Detroit Tigers Minor League Baseball Commentary and Analysis
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Jordan Tata comes in as the sixth best prospect using my highly scientific algorithm. Remember he was actually tied with Brent Clevlen but he finished sixth on both the Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus lists but John Sickels only had him at ninth, which probably cost him one or two spots in the order.
Tata was the Tigers sixteenth round pick back in 2003 and he’s a bit older then most prospects although he moved up the minor league ladder pretty quickly. He put together solid season at West Michigan in 2004 and Lakeland in 2005 but he was a touch older then most of the prospects playing there. Then in 2006, he pitched for the Tigers after Todd Jones started the season on the DL where he got hit pretty hard. He then went down to Triple A Toledo and put together a good but not great season. In 21 starts, he finished 10-6 with a 3.84 ERA and 86 strikeouts in 122 innings. He then played in the Arizona Fall League where he was solid in six starts. Tata keeps the ball down and while he won’t normally strike out a ton of guys, he won’t give up a bunch of long balls either.
Tata is one of those guys who you’d be more excited about if the Tigers weren’t so deep in pitching. As it is, even with Humberto Sanchez being traded, Tata has a bunch of pitchers in front of him before he’ll find time on the big league club, especially as a starter. So Tata will probably find his way back in Toledo without much to prove there as a 26 year old.
Number seven and number six are actually a tie. I hate ties so I decided to arbitrarily pick one at seven and one at six and Brent Clevlen got the short end of the stick.
Brent Clevlen has been the Tigers minor league version of Jeckyl and Hyde. He was the Tigers second round pick in 2002 and he put together a very good season at rookie ball. He then continued to hit well in 2003 when he got promoted to West Michigan. In 2004 though, the wheels fell of the wagon and Clevlen put in a season at Lakeland that ended up putting him at .224/.300/.350. His stock fell but when he returned to Lakeland in 2005, he tore things up and his stock went back up. Then in 2006, he struggled at Erie but actually played pretty well, both with the bat and in the field, when he got called up by the Tigers. Which Brent Clevlen will show up in 2007? Your guess is as good as mine.
He was also kind of across the board on the prospect lists. He was eighth on both Sickels and Goldstein’s but he finished a very high third place on the Baseball America list. Clevlen will probably play in Toledo to start the season but that’s mostly because the Tigers have a glut of outfielders. You have the three starters (Craig Monroe, Curtis Granderson and Magglio Ordonez) as well as Marcus Thames and Gary Sheffield but you also have Omar Infante who will probably make the team and spot in center. Clevlen will probably be the guy who gets called up if an outfielder goes down though, at least for this year. If he doesn’t show something soon, Cameron Maybin is going to vault over him.
Second base prospect Scott Sizemore was taken by the Tigers in the sixth round of the 2006 draft and then he proved he may have been a steal when he had a very nice season at Oneonta. In 294 at bats, he hit .327/.394/.435 with three homeruns and a 47/32 strikout/walk ratio. He landed as high as seventh on both John Sickels‘ (he garnered a B- rating) and Kevin Goldstein’s list but a tenth place finish on the Baseball America list put him at eighth place using my formula.
There’s not a lot on Sizemore but he’s probably three years away (2009) from getting substantial time on the big league club. He’ll probably start at West Michigan (Low A) but if he can show he can hit there, I’d expect to see him at Lakeland (High A) by midseason. If he continues to hit like he did in 2006, he should see himself move up the prospect rankings when they’re released next year as well. Polanco is signed through 2009 and if things work out right, you’ll see Sizemore be the team’s reserve in 2009 and then take over second base in 2010.
Kevin Goldstein recently released his top 100 prospect list and the Tigers had a very solid showing in the top twenty with Cameron Maybin coming at number seven and Andrew Miller finishing seventeenth. The bad news is, those were the only two Tiger representatives on the list. Former Tiger farmhand Humberto Sanchez came in at 65.
We all know the Tigers are top heavy right now and once you get past Maybin and Miller, it’s kind of a crap shoot. You’ve got some guys with some potential but no other can’t miss (if there is such a thing) prospects.
