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Prospect Profiles: Detroit Tigers

Prospect Profiles: Detroit Tigers Image via Sportsgraphics36


A look at the farm system of the Detroit Tigers

After a heartbreaking end to the 2016 season, the Detroit Tigers finished the season with a 86-75 record, which put them 2.5 games out of the final wild card slot. Most of the 2016 team has returned for the 2017 season, which is likely to produce another explosive season on offense with a strong starting rotation. Last year, the Tigers bullpen struggled to keep the team in games when getting into the later innings.

Detroit may have a chance to contend for the playoffs or even win the AL Central, but their farm system is fairly weak. Currently, Detroit only has one player ranked in the Top 100 prospects list.

Matt Manning, RHP

Matt Manning was drafted in the 1st round (9th overall) of the 2016 draft and is the Detroit Tigers top prospect. The 19-year-old prospect was drafted out of high school and is considered the second best right-handed pitcher in the 2016 draft behind Riley Pint. Manning is 6’6″, 190 pounds and throws a strong fastball. Manning’s has a fastball that usually sits around 96-97 MPH and a curve ball with a solid amount of drop to it. Matt is currently working on developing his change-up to become a more viable pitch.

Manning’s 2016 performance was somewhat disappointing. Manning finished the 2016 season with the GCL Tigers, producing an 0-2 record with a 3.99 ERA and 13 earned runs through 29.1 innings pitched. Although those numbers are disappointing, the limited number of appearances could be deceiving. More time in the minors should give Matt ample time to develop into a top of the rotation pitcher.

ETA: 2020

Christin Stewart, OF

Christin Stewart is a 23-year-old outfielder originally drafted in the first round back in the 2015 draft. The University of Tennessee graduate, is noted for his strong offensive power. In 2016, between Single-A and Double-A, Stewart hit 30 home runs, 87 RBIs and 24 doubles. Stewart’s power numbers show that he could become a solid left-handed power hitter for the Detroit Tigers.

The knock on Christin Stewart is his defensive capabilities. Scouts have noted that his defense is lacking, especially when compared to how good he is on offense. However, many scouts agree that more training at higher levels should help him develop into a satisfactory outfielder.

It is likely that Stewart’s bat will be what eventually catapults him into the majors. Stewart needs to work on cutting down his strikeouts and try to produce more walks. With his average speed, it would make sense for Detroit to put him at a corner outfield spot some time in the future.

ETA: 2018

Beau Burrows, RHP

Beau Burrows was selected by the Detroit Tigers in the first round (22nd overall) during the 2015 draft. Burrows is noted for having a powerful arm when it comes to throwing both his fastball and curveball. The 20-year-old pitcher throws his fastball between 94-95 MPH with a sharp curve ball that is sometimes considered his “plus” pitch.

Burrows spent the 2016 season with the West Michigan Whitecaps (Single-A), and finished the season with a 6-4 record and a 3.15 ERA through 97 innings. Burrows has trouble staying consistent at times, but the Tigers staff have been helping him make the right adjustments in order to further develop his pitches.

Although Burrows is currently a starting pitcher, some believe that he will transition into a relief pitcher as he gets further into his professional career. He could be a solid option in the future for a Detroit team whose bullpen really struggled in 2016.

ETA: 2019

Joe Jimenez, RHP

Joe Jimenez was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 2013 draft, and has worked his way through the minors and is currently in Triple-A with the Toledo Mud Hens. Jimenez is a 22-year-old closer with an impressive fastball and a solid slider.

Jimenez has dominated hitters in the minors so far in his professional career, keeping opposing batters to a .144 AVG and producing an ERA of 2.30 in Triple-A. Jimenez’s slider is nasty and has been known to miss many bats. He only walked 17 batters in 2016 and struck out 78. Jimenez has good control on the corners and can light up the radar gun.

The Tigers bullpen had its struggles last season, and Jimenez will probably be called up at some point during the 2017 season to help anchor down the bullpen. Although he currently throws just a fastball and slider, he may look to develop a third pitch this season if it would be advantageous for him to do so.

ETA: 2017

Tyler Alexander, LHP

Tyler Alexander was drafted in the second round of the 2015 draft and currently plays with the Erie SeaWolves in Double-A. The 22-year-old lefty is praised for his well-rounded command throughout all his pitches. Alexander employs a fastball that normally hits the radar gun around the high 80’s to low 90’s, and a slow curve ball as well as a sweeping slider. Alexander also has an average change-up that has some sinking action to it.

His 2016 season was solid, he pitched 102 innings in Single-A before being moved up to Double-A, where he finished the season with a total of 136.1 innings pitched. His ERA between both Single and Double-A was 2.44 and he finished with 105 total strikeouts.

Many scouts think that Alexander has a limited ceiling, but he should reach the major leagues pretty soon. With a wide array of pitches, many agree that he has a good chance of being a back-end starter in the major leagues. With his solid control and development of his pitches, Tigers fans should expect to see him in the big leagues pretty soon.

ETA: 2017

Kyle Funkhouser, RHP

Kyle Funkhouser is a 22-year-old prospect from the University of Louisville who had originally been drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2015. However, he opted to return to Louisville for his senior year. The Detroit Tigers selected Funkhouser in the 4th round of the 2016 draft.

