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10. Hernan Perez – Infielder
Perez has been around for quite some time and while he has yet to make an impact at the big league level, Perez still has big league tools and potential. Blessed with chops to handle the defensive responsibilities of both shortstop and second base, Perez has the basic package to make it as a utility player even if his bat never truly comes to life. At the plate Perez has good bat speed and some ability to drive the ball to the gaps, but his aggressive approach leaves him with an inability to make consistent contact. Perez could help the Tigers in 2015 if they need an extra infielder.
9. Drew VerHagen – Right-Handed Pitcher
After making his Major League debut in 2014, VerHagen will be looking for another opportunity to crack the Tigers rotation next season. He works primarily off a low-90s sinking fastball, and flashes a changeup that works above-average at times. Holding VerHagen back has always been the lack of a consistent breaking ball, and without further development of a third pitch, he may be destined for a relief role. Verhagen will likely start the 2015 season in the minor leagues and could see time at the back of the Tigers rotation before the season is out.
8. Tyler Collins – Outfielder
Collins surprised many and made the Tigers Opening Day roster out of spring training last season and while it is unlikely he sees the same fate in 2015, he should spend time at the big league level. Collins ability to work counts and drive the ball with fringe-average power makes him an enticing player and one that could carve out a nifty career as an extra outfielder. Though not a strong defensive player in any outfield spot, Collins can survive at each of the three positions and could be a bench outfielder with a low average and decent pop.
7. Edgar De La Rosa – Right-Handed Pitcher
One of the biggest movers in this year’s rankings, De La Rosa got back to pumping mid- to high-90s gas with improved control in 2014. A mammoth individual, “DeLa” uses his extra-large frame to generate excellent leverage and angle to the plate. His fastball can be difficult to hit, particularly when he pairs it with either his slider or changeup when they are working. Though both pitches are typically below-average, each can flash to average levels. Some scouts believe both pitches could play to improved levels in short bursts where they can be thrown with more conviction, a trait that could land him in the bullpen long term.
6. Spencer Turnbull – Right-Handed Pitcher
The Tigers second round pick in 2014, Turnbull impressed at times during his debut with short-season Connecticut. With a thick, sturdy, and strong frame, Turnbull looks the part of an inning chewing back-end starter. His sinking fastball can sit at 91-93 mph and will reach as high as 95 mph during most starts, and his breaking ball shows flashes of being a second above-average pitch. Turnbull needs greater consistency with his command and changeup, and if both step forward, he could move quickly through the system and ultimately settle into the back of a Major League rotation.
5. James McCann – Catcher
McCann’s performance in 2014 finally matched the high praise TigsTown has been heaping upon him for the last several seasons. A gifted defender with plus potential across the board behind the plate, McCann finally developed his offensive game to the point where scouts consistently turned him in as a second division regular. In fact, he made enough strides last season that some scouts now believe he could play 100-plus games a season as an everyday backstop for nearly any team in the league. McCann’s potential to impact the game could see him garner ample time in Detroit next season.
4. Jonathon Crawford – Right-Handed Pitcher
Crawford entered the 2014 season with lofty expectations resulting from his first round draft pedigree, and while the numbers are solid, he left many fans wanting more and considering him a disappointment. What Crawford did show throughout the season was the potential for both a plus fastball and plus slider that earns some comparisons to Jeremy Bonderman. The big right-hander is still raw and must refine his command and changeup to reach his ceiling as a number three starter.
3. Robbie Ray – Left-Handed Pitcher
Acquired as the centerpiece of the Doug Fister trade, Ray was not the same pitcher in 2014 as the one Dave Dombrowski and the Tigers sold to fans following his acquisition. As a left-hander that can touch 95 mph, Ray is immediately an intriguing project and if he can continue to refine his breaking ball to give him something that keeps right-handed hitters off balance, then he could carve out a career as a #4 starter. Without progress on his second offering, Ray profiles as a high leverage lefty reliever with stuff that could tick up in short relief outings.
2. Steven Moya – Outfielder
Arguably the most divisive prospect in the Tigers system, Moya exploded with a monster campaign in 2014, pounding doubles and home runs like few prospects in the minor leagues. Once Moya displayed an ability to apply instruction and develop a game plan at the plate, his season took off. Moya will always have swing and miss in his game, but he has shown an improved ability to take the ball the other way and buoy his batting average. Moya is a good runner and solid defender that can fit on either outfield corner. If he can continue to adjust to higher level arms by controlling his approach and making contact at a decent rate, Moya could be an impact power hitter in the Tigers lineup.
1. Derek Hill – Outfielder
The Tigers top pick in 2014, Hill is an exciting player and one of the only prospects in the Tigers system with an overall future potential (OFP) in the plus range. Hill already displays strong defensive skills in the outfield with plus-plus speed, good instincts and an average arm; traits that should all make him a plus defender up the middle. Though he struggled at the plate during his debut, scouts with a long track record observing Hill believe he will make plenty of contact and could be a potential top of the order hitter with game changing speed. His power remains an open question, but most believe he will have 10-12 home run power, possibly more, and should pick up plenty of doubles as well. Hill could be an All-Star caliber player if it all comes together, but his development will be slow and it could be three to four years before he approaches the big leagues.