Roundtable: Position of Need in the Org

Ready to talk Tigers? Want to hear the opinion of the TigsTown staff? Welcome to the TigsTown Roundtable! This week's question: With the draft coming up, what position(s) could the farm system use an upgrade at?

Paul Wezner, Executive Editor

From an organizational depth standpoint, virtually every position could use an upgrade, but that's not unusual for most organizations. While the likelihood of a number of players reaching their can be questioned, the Tigers have a fair amount of depth in the middle infield as well as throughout the outfield. This includes high potential guys at the lower levels as well as some players that are at the upper levels of the minor leagues and could be ready to contribute in the next year or so. On the pitching side of things, the Tigers just invested heavily in last year's draft in college arms that will mix across the rotation and bullpen, in addition to still having youngsters like Rick Porcello, Drew Smyly and Corey Knebel on the big league roster. Where the organization is severely lacking however is at the corner infield spots. Yes, the Tigers have a first baseman for the next decade in Miguel Cabrera, but he may only play first base for the next three years, and then DH for the seven years after. Meanwhile, Nick Castellanos remains full of potential, but he's still a rookie with two months of big league experience and going through growing pains. You'd hope both positions are stable for the foreseeable future, but you never know, and currently, the Tigers don't have a single prospect among the top 30 that mans a corner infield spot. This doesn't mean they need to invest in their first round pick in a first baseman in case Cabrera gets hurt or can't play the field by 2017, but it does mean the Tigers should look to add some talent to those positions with legit big league potential.

Mark Anderson, Director of Scouting

To be completely frank, the Tigers need to upgrade their farm system at every position. There is no position in the system that represents such a strength that the club wouldn't have an interest in upgrading. There are arguments to be made that with a player like Cabrera at first base, they may not need to upgrade there. That may be true, but Cabrera's long-term future in the field is not certain, and currently the Tigers do not have a player capable of filling the gap should Cabrera move to DH. That said, like some other positions, first base would be a lower priority. The club is woefully lacking capable left-handed starters (and relievers for that matter), lacks viable third base options should Nick Castellanos not pan out or stick at the hot corner, and lacks anything resembling a "sure fire" outfield prospect. For a club that has placed a priority on obtaining pitchers with velocity/arm strength projection and athletes with the potential to play premium positions, these weaknesses are not shocking. The Tigers, though many are not rated highly by national outlets, have an abundance of potential middle infielders and right-handed pitchers, and they have some capable players behind the dish. In the grand scheme of things, the Tigers should -- and will -- draft the best player available, regardless of position or farm-system need, but it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world if that best player available was a high-end outfield prospect that could reach the upper levels quickly and could become a fixture over the long haul. The Tigers are going to need outfield help soon, and the two best prospects in the organization to fill that need are a boom-or-bust slugger at Double-A and their current starting third baseman.

James Chipman, Senior Lakeland Correspondent

Now that Nick Castellanos has graduated, third-base is arguably one of the thinnest spots on the Tigers depth chart in the minors. The Tigers could certainly look to address the relatively thin depth in the outfield as well. That being said, the draft is typically less about need, and more so about simply selecting the best player available. Honestly, I don't expect that strategy to change this year either. Pitching is a commodity. The Tigers love drafting pitchers and they usually have more success developing them too. Ok, aside from the infamous Reliever Draft of 2008. Nine of their first ten picks last year were pitchers, and while I don't expect this year's draft to be as pitcher heavy, I do fully expect the Tigers to load up on pitching, especially in the first round. So, who should the Tigers select first? While I'd love it if the Tigers pounced on local Floridian prep arms Sean Reid-Foley or Touki Toussaint, both will likely be off the board. Recently Jordan Gorosh of Baseball Prospectus had RHP Erick Fedde of UNLV going to the Tigers in a mock draft--a move that I'd love to see happen.

Neil Weinberg, Senior Analyst

This is a little bit tough because the answer is all of them. If forced to pick a spot, I'd look to the outfield because it's the area of the organization that's going to be called upon soonest. The major league infield is well set for the next few years and there are a couple of pitching prospects with big league potential to fill in should Scherzer and Porcello reach free agency. You always want more pitching, but by the end of next year, the entire crop of current big league outfielders is going to have reached the market. Moya, Fields, and Collins all probably have a big league future, but they don't constitute a major league outfield. Ben Verlander and Austin Schotts could play a role as well, but there's likely going to be a lack of depth at the position sooner rather than later. That shouldn't necessarily dictate the Tigers' strategy because they could stand to improve across the board and should grab the best player, but if it's a toss up I'm leaning outfielder.

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