2011 TigsTools: Best Outfield Defense

In recent years the Tigers have been blessed with numerous very good defensive outfielders at the minor league level, including past names such as Casper Wells, Curtis Granderson, and Austin Jackson. While the depth of quality defenders isn't quite the same this time around there are still some standout defenders that are worth noting.

Best Outfield Defense
1. Avisail Garcia (RF)
2. Jamie Johnson (CF)
3. Luis Castillo (OF)
4. Patrick Smith (OF)
5. Michael Rockett (LF/RF)

Garcia offers classic right field tools on defense. He is a very good athlete for a young man his size. He moves well in the outfield, reads the ball well off the bat, has good routes and even has good hands when he gets to the ball. He has everything necessary, including the aggressive mentality many managers like to see, to be a top flight defender in right.

Johnson has always been considered a quality defender but Eastern League observers felt he took a step forward in 2011, showing better instincts and routes to the ball.

Both Castillo and Smith are solid outfielders capable of handling center field or either of the corners. Amateur scouts gave high marks to Smith's ability to read the ball off the bat and get tremendous jumps, making up for just solid-average straight line speed.

Rockett is a fine defender with good speed and decent instincts. He lacks the above-average routes of the names ahead of him on this list but his all-out style of play allows him to make up for some mistakes in reading the ball and judging the appropriate route.

Honorable Mention
Brent Wyatt

Wyatt has taken well to the outfield since the Tigers pushed him there after drafting him. He does everything well but doesn't stand out in any particular defensive area.

Projection Kings
Ismael Salgado
Tyler Gibson

Salgado and Gibson were both 2011 draft picks of the Tigers. Salgado is one of the fastest players in the organization and that should help him if he can refine his instincts in the outfield. With refinement, his speed could allow him to be an elite level defender. Gibson has played center field and adapted quickly after moving from the infield, but most scouts believe he will be pushed off to right field once he matures physically.

Others Considered
P.J. Polk
Chad Wright

Wright relies on his instincts to make up for average to fringe-average speed in center field. His instincts are his lone plus skill on defense and it allows him to handle center at the lower levels of the minor leagues. Polk battled injuries and his confidence this year but when he was healthy he flashed plus defensive ability.

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2011 TigsTools: Best Outfield Defense

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