Coming in at number nine in my composite top ten prospect list is Jeff Larish. Like Ron Bourquin, Larish was all over the board. He rated as high as sixth on John Sickels list, he finished ninth on the Baseball America list and then didn’t even make Goldstein’s list.
First baseman Jeff Larish was the Tigers fifth round pick in 2005. He came out of Arizona State and in 64 at bats at Oneonta. Larish hit six homeruns and a slugging percentage of .625. In 2006, he had a solid season at Lakeland. He only hit .258, but he had an OBP of .379 and walked 81 times versus 101 strikeouts. He hit only 18 homeruns, but he also belted 34 doubles so the power was there.
With him being a solid left handed bat, Larish could be the heir apparant at first base if Chris Shelton ends up not being the answer. He’ll make the jump to Double A in 2007 so we’ll get to see how he adapts there. Casey is only signed through 2007 and a really good season out of Larish may make a 2008 return for Casey questionable.
Jeff Sackman, who’s the developer of the excellent website Minor League Splits, recently ranked the organizations. He did it for one of the books he wrote in so the column is light on details (as far as why the Tigers rank how they do, he does a nice job of explaining his methodology), but the Tigers fared much better on this list. While they didn’t make the top five in either pitching or hitting, their composite put them at seventh overall. They’re just behind the Twins and just ahead of the Mets. The Indians come out at number two so the AL Central is pretty well represented.
Kevin Goldstein recently took a high level look at all of the minor league systems in baseball and the Tigers came in at the middle of the pack. They barely made the top half with a 15th ranking. They finished tenth in position players and 21st in pitching.
No major surprise here. Once you get past Andrew Miller and Cameron Maybin, things thin out pretty quick. The Tigers do have some interesting guys out there besides those guys like Gorkys Hernandez and Jair Jurrjens, but not a lot of potential studs.
Coming in at number ten in my highly scientific method for rating Tiger prospects is third baseman Ron Bourquin with five prospect points. Just missing the cut was right handed pitcher Dallas Trahern. Trahern showed up on more lists then Bourquin did, but Bourquin was the fifth best prospect on Kevin Goldstein’s list so that pushed him one point ahead of Trahern. Both have C+ ratings from John Sickels and he rated him 14th on his top 20 list.
Bourquin was the Tigers second round pick in 2006. He sports a lefty bat but he fields the ball right handed. Bourquin will turn 22 in late April and he was a graduate from Ohio State University. He led the Big Ten in hitting, OPS and RBIs and Sickels says he’s solid fielding third baseman.
Most impressive about Bourquin is his patience at the plate. He was signed early enough to get him into Oneonta, where he put together a solid season. He only hit .266, but he had a .391 OBP and he had just as many strikeouts (46) as he did walks. The primary concern is that his power didn’t show up once he got to the minors. He only hit two homeruns and his slugging came out at a mediocre .349.
It’ll be interesting to see where Bourquin starts in 2007. Goldstein says he might skip West Michigan and go right to High A in Lakeland. Regardless, Bourquin is one of those guys who bears watching in 2007 to see if he can make some strides at the plate, especially in the power department.
Hello, my name is Mike Cassidy and welcome to my blog that will cover all six of the Tigers minor league affiliates. I got to talking with Brian at Tigerblog after I read some Mud Hens news and he urged me to do this. I’m a Detroit transplant who now lives south of Cleveland, so I’m right in the middle of the Mud Hens and the SeaWolves. I’ll be keeping an eye on Tiger prospects during spring training, providing complete coverage of all six affiliates during the season and hopefully providing some helpful insight along the way. I’m also going to be indexing each of my game reports so you can easily look up your favorite Tiger prospects and see how he’s done and what I’ve written up about him.
With spring training starting up, I think the first think that would be worthwhile is to take a look at the top Tigers prospects in the system. There’s a ton of prospect lists out there but three of them are my favorites and there’s links to them in the sidebar. So what I’m going to do is something similar to what Tiger Tales has done for fielding and that’s to come up with a score using these three lists (Goldstein at BP, Baseball America and John Sickels). Similar to a roto league, if a prospect comes in first place on the list, they get ten points and then I’ll rank the top ten that come out of that system. Number ten should show up on Tuesday and I’ll work my way up to number one through February.
So I hope you make this site a regular stop during the season. I hope to have some fun with it.
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