Detroit Tigers – 2014 UTR Organizational All-Stars

C – Austin Green – HiA Lakeland-  24 yo;  –  (2013 – 13th round) –
  • .263 – 15HR – 53RBi – 47R –  .306/.432/.737 slash  –  – PAG: 2.77
  • Baseball America -NR   –  MLB Pipeline-NR   –  Baseball Prospectus-NR
  • In the case of Green, the University of San Diego grad is a great example of the contrary loophole that UTR presents.  Jim and I made a conscious choice to bypass tracking players in Double-A and focus our energy in the direction of the deeper foreign rookie leagues.  When scanning through Detroit’s catching depth, it’s crystal clear they lack a true ace-in-the-hole behind the plate.  The UTR loophole, however, is that their top catching prospect, 2011 2nd rounder James McCann, excelled with a 2.89 PAG  for Double-A Erie in 2014.  This leaves the 6’1 – 200 lb. Green at the top of the Tigers UTR catching heap. He wasn’t a pushover posting a 2.77 PAG for Lakeland, but being the same age as McCann playing in a level with competition a year and a half younger, Green’s ceiling could be that of a solid, power hitting organizational filler. 
1B – Junnell Ledezma – VSL Tigers – 18 yo;  – (2013 – International FA signee-VE)
  • .326 – 1HR –  29RBi – 31R –  .385/.465./.850 slash  –  PAG: 3.59
  • BA-NR   –   MLB Pipeline-NR   –   BP-NR
  • Much like my above post, referring to the converse loophole that we’ve created with UTR, Ledezma is rowing in the same boat as catcher Austin Green.  Although he posted a strong PAG score of 3.59 while repeating the Venezuelan Summer League in 2014, Ledezma’s game -packed into a 5’9 – 165 lb. frame- doesn’t profile as that of a true first baseman.  Baseball America’s #19 ranked Jordan Lennerton reeled in 2.83 PAG for AAA Toledo while unranked Aaron Westlake posted a 2.66 PAG for the Double-A Erie Sea Wolves. Now, Lennerton and Westlake are UTR disqualified for both level and age (Lennerton-28, Westlake-25) so that leaves Ledezma as my highest ranked organizational first baseman in the system.  I really like Ledezma, however his offensive profile isn’t at first base.  I lightly considered Gulf Coast League’s Giancarlo Burgnoni, but even we have a threshold regarding age. The 6’3 – 225 lb Brugnoni is a 23 year old playing against competition nearly 4 years his junior. 
2B – Javier Betancourt  – LoA West Michigan – 19 yo;  – (2011 – International FA-VE)
  • .269 – 6HR – 54RBi – 67R – 9SB –  .307/.344/.651  slash  –  –  PAG: 2.60
  • BA/#14  –  MLB Pipeline (mid-season)/#20   –  BP-Prospect “On the Rise” 
  • I was happy to see Betancourt have a decent season. The 6’0 – 180 lb. Venezuelan was my 2014 Detroit Breakout Player of the Year choice back in early April, and even though the Tigers possess one of the better second base prospects in the minors in Devon Travis (3.55 for AA Erie in 2014), I still believe Betancourt has the chops to take his rightful place as one of the top positional players in the organization. Where he’ll play defensively may be the bigger issue than the steady and promising growth of his bat. Betancourt has logged more games at second base, however shortstop and third base aren’t out of the question. 
3B – Zach Shepherd – Gulf Coast League Tigers  – 18 yo;  –  (2012 International signee- Australia)
  • .301 – 4HR – 29RBi – 34R – 5SB –  .373/.497/.870 slash  –  – PAG: 3.43
  • BA-NR  –   MLB Pipeline-NR  –  BP-NR
  • The Tigers stretched the parameters of the international market by signing the 6’3 – 185 lb. free-agent out of Sydney, Australia.  Shepherd debuted in 2014 after starring as a cream-of-the-crop shortstop and captured Australia’s 2011 National Youth Baseball Player of the Year award. The young Aussie didn’t slow down in his first season in the northern hemisphere leading the GCL Tigers in runs, triples, Rbi’s and total bases. With Nick Castellanos, Detroit’s top overall prospect, cemented as the future at third base, the organization finds themselves with a new prospect duo at the keystone as Short Season Connecticut’s Steven Fuentes (and his 2014 PAG of 3.02) could sit ahead of Shepherd while both climb the fairly thin hitter ranks in the system.  With solid skills across the board, Shepherd could be a fast mover. 
