Detroit Tigers Minor League Baseball Commentary and Analysis
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No surprises here as MiLB.com breaks down the top prospects by position based on their major league affiliate’s division. Both Andrew Miller (LHP) and Cameron Maybin (OF) made the cut. And speaking of Miller, there’s already some speculation that, if he shows his stuff, he’ll be up quicker then first thought to take Kenny Rogers’ spot in the rotation.
Baseball America ran through a final look at Tigers spring training from a minor league perspective yesterday. Of course, Cameron Maybin was in the spotlight but Brent Clevlen got some love as well. Kody Kirkland was the guy who fell into the “Who’s Not” section and they agree he needs more time at Double A.
Jayson Stark wrote up a column on the the five players to remember in upcoming years as the spring season comes to a close. While he doesn’t ranke them, one of the five was Cameron Maybin. He’s got some nice things to say and the quote from the unnamed scout was worth it’s weight in gold.
As this Baseball America story highlights, shortstop Tony Giarratano’s shoulder injury leaves a hole in the system as far as shortstops go. He was supposed to start the season at Toledo with Dlugach getting the start at Erie but with Giarratano down for the season. The question now becomes, with the hole at Toledo, how soon do you move up Dlugach, if at all.
In the meantime, the shortstop situation at Toledo should clear up on Monday when Jim Leyland makes his final cuts. Your shortstop there could very well be veteran Neifi Perez if he accepts the assignment. Stay tuned.
MLB.com’s Jason Beck recently profiled Tigers top prospect Cameron Maybin. There’s a lot of stuff here, including Maybin’s relationship with Curtis Granderson, as well as some of the other Tiger players’ thoughts on the upstart centerfielder.
It’ll be interesting to see how much Maybin learned with his time on the big league club this spring. I’ll touch on this more when I finish up my top ten prospect series, but I think Maybin is going to tear up Lakeland and then maybe show he’s mortal when he gets a bump up to Erie. That won’t slow him down though as he’ll probably be up with the big league club sometime in 2008.
Baseball America caught up with Tigers pitching prospect Jair Jurrjens today in a very interesting interview. They talk about his approach to pitching, what pitches he throws (he has four of them) and his excellent command of the strike zone. There’s a ton of mechanical stuff in here and they mention the fact that he speaks four languages. For even more on him, here’s my Jurrjens profile in my top ten prospect series.
MiLB.com recently reviewed the Tigers minor league system in their organizaton reviews. There’s a bunch of stuff here, with the bulk of the column being on players on each stop in the Tigers minor league system. Kyle Sleeth is profiled in the Double A section and if you haven’t gotten enough of Andrew Miller and Cameron Maybin, you get more here. You also get a rundown of all the players the Tigers picked in the 2006 draft.
This was no big surprise but man was he hitting the ball well. Cameron Maybin was sent to minor league camp and he’ll most likely start the season at Lakeland. The Tigers sent a bunch of other guys down as well, none of which were a surprise. Probably the most notable were Brent Clevlen, who required an option. He’ll start the season at Toledo.
MiLB.com recently took a look at some of the happenings with the Tigers at spring training. They discuss where Andrew Miller and Cameron Maybin will eventually end up (which appears to be Lakeland) and there’s also a Q&A with the guy with the super slider himself. It wraps with a discussion on Kyle Sleeth and Jair Jurrjens. Good stuff here so check it out.
Yorman Bazardo, the pitcher the Tigers acquired this offseason from the Mariners, was recently sent down to the minors. I couldn’t find what level he’ll be starting at but my guess would be either a repeat of Double A or a bump to Triple A Toledo.
I also read a snippet about Kody Kirkland being sent down as well but couldn’t confirm it. Either way, neither of these are a big surprise.
In a recent Baseball Prospectus column, PECOTA take on the centerfield prospects and Cameron Maybin makes a solid showing at number four. It’s even more impressive when you figure the top two guys (Chris Young and Felix Pie) are major league ready. The strikeouts concerned Nate Silver but he said Maybin had a better season in 2006 then some people think because the Midwest League is tough on hitters.
Coming in at number two, and the top pitching prospect in the Tigers’ minor league system, is the man with the wicked slider, Andrew Miller. While the Tigers’ rotation may be set, one of those guys better look out because at some point, Miller is going to be in the there. The only question is who’s spot is he going to take. He can touch the high 90s, has the great slider and he keeps the ball down and gets a ton of ground balls. He was the concensus number two prospect on all three lists and he’s very well deserving.
Miller was the best pitcher on one of the best college baseball teams (CWS runner up North Carolina) and he dropped to the Tigers because other teams were worried about how much it’d cost to sign him. He struck out nine batters in five innings at Lakeland before getting a callup by the Tigers where he struggled with 10 walks in 10 1/3 innings. He’ll start the season at Lakeland, but expect him to be at Erie in a couple of months. Then in 2008, all bets are off and he very well could make the Tigers big league rotation.
Alright, the Tigers made some cuts today and none of them were big surprises. Probably the most optimistic move was announcing that Kyle Sleeth will start at Double A. After a solid spring, the former first round draft pick will get the promotion despite struggling last year in the minors. Having Kyle Sleeth there will make keeping track of Erie a little more interesting.
