Acquired: Amateur Free Agent, 2010
Ranking History: #10 (2010), #3 (2011)
The Tigers made a splash in the 2010 July 2nd international signing period when they inked Vasquez to a deal that included a $1.2 million signing bonus.
Pushed aggressively out of the gate by the Tigers, Vasquez started his professional career as a 17-year old in the Gulf Coast League in 2011. In 54 games in rookie ball, Vasquez hit .272 and popped eleven extra base hits.
Not known for being shy with their top prospects the Tigers sent Vasquez to Low-A West Michigan to start the 2012 season. He struggled out of the gate and was demoted after just 29 games where he hit .162.
When Vasquez arrived in the New York-Penn League, he put his tools on display with a robust .311/.341/.401 line in 72 games as an 18-year old. In a league known for depressing power numbers, Vasquez smoked 16 doubles and picked up two home runs as well.
Hitting comes easy for Vasquez. With uncanny bat-to-ball skills and exceptional bat speed, Vasquez can make a case as the best hitter in the Tigers minor league system. He has a swing-first approach that will need to be tweaked against better pitching, but his hand-eye coordination, plate coverage and pitch recognition skills give him a chance to hit .290-plus at his peak. He shows a willingness to go the other way with the ball and he understands how to hit in a variety of counts, allowing him to maximize his abilities.
Despite a rail thin frame that has earned him the nickname "Skeletor," Vasquez has some thump in his bat. His bat speed and the natural loft on the back side of his swing allow him to drive the ball out to all parts of the park. He has a tendency to serve the ball the other way right now rather than staying on it and driving the ball, but when he gets a chance to turn on the ball he can put a charge in it. Vasquez's physical development will determine how much game power he has at his peak. If he adds strength, his present bat speed and natural ability to square the ball will give him a chance to pop 20-25 home runs a year.
Defensively, Vasquez is very much a work in progress. He is a raw defender that does not get good reads off the bat, causing him to get late jumps and often take poor routes. He is a below-average runner that can't make up for his poor reads with speed. Vasquez's arm is a solid-average tool but he is likely limited to left field long term.
While Vasquez showed off his natural offensive gifts in Connecticut last year, arguably the most important developmental step for him in 2012 was with his makeup. A gifted hitter, Vasquez entered full-season ball having never failed as a baseball player. His failures with West Michigan caused him to recognize how much work was required to succeed every day and forced him to mature and overcome failure to perform his next time out. Vasquez's mental approach in the NYPL was as impressive as anything he did on the field in 2012.
With two potential plus offensive tools in his arsenal, Vasquez has a chance to be an impact hitter at the big league level. His bat will have to fully materialize to reach his ceiling as an above-average player because he won't contribute much in the field or on the bases.
Performance Level Team AB AVG 2B HR RBI SO BB OBP% SLG% A
Vasquez has not had any injury issues in his brief career.
The Tigers will give Vasquez another crack at the Midwest League in 2013 when he will still be one of the youngest players on the circuit. With a year of mental and physical maturity under his belt, expectations will be very high for Vasquez. He has the potential to hit for average at any level right now and should begin showing more in-game power in the next year or two. As that happens, his projection as a plus hit, plus power corner outfielder will begin to come into focus.
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