With the promotion of top prospect Nick Castellanos this year Detroit’s farm system is lacking any type of impact bat – maybe with the exception of first rounder Derek Hill. The club does, however, have plenty of intriguing arms, particularly in the lower levels.
I’ve long been a big fan of right-hander Jake Thompson. Robbie Ray is a potential middle-of-the-rotation southpaw. And Austin Kubitza is a big time sleeper candidate.
For a look at the club’s Top 10 Prospects heading into the year click HERE
1. Willy Adames, SS, Age: 18
Behind the wave of uber-talented minor league shortstops — a group that includes Javier Baez, Carlos Correa, Addison Russell, and Francisco Lindor — is Adames, the Tigers’ 18-year-old who is hitting .277/.355/.456 while topping the low Class A average production by 28%. He could be among the biggest breakouts next season.
2. Jake Thompson, RHP, Age: 20
One of the more underrated prospects in the game, Thompson, whom I ranked as the #57 prospect in my book The 2014 Prospect Digest Annual, is having another quietly strong season. The former second round pick has fanned 23.8% of the hitters he’s faced this season while posting a tidy 2.81 FIP. Thompson’s quickly approaching Class AA readiness.
3. Robbie Ray, LHP, Age: 22
The centerpiece of the oft criticized Doug Fister deal with Washington, Ray, nonetheless, is developing nicely in the Tigers’ system. The 22-year-old southpaw is sporting his lowest walk percentage, 7.6%, of his career. Nice mid-rotation arm.
4. Derek Hill, OF, Age: 18
Son of Dodgers scout Orsino Hill, the 6-foot-2 center fielder was reportedly one of the faster prep players in the class. Hill instantly becomes the top bat in the system.
5. Devon Travis, 2B, Age: 23
After expressing some initial skepticism about his incredible performance last season, Travis has alleviated some concerns. The former 13th round pick out of Florida State is topping the Eastern League average production by 25% en route to hitting .293/.329/.511. The 4.9% walk rate, however, is bordering on red flag territory.
6. Bruce Rondon, RHP, Age: 23
Tommy John surgery. Enough said.
7. Jonathon Crawford, RHP, Age: 22
Viewed this as a reach with the 20th pick last June, Crawford isn’t exactly lighting the Midwest League on fire: 7.28 K/9 and 3.03 BB/9. I gave the Florida Gator a second/third round grade prior to the draft, writing that he “looks like a backend filler, potentially peaking as a #4/#5-type guy.” Crawford’s likely headed to the bullpen at some point.
8. Steven Moya, LF/RF, Age: 22
The best power in a system deficient of high upside bats, Moya has already set a new career high in homeruns (14), stolen bases (10), and Isolated Power (.252). The problem: a lowly 3.0% walk rate and a strikeout rate, 28.0%, bordering on red flag territory.
9. Kevin Ziomek, LHP, Age: 22
Pegged Ziomek as a late first/second round pick prior to the draft and, lo and behold, the Tigers took the Vanderbilt southpaw with the 19th pick in the second round. Missing a ton of bats, but the control, 5.02 BB/9, is problematic.
10. Austin Kubitza, RHP, Age: 22
The former Rice hurler is handling the low Class A competition rather well, averaging nearly 10 punch outs per nine innings. I’ve long been on the Kubitza bandwagon, writing before the season that he looked like “a nice #3/#4 option in a few years.” I’m still sticking with that – especially if the uptick in control is real.
Photo courtesy of tennessean.com.