To read the rest of the 2014 Midseason Top 50, follow the links below:
#20 – Angel Nesbitt – Right-Handed Pitcher
Nesbitt has been a fast-riser this season thanks to a bump in velocity and improved command of his heater throughout his time in High-A. After sitting in the low-90s and touching 95-96 mph in previous seasons, Nesbitt has found a new gear this season, sitting comfortably at 95-96 and touching as high as 99 mph on occasion. His secondary offerings still need some work and while his command has improved, it is still below-average. Nesbitt could pitch in the 7th or 8th inning if things come together, and he could quickly move up further in the rankings as more progress is seen.
#19 – Melvin Mercedes – Right-Handed Pitcher
Mercedes’ grip on a Top 20 ranking in the organization is starting to slip some as he continues to be more hittable than his fastball and slider suggest he should be. Mercedes has always been prone to more weak contact than strikeouts, but his extreme inability to miss bats has gotten him in trouble at times at Triple-A. Mercedes could still hold down a 7th inning role if he can consistently work the knees with his sinking fastball and slider, but he has some work to do to reach that peak.
#18 – Javier Betancourt – Second Baseman
Betancourt has handled an aggressive assignment to West Michigan very well as a teenager, and he should be considered one of the better infield prospects in the system. He is a hit tool-driven player with minimal power and no chance to play on the left side of the dirt, but his instincts are top notch and he could carve out a career as a solid batting average, high OBP guy at the keystone.
#17 – Jose Valdez – Right-Handed Pitcher
Much like Nesbitt and Mercedes behind him, Valdez is a power-armed right-hander with late inning designs. He can run his fastball into the upper-90s and his secondary stuff flashes at times, the worst control of the trio, but in the end, he also has a knack for missing bats when he’s in the zone. Valdez arguably has more risk than Nesbitt or Mercedes, but he also carries the only ceiling that results in closing out the end of Major League games.
#16 – Tyler Collins – Outfielder
The darling of spring training 2014, Collins got his shot in Detroit early in the season, but proved that he wasn’t ready for the show. After a dreadful 2013 season, Collins has struggled to demonstrate that his bat-first profile will work on an everyday level. Collins profiles as more of a bench bat/extra outfielder, and while he is likely to carve out an MLB career because of his high-energy style of play, he lacks impact potential and won’t be an everyday contributor.
#15 – Edgar De La Rosa – Right-Handed Pitcher
De La Rosa has been one of the most improved prospects in the system this year, despite being a Top 40 guy entering the year. With the reigns finally off, De La Rosa has been pumping mid- to upper-90s heat consistently this year, and that velocity plays up because of his extended release point. His changeup still leads the way behind the fastball, but the slider has shown flashes of life. He still profile best in a late inning role, but there are whispers that he could make it work as a starter if given enough time.
#14 – Grayson Greiner – Catcher
The Tigers third round pick last month, Greiner is a prototypical Tigers catching prospects; owning size, arm strength, defensive chops, leadership ability, and power projection. Greiner’s profile will always be led by his defense, but he has a chance to hit and slug enough that he could be a well-rounded backstop that plays every day in the big leagues. Greiner’s extensive college experience and polished defensive skill set should allow him to move quickly through the system.
#13 – Hernan Perez – Second Baseman
Perez has been around so long that it is easy to identify his warts as a prospect. When that happens, what he brings to the table can get lost in the shuffle and his prospect stock can take an unfair hit. Perez is still a quality second base defender that is capable of playing intermittently at shortstop. He still stings line drives regularly and has shown an ability to hit some despite his aggressive approach. It’s not a sexy profile, but it sure looks like a very solid Major League utility player, and those have value to every team.
#12 – Spencer Turnbull – Right-Handed Pitcher
A second round pick in June, Turnbull has the high-octane fastball that the Tigers consistently covet, reaching 97 mph in college and some scouts reporting 95-96 mph on occasion so far in the NYPL. He is a bit of a raw arm with some effort to the delivery, and while the easy thing to do is project him to the bullpen, he has the pieces to warrant being given a short in the rotation before such a move is made. Turnbull has the size and stuff to be a mid-rotation starter, but the road to that projection will be longer than many college arms.
#11 – Drew VerHagen – Right-Handed Pitcher
Tiger fans received their first serious exposure to VerHagen last week when he made his Major League debut and acquitted himself quite nicely. A fastball-changeup arm with a low-90s sinking heater, VerHagen relies more on weak contact than strikeouts, particularly as his breaking ball comes and goes. With a fourth starter profile, VerHagen will get additional chances in the Detroit rotation in the years to come, and there are rumblings in the industry that some possible trading partners are intrigued by his inning-eating potential.