2006 first round draft pick Andrew Miller will head to Lakeland as expected. Virgil Vazquez and Jordan Tata were both bumped to Triple A Jair Jurrjens, Gabe Johnson and Dusty Ryan will all report to minor league camp and their status in the Tigers’ system is still uncertain.
While the fact that Jair Jurrjens was the consensus number four prospect on all three prospect lists by itself isn’t particularly interesting, the fact that all three prospect gurus had a different guy at number three ahead of Jurrjens was. The net result is, three fourth place finishes gets you number three just for being consistent.
Jurrjens was signed by the Tigers out of Curacao in 2003 and he made his minor league debut in 2004. He split time between the Gulf Coast League and Oneonta and while he was very good in the GCL (39 strikeouts vs. 10 walks in 39 2/3 innings) he struggled at Oneonta where he kept up his strikeout to walk ratio but gave up 50 hits in 39 innings. In 2005 he was promoted to West Michigan where he had a solid season. He struck out 108, walked 36 and had a 3.41 ERA in 142 2/3 innings. Then in 2006, he had good stints at both Lakeland and Erie. Jurrjens changes speeds very well, can touch the mid-90s on the guy and more importantly, he keeps the ball down. Oh yeah, and he just turned 21 in January so he’s plenty of time to develop still.
Kevin Goldstein speculated that Jurrjens will return to Erie to start the 2007 season but if shows signs of dominating, he could find himself at Toledo pretty quickly. Again, the Tigers are pretty deep when it comes to starters so they have time to let Jurrjens find himself in the minors. While on a lot of teams, you might see a mid-season 2008 debut, with the Tigers deep pitching you probably won’t get to see much of Jurrjens on the Tigers until 2009. Although that’s fine because he’ll still just be 23.
This is a great article on Tigers 2003 first round draft pick Kyle Sleeth, who after Tommy John surgery has fallen off of most people’s radar. Sleeth is throwing strong in spring training so far and it’ll be interesting to see what the Tigers do with all of these arms.
Sleeth was solid in the Gulf Coast League last year but he got roughed up in Lakeland (21 walks vs. 7 strikeouts in 19 2/3 innings). It’ll be interesting to see what the Tigers end up doing with him. A logical step would be to let him go back to Lakeland but if he’s arm is back, this is a guy who could rise through the ranks pretty quickly.
Now we’re getting to the cream of the crop. Gorkys Hernandez was signed by the Tigers out of Venezuela in 2005 and made his Gulf Coast League debut in 2006. He just turned 19 in September so as an 18 year old, the outfield prospect hit an impressive .327/.356/.463 in 205 at bats. He showed some pop and he also stole 20 bases in 24 chances in only 50 games. The big question mark is his eye at the plate. He drew only 10 walks but then again, he only struck out 27 times.
There’s not a lot on Hernandez but he placed as high as third (Kevin Goldstein) but not lower then seventh (BA). John Sickels gave him a B- rating but in his book, he said that could go up to as much as a B+ if he shows some things in 2007. He’ll be THE guy to watch this year at West Michigan so I’ll be sure to do just that right here starting in April.
The Tigers number five prospect is Eulogio De la Cruz and he was also across the board amongst the three lists. John Sickels rated him highest at third but he also finished as low as ninth on Kevin Goldstein’s list (you can find the lists on the left sidebar). A seventh place finish with Baseball America put him just one point ahead of Jordan Tata and Brent Clevlen.
De la Cruz was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2001 and he made his minor league debut in 2003 in the Gulf Coast League. He had a solid if erratic showing and he struck out 30 in only 24 1/3 innings before heading to a very short (3 1/3 relief innings) stint at Oneonta. Walks were a problem and he walked 16 in 27 2/3 total minor league innings in 2003. In 2004 he got bumped up to West Michigan where once again he struggled with his walks. He issued 33 free passes versus 44 strikeouts in 54 innings as the Whitecaps closer and he picked up 17 saves along the way.
In 2005, he made some major strides and even got some time in the rotation. At Lakeland, he struck out 97 and only walked 36 in 95 2/3 innings. He got into one game in at Erie but he was pummelled and once again reverted to his walking ways (four walks in 1 2/3 innings). In 2006 he debuted at Erie and regressed just a bit. His strikeout rate went down and his walk rate went up but he was solid enough to warrant getting into one game at Toledo, where like his other short stints, he got shelled.
De la Cruz is an interesting prospect though because he’s moved up the minor league ladder very methodically. He should start the season at Toledo this year and if he pans out, you could see him in the Tigers pen next year. Also keep in mind he doesn’t turn 23 until March 12 and the kid can touch 100 mph on the gun so at best he could be the second coming of Joel Zumaya and at worst he’s probably going to be a 12th or 13th pitcher on the team who sees time only when someone else goes down. Once again, I kind of wish he were a left hander because if he were, you’d be hearing more about him.
Andrew Miller and Cameron Maybin showed up on Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospect List. Maybin comes in at number six while Miller just made the first tier and he came in at number ten. Unfortunately that’s all that made the list but anytime you have two in the top ten, you have to be happy.
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