The Detroit Tigers organization is still hurting in terms of depth, but the club added some advanced college arms in the 2008 draft, and they are expected to move quickly. The club does, though, have one of the top prep pitchers from the 2007 draft.
Jeff Larish, 26, had a solid college career but has moved slowly during his pro career and made his MLB debut at the age of 25. He hit .260/.306/.375 with a .115 ISO in 104 at-bats (40 games). His rates at the MLB level were 6.3 BB% and 32.7 K%, which are hardly encouraging. The first baseman’s MLB contact rate was just 73.4%, including a 43.2% contact rate at pitches outside the strike zone. Larish is a borderline quad-A player.
Dusty Ryan, 24, had an unexpectedly solid offensive season in 2008, but beware of flukes. In his first four pro seasons he hit 21 home runs. Last season, he hit 19. Even with his 2008 numbers figured in, Ryan’s career minor league line is .237/.326/.386 in 1,250 at-bats. His career strikeout rate is more than 30.0 K%. Defensively, his biggest strength is his arm and he threw out almost 50% of base stealers in 15 MLB games.
Outfielder Wilkin Ramirez, a former third base prospect, hit .303/.371/.522 with an ISO of .219 in 433 Double-A at-bats. He slugged 19 home runs and stole 26 bases (in 38 attempts). He is still rough around the edges with rates of 9.0 BB% and 31.9 K%. Defensively, he is pretty much limited to left field despite his speed.
Rick Porcello was the 27th overall pick from 2007 out of a New Jersey high school but he did not make his pro debut until 2008. Despite the late start, he jumped all the way to High-A ball and held his own. Porcello allowed just 116 hits in 125 innings. On the downside, his strikeout rate was just 5.18 K/9. The right-hander did have a nice walk rate for such a young player at 2.38 BB/9.
Speaking of No. 1 draft picks, Ryan Perry was nabbed in the first round of the 2008 draft and I discussed him here. Cody Satterwhite was another college arm drafted in 2008, who is expected to be on the fast-track in 2009. He’s a frustrating player – and has been since high school – because his results never match his talent, which includes a high-90s fastball. His secondary stuff is lacking, and that is one of the reasons why he’s been moved to the bullpen.
First baseman Ryan Strieby slugged 29 home runs in 2008 at High-A ball. The 23-year-old hit .278/.352/.563 with an ISO of .285. The ISO has increased for three straight seasons from .095 to .169 to his 2008 rate. With a walk rate of just 9.9 BB%, Strieby needs to be more patient. He struck out 24.0 K%.
The Tigers are promoting Cale Iorg, 23, aggressively even though he missed two seasons while on a Mormon mission. He hit .251/.329/.405 with 10 home runs and 22 stolen bases in 383 at-bats in his first full pro season in High-A ball. Iorg has a ton of athleticism but he is in need of experience. His 2008 rates included an 8.5 BB% and a 29.0 K%. Outfielder Casper Wells is another athletic player who broke out for half of 2008 after he jumped from A-ball to Double-A. It took him almost four years to get there, though. Wells hit 27 home runs and 25 stolen bases between the two levels last season. At Double-A, he managed a line of .289/.376/.589 in 270 at-bats. He posted a walk rate of 10.0 BB% and a high strikeout rate of 24.4 K%.
Casey Crosby was taken out of high school in the same draft as Porcello, but his career was slowed when he missed most of 2008 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. The southpaw is talented and can reach 96-97 mph with his fastball. Unfortunately, his secondary stuff is lacking – especially the breaking ball. His change-up is a potential second plus pitch.
Up Next: The Cincinnati Reds
These lists do not include all the talented prospects in each system – just a snap shot. Some players have been left out because I have covered them recently and not much has changed (You can link to the older posts from each player’s FanGraphs page) or I am planning a separate post on them in the very near future.