SS – Anthony Pereira  – VSL Tigers –  17 yo;  –  (2013 – International FA signee-VE)
  • .250 – 4HR – 30RBi – 48R – 19SB –  .343/.404/.747 slash  –  – PAG: 3.35
  • BA-NR   –   MLB Pipeline-NR  –  BP-NR
  • If you haven’t had the chance to peek at our Tampa Bay Rays Organizational All-Star post, you can read it here.  If you have, you would have witnessed my shameful, yet deliberate gushing over 18 year old Dominican shortstop Willy Adames. This sleeper was one of the key pieces in the 2014 MLB trade deadline deal that brought ace hurler David Price to the Motor City.  Had Price stayed in Tampa, Adames would have been my clear cut UTR Organizational All-Star shortstop choice. He’s a future star, yet I can’t place him on two lists.  Therefore Pereira was chosen; and didn’t leave any heads unturned in his VSL debut.  He posted a 40% extra base percentage, lead the VSL in runs scored and lead his VSL squad in doubles, home runs and stolen bases. He has some work to do defensively, but he has a lot of room to grow.  
LF – Raphael Rhymes– LoA West Michigan –  24 yo;  –  (2013 – 15th round)  –
  •  .256 – 9HR – 71RBi – 72R – 4SB –  .329/.381/.710  –  – PAG: 2.99
  • BA-NR   –   MLB Pipeline-NR   –   BP-NR
  • The former LSU Tiger had a solid season for West Michigan. His 35 doubles lead all Tiger’s farmhands, however, I’ll save my keyboard for other prospects as 2014 was the now 25 year olds final season as a UTR qualifier. 
CF – Wynton Bernard – LoA West Michigan –  23 yo;  –  (2012 – 35th round (San Diego Padres)
  • .323 – 6HR – 47RBi – 91R – 45 SB –  .394/.442/.836  –  – PAG: 3.52
  • BA-NR  –   MLB Pipeline-NR  –   BP-NR
  • It’s almost unfair to point out that Bernard was a non-ranked player in BA, Pipeline and BR’s rankings. The Niagara University grad debuted in 2012 posting a not-so-worthy PAG of 2.30 for San Diego’s AZL squad. The following season, Bernard predictably began the season repeating the Arizona League, but soon found himself on a wild ride, ascending three levels all the way to HiA Lake Elsinore where he ended the season posting a csPAG of 2.53.  The (ironic) San Diego native was released by the Padres in January. While on the open tryout circuit, Bernard caught the eye of Tigers scouts and signed in March of 2014, and hasn’t looked back. In fact, Bernard lead the Midwest League in hits with 164, ranked 3rd in stolen bases and was amongst the league leaders in total bases with 224. Oh, by the way, did I mention the 6’2 – 200 lb. former Padre castaway won the 2014 Midwest League MVP award?  Just my kind of guy.  An under-the-radar darling making the most of second chance.
RF – Mike Gerber – Short Season Connecticut/LoA West Michigan –  21 yo;  –  (2014 – 15th round)
  • .298 – 7HR – 42RBi – 44R – 9 SB –  .298/.492/.859  –  – csPAG: 3.66
  • BA-NR  –  MLB Pipeline-NR  –  BP-NR
  • The 2014 Creighton University grad had as stellar a debut season as any Tigers prospect I covered this season.  Gerber spent the vast majority of his debut with Short Season Connecticut posting a 3.67 PAG score while leading the roster in seven offensive categories: runs scored(40), home runs(7), Rbi’s(37), slugging(.493) OPS(.847) and total bases(107).  The lefty slugger spent the final week in LoA with absolutely no slow down in production posting a 3.63 PAG score in eight games. Gerber could be a real fun prospect to watch grow in a system nearly ready to fully graduate top outfield prospects Steven Moya and Tyler Collins into major league roles while BA Top 30 prospect Daniel Fields (2.29 PAG in AAA) fell well short of expectations.

