A Minor Review of 2017: Detroit Tigers

Last season’s trades — especially those with Houston and Chicago (NL) — gave new life to the Tigers system. Plus, 2016 first rounder Matt Manning could be an absolute stud and should see his value skyrocket in 2018 as he enters pro ball. The club should also consider moving Matt Hall from the starting rotation (where he’s a fringe prospect) to the bullpen (where he could develop into a key reliever).

The Graduate: Jeimer Candelario, 3B: The Cubs flipped veteran players Justin Wilson and Alex Avila to the Cubs at last season’s trade deadline with Candelario as the key player received in return. However, I’ve never been a huge fan of the young third baseman and I doubt he’s going to be a star. Candelario, who turns 24 in a few days, is pretty average across the board in terms of his ability to hit for average or power (although the juiced ball has everyone hitting 20-30 homers). His biggest asset at the plate is his strong eye, which allows him to produce good on-base numbers. Defensively, he has a chance to be steady but unspectacular.

First Taste of The Show: Jairo Labourt, LHP: Labourt opened 2017 in high-A ball but reached the Majors at the end of the year and threw a handful of innings in The Show. Control issues have plagued the southpaw throughout his career and he walked seven batters (with five wild pitches) in 6.0 innings. He also walked 23 hitters in 22 triple-A innings after finding the strike zone more consistently in the lower minors. Labourt will very likely open 2018 in double-A or triple-A but should get another shot in the Majors at some point in the year. He was the third piece in the trade from the Blue Jays that saw David Price head north for three pitching prospects (Daniel Norris, Matt Boyd and Labourt). The club has received good value in that deal considering the veteran hurler was a rental that threw just 97.2 innings for Toronto

The Stud: Franklin Perez, RHP: The trade that sent pitching stalwart Justin Verlander to the Astros had a huge impact on both teams. Houston became World Series champions and the Tigers received a plethora of potentially-impactful prospects including the cream of the crop in Perez. The right-hander has a chance to have three above-average offerings and works well off his low-to-mid-90s heat. He’s just 19 and has room to get stronger. He finished the 2017 season with seven appearances in double-A. He’ll likely return to that level in ’18 but could reach the Majors at the age of 20, if he stays healthy.

The Draft Pick: Joey Morgan, C: The Tigers first selection in the draft, Alex Faedo, didn’t pitch after signing his pro deal so I’m going to focus on Morgan. The Tigers have invested heavily in drafting catchers out of the college ranks in recent years with very mixed results. Morgan will no doubt be a solid defensive player in The Show but his bat carries a lot of question marks – both in terms of his ability to hit for a consistent average and to produce power. I personally prefer both Jake Rogers (acquired from the Astros) and Sam McMillan (drafted two rounds after Morgan).

The Riser: Matt Manning, RHP: This right-hander could see his value skyrocket in 2018 if he stays healthy. Selected ninth overall in 2016, Manning — who’s just 19 — has been moved along slowly. He has a perfect pitcher’s body and stands 6-6. He has a mid-to-high-90s fastball and a curve that should be a consistently-plus offering in time. Toss in above-average makeup and athleticism, and you have the type of player that can develop into a star.

The Sleeper: Matt Hall, LHP: Hall isn’t your typical sleeper. He’s not toolsy, especially athletic and he doesn’t eye-popping raw stuff. He’s a small-ish lefty start with a fastball that just squeaks into the 90s at times but he still does a number of things well. His curveball is a plus offering and the heater is good enough to keep hitters honest. He also generates a lot of ground balls despite just 6-feet tall. Some deception in his delivery helped him strike out 149 batters in 138.1 innings. Although he could chew up innings as a starter, Hall could really break out for the Tigers if he gets moved to the pen.



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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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Interested in any thoughts you might have on Derek Hill. Had a solid season at A ball and a rocky promotion.