, .222 EqA at MLB (42 G)
Last Year's Ranking: 6

Year in Review: This polished college hitter continued to put up solid numbers last season, and he held his own during his big-league debut.
The Good: Larish is an advanced power prospect who can rocket the ball out of the park to all fields and knows how to work the count efficiently while waiting for a pitch to drive. He's a good athlete for his size, and a plus defender at first base. In order to give him more options, the Tigers tried him at third base in the Arizona Fall League, where he showed soft hands and a solid average arm.
The Bad: At 26 years old, Larish is what he is, and offers little in terms of projection. His one-dimensional style of hitting leads to significant contact issues, and he needs to develop a more tempered two-strike approach.
Fun Fact: During his four years at Arizona State, he was the Pat Tabler of college baseball, going 27-for-48 with five home runs when batting with the bases loaded.
Perfect World Projection: He'll be a solid everyday player on the corners.
Glass Half Empty: He'll pan out as more of a left-handed power bat off of the bench.
Path To The Big Leagues: Miguel Cabrera is signed through 2015, thus the third base experiment.
Timetable: Larish will have a chance this spring to earn a role on the big-league team as a backup at first, third, and designated hitter, but he'll likely return to Triple-A in order to keep his bat fresh.

8. Ryan Strieby, 1B
DOB: 8/9/85
Height/Weight: 6-5/235
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 4th round, 2006, University of Kentucky
2008 Stats: .278/.352/.563, .274 EqA at High-A (112 G)
Last Year's Ranking: Not Ranked

Year in Review: One of the best hitters in University of Kentucky history, he had a breakout season in '08 by leading the Florida State League with 29 home runs despite missing the last three weeks of the season with a wrist injury.
The Good: Strieby's raw power easily ranks with anyone in the system. He's a big, imposing presence at the plate, and when he gets his arms extended and pulls a ball he can produce jaw-dropping light-tower power. He made progress on his pure hitting and gained confidence throughout the year, batting .308/.364/.722 after the All-Star break with 21 home runs in 198 at-bats. He has good hands at first base, and is quite adept at picking balls out of the dirt.
The Bad: He's big, hulking, and not at all athletic. His swing gets long at times, and his power will always come with plenty of strikeouts. Good breaking balls can fool him, and some scouts see him as a pure mistake-crusher who will struggle as he moves into the upper levels of the minors.
Fun Fact: He was the 112th overall pick in 2006, and that slot has not been especially kind to scouts on a positional-player level. While Scott Erickson (Twins, 1989) and Paul Byrd (Indians, 1991) each earned All-Star honors and won over 100 games in their careers, only two players in baseball history drafted 112th overall have ever hit a home run in the major leagues; Jeff Barry (Expos, 1990), who hit five, and pitcher Steve Engel (Cubs, 1983), who took Bob Knepper deep while tossing a complete game in 1985.
Perfect World Projection: He's not a high-average hitter, but he could hit 30-40 home runs annually in the big leagues.
Glass Half Empty: He'll be a career Quad-A hitter.
Path To The Big Leagues: Like Larrish, he has Miguel Cabrera as a massive long-term roadblock. Unlike Larrish, Streiby has no other positional possibilities.
Timetable: Strieby will face the big test of Double-A in 2009, and he should rocket up this list with another strong performance.

9. Cody Satterwhite, RHP
DOB: 1/27/87
Height/Weight: 6-4/205
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 2nd round, 2008, University of Mississippi
2008 Stats: 0.00 ERA at Rookie-level (2.1-4-1-2); 4.42 ERA at High-A (18.1-16-12-22), 7.27 DERA
Last Year's Ranking: N/A

Year in Review: One of college baseball's top closers, he struggled in a starting role in his junior year, but his previous work as a reliever, including as Team USA's closer, was still enough to warrant a second-round selection.
The Good: Tigers' scouting director David Chadd highly favors big guys who throw hard, and Satterwhite fits that bill. His rising fastball parks in the mid 90s, and has touched 98 mph in the past. He has a power slider that flashes plus at times with solid depth and tilt, and he has the mentality of a closer.
The Bad: Satterwhite had a 5.33 ERA last year for the University of Mississippi as he struggled both with his command and his breaking pitches. His stuff worked much better as a two-pitch guy out of the bullpen, but the control issues remain. There are a lot of moving parts in his delivery, and his release point is inconsistent.
Fun Fact: Drafted by the Indians in 2005 out of Hillcrest Christian High in Mississippi, he earned letters in four sports for the school by also participating in basketball, football, and soccer, all while devoting enough time academically to be a member of the National Honor Society.
Perfect World Projection: He's a future power arm out of the bullpen.
Glass Half Empty: He does have power stuff, but inconsistency will make him undependable for late-inning work.
Path To The Big Leagues: For now, he needs to keep the ball in the strike zone.
Timetable: Satterwhite will likely return to High-A Lakeland to begin the year, but he could move quickly if he can start throwing more strikes.

10. Casper Wells, CF
DOB: 11/23/84
Height/Weight: 6-2/210
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 14th round, 2005, Towson University
2008 Stats: .240/.351/.447, .199 EqA at Low-A (50 G); .289/.376/.589, .281 EqA at Double-A (75 G)
Last Year's Ranking: Not Ranked

Year in Review: This obscure outfielder came out of nowhere and exploded at Double-A in the second half of last year.
The Good: Wells' explosion can be attributed to Double-A hitting coach Glenn Adams suggesting a much more upright batting stance, which allowed Wells to see the ball better, eliminating the extended load in his swing without costing him any of his plus power. He's a good athlete who can play the outfield and features a powerful arm. Tigers officials see him as a throwback player who gives maximum effort at all times.
The Bad: As a 24-year-old player with just a good half year in Double-A and little else in four years of pro baseball, Wells still has many doubters. His intense nature leads to streaks and slumps, and he often carries bad at-bats into future plate appearances.
Fun Fact: Even as a 14th-round selection, Wells is the highest-drafted position player ever out of Towson University (there have been only nine).
Perfect World Projection: He'll be an everyday corner outfielder.
Glass Half Empty: He'll be a bench player.
Path To The Big Leagues: There's nothing clear for now.
Timetable: It depends on the numbers game, but Wells will play at one of Detroit's upper-level teams in 2009, with hopes that his breakout was for real.

