Organizational Rankings: Future Talent – Detroit

Change is afoot in Detroit, as the rebuilding of the Tigers organization began this offseason with the acquisitions of Austin Jackson, Max Scherzer, Phil Coke and Daniel Schlereth. The team complemented their budget shaving of Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson with a long-term deal for Justin Verlander. The plan is clear: build around Verlander and Miguel Cabrera, and slowly begin to shed the long-term commitments that handcuffed Dave Dombrowski in recent offseasons.

The good news is the sanity of the front office, beginning with Dombrowski, who has his weaknesses but is also a trained artist at rebuilding organizations. Dombrowski’s best signing with the Tigers might be scouting director David Chadd, who has done well with a large scouting budget since coming over from the Boston Red Sox. Surely, part of the sales pitch was the budget itself, as it has afforded Chadd the ability to draft players like Rick Porcello and Jacob Turner, even when their bonus demands scared away other teams.

Every scouting director has his preferences, and Chadd is as transparent as anyone. Porcello is 6-foot-5. Ryan Perry is 6-foot-4. Turner is 6-foot-5. Casey Crosby is 6-foot-5. Etcetera. The team is stacked with these types of pitchers, going after guys with an intimidating presence, an intimidating fastball, and a downhill plane. In this sense, there might be no one better to build around than Verlander.

This is going to create the effect of a revolving door of flamethrowers in Detroit, and could mean some really nice pitching staffs. Porcello is only going to get better in his second season — his start against the Twins last season in Game 163 showed the type of pitcher he can be consistently. Scherzer is a great asset that will be under control for the length of Verlander’s extension, and the lower minors will be stocked with guys looking to join them in 2012 or so. Crosby and fellow lefty Andy Oliver will bring some left-handed mix to the Tigers rotation, and the reports on Turner are fantastic.

The bullpen is just as good, as the Tigers will have a lot of cheap options to pair with the expensive Jose Valverde. Ryan Perry held his own last year after being rushed to the Majors, and is now reunited with a former college teammate on a similar schedule, Daniel Schlereth. It won’t be long until they are joined by Cody Satterwhite and Robbie Weinhardt, which again will create a very similar, yet very dangerous, pitching staff.

Once again, however, we are left wondering if a team’s offense will be able to keep up with the pitching staff. It will be important for Cabrera to stay good for a long time, both because of his cost on the roster and a lack of other dangerous middle of the order hitters. Ryan Strieby could add some power in the DH slot, and you’ll still cross an occasional believer in Wilkin Ramirez or Casper Wells, but most likely, the middle of the order will have to come from outside the organization.

Dambrowski can probably make do with the surrounding pieces, starting with his new toy, centerfielder Austin Jackson. Few prospects spark such a wide range of opinions, but I think we can sort of set a median expectation on his performance last season in Triple-A. Jackson has the athleticism to blossom into something more powerful, and the baseball savvy to become more patient, but anticipating anything north of .350 in the wOBA column for his team-controlled seasons is projecting too optimistically.

Jackson will be joined as a rookie on this roster by both Scott Sizemore and Alex Avila, middle-round college guys with low upsides. These aren’t guys that will hurt, and aren’t guys likely to exceed 2 WAR anytime in the future. Truly, the only player in the system I think you can hope for more than that is Daniel Fields, a prep shortstop given $1.625 million last year. But Fields is too far away to be a factor in this series, so the point remains: Chadd’s obsession with big pitchers may have gotten in the way of creating a balanced farm system. Things will be different in Detroit very soon, but the idea of looking for offense on the free agent market will remain a Tigers staple for the foreseeable future.



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Omar
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Omar
6 years 4 months ago

Dombrowski*

Reuben
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6 years 4 months ago

Dombruwski?

eric palmer
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eric palmer
6 years 4 months ago

I’m going to guess he meant Dumbrowski…

Reuben
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6 years 4 months ago

Poor attempt at a joke?

