To read the complete Top 100, follow the link below:
Scout.com’s Complete 2015 Top 100 MLB Prospect List
The reports have been extensive about the strength or relative lack thereof for the Detroit Tigers farm system recently, with analysts unanimously having the Tigers among the bottom third in baseball, and one analyst in particular ranking the Tigers worst in MLB.
While the depth and strength of the farm system can certainly be debated, the Tigers place among the lower tier in MLB should not come as a surprise. Over the last year, the Tigers have traded a plethora of prospects, all in an effort to solidify the big league club’s roster.
This is not unusual, as the Tigers under Dave Dombrowski have frequently utilized prospects as trade chips to add key pieces to the MLB roster. However, the pure number of guys being traded has been unusual, with four middle infielders, and three power right-handers all being traded among the Tigers young stable of players. And that’s in addition to trading two younger big leaguers in Austin Jackson and Drew Smyly as part of the deal to land David Price.
So, when Scout released its Top 100 prospects, it should come as no surprise that the Tigers placed just one player on the list – outfielder and recent first round draft pick Derek Hill, who checks in at 95 on the list. Hill is a talented player, a guy with plenty of athletic ability and an impressive bat for someone so young. His place on the list is completely warranted, and the Tigers were lucky to have landed him drafting 20th in the first round last year.
Only having Hill of course is a tad disappointing, and helps explain why so many are down on the Tigers farm system. But when it comes to player development, things aren’t a complete loss. And that’s because two players that were traded last summer at the deadline; shortstop Willy Adames and right-hander Jake Thompson, are also on the Top 100. Thompson checks at 67, and Adames at 98.
In addition, these two weren’t players that simply landed in the Tigers lap. Thompson was a second round pick that signed for slot money in 2012, by no means a can’t miss prospect. Meanwhile, Adames was signed by the Tigers at the start of the 2012 July 2nd international signing period, receiving a $420,000 bonus. A hefty sum, no doubt, but nothing close to the seven figure deals that the usual top Latin American prospects command.
In other words, these weren’t two guys that the Tigers just had fall into their laps, or spent a lot of money to obtain. They were well scouted and evaluated, and they were properly developed. It’s what made them in demand prospects, and what has led to them being among the best in baseball.
No, the Tigers don’t have them anymore. But, there’s also no reason to believe that the Tigers can’t find a couple more players among those they recently signed, like Dominican outfielder Julio Martinez, or those prospects that they’ll draft this summer with their two first round draft picks.
Ever since Dombrowski took over the club, the Tigers have not been an organization that has produced tons of talent on the farm. They haven’t frequently had prospects among the top ones in baseball, and the depth has consistently been questioned. And yet, that still hasn’t prevented the Tigers from using the prospects they do have to obtain Major League talent, or to occasionally fill holes on the big league club with those players (Nick Castellanos being the most recent).
So, even though the Tigers don’t appear to be brimming with young talent after graduating some to the big leagues and trading even more away, the process of talent acquisition and development is one that is ever changing and one with a long road. Efforts from yesterday that aren’t evident today become so tomorrow.
So for now, get excited about Hill, a quality prospect who is likely to start making lots of noise at a minor league stop near you soon. And be on the lookout for the next emerging star prospect, because with this organization’s track record, it’s a good bet another one will be coming up soon.