50. Gerson Moreno – Right-Handed Pitcher
Moreno could be a pop-up guy for the Tigers in 2015, particularly if he can add some strength to his slight 6-foot, 170 pound Dominican frame. In 2014 Moreno was pumping mid-90s gas that reached as high as 97-98 mph on some occasions. His fastball jumps out of his hand and explodes on hitters, making him difficult to barrel. On top of an impressive heater, Moreno offers a potential plus curveball in the upper-70s. With some effort to the delivery and an underdeveloped changeup, Moreno profiles best in the bullpen where his aggressive, attacking mentality could help his stuff play even better. Moreno has late inning potential if everything comes together.
49. Elys Escobar – Catcher
One of the Tigers’ premium Latin American signings in 2013, Escobar is a strong, stocky Venezuelan backstop with defensive tools that could carry him all the way to the big leagues. With a strong arm and some feel for calling game and receiving, Escobar is a glove first catcher right now, but some scouts remain optimistic about his bat. Escobar is strong with solid bat speed and an ability to drive the ball when he makes contact. He has a chance to develop into a quality defender with a plus arm, and average power if everything comes together. Escobar’s developmental path will require patience and he could be 5-6 years from even approach the big league radar.
48. Jeff Thompson – Right-Handed Pitcher
Thompson’s first full professional season was derailed by injury, an injury that had not required surgery at seasons end, but still very well could before the 2015 season begins. When healthy, Thompson offers a heavy low-90s fastball that is pumped from a extra-large frame with steep angle. His slider flashes above-average and could be a second quality pitch if he can get back on the mound. The changeup and control lag behind the fastball and slider, and if those two items don’t come along, Thompson’s future could be in the bullpen.
47. Steven Fuentes – Third Baseman
Fuentes remains an explosive athlete that finally began to put some of his raw tools to use with short-season Connecticut. Fuentes is larger than his listed height and weight, and he has lost some of his range on the infield, forcing him off shortstop and over to the hot corner. While raw at third base, Fuentes still has quick actions at the position and a near plus-plus arm that fits the position well. At the plate he is an ultra-aggressive hitter that swings early and often, but showed a knack for barreling the ball in 2014. Fuentes is going to be a slow burn as a prospect, and may still need another season of development at the short-season level before he is truly ready to display his tools in full-season ball.
46. Carlos Lara – Right-Handed Pitcher
Lara opened some eyes with a strong showing in the Gulf Coast League last summer, posting a 3.46 ERA and better than a strikeout per inning during his stateside debut. On the back of a low-90s fastball with solid life, Lara attacked hitters and pounded the strike zone at his best. His hard, biting slider is clearly his best pitch and was too much for GCL hitters to handle. To stick in the rotation, Lara will need to tighten his command and bring his changeup along to at least a fringe level. If those steps are not taken, Lara could still profile in a relief role, where his slider would clearly play as a strikeout pitch, and his fastball could play up a tick in short bursts.
45. Chad Smith – Right-Handed Pitcher
Smith made his Major League debut in 2014 as one of the young arms tapped with trying to help the Tigers assemble a reasonable relief corps. After overcoming Tommy John surgery in college and signing with the Tigers in 2011, Smith plugged his way through the minor leagues before allowing his fastball and slider push him to the big league level. Smith’s fastball works in the 92-94 mph range and reaches 96 mph at times, and his slider can be a solid second pitch. Smith’s ceiling is that of a 7th inning arm and it is more likely he settles into a middle relief role; a role where he could help the Tigers in 2015.
44. Will Allen – Catcher
Allen is an unknown to most Tigers fans as a result of his last minute signing out of the draft as well as surgery on his non-throwing shoulder. When healthy, Allen is an impressive leader and defender with good footwork, a plus arm, and advanced receiving ability behind the plate. In addition to his defensive value, Allen has above-average raw power and enough feel for hitting that his power plays in game situations. If healthy, Allen could very well rank much higher on this list, and likely would not have been available in the 13th round, where the Tigers nabbed him. When he gets back on the field in 2015, Allen could move quickly up this list and could be the next strong defensive catcher to reach the upper levels of the system.
43. Luis Torrealba – Corner Infielder/Corner Outfielder
Torrealba was viewed as one of the Tigers premier international signings last year and he performed nicely as a 17-year old in the VSL in 2014, posting a .261 average and 12 doubles in 65 games. Torrealba’s calling card is his impressive raw power that could be a carrying tool as he develops. Signed as a third baseman, Torrealba spent more time at first base and left field last season, both positions more fitting of his mature frame and likely physical projection. Torrealba’s bat will have to max out for him to remain a prospect, but for now, his raw power is enough to warrant a ranking.
42. Julio Martinez – Outfielder
Julio Martinez was the Tigers highest profile signing of the 2014 international signing period, inking for a $600,000 signing bonus. Martinez’s profile as a prospect relies almost entire on the development of his bat, but he has the potential to become a serious offensive threat with a good approach, decent average, and excellent raw power. Martinez will be limited to left field long term, and if his body develops in the wrong direction, he could shift to first base down the line. The Tigers will take it slow with Martinez, and he is likely to spend the 2015 season in the Dominican Summer League before joining the GCL squad in 2016 for his first stateside test.
41. Hector Martinez – Shortstop
Signed in 2013, Martinez intrigued scouts with his bat-first profile and he lived up to that billing in his 2014 debut where he hit .271/.316/.398 with18 extra-base hits in just 42 games. Martinez has plus bat speed and some feel for the barrel, though his aggressive approach gets him in trouble at times. As Martinez develops, he could be an above-average hitter with average power, all from a premium position. Martinez has the chops to stay at shortstop long term, with above-average speed, quick actions, and an average arm that will work on the left side. In total, Martinez has a well-rounded profile that could see him evolve into a highly intriguing player as he prepares to make his stateside debut.