 

 

Top 5 Starting Pitchers – (Mention Points) / TPS
 
1. RHP Chad Green – (13) SP/TPS .091
  • 23 years old – (LoA West Michigan)
  • 11th round – 2013
  • 2-Time UTR Mention (April 10th, May 16th)
  • Green was considered a last-round steal when he was drafted out of Louisville. At 6′ 4″, the right-hander creates downward plane on low 90’s fastball, of which he has decent command. Being his first season as a pro where he got the ball every 5th day, Green didn’t wane late in the season throwing 130.1 innings. The development of his secondary pitches will determine his rise through the system.
2. RHP Austin Kubitza(13) SP/TPS .077
  • 22 years old – (LoA West Michigan)
  • 4th round – 2013
  • Ranked 6th by MLBPipeline
  • The Pirates may find out that they missed out on Kubitza back in 2010 when they tried to draft him out of high school. He could of possibly made a nice complement to the future starter in Jameson Tallion. Kubitza was the 2014 minor league pitcher of the year for the Tigers. He went 10-2 with a 2.34 ERA and struck out 140 hitters over 131 innings. 
3. LHP Josh Turley(12) cSR/TPS .107
  • 23 years old – (HiA Lakeland / Double-A Erie)
  • 16th round – 2012
  • 2-Time UTR Mention (April 19th, May 27th)
  • Marc and I have always loved the under the radar guys. Its not the fact of rooting for the underdog, but more that these type of players can turn a fantasy team into a league dynamo. You have to strike on these “notspects” before the iron becomes hot. Turley could be one of those for the Tigers. He has succeeded at each level since being drafted in 2012, even though his ceiling has been labeled  fringy. The left-hander has excellent command of a upper 80’s fastball with an above average curveball. 
4. LHP Kevin Ziomek(11) SP/TPS .065
  • 22 years old – (LoA West Michigan)
  • 2nd round – 2013
  • Ranked 10th by Baseball America / 5th by MLBPipeline
  • Drafted out of Vanderbilt, Ziomek will soon add that school’s reputation of producing MLB pitchers. After a rough patch early on, his first full season went as expected for the 2nd rounder in going 10-6 with a 2.27 ERA. With his mid 90’s fastball and accompanying plus change-up, Ziomek struck out 152 in 123 innings. Ziomek was one of the biggest TPS turn-arounds from 2013. He improved his rate by .185 points.
5. RHP Buck Farmer(11) SP/TPS .083
  • 23 years old – (LoA West Michigan/Double-A Erie/Triple-A Toledo)
  • MLB September Call-up
  • 5th round – 2013
  • Ranked 8th by MLBPipeline
  • By UTR standards, Farmer is a bubble prospect/notspect being drafted in the 5th round. What’s not to love about his near-perfect baseball name and that the Tigers called on the righty in September when the rotation needed help. He only made 4 starts above LoA before getting the call and that experience could pay-off big dividend in the future. His stuff is MLB average and it showed in his 4 appearances with the big club, but he does profile a back-end starter. Look for more season in 2015 at HiA Lakeland, but Farmer could be decent draft and stash arm
 
Top 3 Relief Pitchers – (Mention Points) / TPS
 
1. LHP Joe Mantiply(12) RP/TPS .079
  • 23 years old – (LoA West Michigan / Double-A Erie)
  • 27th round – 2013
  • 2014 UTR Breakout
  • 2-Time UTR Mention (May 1st, August 1st)
  • A solid rookie season with short-season Connecticut tabbed Mantiply as the 2014 UTR Breakout Candidate and he came through for me, but as a relief pitcher. He made 12 starts in 2013 posting a 2.04 ERA. This season the left-hander made 46 appearances and garned 9 saves. The Tigers liked what they saw and placed Mantiply on the roster in the Arizona Fall League.
2. RHP Julio Felix(10) RP/TPS .099
  • 22 years old – (LoA West Michigan)
  • 12th round – 2012
  • Modest projection for Felix who shows a 4 pitch-mix which would play well in long relief.
3. RHP Scott Sitz(8) RP/TPS .105
  • 22 years old – (LoA West Michigan / Triple-A Toledo / HiA Lakeland / LoA West Michigan)
  • 28th round – 2013
  • Pedestrian season numbers for the right-handed Sitz who started the season with LoA West Michigan with a stint at Triple-A and HiA Lakeland.
 