In the past, Funkhouser was able to throw his fastball between 92-94 MPH occasionally reaching 97 MPH, but has recently slumped down to 88-92 MPH. His slider has also lost its touch, and Funkhouser’s change-up has not been as effective as it was when he was originally drafted back in 2015. Funkhouser has struggled to stay on top of his command at times, which effected him during his college career.

Currently, Funkhouser plays with the Connecticut Tigers (Short A) and pitched 13 games with them last season. He produced a record of 0-2 with an ERA of 2.65. He has eight walks and 34 strikeouts over 37.1 innings pitched. Although it seems Funkhouser’s pitches have declined since his Junior year at Louisville at the end of 2016, the Tigers organization noticed some improvement with his command. If Funkhouser can work his way back to the way he threw the ball in 2015, the Tigers may have a solid starting rotation option in the future.

ETA: 2019

Michael Gerber, OF

Michael Gerber is a 24-year-old prospect that was selected in the 15th round of the 2014 draft. Gerber is a left-handed bat out of Creighton. He was drafted after his senior year in the 15th round and not too many people had thought much of him. Although his power nor his fielding is eye-catching, Gerber has an advanced approach at the plate with some power, but he mostly hits for average.

Between Single-A and Double -A, Gerber finished the season with a batting line of  .276 AVG/ .345 OBP/ .466 SLG with 18 home runs and 80 RBIs. Those are some solid numbers and some scouts think that if he has more time to develop, he could be a solid option in the outfield.

Gerber’s defense and speed are average, however, Gerber has good instincts on the base paths and can swipe his share of bases when needed. Gerber has been developing very well in the minors so far, and with more advanced training in Double-A, Gerber may surprise us and become a very promising prospect.

ETA: 2018

Dixon Machado, SS

Dixon Machado has been with the Detroit Tigers organization for a long time. Machado was originally signed out of Venezuela back in 2008 and has developed a lot since then. When Machado was first signed into the Tigers organization, he could not do too much in the way of offense, but had enormous potential in the field.

Machado is currently on the major league roster behind starting shortstop Jose Iglesias and utility man Andrew Romine. Right now, his options at the major league level are limited, but if Iglesias gets injured it will likely be Machado who fills in.

Machado played most of 2016 in the minors, producing a batting line of .266 AVG/.349 OBP./.356 SLG with 131 hits and 17 stolen bases. Scouts have noticed a lot of improvement in his swing, although his power is definitely lacking, Machado consistently produces a line drive swing. Machado is also credited with being a smart base runner and a great option in the field. Machado isn’t a flashy shortstop, but he will make almost every play when given the chance.

ETA: Currently with the Detroit Tigers

JaCoby Jones, OF/3B

JaCoby Jones was originally drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2013 draft and was sent to the Tigers in return for Joakim Soria. Jones is noted for being a strong athlete with impressive power and speed, but much of this is overshadowed by the fact that he has served two suspensions for failing drug tests.

Jones made his major league debut last season, but spent most of the season in the minors. Even though scouts credit Jones for having impressive power, the stats do not back that up. In the minors, during 2016, Jones only hit seven home runs and 20 doubles in 99 games while producing a batting average of .257.

The 24-year-old has been known to flash the leather at third base, but is also capable of playing the outfield and shortstop. JaCoby Jones needs to work on his strikeout to walk ratio in 2017, and further develop his skills as many scouts say that Jones has a lot of raw talent. Although JaCoby is currently on the major league roster, he may get shifted back down to Triple-A.

ETA: 2017

Steven Moya, RF

Steven Moya is a 25-year-old right fielder who is currently on the Detroit Tigers major league roster. He was signed back in 2008 as a free agent and made his debut with the DSL Tigers back in 2009. Moya has had stints in the major leagues as far back as 2014. He excelled at the minor league level, earning the eastern league MVP back in 2014.

Moya is bigger than your average right fielder, he stands 6’7″ and weighs 260 pounds, which definitely helps the power he is able to produce at the plate. However, his numbers in the majors are not astounding. In 94 at bats, he posted a batting average of .255 with five home runs and 11 RBIs. Currently, the Tigers outfield is pretty solid, and sending Moya back down to Triple-A might not help him very much.

Some reports have suggested that Moya may be traded at some point before the 2017 season starts, but Moya has an opportunity to prove himself during spring training this year. This would be an opportunity to assert his position on the roster and work his way into a starting position should the Tigers decide to hold on to him.

ETA: Currently with the Detroit Tigers

Just Missed:

Myles Jaye, RHP, 3.95 ERA, 135 strikeouts and 41 walks in 161.2 innings pitched between Double-A and Triple-A in 2016.

Jose Azocar, outfielder, .281 batting average, .315 OBP, .335 slugging percentage, and 51 RBI’s in 129 games in Single-A last season.

The Detroit Tigers have a very mature, but yet weak farm system. A number of their top prospects will be big league ready in 2017. With many prospects maturing, the Tigers will have to re-stock their system in the near future. That re-stock could be important to the Tigers’ success in the future.

Detroit might have a hard time keeping up with the Cleveland Indians in the AL Central in 2017. Combine that with the fact that the Chicago White Sox added many top prospects to their ranks, and the future does not look to bright for the Tigers. They should be around .500 in 2017, and in the hunt for a Wild Card spot, but do not expect to see them win the division title anytime soon.