Behind the plate the club will be led by Sandy Rodriguez who has one of the stronger defensive profiles among the Tigers Latin American catching prospects. He also works good at-bats and has some modest potential at the plate; something the club is hoping he will begin to show in 2013 after hitting just .183 last summer.
Also behind the plate will be veteran backstop Felix Santana and newcomer Bryan Tejada who just turned 17 in January. Tejada will likely see limited time as he adjusts to pro ball in 2013, but he could be a name to watch in 2014.
For those guys tossing to the catching crew, the Tigers will again employ a "tandem" starter system with eleven pitchers getting some exposure to larger workloads and the grind of a starting rotation.
Returning starters like Juan Alcantara, Eddy Castro, Carlos Lara, Jhonny Mateo, Janry Obispo and Harold Rosario will bring an element of veteran savvy to the rotation. Carlos Lara stood out last year with a 2.43 ERA in 59-1/3 innings. He allowed just 57 hits and 14 walks while fanning 48 batters en route to just a 2-5 record.
With a 6-foot-2, 180 pound frame, right-hander Sandy Baez has seen a slight bump in his fastball velocity from the 88-90 mph range it worked in last year to its current 90-92 mph range. Baez still has projection remaining as he pitches this year at just 19-years old and he could make a strong case to come to the United States in 2014.
The Tigers have three other arms worth watching in the rotation this summer, newcomers Gerson Moreno, Gregory Soto and Rusbell Cabrera. Cabrera may be the most intriguing of the trio according to scouts outside the organization. Signed out of the International Prospect League, Cabrera has a long, lanky frame and can already reach the upper-80s with the fastball.
Rounding out the rotation, the Tigers expect to also expect to utilize 18-year old projectable right-hander Stanley Martinez.
In the bullpen the Tigers will be anchored by Jesus Guzman and Pedro Aybar. Guzman enters his fourth season in the Dominican Summer League, spending time with both the Nationals and Tigers amassing a 3.06 ERA and 9.1 strikeouts per nine innings. Aybar returns to the mound after a season lost to injury and he will look to build on a 3.68 ERA in just under 15 innings in 2011.
Additional arms mixing in out of the bullpen will be Malvin Martinez, Rafael Manzanillo, Miguel Montero and Adrian Paniagua, who should all see action in a variety of roles. Manzanillo and Montero should be well known to prospect followers as two extremely raw arms capable of touching the mid-90s with their fastballs, albeit in the absence of any kind of consistency.
Backing up the pitching staff will be an infield full of intriguing prospects. High priority July 2nd signings from last summer, Domingo Leyba and Willy Adames will receive plenty of attention in the middle of the diamond. Adames projects to get the bulk of his time at shortstop while Leyba will slide over to second base regularly.
For more on last summer's July 2 signings, read the full rundown on them from last year's minor league notebook: TigsTown MLN: July 2 Signings
Playing all over the infield last year, Gregoris Hidalgo has piqued the interest of scouts despite a paltry .192/.302/.315 line last season. Hidalgo stands just 5-foot-10 and weighs 160 pounds but he puts together quality at-bats, has a decent feel for the barrel and some projection with the glove.
Also seeing action on the infield will be veterans Francisco Contreras, Eurys Felipe, Victor Ovalles, Yerison Pena and Manuel Joseph. A heady defender with good contact ability, Joseph has the most potential to jump up into the next group of prospects.
Around the outfield the Tigers will rely on veterans Sandy Acevedo and Felix Santana to carry some of the load. Lauded as a natural hitter, Santana has yet to put things together at the plate after hitting just .234 last year. This will be his third season in the DSL and he is still just 18-years old. One newcomer to the outfield will be 18-year old Cesar Gonzalez.
The most noticeable prospect in the outfield is the 6-foot-3, 195 pound Ignacio Valdez. Already impressing with a Major League body, Valdez will be looking to unlock his classic right field profile of quality defense, good arm strength and plenty of raw power.
This year's DSL Tigers are expected to be somewhat raw offensively but should pitch enough to hang around the .500 mark for the bulk of the season. With several powerful arms and some young positional talent, this club may not impress on the stat sheet this year, but they could generate some intriguing names to follow in the States next year.