Top 5 TPS – Starting Pitchers
 
1. LHP Kevin Ziomek – (11) SP/TPS .065
  • 22 years old – (LoA West Michigan)
  • 2nd round – 2013
  • Ranked 10th by Baseball America / 5th by MLBPipeline
  • Drafted out of Vanderbilt, Ziomek will soon add that school’s reputation of producing MLB pitchers. After a rough patch early on, his first full season went as expected for the 2nd rounder in going 10-6 with a 2.27 ERA. With his mid 90’s fastball and accompanying plus change-up, Ziomek struck out 152 in 123 innings. Ziomek was one of the biggest TPS turn-arounds from 2013. He improved his rate by .185 points.
2. RHP Austin Kubitza – (13) SP/TPS .077
  • 22 years old – (LoA West Michigan)
  • 4th round – 2013
  • Ranked 6th by MLBPipeline
  • The Pirates may find out that they missed out on Kubitza back in 2010 when they tried to draft him out of high school. He could of possibly made a nice complement to the future starter in Jameson Tallion. Kubitza was the 2014 minor league pitcher of the year for the Tigers. He went 10-2 with a 2.34 ERA and struck out 140 hitters over 131 innings. 
3. LHP Gregory SotocSR/TPS .077
  • 19 years old – (DSL Tigers)
  • Undrafted – 2013
4. RHP Spenser WatkinscSR/TPS .081
  • 21 years old – (GCL Tigers)
  • 30th round – 2014
5. RHP Buck Farmer – (11) SP/TPS .083
  • 23 years old – (LoA West Michigan/Double-A Erie/Triple-A Toledo)
  • MLB September Call-up
  • 5th round – 2013
  • Ranked 8th by MLBPipeline
  • By UTR standards, Farmer is a bubble prospect/notspect being drafted in the 5th round. Whats not to love about his near-perfect baseball name and that the Tigers called on the righty in September when the rotation needed help. He only made 4 starts above LoA before getting the call and that experience could pay-off big dividend in the future. His stuff is MLB average and it showed in his 4 appearances with the big club, but he does profile a back-end starter. Look for more season in 2015 at HiA Lakeland, but Farmer could be decent draft and stash arm
Top 3 TPS – Relief Pitchers
 
1. LHP Gerbinson Perez RP/TPS .047
  • 19 years old – (VSL Tigers)
  • Undrafted – 2013
  • Promising numbers for the youngster who repeated the Venezuelan Summer League. He posted 39 strikeouts in 31 innings of work and only 4 walks.
2. RHP Gabe HemmerRP/TPS .054
  • 24 years old – (Short-Season Connecticut)
  • 24th round – 2014
  • Seeing what Hemmer did at Short-Season Connecticut (41 K’s in 25.1 IP) was quickly tempered as he turned 24 years old as the Rookie League began the season. Interesting to see if Hemmer could be a late bloomer after being drafted this past Spring from San Diego Christian College.
3. RHP Paul VoelkerRP/TPS .059
  • 21 years old – (GCL Tigers / Short-Season Connecticut)
  • 10th round – 2014
  • Coming out of the draft, Voelker was projected as back of the rotation type, but with his aggressive approach on the mound and high 90’s fastball, the pen should be the best fit.
 
 
2014 Breakout Grades
 
The following pitchers were chosen in early March. Their selection was based solely on their previous season’s TPS rating and using the UTRMinors.com criteria for those under the radar.
 
SP Joe MantiplyThe left-hander made the list above ranked #1 as the top mentioned relief pitcher. After the season he posted and its continuation in the AFL with Glendale, Mantiply should stay in the pen for here on out. Grade B+
 
RP Joe Jimenez – Jimenez came of the lauded Puerto Rico Baseball Academy and immediately began is pro career with the Gulf Coast League Tigers where overpowered the young hitters in the league. At only 19 years old this season, it more of the same for the hitters in the New York-Penn League with the Connecticut Tigers (41 K’s in 26.2 IP). Jimenez has the raw stuff that could project as a starter once its refined. Grade A-

 

Advertisements
This entry was posted in 2014, 2014 Post Season UTR Organizational All-Stars, Articles. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Detroit Tigers – 2014 UTR Organizational All-Stars

  1. Pingback: August 8, 2016 – Under the Radar Hitters of the Day | Under The Radar Minors

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s