Toledo – Jose Alvarez (LHP)
Signed as a minor league free agent in the offseason, Alvarez joined the Tigers from the Miami Marlins organization and he has gotten off to a roaring start in Triple-A. In five starts last month the 23-year old Venezuelan allowed just 19 hits in 28-2/3 innings of work. His seven walks and 24 strikeouts give him strong peripherals and only hint at the .188/.248/.317 line opposing batters have posted against him. After allowing three runs in just four innings during his first start of the season, Alvarez allowed just two earned runs over his next four outings. Fans may not know his name or where he came from, but strong performances like this may put Alvarez in consideration for a call to Detroit should injuries strike.
Runner-Up – Jose Ortega (RHP)
Erie – Warwick Saupold (RHP)
After signing out of Australia last year, Saupold jumped straight to High-A where he was solid, if not spectacular. The Tigers continued to be aggressive with the 23-year old right-hander, pushing him to Double-A to start the 2013 season. All told, Saupold has a 2.35 ERA in five starts for the SeaWolves; allowing only 22 hits in 30-1/3 innings and striking out 20 batters. With a fringy fastball, solid curveball and the makings of a changeup, Saupold doesn't have overpowering stuff, but he competes extremely well and keeps his team in the ball game as evidenced by him allowing three runs or less in every start so far this season.
Runner-Up – Kyle Lobstein (LHP)
Lakeland – Kyle Ryan (LHP)
A local Florida product, Ryan was a 12th round pick of the Tigers in 2010 and he has slowly worked his way to High-A, pitching just up the road from his home town. Ryan's 3.03 ERA in five starts stands out on a Lakeland team that has had plenty of injuries to the starting rotation. At 21-years old and featuring fringy stuff across the board, Ryan isn't overwhelming High-A hitters but he has allowed only 31 hits in 32-2/3 innings while walking only nine hitters. Once Ryan refines his fastball command, he should be able to reduce the hard contact he sometimes faces, allowing him to take the next step in his development.
Runner-Up – Will Clinard (RHP)
West Michigan – Hudson Randall (RHP)
The Tigers dipped into the SEC for yet another prospect during the 2012 draft, popping Randall out of Florida in the seventh round. More of a polished, soft-tossing righty, Randall was expected to move quickly through the Tigers system. With a 0.87 ERA in four starts last month, the Tigers had all the evidence they needed to promote him and did just that on Thursday; moving him up to High-A Lakeland. Randall has been a little more hittable than you would expect from such an advanced college arm, allowing 21 hits in 20-2/3 innings and only striking out seven batters, but he has induced plenty of weak contact and only issues one free pass, helping his cause. Randall doesn't have the highest ceiling in the Tigers system, but he should reach the upper levels quickly and could help the back of the big league rotation.
Runner-Up – Brennan Smith (RHP)