2014 TigsTown Top 50 Tigers Prospects: 30-21

TigsTown continues with its top 50 prospects in the organization with those that got into the top 30. Included in the group are a few high potential kids from the GCL, along with a power arm that despite struggles, remains a viable prospect.

30. Anthony Castro – Right-Handed Pitcher
After two seasons in the Venezuelan Summer League and impressive progress from year one to year two, Castro appears ready to jump to the Gulf Coast League for his age 19 season. A lean and lanky right-hander with good velocity and more in the tank as he adds strength, Castro is a high ceiling arm with a wide array of possible outcomes in front of him. The developmental path will be long and will require patience, but Castro's ceiling makes him worth the wait.

29. Franklin Navarro – Catcher
Navarro made his stateside debut this summer and struggled both at the plate and behind it early on in the GCL. Once he settled in, scouts reported his defense showing improvement and his bat came alive as he finished with a .293/.344/.466 line in August. Navarro is more natural from the right side, showing a better approach and more feel for the barrel, and his work as a left-handed batter will need to catch up for him to be a successful switch-hitting catcher.

28. Austin Schotts – Outfielder
After hitting .310 in the GCL as a third round pick in 2012, there were lofty expectations placed on Schotts entering the 2013 season. He got off to a horrific start in West Michigan, posting an average below .200 and an OPS below .500. Things didn't get much better after a demotion to short-season Connecticut, where he often looked overmatched at the plate. Schotts is an excellent athlete with 70-grade speed and good defensive potential in center field. He must add strength and his approach at the plate needs a lot of work for him to reach his ceiling.

27. Javier Betancourt – Shortstop/Second Baseman
The nephew of former big leaguer Edgardo Alfonso, Betancourt has the instincts and feel for the game one would expect with those type of bloodlines. A savvy player, Betancourt positions himself well at shortstop, allowing his fringy range and actions to play up. He is likely destined for second base long term, and he should have enough offensive potential for the bat to play at the keystone when that move comes about.

26. Ben Verlander – Outfielder
The Tigers 14th round pick last summer and the younger brother of club ace Justin Verlander, this season represented Ben's first season dedicated to outfield play. He is a quality defender with a very strong arm that fits the right field profile. On top of that, he has a smooth swing with good bat speed and some pop. Before running out of gas down the stretch, Verlander hit .273/.320/.424 in 38 games in June and July, hinting at the potential that exists in his raw bat.

25. Dixon Machado – Shortstop
The 2013 season was a lost campaign for Machado as he dealt with a hamstring injury throughout most of the year. Despite that, Machado did something this year that should be defined as progress. He put on weight and added muscle to his skinny frame. With a very good approach and a feel for contact, the added strength could help Machado muster a passable batting average to support his 70-grade defense and 80-grade arm strength. If the bat comes to life with his newfound physicality, Machado could still profile as a second division regular.

24. Montreal Robertson – Right-Handed Pitcher
Despite an almost certain move to the bullpen down the line, the Tigers kept Robertson in the rotation with West Michigan this year in an effort to build additional arm strength and work on his secondary pitches and command. Robertson can run his fastball up to 97 mph in bursts and will sit 92-93 mph with a lot of life in longer outings. His slider has flashed plus and he has stretches where he can throw strikes with both pitches. With two hard offerings and iffy command, Robertson most definitely profiles in the bullpen and could max out as a setup man down the line.

23. Steven Fuentes – Third Baseman
After a solid showing as an 18-year old in the Gulf Coast League this summer, Fuentes has put himself squarely on the map as a viable prospect. Though he played all 46 games at third base this season, scouts believe he could handle shortstop long term. Fuentes is an exceptional athlete with plus speed and a plus arm, both of which should play well at shortstop. He is aggressive at the plate but has some feel for the barrel and good gap pop for his size. The overall package is raw but impressive with Fuentes and he could be a guy to watch in 2013.

22. Casey Crosby – Left-Handed Pitcher
Not that long ago Crosby was mentioned in the same breath as right-hander Jacob Turner as one of the Tigers top pitching prospects. Since that time, Crosby has stumbled, hitting an all-time low this summer with a 4.84 ERA in 13 starts at Triple-A Toledo. Still very physical and athletic, Crosby can run his fastball into the mid-90s but settles in the low-90s as a starter and his curveball will show occasional bite and some plus potential. In the end, Crosby looks like a powerful left-on-left reliever, particularly after holding lefties to a .154/.323/.250 line in 2013.

21. Jeff Thompson – Right-Handed Pitcher
A third round pick in June, the 6-foot-6, 245 pound Thompson is an imposing presence on the mound and he used that to his advantage after an aggressive assignment to Low-A after signing. In 45 innings Thompson allowed just 41 hits and 19 walks while striking out 42 batters. He gets steep angle on a low-90s sinking fastball that can reach 94-95 mph at times, and he complements it with the occasional above-average slider. Some scouts see Thompson as a reliever long term, but the Tigers have indicated they plan to work him as a starter in the beginning to give him a shot to stick in the rotation. If he brings it all together, he could be a #4 starter.


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