Omar
Member
Omar
6 years 4 months ago

Furthermore, this may be a bit Tigers-specific, but is it fair to count the 50-70M coming off the books at the end of the year in future talent? I mean, that’s probably enough to sign Lee, Beckett, and Crawford (assuming they spend all of what’s coming off the books)…that has to change things quite a bit too.

Eric
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Eric
6 years 4 months ago

Something else that should be acknowledged is Dombrowski and Chadd’s ability lately to deal prospects at the peak of their value. Can’t really be debated that Miller, Maybin, and Joyce have not lived up to expectations since leaving the Tigers’ system.

Tom B
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Tom B
6 years 4 months ago

So he’s getting good at collecting poor prospects and flipping them? I don’t know if I’d be excited about that…

Byron
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Byron
6 years 4 months ago

You would be if you had gotten Miguel Cabrera when he was 24 for a centerfielder who still hasn’t stuck in the big leagues and a pitcher who can’t crack the rotation. Miguel Cabrera has been worth 8.4 Wins Above Replacement total in his two seasons with us. Maybin and Miller have combined for 4 since we traded them.

Omar
Member
Omar
6 years 4 months ago

I wouldn’t call Miller or Maybin poor prospects, they were toolsy players drafted high. One was a high schooler with tools out the ass, he recognized his weaknesses (K rates and GB rates) and the other was a LHP coming out of UNC with two plus pitches and seemingly good command. They were highly regarded selections when they made them and while they haven’t lived up to expectations, tough shit…that happens sometimes with prospects.

Professional Editor
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Professional Editor
6 years 4 months ago

I don’t know — it has been among Kenny Williams’ specialties for a while, too.

wolverine119
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6 years 4 months ago

don’t coun’t out joyce… he’s got every chance to be a 3 WAR regular cost-controlled throughout his peak… that is a very valuable assest

Mike Rogers
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6 years 4 months ago

Who, how, or why is Alex Avila in the “only going to be less than a 2.0 WAR player?” You’re incredibly low on both. Sizemore is better than Polanco offensively, and worse defensively. In his club control years, I don’t see how he can’t been above average player given a small positional adjustments and a keen eye at the plate with enough pop.

As for Avila, if he starts 75% of games in any given year, the positional and replacement adjustments will easily put him over the 2 WAR mark. Gerald Laird was at about 60% playing time last year and accumulated 9 runs in positional adjustment and 16 in replacement adjustments which is 25 runs already before you get to batting, where he’s likely above-average for the position and close to league average, in my opinion.

Mike Rogers
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6 years 4 months ago

Also, Fields is already moved off the SS position and into CF. He’ll be starting in Low-A West Michigan.

mmwatkin
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mmwatkin
6 years 4 months ago

So many people overrate Avila for some reason. When the guy was called up, he went on a 5 game terror and then pitchers figured him out. He batted .200 the rest of the way and tried to hit a home run every time he went to bat. His defensive skills need refining as well.

I have no problem with him backing up Laird this year, but he has a long way to go before he should get the large majority of games behind the plate.

Stringer Bell
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Stringer Bell
6 years 4 months ago

Uhh no, Avila really doesn’t have a long way to go at all. He isn’t close to Laird defensively because Laird is probably the best in the game, but he’s pretty much just about average. As for his hitting skills, yes he hit a small rough patch but you can’t just ignore his minor league skills plus the fact that he had a very good run in the majors.

The amount of people that are down of Sizemore (unlikely to hit 2 WAR over his cost controlled years, seriously?) is getting really annoying. He’s got decent pop and patience, and he’s a decent enough defender.

Mike Rogers
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6 years 4 months ago

his defensive skills do need refining — he became a catcher half way through college. I’m not judging his skills based on his call up, rather his good walk rates and above-average pop in the minors. He’s underrated. I will say that I’m speaking towards his entire 6 years of club control, not just next year.