11. Zach Simons, RHP
DOB: 5/23/85
Height/Weight: 6-3/200
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Signed: 2nd round, 2005, Everett CC (Rockies)
2008 Stats: 2.70 ERA at High-A (13.1-12-9-14), 5.40 DERA; 2.36 ERA at High-A (53.1-29-30-61), 3.94 DERA
Last Year's Ranking: Not Ranked

Year in Review: As a former highly regarded Rockies arm, he came over in the Jason Grilli deal and dominated in the Florida State League in 2008, limiting opposing hitters to a .166 batting average.
The Good: Simons always had good stuff, but he took a major step forward in shorter stints out of the bullpen utilizing a fastball that one scout describes as "having plus velocity to go with plus-plus movement." He compliments the pitch with a solid slider that he'll throw at any point in the count, and he brings an incredible amount of intensity to the mound.
The Bad: Simons' pedal-to-the-metal approach can get the best of him at times, causing him to fly open and rush his delivery, which can lead to control problems as well as a flattening of his slider when he overthrows it. He tends to live in the upper-half of the strike zone, and some worry if that will play as well once he's out of the friendly confines of the Florida State League.
Fun Fact: Shockingly, Simons isn't the only professional athlete to graduate from tiny Glens Falls High in Idaho, a school with less than 200 total students; Green Bay Packers fullback Korey Hall is also an alum.
Perfect World Projection: He's a future big-league set-up man.
Glass Half Empty: He'll just be more of a middle- or long-relief type.
Path To The Big Leagues: It'll be tough, especially after a 2008 draft that was filled with relief prospects.
Timetable: Simmons will begin the year at Double-A Erie, likely in the shadows of a few bigger names like Perry and possibly Satterwhite.

The Sleeper: The son of assistant GM Al Avila, catcher Alex Avila was anything but a nepotism pick in the fifth round last year as he showed solid hitting skills, nice power, and an outstanding arm in his pro debut.

Top 10 Talents 25 And Under (as of Opening Day 2009)

1. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
2. Rick Porcello, RHP
3. Edwin Jackson, RHP
4. Joel Zumaya, RHP
5. Cale Iorg, SS
6. Ryan Perry, RHP
7. Casey Crosby, LHP
8. Wilkin Ramirez, OF
9. Dusty Ryan, C
10. Jeff Larish, 1B

Cabrera is still eligible for this list, despite already having 1,022 hits and 175 career home runs. Call me crazy, but I still believe in Edwin Jackson, and I think that the Tigers got a real steal here. It may never happen, but he's been a breakout candidate for years, and he began to show some signs of coming around last year. Zumaya says he is healthy, and he could actually be underrated here.

Summary: The Tigers prospects fall firmly into the categories of Rick Porcello and... the rest. They lack premium position players, especially any with wide-ranging tools, as well as starting-pitcher prospects other than their big prize at number one. If they're entering a re-building mode, the materials that they need to begin the job aren't quite there yet.

Up next: The Kansas City Royals.


Brad Wochomurka talks about the talent in the Tigers organization with SS Cale Iorg and Director of Player Development Glenn Ezell in this week's Top 11 Prospect edition of BPR.

Click to download mp3

Kevin Goldstein is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Kevin's other articles. You can contact Kevin by clicking here

20 comments have been left for this article.

<< Previous Article
Premium Article On the Beat: More Ques... (02/08)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Future Shock: Indians ... (02/04)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Future Shock: Impact R... (02/11)
Next Article >>
The Week in Quotes: Fe... (02/09)

Playoff Prospectus: Come Undone
BP En Espanol: Previa de la NLCS: Cubs vs. D...
Playoff Prospectus: How Did This Team Get Ma...
Playoff Prospectus: Too Slow, Too Late
Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: PECOTA Odds and ALCS Gam...
Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: PECOTA Odds and NLCS Gam...
Playoff Prospectus: NLCS Preview: Cubs vs. D...

Premium Article On the Beat: More Questions and Even Less Ti...
Prospectus Q&A: Gary Mayse

2009-02-13 - Premium Article Top 100 Prospects
2009-02-12 - Premium Article Future Shock: Royals Top 11 Prospects
2009-02-11 - Premium Article Future Shock: Impact Rookies
2009-02-08 - Premium Article Future Shock: Tigers Top 11 Prospects
2009-02-04 - Premium Article Future Shock: Indians Top 11 Prospects
2009-02-02 - Premium Article Future Shock: White Sox Top 11 Prospects
2009-01-30 - Premium Article Future Shock: The Best at Being Young and an...

2009-02-17 - Premium Article Future Shock: Los Angeles Angels Top 11 Pros...
2009-02-12 - Premium Article Future Shock: Royals Top 11 Prospects
2009-02-11 - Premium Article Future Shock: Impact Rookies
2009-02-08 - Premium Article Future Shock: Tigers Top 11 Prospects
2009-02-04 - Premium Article Future Shock: Indians Top 11 Prospects
2009-02-02 - Premium Article Future Shock: White Sox Top 11 Prospects
2009-01-30 - Premium Article Future Shock: The Best at Being Young and an...