TigsTown Top 50 Scouting Reports: 50-46

The Top 50 scouting reports for 2015 have begun, starting with those players that just barely cracked the top 50. They include RHP Gerson Moreno, catcher Elys Escobar, right-hander Jeff Thompson, IF Steven Fuentes and RHP Carlos Lara.

50. Gerson Moreno (RHP)
Tool Grades (Present / Future):

Fastball Breaking Ball Control
Pres: 6 / Fut: 6+ Pres: 4+ / Fut: 6 Pres: 3+ / Fut: 5
Moreno’s potential as a late inning reliever hinges on his aggressive approach to pitching, as well as a lively fastball that can reach as high as 97 mph. A smaller guy, Moreno doesn’t project to maintain plus-plus velocity down the line, but he should improve from his current 91-93 mph to sit in the 93-95 mph range. The breaking ball is still a work in progress, and while it has flashed as a plus pitch on occasion, he still needs to maintain his arm slot and snap on the pitch to attain maximum effectiveness. Moreno could move quickly through the system if challenged and as he refines his strike-throwing ability, giving the Tigers another hard throwing relief prospect.

49. Elys Escobar (C)
Tool Grades (Present / Future):

Hit Power Speed Defense Arm
Pres: 2 / Fut: 3 Pres: 4 / Fut: 5 Pres: 2 / Fut: 2 Pres: 3+ / Fut: 6 Pres: 6 / Fut: 6+
Though the stat line may not tell such a story, Escobar made intriguing progress during the 2014 season, showing an ability to drive the ball and all the defensive tools that earned him a six-figure signing bonus as an amateur. His natural hitting ability remains in question, but he has some of the natural feel for the barrel that suggests his projected hit tool could reach closer to average; such a development would vault him up prospect lists. Escobar’s glove continues to project into the plus range behind the plate, though he has considerable work remaining to refine his receiving, framing, blocking and footwork. Escobar’s development will be a slow burn, but he could be a quality backstop as he approaches the upper minor leagues over the next few years.

48. Jeff Thompson (RHP)
Tool Grades (Present / Future):

Fastball Slider Changeup Control
Pres: 5 / Fut: 5+ Pres: 5 / Fut: 5+ Pres: 3+ / Fut: 4 Pres: 4+ / Fut: 5+
Though Thompson missed much of the 2014 season as a result of arm trouble, he still has a prospect stock that bears attention. When healthy, Thompson’s fastball can sit in the 90-92 mph range, and will reach as high as 94-95 mph on occasion, while maintaining his quality sinking action. Backed up with a slider that shows above-average potential, Thompson has a solid one-two punch that allows scouts to easily project him as a seventh inning reliever. Whether Thompson can remain in the starting rotation will depend on both his ability to remain healthy, as well as the development of his well below-average changeup. With improvement or demonstrated ability in these two areas, Thompson could improve his rating and project as a #4/#5 starter. The 2015 season will be a pivotal one for Thompson as he tries to get back on the mound and exert himself as a prospect.

47. Steven Fuentes (INF)
Tool Grades (Present / Future):

Hit Power Speed Defense Arm
Pres: 3 / Fut: 4 Pres: 3 / Fut: 3 Pres: 5 / Fut: 5 Pres: 3+ / Fut: 5 Pres: 6 / Fut: 7
Despite falling in the TigsTown Top 50, Fuentes showed promising tools and good progress throughout the 2014 season at short-season Connecticut. Fuentes is one of the system’s best raw athletes, with explosive strength and quick-twitch ability. He must find a defensive home, having failed to settle down on the dirt thus far, but there are scouts that believe he could prove useful as a defender on the outfield corners. His arm will play anywhere, as he flashes a plus-plus arm with impressive carry and improving accuracy. Offensively, Fuentes remains highly aggressive and in need of development. The ball jumps off his bat with line drives to the gaps but that type of hard contact is infrequent. With raw tools to spare, Fuentes’ next step will be gaining consistency to refine his tools into game skills.

46. Carlos Lara (RHP)
Tool Grades (Present / Future):

Fastball Slider Changeup Control
Pres: 5+ / Fut: 6 Pres: 5+ / Fut: 6+ Pres: 3 / Fut: 4 Pres: 3+ / Fut: 5
With a breakout performance in the Gulf Coast League last summer, Lara became a name to watch in the Tigers’ system. He was too much for raw GCL hitters with his low-90s fastball and above-average slider that he mixed and matched at will. Lara’s slider, in particular, earned high praise from scouts around the GCL, with more than a few suggesting it could be a swing-and-miss pitch at the highest level. Lara needs to improve his changeup to hang in the rotation, and his control can waver at times, but his arm strength and ability to spin a breaking ball make him an arm to keep an eye on over the next few seasons.


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