10. Daniel Fields - Outfielder
Fields generated plenty of buzz in 2010 as he posted passable numbers as a 19-year old in the High-A Florida State League. Returning there for 2011, much of that excitement has dissipated as an increasing numbers of scouts are questioning his ultimate hitting ability. Fields has some power and a good approach, but he may not hit enough to use either, and he may not be able to stay in the middle of the outfield. He is still an outstanding athlete and you never give up on young athletes of this caliber, but he has some work to do to regain his lofty prospect status.
9. Lester Oliveros – Right-handed Pitcher
The newest member of the Tigers bullpen comes with a powerful arsenal and an aggressive approach to pitching. His fastball will work anywhere from 91-95 mph and get up to 97 when he wants more, while his slider can be a legit swing-and-miss pitch. Oliveros has struggled with control at times, but when he settles in, he can be a dominating late inning reliever that could close for the Tigers in the future.
8. Chance Ruffin – Right-handed Pitcher
Ruffin is another outstanding reliever, and one that almost came to the big leagues instead of Oliveros. Ruffin was the tigers supplemental round pick last year and he has flown through the system, now pitching out of the Triple-A Toledo ‘pen. Good stuff and a little bit of that necessary "crazy" on the mound, and Ruffin should easily be a setup man and could close if given the opportunity to try his stuff in that role.
7. Drew Smyly – Left-handed Pitcher
The Tigers second round pick in 2010, Smyly signed late and really didn't get his career underway until this summer, when a minor elbow issue pushed him to the disabled list for a while. After returning from the DL, Smyly has shown the polish expected of him and has been dominating High-A hitters. Smyly has average stuff across his arsenal and he commands it will which helps his package play up at times. His ultimate ceiling is that of a number three starter, and most scouts see him settling in as a number four or five very easily, and possibly very soon.
6. Danry Vasquez – Outfielder
The Tigers most expensive international signing in history, Vasquez has been handled aggressively already with an assignment to the Gulf Coast League right out of the gate. He has shown an advanced feel for hitting with a good approach in his debut, while consistently barreling balls and projecting for at least average power down the line. There is still a lot of development remaining for Vasquez, but if the developmental track goes as planned, he could be a middle of the order hitter out of right field for the Tigers.
5. Andrew Oliver – Left-handed Pitcher
Things have gone awry for Oliver who was the Tigers number three prospect entering the season, as he has struggled mightily since being sent back to Toledo after another trial in Detroit. His control has escaped him and his fastball has not been as crisp as usual. Some scouts still believe Oliver could be a mid-rotation starter in the big leagues, but his control, breaking ball and change-up will all have to find more consistency for him to reach that ceiling.
4. Casey Crosby – Left-handed Pitcher
Crosby's fall in the rankings after last season was a direct reflection on the health of his left arm at the time. Once again healthy, Crosby has showed flashes of brilliance in Double-A and he has all but cemented his spot on the 40-man roster this off-season. Crosby still has tons of arm strength and a curveball that has shown more consistently this year, making him a potential number three starter or dynamite closer. The Tigers will keep him starting for now, but don't be shocked if his ultimate future is locking down games from the bullpen.
3. Francisco Martinez – Third Baseman
Though criticized by many, the Tigers have maintained their aggressive approach with Martinez, pushing him to Double-A at just 20-years old, and he has responded with a very strong season thus far. Martinez struggled early but adjusted and went on a tear as the weather warmed. While his defensive tools remain raw, he has begun to more consistently show hit hitting ability and speed, and flash his power in game situations. If Martinez continues to put everything together offensively, he could hit for average have at least average power and still swipe some bases, giving him the potential for a robust offensive profile.
2. Nick Castellanos – Third Baseman
For everything Martinez may bring to the table offensively if he reaches his ceiling, Castellanos could bring even more to the table. He rates as the best position player in the system by a long shot and he could be an impact level offensive talent that rakes in the middle of a championship lineup. He has above-average power potential and a gift for squaring balls and hitting for average. Castellanos has already seemingly mastered the Midwest League and his bat could let him fly through the minor league system.
1. Jacob Turner – Right-handed Pitcher
Easily the Tigers top prospect heading into the year and he has done nothing to change that fact, and he has even elevated himself to the status of one of the top 10-15 prospects in all of baseball. Turner has easy number two potential with advanced command and control of a three-pitch mix. Each of his pitches flashes as at least above-average with plus potential across the board. He has poise and makeup well beyond his years and he could be ready to pitch effectively in the big leagues right now. The Tigers are expected to give him every chance to win a rotation spot in 2012, and he would slot in very nicely behind ace Justin Verlander.