One of the most improved players in the Tigers system entering this spring was right-hander Eduardo Jimenez who entered camp consistently pumping 92-94 mph fastballs and reaching 95-96 mph on occasion. He threw very well during the Liga Paralela last winter, and his success has transitioned to an excellent Extended Spring Training campaign. With the jump in his raw stuff, Jimenez was likely to be one of the club's high risers this summer. But unfortunately, he underwent Tommy John surgery last Monday (June 9th), which will end his season before it got started.
With a similar velocity bump, right-hander Emanuel Chavez is suddenly sitting around 92-93 mph and touching 95 at times, giving him the type of arm strength that could carve up GCL hitters. His secondary stuff lags behind, but Chavez is showing the type of improvement that could have him on the prospect map by the end of the season.
The Tigers also have a few pitchers that project better in the bullpen that could draw the interest of scouts this summer. Australian right-hander Dean Aldridge was sitting 90-93 and touching 94-95 when he entered camp this year but he may not see much action until later this summer after coming down with a tender elbow at the end of spring training.
Right-handers Confesor Lara and Sandy Baez can both bring the heat in the late innings, and both have seen 95-96 mph on occasion this spring. Lara is a candidate to head to short-season Connecticut, but a return trip to the GCL for the converted outfielder is not out of the question. Baez is likely destined for the GCL, but he could be another fast moving Latin American reliever as he continues to refine his command and control.
Gerson Moreno and Fernando Perez are two additional pitchers that have impressed during Extended Spring Training, with Perez doing enough to possibly earn a shot at short-season Connecticut when roster assignments come out.
Moreno will sit 91-94 with his fastball and he backs that up with a devastating breaking ball to miss plenty of bats. His changeup comes and goes, but if he can put it all together he could succeed in a variety of roles. Perez has been around the GCL for a while, but he finally seems to be filling out his lanky frame some and could still have an outside chance of sticking in the rotation. With a low-90s fastball and sharp curveball, Perez has a good fallback as a reliever, but the Tigers have hinted they would like him to log innings as a starter again this summer.
On the position player side, outfielder Victor Padron is a relatively unheralded prospect that could make a little noise in the GCL this summer. He will play as one of the fastest players in the league with true plus-plus wheels that he puts to good use. Padron knows his role on the field and focuses on contact and hitting the ball on the ground to get the most use out of his speed. His game-changing speed and solid instincts could wreak havoc on inexperienced pitchers and defenders in the GCL, and he could pile up an interesting stat line this season.