Larry Smith Jr.
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6 years 4 months ago

I agree with you on Sizemore Stringer. His MLE based off of his minor league numbers last year scares me slightly, but at basically every level he’s had patience, decent power for a middle infielder, and the ability to hit for average. He’s done this consistently throughout the minors. Until I see him fail to hit, I assume that he’s going to hit.

Eric
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Eric
6 years 4 months ago

Just saying that he’s been shrewd evaluating progress. Every team has it’s share of high end busts each yr. How many 1st round picks even become MLB regulars? I’d bet it’s less than half. Better to sell high than sit on a player that’s already peaked.

Mike
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Mike
6 years 4 months ago

I disagree with the idea that the Tigers have an uneven farm system because David Chadd prefers pitchers in the early rounds. If anything, it’s more about the willingness of the organization to spend big early on a couple pitchers that have dropped to them for signability reasons (Andrew Miller, Rick Porcello and Jacob Turner all fit that description), which has left less money for the rest of the draft to get higher ceiling guys.

I may be biased, but I have a hard time figuring out how a team with Verlander, Porcello and Scherzer in the MLB rotation for the next five years, two very high ceiling arms in the minors (Crosby and Turner), and Cabrera in the every day line-up would rank #22, particularly when the same organization has the capability of having a top 5 payroll with a ton of money to spend in the near future.

Omar
Member
Omar
6 years 4 months ago

Totally agreed Mike…at least in the first paragraph. They seem to favor BPA pretty highly, usually it’s high ceiling high school pitchers who drop to teams picking where the Tigers pick, so that’s who they take. That being said, I think you’re probably too high on Porcello and Scherzer, but I agree 22 is probably too low. I feel that they’re in better shape than at least the Reds and the Os…probably a few other NL Teams too. I’m thinking Dave will explain this in his main column though.

brett
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brett
6 years 4 months ago

@ Eric – Excellent point. I’ll add Humberto Sanchez (Sheffield trade), Gorkys Hernandez (Renteria) and Guillermo Moscoso (Laird) to the mix of prospects he’s traded at the right time. The only exception i can think of is Jair Jurrjens and when they traded him he was looking like his shoulder could fall off at any time.

I’m curious to see how Dombrowski fills in next year’s roster. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if he trades a piece or two from the Crosby/Oliver/Turner/Random power reliever group to counteract their lack of position player depth. And there’s a decent chance he’ll trade exactly the right guys.

the fume
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the fume
6 years 4 months ago

You could make strong arguments that Turner, Crosby, Sizemore, Jackson being in most top 100 lists. Oliver, Strieby, and Avila wouldn’t be far off. Turner and Crosby are scouts dreams, and there’s a lot of buzz on Oliver. Avila’s defense has improved by leaps and bounds the past couple years, to the point where it might be close to average. Detroit sportswriters are saying Jackson’s D has been flawless in ST, and scouts like his improvement at the plate.

Sizemore of course has the injury issues, and you wonder if that will slow him down, especially to start the season. Strieby is of course blocked at 1B, and I’m not sure everyone is sold on him yet. And who knows how well Avila will actually hit.

wolverine119
Guest
6 years 4 months ago

i think this is a little low for detroit.. sure they don’t have impact offensive prospects.. but the group of Streiby, Avila, Sizemore, Jackson, rayburn,and C. THomas are all guys that are very close to being 2 WAR guys making the league minimum … pitching is the most valuable asset inn baseball and i’ll put they’re young pitching up against ANYONES.. Schertzer , Porecello, Turner, Crosby , Oliver all project as top of the rotation guys… throw inn villareal, figaro, and Bonnie as future back end fillers …. Perry, Coke, Schlerith, Weinheart, Satterwhite,and Ni round out a cost controlled bullpen… every guy i listed has 1 year of service time or less… with Verlander and Cabrera already on board and the large group of cost controlled talent det. has many options going forward.. i would expect them to be a world series team 2-3 years from now… a playoff rotation of Verlander, Porcello, Turner, and Crosby will frieghten ANY team

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