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30. Melvin Mercedes – Right-Handed Pitcher
After breezing through the lower levels of the minor leagues, it is has become difficult to find an ardent support of Mercedes. Always the owner of a body that needed constant maintenance, Mercedes has let his weight get the better of him over the last two years, and that has led to inconsistent mechanics and decreased raw stuff. Mercedes still has the potential to flash a mid-90s sinking fastball and quality slider, but his control issues leave him with a difficult overall profile. If things come together for Mercedes he could still be a nice 7th inning arm that induces ground balls and can miss a few bats along the way.
29. Austin Kubitza – Right-Handed Pitcher
A hot-shot prospect during his first couple of seasons in college, Kubitza’s stuff came up a little short heading into the 2013 draft, but that didn’t stop the Tigers from popping him in the upper rounds. While he typically sits 87-90 mph with his fastball, some scouts did report seeing the fastball up to 93 mph at times while maintaining his strong control and command. Kubitza’s slider has long earned high marks and his changeup has come along nicely in recent seasons, giving him a quality three-pitch mix. It is difficult to profile Kubitza as starter long term because of the lack of velocity, but the Tigers will give him every chance to fulfill that projection, and he could be an inning-eating back-end starter.
28. Daniel Fields – Outfielder
Fields has seemingly been around the prospect ranks forever and at this point his profile continues to slide in the wrong direction. Long seen as a guy that wasn’t going to hit consistently at the Major League level, Fields also needs to find a way to stay healthy. His glove in center field can play to the point that a team may try to carry him as a bench player, but he needs to bring more to the table to truly get a shot. Barring an offensive outbreak, Fields opportunity in Detroit is only going to come with a barrage of injuries or ineffectiveness in the outfield.
27. Domingo Leyba – Second Baseman
Leyba is quickly establishing himself as a serious prospect at the plate with an innate ability to get the bat on the ball and hit for average. He is a confident, aggressive hitter that likes to swing the bat, and he has an ability to work the ball around the field and can hit all types of pitches. Leyba is not a high-end athlete and will need add strength to develop his entire game. As a defender, Leyba does a solid job at second base and should be able to hold down the position long term. Not lacking for swagger, Leyba believes he belongs and he will continue to prove himself at the full-season level in 2015.
26. Harold Castro – Second Baseman
Castro has been a bit of an enigmatic prospect over the last two years, flashing the raw tools that nearly made him a top ten prospect at several points in the past. Castro’s natural bat-to-ball ability is the carrying tool, but he doesn’t lack for hard contact to the gaps, athleticism, or defensive potential. Potential is the key word in Castro’s profile, and he needs to begin translating his raw tools to success on the diamond on a consistent basis. After a strong showing at the plate with Lakeland in the second half of 2014, Castro is poised to re-introduce himself as a viable big league prospect, one capable of playing every day at his peak.
25. Adam Ravanelle – Right-Handed Pitcher
Following his role in helping Vanderbilt take home the College World Series crown, Ravanelle had a relatively brief professional debut that was shortened due to a non-serious injury to his hand. The jury remains out on whether Ravanelle has the ability to stick in the rotation, or whether he will excel in shorter bursts out of the bullpen, but either way the Tiers are likely to be aggressive with his assignment next season and he could be an intriguing arm to watch going forward.
24. Anthony Castro – Right-Handed Pitcher
TigsTown first exposed fans to Castro’s raw potential after his first season in the Venezuelan Summer League, and he has done nothing since that time to diminish the belief in his raw ceiling. After his stateside debut in 2014, Castro’s stock is rising rapidly. He carries impressive confidence and mound presence on the bump and he backs it up with life on his low-90s fastball that can reach 94-95 mph when he needs a little extra. His secondary pitches have begun making strides over the last two seasons, and of all the GCL arms that impressed this season, Castro’s potential in the rotation is hard to beat.
23. Joey Pankake – Third Baseman
Pankake left South Carolina as a bat-first prospect that needed to find a defensive home, and his professional debut did nothing to change that opinion. Pankake showed a natural feel for hitting that allowed him to handle all types of pitches and pitchers in a variety of situations. His approach at the plate was sound and he wore out the middle of the diamond with hard line drives. With a potential above-average hit tool and at least average power, Pankake’s offensive profile should carry his prospect status going forward. With enough arm strength for third base, Pankake will get a chance to iron out the footwork and hands, but he may ultimately end up in left field.
22. Jose Valdez – Right-Handed Pitcher
In the mold of many hard-throwing relievers before him in the Tigers system, Valdez can pump upper-90s gas that reaches 98-99 mph on occasion, all while maintaining erratic control that can completely escape him at times. The velocity is enough to garner big league opportunities for Valdez, and if he can gain consistency with his hard slider, he could have a two-pitch arsenal that will work in the late innings. Valdez needs to remain confident and aggressive on the mound if he is to maximize the value of his raw stuff, and with success he could make his Major League debut in 2015.
21. Kyle Ryan – Left-Handed Pitcher
Kyle Ryan impressed fans and some observers by helping the Tigers as a quality swingman down the stretch. Ryan won’t overpower anyone and looks more like former big league lefty Jamie Moyer than anyone else. What Ryan lacks in raw stuff, he makes up for in feel, pitchability, and confidence that could carry him to a successful big league career as a lefty reliever. In the short term, Ryan could still help the Tigers as a back-end starter or long reliever, and he could quickly evolve into a second lefty out of the bullpen, giving the club more depth in the weakest area of the team.